Tag: ISB Past Year Interview

How to write Essay 1 of ISB PGP Application

How to write Essay 1 of ISB PGP Application

Indian School of Business (ISB) Round 1 Application is open and you need to submit your application by September 20, 2020.

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This year ISB has reduced the discomfiture that the applicants used to experience while writing the admission and has made its expectations loud & clear- The Admission Committee wants to know what leadership qualities you possess and expects you to enumerate some examples from your personal & professional life that corroborate the leadership quality that you have declared to possess.

 “Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess, which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader?”

According to the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy and Governance,

“Positive leadership behavior is a set of actions, taken by individuals in a position of power and influence, to motivate and cultivate others through mechanisms of empowerment, engagement, and collaborative assignment to meaningful work”

Needless to say ‘Leadership’ is more of a sense of being and a collection of actionable qualities that you possess, rather than a single or a couple of traits.

The essay asks for ‘the most important personal quality’ and hence it is imperative you choose a quality of which you have multiple examples to elaborate. You must keep it in your mind that if shortlisted, your interview will revolve around the quality that you had mentioned in the essay and the examples that you had provided.

I am enumerating a few qualities, of which you can choose one and then elaborate it with enough examples. Please go through each of the points carefully and then ponder if you have significant examples from your personal life & professional career to choose a particular leadership quality :-

  1. Resilience

A popular Japanese proverb says- “Nana korobi, ya oki” which means “Fall down seven timesstand up eight.” Ever found life hurling multiple setbacks at you and you ended up rising against the wave every single time? Ever lost all hopes because of continuous headwinds but you ended up emerging victorious?  If you think you have done so a couple of times, then Resilience is the personal quality that you can mention. You can mention about a huge financial loss which you recovered from because of your smart (and hard work), personal loss which broke you on all fronts but you were still able to overcome the trauma or talk about a professional setback which you you didn’t allow to linger for long. Please note , you should choose Resilience as your quality not only if you have faced multiple setbacks, but also when you have overcome them successfully.

2. Empowerment 

A good leader empowers his/her colleagues, employees and subordinates. He/she is inclusive during decision making, induces participation from everyone in the team so that each team member gets a fair chance to exercise their expertise, skill and judgement and hence ends up fostering a work environment which is built on trust, team work and equal opportunities for professional growth.

Have you played an important role and have taken a keen interest in coaching, mentoring and advising your team members to help them grow professionally? Have you driven innovation and critical thinking in your team solely by helping everyone to put their best foot forward? Do you think you are trusted by your employees/colleagues/sub ordinates because you have helped them in achieving what they wanted to?

If answers to these questions are in affirmative, then Empowerment is the leadership trait that you should mention in the essay.

3. Taking Initiatives

A successful leader is proactive (rather than reactive), can sense the needs of the target customers, the changes in market dynamics and the steps he/she needs to take to empower his/her team much ahead of time. Successful leaders aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and don’t wait for others to tell them what to do and how to do. They are forward thinkers who plan for future, and at the end they take full ownership and responsibility of their actions, be the outcome a failure or a success.

Have you taken a well-informed risk at your workplace that has reaped dividends (financial or otherwise) for your organization? Were you a part of the founding team of a new society/club/organization that taught you multiple nuances of management & leadership? Have you dirtied your hands while undertaking a functionally pristine project? Have you successfully driven adoption of a completely new product among your customers?

If all the above-mentioned points rings a bell, please go ahead and use this trait in your essay.

4. Integrity

In simple words, Integrity can be defined as “Doing the right thing even when no one is watching”. 

Every large MNC (Multi-national company) has a very strict Legal & Compliance team which lays down the code of conduct & compliance and keeps a strict watch on the employees- the more high you are in the corporate ladder, the more strict will be your punishment if you are found guilty of violating any code of ethics & conduct.

Have you ever noticed something grossly unethical going on in your organization and have raised an alarm? Have you ever faced a situation where you were lured by an exciting offer/choice/chance to help you achieve what you wanted to, but you decided to avoid because those chances fell in the ‘grey/dark zone of ethics & compliance’ ?

Integrity, as a trait, is often associated with kindness, and having good intentions instead of selfish motives. A leader who demonstrates high levels of integrity is well-respected and trusted across the organization.

If you have examples that highlight integrity as your inherent trait, please use it in the essay.

5. Problem Solving

The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented challenges in front of business leaders and they are expected to solve problems that they have never encountered before.  A successful leader is able to anticipate any obstacle, assess the challenge, find possible solutions for mitigation, assess those solutions in terms of their viability, and thereby select the best possible solution.

If you have responded successfully to changing market dynamics, if you have overcome major obstacles in the modus-operandi of your organization with the help of technology/data/effective communication/otherwise, if your manager often relies on you whenever he/she hits a roadblock, then you have a problem-solving mindset and you should mention this trait in your essay.

6. Empathy

Empathy is understanding others’ feelings, perspectives & opinions as if they are your own. More often than not, Empathy is declared as an extremely crucial leadership trait because to put it out simply- you can’t lead someone whom you don’t understand. An empathetic leader is well aware of the fact that listening intently to his team members/employees/subordinates is extremely vital to generate insights which help in achieving well-being of everyone. An empathetic leader often puts himself/herself in the shoes of his/her employees before taking any major decisions that might affect the employees. He/she is responsible for maintaining a healthy and non-toxic work culture and hence has the ability for the long-term success of the organization.

Have you been in any situation where you strove hard to be inclusive and fair to most of your team mates/subordinates? Have you taken initiatives to ensure that your colleagues/subordinates/reportees feel safe, secure in the organization and their justifiable needs are taken care of ? Have you gone beyond your call of duty to help others? If your answer is in affirmative, you must write about Empathy as your leadership trait in the essay.

7. Passion

A passionate leader believes in the core values, mission & vision of the company, inspire & drive others to believe in the mission & vision and is madly involved in ‘making a difference’. The more enthroned you are in pushing your organization towards success, the more passionate you are considered to be. Passionate leaders create zest & enthusiasm in the team, and are vocal and expressive about what the organization aims to achieve.

If you have believed strongly for a cause (social, financial or otherwise) and have taken initiative/responsibility/accountability to address it, you come in the category of ‘passionate leaders’. If you always wanted to achieve something and have put considerable amount of time & efforts behind it, then also you can put ‘Passion’ as your personal trait in the essay.

8. Network & Influence

Do you think you have made a name for yourself as a ‘Thought Leader’ in a particular domain? Do you think your opinion on a particular stream/domain/industry is valued & acknowledged by a large number of people? Do you regularly produce & disseminate content related to your area of expertise and hence are considered ‘well known’ personality. Have you developed a rich network over the years and consider yourself as someone ‘who can get the work done’ just with the help of your network? If the answer is yes, you can consider writing about it in the essay.

I will write more blogposts on Essay 2, filling non-essay part of application and also on tips to crack the interview. To get notified about my future posts,

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I have helped more than 200 applicants realize their dream of getting a Top B-School. Find their reviews here- https://www.facebook.com/DrKumarAnshul06/reviews/

Some of my other blogs that you will like are as follows :-

  1. 10 Important Tips for ISB Application writing
  2. Most common myths about ISB
  3. Applying to ISB- Everything that you want to know 
  4. My GMAT Debrief (730 in 1st attempt) 
  5. Life at ISB

 

 

 

Indian School of Business- Interview Experience

Interview

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.

For any more queries, feel free to drop me a mail at kumaranshul.79@gmail.com. I will be happy to help anyone out.

We, a group of 17 ISB admits, have decided to help all future ISB applicants. Find out more about us on The Bootcamp. Or just drop me a message on facebook.

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