The student’s task is to offer a value proposition and convince the panel on his suitability for the management program. Taking the seller-buyer portal forward, the student is able to sell his profile better if he has a connect with the objective of a management program and the personality traits of students previously selected in top B-schools. The objective of a management program is best understood in the following excerpt from the IIM-A website….”the management program attempts to:- a) equip students with the required conceptual and interpersonal skills and a sense of social cause for managerial decision making b) develop leadership capabilities to act as change agents and a source of motivation in the organization which they work in c) nurture the desire to excel in performance without compromising integrity, honesty and fairness”. The students thus need to appreciate that the selection process aims to evaluate them on interpersonal skills, social responsibility, leadership qualities, motivational prowess, team work and an ethical code of conduct. Further, IIM-A mentions the following qualities of students selected to its PGP program over the years…..” high levels of initiative and energy, strong task orientation, capacity for hard work, willingness to learn and a temperament suitable for team work”. The panel’s task is to asses the students on these skills in a limited span of time, and the students’ responsibility is to demonstrate the existence of these managerial traits amidst a series of relentless, mundane pressures. Following are the facts to be kept in mind across various points of evaluation:-
- Group Discussion – In this activity the marketing challenge is to balance the zeal for individual excellence and ability to contribute effectively to the group. The basics of group dynamics need to be upheld, along with an overall demonstration of initiative, clarity of thought, analytical ability and composure. Strong communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, enable to have a better connect with the group. While verbal communication skills are measured on parameters like articulation (clarity of speech), fluency (continuity of speech) and modulation (flavor of speech), non verbal skills are evaluated on positive body language, appropriate levels of gesticulation and an overall poised conduct. An understanding of contemporary issues and opinions on topics of political, economic and social concern facilitate higher comfort levels in handling factual topics, while an ability to think laterally and out of the box gives significant impetus to dealing with abstract topics. It is advisable to contribute effectively and at select, appropriate points of time, rather than an overwhelming indulgence. Supporting facts with examples substantiates your stand and adds conviction to your content. In addition to the above, group discussions entailing case studies require a solution oriented approach, with an ability to identify the problem(s), conduct an analysis of the environment against which the case is constructed, put forth a range of action plans, conduct a cost benefit analysis of the various solutions and converge on an optimal one.
- Personal Interview – The “marketing pitch” intensifies in this round as it requires a personal interface with the panel. Following are the key parameters against which you are evaluated, along with the marketing challenge w.r.t each parameter:-
Introduction – This is the opening part of the student-panel interaction and requires an ability to handle the vastness implicit in an open ended question. Your ability to prioritize desirable traits of your candidature and drop innocuous teasers determines your skill to lead the panel and get them onto a predictable set of questions.
Education – The challenge here is to demonstrate a wholesome learning, with a mix of both academic and extra-curricular activities. Academic learning is further validated in terms of basics and relevance of graduation, comfort level w.r.t core/favorite subjects and projects & industrial training. The focus is constantly on evaluating an empirical connects with the graduation stream and an ability to apply theory to practice. Extra curricular activities are measured on a dual scale – versatility and achievement. While it helps to showcase learning from a range of activities beyond the rigors of the academic curriculum, a certified performance in them is further indicative of your passion to excel.
Current Affairs – Questions on current affairs assess your overall environmental sensitivity, a trait which is a must for managers operating in the constantly changing business scenario. Key events in the political, economic, business and socio-cultural sectors need to be appreciated, with an ability to form opinions on issues of contemporary relevance.
Career Planning – The “marketing challenge” here is to evaluate your time bound plan and the relevance of an MBA. While answering questions on short and long term goals, it is advisable to uphold a clear & logical pitch and to strike a balance between ambition and pragmatism. For example, starting your own venture is indicative a strong entrepreneurial streak, but needs to be backed by an authentic business plan. Similarly, becoming the CEO of a company is wonderfully aspirational, but requires an elaborate detailing of a well defined career path. The focus needs to be on your ability to phase out your career advancement and mention responsibility profiles, rather than job designations.
Personality based questions – This part validates your “self awareness levels”, measured through questions on strengths, weaknesses, role models etc. The focus is on knowing yourself, being able to put forth examples showcasing your strengths, having a remedial plan for overcoming weaknesses and demonstrating learning from people/situations.
The emphasis throughout the selection process is therefore on “marketing yourself”, which is best accomplished if you are able to establish a seller- buyer connect with the panel. Delivering the desired satisfactions becomes easier if you are able to understand the needs of the customer/buyer/panel…. and the need is to find that somebody who is suitable to undergo a formal program in management, that somebody who is high on initiative, lateral thinking, communication, leadership, interpersonal skills etc etc…..the global business manager!
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