It had already been a month of submitting the application when I finally got a call for interview on 14th March 2016 and my interview was scheduled after 6 days, ie on 20th February 2016.
After some initial debacle (when the rustic auto driver didn’t understand what is “ITC Windsor”, still pretended to know where it is and authoritatively decided to take me somewhere else, before I actually realized he is taking me on the wrong roads), I finally reached the venue 1 hour in advance, visibly grimacing in the business suit (I hate wearing so many clothes).
The security guard outside the hotel promptly guided me towards the interview area and I was made to sit in a small room with 7-8 other applicants. I had read other interview debriefs where everyone had advised to talk to other candidates present to calm yourself down but somehow all I did was to sit down silently and stare around the beautifully furnished room.
After a while, a somewhat senior guy entered the room with a small travel bag. Someone asked him, “Are you coming from some other city?”
“No”, he replied, “I own a company at Bangalore, I want to show the interview panel some products of my company”
Needless to say, whatever hopes I had to make the cut sank. I had an idea of how impressive are the profiles of ISB applicants but here there was someone in front of me, enough for me to lose hope (I am a bit on the pessimistic side)
In hindsight, that feeling actually calmed me down and I started talking to other EEO (Early Entry Option) applicants. EEO applicants (I myself was one) have less than the mandatory 2 years of Work Experience required by ISB. If selected, they are given a deferred admission but they can join only when they complete 2 years at work.
After around 1.5 hours of waiting, my turn came. One of the interviewer himself came to call me and asked me to follow him. Before we reached the interview room, he shook hands with me and introduced himself, “Hello, I am_______, from Co2012.
There were two interviewers in the panel (both alumni, no one from the AdCom). One (Let’s call him P1) had my application print out in his hands while the other (P2) just sat there most of the time and nodded.
P1- So, you are a Dentist. Why are you making this career shift?
This question was more than expected so I started with the answer that I had mugged up.
Me- Sir, if you would closely look to my CV and profile, you will realize that it has been always skewed towards entrepreneurship and management. (Don’t know why, I got tongue-tied at this point)
P2- (Nodding and after waiting for a few seconds).Please elaborate.
I gathered myself again started the answer that I had mugged up, this time with decent confidence. Both P1 and P2 seemed convinced.
P1 (Flipping through my application)- So you have shown your internship at hospital as work experience? Was it full time?
Me- Yes sir, it was full time and paid.
P1- Can you tell us one incident during that one year at internship where you had to show leadership or management skills?
Me- Sir I cannot think of any moment like that. All I can say is that I completed all my patient quotas in time, was the only person in my batch to finish internship without any extensions (infact 3 leaves were left when I finished) and in mid of all this, I got my startup registered.
P1- (Didn’t look convinced at all)- We will come to your startup story later (I realized that he has read my application essays, atleast superficially). Tell me how come you landed up at Oliveboard? How come you, being a dentist, having no relevant education or degree got a marketing profile?
Me (again I had expected this question)- I will quote my offer letter here, “You are being offered this job because of your attitude and previous startup experience”
P1- So what exactly you do there?
Me- If you don’t mind, can I answer this question by explain the difference that I have made to the organization after I joined and also by citing a difficult situation that I managed?
P1- Please go ahead.
I explained it decently and both look convinced.
P1- Now let’s come to your journal. What made you start it?
Me (another expected question)- Explained
P1- Who all are the members in your journal and how exactly do you work?
Me- Can I get a pen and paper to explain?
P1 handed me a pen and paper. I explained with the help of flowcharts that how “Double blind peer review” review process of a scientific journal works.
P1- How did you get so many reviewers from abroad?
Me- Through Facebook
P1- And how much do you pay them?
Me- Absolutely nothing, sir
P1- Then how come they work for you free?
Me- Most of the reviewers I approached are very senior and extremely successful in their career. They definitely do not need any extra revenue by reviewing scientific articles. When I approached them, they were extremely impressed that a 2nd year UG student is trying to start a scientific journal and they supported me. I received a fair share of mockery and criticism too but mostly the dental fraternity was supportive. Also, Indian Dental Academicians need to maintain a certain number of points according to the guidelines set by the DCI (Dental Council of India) and they get some points for reviewing journals. And hence, they are in my team.
P1 (Smiling)- Makes sense. How many articles have you received after you started charging publication fee from the authors?
Me- Sir, It has been exactly 1 year and we have a revenue of _____
P2 (all of a sudden as if he got back from dead)- Have you brought the hard copies of the journal?
Me- Yes sir. It is in my bag in the other room
P2- Why didn’t you bring whose with you here?
Me- Sir, I didn’t want to look like as if I am trying too hard.
P2- So you are not trying eh?
Me- Sir, don’t get me wrong, ISB is the only college I have applied to and even if I don’t get through, I will only apply to ISB and nowhere else the next year too. There is a thin line between trying and looking like an absolute desperate and hence I decided not to cross that line.
P2 (laughed loudly)- Fair enough. Once the interview is over, show us the hard copies.
Me- Sure sir.
P1- So Dr. Anshul, what do you want to do post MBA?
Me- Sir, being an EEO applicant I think it is too early to decide that (both nodded on this). I have just started my career and I think I have a knack for marketing and entrepreneurship. I am versatile and can manage completely unrelated stuff equally well. I might take up a healthcare management job but I am keeping all my options open.
P1- Hmm..but you do know right that those jobs are generally for doctors with 5-6 years of work experience?
Me- No sir. I have no idea about that.
P1- Please go home and do your research. Also, you can get those jobs without an MBA. Why you want to invest so much of money?
Me (completely clueless where the interview was going)- Sure sir. I will do that tonight itself.
P1- You can leave
P2- Please bring the hard copies of your journal.
I ran towards the other room (it was 45 minutes already), sipped some cold water and returned and handed one copy each to both.
P2 (Flipping the pages)- Oh, so you have advertisement space too? How many advertisements have you got so far?
Me- None. And they are there only because the publisher wanted to, I really don’t want advertisements to be present on a scientific journal. Publication fee is the only major source of revenue and some royalty which we get through subscriptions.
P1- Where is the list of your team?
I showed him that page.
P1- How come you gathered so many people from so many countries?
Me- I have a facebook page on Dentistry with 30k+ Likes that I used to use for social medial marketing during my college days. I used the same page to build my team. Also, I did a webinar in a world virtual conference of dental students which helped me to get some team members initially. Rest all was word of mouth and facebook spamming.
P1- What else you want to do under your startup apart from the journal?
I mumbled something random (Don’t even remember what I said)
P1- Hmm..but how will you manage that? You will be having a full time demanding job post MBA which will take your 15 hours/day.
Me- Sir if I can manage it with medical school, I can manage it with job also. And I have worked for more than 15 hours/day effectively at various points during my UG, Internship and current job.
P1- I am not denying that, but I don’t think it will be possible.
Me (decided not to argue)- Then I will delegate the work sir. I am well networked in Indian Dental fraternity to do that.
P1- That I am sure you are. But you will leave all these so easily that you have build up with so much of hard work over these years?
Me- Sir, I said I will delegate the work. I will still be the owner.
Both P1 and P2 smiled.
P2- Ok last question, can you check my teeth and give some diagnosis?
Me- No sir, I cannot. I cannot break the infection control protocols. Patients must not be examined without gloves.
Both laughed loudly and asked me to leave.
Moral of the story- ISB interview, as per the common belief, is extremely chilled out. They don’t want to check your knowledge of economics, history, geography and finance. All they want to know is YOU. Be thorough with your application and you will sail through.
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