So it was the day for my second MBA interview. Strangely enough, I had not felt any nervousness till the day before. But as I got up in the morning, I had started feeling anxious about the interview. I had planned a healthy breakfast considering that the interview was scheduled at 11:10 and it would not serve me any good if i start feeling hunger/weakness in or before the interview. But I really find it hard to eat anything before any exam/interview and as it always happens, this time too, I left for the venue without having anything for the breakfast.

Anyways, I reached the venue 30 minutes before time. I found that my panel was running a bit late as I met a guy, who had a 10:20 slot in the same panel, but was still waiting for his turn at 10:40 and was trying hard to concentrate at his 100-word essay. Other than that, there were three of us, all with a 11:10 slot in different panels. Very soon, the 10;20 guy was called for the interview and three of us were moved to a different room. And then, we were joined by a girl, who was just done with her interview and had to finish off her 100-word essay. As we started to converse, I was surprised to find that I was the only IIM (Indian-IT-Male, in case u don’t know ๐Ÿ™‚ ) there. Was it an omen or a good sign that I am not competing with peers at that particular point of time at least? There was a young Doc, a girl with a family business and then, another girl, who had just returned from Canada, to appear for ISB. (Wow!! That’s some dedication!!)

Soon, we got the word for 100-word essay: regal. I wrote down some random stuff about how in past, the word used to be associated with royal families, but now it’s about the power of your dreams that makes you regal. ๐Ÿ˜

And then, they called me for the interview.
The panel consisted of two alums and an adcom member. One interviewer asked most of the Qs, while others scribbled quick notes as I spoke.

Interviewer 1: We are interested to know what an omnivorous reader means? ( I had described myself as one in Hobbies and interests section)
Me: Drew parallels between the food-habit based classification of animals and then told them that the way an omnivorous animal eats everything (plants and animals), an omnivorous reader devours everything from business to classics to thrillers to humour.

Interviewers [ Looked satisfied, but no further questioning about specific books, which I had expected ]
Interviewer 1: We see that you won the award for a Geeky idea, what was that?
Me:ย  Began by explaining that the same idea won the award for most popular idea in the same software-design contest. Explained the idea in non-techie terms.

Interviewers [ Looked impressed with the explanation of the idea, but no further cross-questioning ]

Interviewer 1: You have written taht you are a very innovative person, can you give some examples?
Me: Gave some generic gyan about how I am always looking for better ideas to complete a task speedily. Then, gave a specific example, trying to keep it as non-technical as I could.

Interviewer, not convinced with the non-techie explanation, dug in details and I had to resort to some technical blabber. Can you believe it: I had to explain “memory leaks” here ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ? And no, none of the interviewers had a techie-background.(as i came to know later) ๐Ÿ™ But now, he seemed okayishly satisfied.

Interviewer 1: You have quoted leadershipin your essays. Can you tell what was the defining moment in leadership for you?
Me: Thought for a while, then said, no specific defining moment as leadership has come gradually to me. Gave examples of how I staretd as one of few volunteers from first year in the college and then how I gradually rose to the leadership positions like coordinator of fests etc. Mentioned that I continue in similar positions.
[ Expected a follow up Q on similar positions, where I could explain my current extra-curricular leadership examples. But none came. ๐Ÿ™ ]

Interviewer 1: Assuming you are an advisor to Ram Mynampati, what advice would you give him?
Me: Explained that I have seen a similar situation. My previous company was involved in an accounting fraud. And then, they fought back with some rebranding. The main reason that they could fight back was that the accounting fraud didn’t change the fact that they had some great engineers workingfor them and that they really made some great software products.
Similarly, the current scenario at Satyam does not change the fact that they have a great workforce or that in past, they have provided excellent software services to their clients or that they are the official Software service providers for FIFA World Cup 2010.
So my advice would be to stay focussed and may be, try a bit of rebranding to signal the market that you have changed (My previous employer used this successfully)

[ This answer was interspersed with a some cross-questions. It was good to know that Interviewer1 knew about the accounting fraud in my previous company. Overall, the interviewers looked impressed with my homework. ]

Interviewer 1: Do you have any questions for us?
Me:ย  [ What!!! AFAIK, this indicates the end of the interview. And many aspects of my candidature are still untouched!! And some of these were the most significant ones.. I have not said anything about my extra-curricular activities, I have not got a chance to tell them about my in-depth research on ISB or my visit to ISB, And noone has asked me about my post-MBA goals.] Enquired about which of them were alums. And then asked about their time at ISB and how it helped them in their career?

Interviewer 2: She had planned on starting her enterpreneurial venture 5-10 years down the line. But ISB gave her the conviction to start it within a few years of her graduation.
Me: Did you take the elective of PAEV: Planning an Enterpreneurship venture? I have read a lot about it and am excited to know about it firsthand.
Interviewer 2: No, I didn’t
Interviewer 1: It actually is a very good course. [ Explained in a bit detail about it.]
Me: Followed up with my homework on the course, then interviewer 1 moved on to his experience with ISB.

Interviewer 1: Had been working with ISB for about 5 years after his graduation. Worked towards building Exchange Programs with leading B-schools of the world
Me: Complemented him on this as today, you name a top B-school and it’s on ISB Exchange program list. Told him that on this front, ISB is the best in the region.
Interviewer 1: It’s in fact best in the world!!

Interviewer 3:BTW, what do you want to do after your MBA?
Me:ย  Would return to technology. In short term, tech-consulting. Told them that consulting is not a goal that I am looking at, I see it as a finishing school for my long term goals.
In long term, leadership position in technlogy: may be with some software-product company or maybe starting my own venture.

Interviewer 1: Do you think that in current situation, tech-consulting jobs would be easy to come by?
Me: Told them that even if they are difficult to come by, the cobination of grroming at ISB and my strong tech-background makes me a very strong candidate for such jobs. Explained how I have an edge over typical IT guy due to my unique background.
[ Expected some follow-up Qs, none came.]

Interviewer 2: You have mentioned leadership at so many places in your application. What qualities do you feel constitute leadership?
Me: Blabbered about team-work, vision, desire for excellence, alluding to the fact that at different points in time I have displayed them all.
[ Expected a follow-up Q on what I had alluded to, none came ]
Interviewer 1:It was nice meeting you. All the best!!
Me: Shook hands with all three and left.
Overall, I am not too satisfied with the interview. I know that I had handled most Qs well. But I really didn’t get a chance to showcase some of the best things in my profile. (Though I have highlighted most of these in my application) If i get an admit, I would forget this all. But in case they decide to ding me, I would be very disappointed on being dinged without showing them my full candidature. I know that I have a decent chance, but after the Duke Debacle, I would not like to keep my hopes too high for anything.

Quick tip for others:
Don’t rely too much on follow up Qs. If you have a point to make, speak it out whenever you have a chance for the same.
Quick Tip2: Don’t mention Satyam, if you can avoid it. I met a girl, who was stopped midway in her answer, when she mentioned Satyam: “Let us not talk about Satyam!!”. It seems that the media has been a bit too harsh about ths ISB-Satyam connection and they have already discussed it too much.

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12 Responses to “Done with ISB interview!”

  1. thamizhosai says:

    it’s a good detailed post. i have a positive feel about ur interview. All the best.

  2. ahembeea says:

    That seems like a perfect interview! Good luck and sincerely hope it works out ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. MBAlmighty says:

    Sounds good buddy! Finges crossed, hope for the best! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Prachi says:

    This feedback will definitely help many future aspirants..some very good points out there..

    Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping for a positive outcome …All the best ….

  5. Hrishika says:

    sounds excellents… thanks for posting.. have an imp interview coming up, I think your structure gives me a really good idea of how i can put forth my answers ๐Ÿ™‚ PS – Seems we have some stuff in common.. an unexpected ding from duke, and very similar career goals

  6. Prashant says:

    Sounds good! ATB for your admit!!

  7. McCoy says:

    Sounds good.. San!
    dont worry.. its gonna be good.

  8. Vanita says:

    All the best!!!!! I am a regular visitor of your profile. You are doing great work. I am also in IT (java/j2ee) and have a dream to get into ISB. Your posts inspire me alot.


  9. Vaibhav says:

    Nice point about Satyam. I can clearly see that they have had enough of that episode…

  10. sameer says:

    Congrats. You will surely make it. and thanks for the insights.

  11. Anish says:

    I think you’ll get through.
    You have handled some questions very well and none in a bad way. From my ISB i/v exp (got ding), I think they’ll take u.
    I hope to meet you in Hyderabad (am working here) this April!!

  12. Geeta M says:

    Hi Shobhit,

    I feel the i/v went positive and you should get the admit here too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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