What B-schools look for in a candidate?
Updated on Feb 13, 2017 - 3:01 p.m. IST by Urvashi Dalal
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Top MBA institutes like Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) get lakhs of applications every year, but fact remains that these top notch B-schools offer just a few hundred seats for MBA aspirants. No wonder that these coveted B-schools put in place multi-layered selection procedure to pick best quality students suited to their specific criterion.


So, what are the qualities that the top B-schools look for in a candidate? What distinguishes selected candidates from the rest of the applicants? Careers360 speaks to the admission officers of different B-schools to find out what they look for in a candidate at the final stages of selection process.


The admission offices of different B-schools suggest that MBA entrance exams like CAT and XAT are just a tool for primary level filtration process for B-school aspirants. The final selection of a candidate majorly depends on the next stages of admission process which include group discussion (GD), Personal Interview (PI), Written Ability Test (WAT) or related tools.


Prof Arun Kumar PaulAt different stages of the selection process, Prof Arun Kumar Paul, Faculty, XIMB, says, B-schools also assess “Relevant domain knowledge, personality traits in terms of strengths and weaknesses and the fit to the University’s culture and to the program requirement.”


According to admission officials at top B-schools, the core qualities that an MBA must possess includes a high level of confidence, good communication skills, some amount of quality experience and potential to excel as professional in the management domain. Further, Dr T J Kamalanabhan, Professor and Head at DoMS, IIT Madras adds that a few other qualities that the B-School admission panels looks for in a candidate include attitude, business aptitude and general knowledge; and relevant work experience.


Passion and Thought clarity:

Your passion and clarity of thought towards pursuing an MBA degree can take you closer to your dream MBA institution. Dr Gautam Sinha, Director, IIM Kashipur says “Motivation, and Maturity” is the deciding factors at the final stage.


Mareena MathewAdding to this, Mareena Mathew, Admissions Coordinator, Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship (XIME), says that candidates are also assessed on the basis of their  “Attitude, Outlook, and Commitment” along with their “Learnability and creative thinking ability”.


Many institutes first look at the integrity and mental soundness of the applicant and then specifically looks for a commitment to learning and a passion to achieve. The candidates are also evaluated on the basis of their vision in life. “A candidate is assessed for his/her scholastic aptitude, motivation in terms of what the candidate hopes to attain from pursuing and how he would fit into the requirement and rigour of the programme, maturity that is required to study a post graduate programme and what value addition the student is looking for and what he could bring to the programme,” says Dr Anil J Pinto, Registrar, Christ University.


Communication & Creativity Skills

Communication skill is the key to convince the admission panel on your ability to pursue management education and therefore, MBA aspirants need to express their passion in a way that leverages their chances.


According to B-school admission officials, communication ability influences your admission chances to a great extent. Presentation style and the ability to analyse given situation are also important qualities basis which aspirants are assessed at the final selection stage. Prof Arun Kumar Paul, Faculty, XIMB says, among other key qualities, “The ability to think and communicate (both verbally and non-verbally) and handle stressful situations is very important for final selection stage.”


Group Discussion and Written Ability Test are the tools which B-schools prefer to assess and analyse students’ verbal communication, analytical thinking pattern, and creative writing skills.  Therefore, at GD-PI stage, Dr. Sanjay Dhir, Coordinator - Stakeholder's Engagement, DMS, IIT Delhi, says that “The student must be able to present himself in the best way he can with appropriate communication skills and confidence.”


Dr Raghu Raman, Chairman, Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore adds that admission panels also look into reading habit and grasping ability of students while assessing their communication skills.


Also, demonstrating your abilities and achievements in front of the admission committee is important. It is equally important to not simply boast your resume, rather reflect what you have learned from each experience and your purpose for pursuing an MBA. Unless you are able to present your vision for pursuing a management programme you won’t catch the attention of the panel and that reduces your chances of getting selected.


Leadership and Team skills:

Leadership quality and ability to align with the team to produce a collective result is also the key parameter for admission officials. Many B-schools give special emphasis on group discussions only to see how candidates behave, communicate, and exhibit team spirit while aligning the group towards a particular direction.  


“The group discussions are specifically meant to highlight the team skills and leadership qualities of the Candidates,” says Dr. Sanjay Dhir, Coordinator - Stakeholder's Engagement, DMS, IIT Delhi.


Janak R. Brahmbhatt, Manager (Academics), Institute of Rural Management Anand says that a number of characteristic features combined together bring out the leadership quality of a candidate. The leadership quality is exhibited in “cooperativeness, tolerance, emotional stability, self-initiative, maturity, confidence, trustworthiness, enthusiasm, humility, and pragmatism” of the candidates.


Personality traits

B-schools do also lay emphasis on the personal traits and they also trick candidates to come transparent on their personal character and integrity. During personal interviews, admission panel exhorts candidates on past academic background and work experience to elaborate discussions on life. Particular emphasis is also given to extra‐curricular activities that the candidate has been involved in, indirectly related to whether or not a student will adapt to the institute culture.


Dr. Pratima SheoreyThe factors influencing the students' selection at this stage are based on their academic, personal and psychological backgrounds as well as on their values and ability to perform under pressure,” says Dr. Sanjay Dhir, Coordinator - Stakeholder's Engagement, DMS, IIT Delhi.


The top IIMs or B-schools can read your CV, but what they want is to know how much you know yourself, your education, and your work experiences. Dr. Pratima Sheorey, Director, SCMHRD says, “The focus during a PI is on the candidate’s self-awareness about his work experience/academic background and general awareness.


Ravi Shankar“During such assessment admission panels also seek applicant’s views on current events in his area of interest, and check whether the views are influenced by facts and logic or a position taken without relation to reality,” Ravi Shankar, Training & Development - Programs Officer at IFMR.


Extracurricular excellence

According to Dr Raghu Raman, Chairman, ASB, Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore, extracurricular excellence is one of the criteria for admission which brings out insights on the diversity of candidates’ personality.  Besides this, all established business schools have their own unique culture. So, their take on admission also depends on how you fit into their culture and broad vision.

Other Feature Stories on B-School and MBA:

GD-PI-WAT Topper Interview

Top B-schools MBA Fee

Life @ B-School Campus

Top B-schools Admission Criteria

MBA Internship Series

B-School Placements


Stay tuned to www.bschool.careers360.com for more news and updates

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