ISB Interview Experience 2 – A core engineering applicant’s journey to ISB

1. Applicant Profile:

  • Graduation – One of the top 10 NITs – Civil Engineering – 2015
  • A Tier 2 City’s Metro Rail through Campus Placements
  • Worked in Tenders and Procurement Section – Government kind of profile
  • Transferred to another Tier 2 City’s Metro – Similar role
  • Around 3 years of experience

2. Post ISB goals

  1. Management consulting in infrastructure domain of Real Estate, Energy or Oil and Gas
  2. General Management in Infrastructure companies, conglomerates – Siemens, GE, L&T and more such companies visit and around 50-60 people are recruited for such roles
  3. Project financing roles – Banks finance industrial projects and they need auditors for overseeing such projects

I was open about the part that I had multiple plans post ISB. This was taken positively by the interview panel as one of the most important things for a school is to ensure that its alumni are happy with it. This happens when the students are placed in good companies with good packages. That’s why it is important to have clarity on what you want to achieve post ISB. Due to the word limit in the essay, I could only write my plan A. But during the interview, the topic of my alternate plans came up and I mentioned that I did have a plan B and plan C as well.

3. How did you map your profile to the aspects that ISB is looking for in a candidate?

As I understand, there are a few factors that ISB considers to evaluate the different aspects of an applicant’s profile such as: GMAT Score, Academics, Work experience and extra-curricular achievements and diversity.

You need to have a spike (strong footing) in at least one of these aspects to have at least a fair chance for your admission.

For my case, this was in the diversity aspect. I worked in the government sector and this wasn’t the kind of work that a recent graduate does. This diversity in my work experience was the focus of the conversation during the interview.

For leadership, I didn’t have any staff reporting under me. Hence, I had to find alternate ways to show my leadership. I had taken many initiatives during my career. I had set up new systems in the organization, met with the MD and launched new policies in the workplace. I highlighted these as part of my leadership skill.

4. How did you prepare for your ISB interview?

I decided to opt for ISB after February 2018. I decided not to take a 2 year break from work and so ISB was naturally my first choice. I took my GMAT in August and then started preparing my essays. It took a month and another 5 – 6 days to prepare my essays completely.

A majority of your preparation is during the application phase itself. Interview focuses mainly on what you have done so far and what you want to do post MBA. All of this is already covered in the essay, and an interview is just an opportunity to speak it out in front of the interview panel.

This is why I had spent time in doing research on the possible career options post ISB.

I also went through everything mentioned in my profile and my essays. I went through it line by line and prepared a list of counter – questions that could be asked about everything that was mentioned in my profile. Then I prepared my answers to these questions. This helped me understand my profile better and there were no questions that could possibly be unexpected in the final interview.

Once I was done with the preparation, I went for a mock interview with MBA Sage. A mock is extremely important and everyone should practice at least one mock before their final interview.

5. How did you come across MBA Sage and how was your mock interview experience with MBA Sage?

When I received my interview invite, I was actually on a vacation. I hadn’t practiced any mocks before getting the invite and I only had 4 days to prepare. I looked around for consultants but they were:
a. Very expensive, most consultants had a package deal for interviews with costs above Rs. 10,000.
b. The targeting of their advice was not customized to my profile
c. The package would also include unnecessary mocks with HRs or non – ISBian admission consultants which was not valuable.

I wanted to speak with someone from my background and from ISB, and MBA Sage offered that. Such a person would know what the alumni would expect from me in the final interview.

My mock was scheduled with Sphurti Joglekar and she is the Head of the SREI Infrastructure Club at ISB. She was a strong match to my profile.
Surprisingly, my mock started with a guesstimate question which I hadn’t expected and it came as a good bouncer to me. Thankfully, this alerted me prepare for such questions and a similar question was also asked in my final interview.

She was able to ask targeted questions that gauged my knowledge about the industry I was in and was trying to get into. Plus, since she came from that industry herself, she was able to point out my mistakes and give me relevant feedback on my answers.

6. How was your final interview experience?

My interview panel was of 3 people. All of them were alumni with the youngest being a 2016 graduate.

It started on a good note and they asked questions on my work experience. I had already written about it in my essays but the panel was interested in specifically knowing my role in the achievements that I had mentioned.

I had mentioned that I played a crucial role in improving the cost by X% and so on. The panel asked me what exactly I had done to achieve that. Did I prepare some charts? Did I speak with some stakeholders? They focused in detail about the work I had done at my job.

Then the discussion shifted focus towards why I wanted to join ISB.

I answered that I had been in this industry for 3.5-4 years and I have learned a lot in this sector. But my long term goal is to become a leader in this industry and this would require experience across the table.
I’ve worked in this industry as part of a government body, I wanted to now experience the corporate aspect of it and then the independent consultant roles. I wanted different learning opportunities in my current industry.

ISB was a place that could provide me with the functional knowledge, development of soft skills and relevant network and opportunities to achieve this goal.

Apart from these two main areas, one question that really stumped me was, “What kind of person would your peers describe you as in one single word?”

I answered that my peers would consider me an ‘Advisor’ as I often advise my colleagues on how they can achieve whatever they want to. Although it was a bit unexpected, I think I was able to answer the question well. They asked quite a few cross questions on my answer and hearty laughter filled the room.

When it was my turn to ask them questions, I made a rookie mistake. I asked them if they knew about any new questions that would be introduced at ISB, which as alumni they wouldn’t really be expected to know. Luckily it turned out to be a positive discussion where they explained how supply and demand work for courses at ISB. If there’s a significant number of students who want a course, ISB can help them in getting it started.

I also asked about ELP and how it works, its model and if I can get my company to sponsor an ELP for me.

All in all, it was a very positive experience to have been through an interview at ISB.

7. What would be your advice to future applicants?

The most important advice is to be honest to yourself about why you want to join ISB and what you wish to achieve post ISB.

I’ve made friends during my admissions journey and some of them have now received admission offers from ISB but they are now questioning their decision to pursue ISB in the first place.

Such a situation is extremely unfortunate, not just for the person who has received the admission but also for all the other applicants who were denied that seat.


Edited at MBA SAGE
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