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 Home>>Secrets of success for a B-School entre

Secrets Of Success For A B-School Entre

B-schools conduct Group Discussions /Personal Interviews when students have already gone through an acid test. Isnt clearing MBA entrance test enough to show that you are worth it? The simple answer is NO, because B-schools are not simply looking for walking dictionaries or logarithm books, deduces, The Career Launcher Research Team

Rhyme for all-time reference

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

‘For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost’ — an oft-quoted proverb deduced from a nursery rhyme teaches us that big things can be lost over trivial matters. However, what is more important is to understand the underlying process — how one thing led to another, and ultimately, to a bigger consequence.The process of winning and losing in GD/PI is also similar. One mistake can lead to another and then the next. So it’s important to critically analyse the entire process.

There is no set of rules that can teach you what to, and what not to do in GD/PI. This is because it is a process to assess a candidate’s personality, and you cannot apply the same set of rules to every individual. What becomes important in such a scenario is to understand the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of GD; and arrive at your own rules that fit your personality.

The first things first — why
B-schools conduct GD/PI when students have already gone through an acid test. Isn’t clearing MBA entrance test enough to show that you are worth it? The simple answer is NO, because B-schools are not simply looking for walking dictionaries or logarithm books.They want candidates who can be trained and polished to be managers.The entrance test is just one stage where they see whether you have the basic acumen to understand the course that will be taught during the MBA programme. In that, too, some parts of personality, like ability to take decisions, ability to perform under pressure, and analytical and logical thinking, are assessed. But in order to get a complete idea of a candidate’s personality, B-schools go through this long process.

Group discussions and personal interviews are accepted tools to select a student, because in a limited time they can give a fair idea to B-schools whether a candidate can become a manager or not. This brings us to another question: are managerial traits natural or can they be acquired? If they are natural, what is the need to do MBA?

An MBA course teaches students how to achieve larger goals and it polishes those personality traits. But there are some basic traits that a candidate should have to go through the MBA process and to know that, institutes conduct GD/PI.

Group discussion

A group discussion is generally a 20-to-30 minute process whose larger objective is to select those candidates who have the ability to perform in a team. Apart from this, the kind of topic given, also helps panelists to know various traits of a candidate’s personality. In most  of the GDs’, you are made to sit in a semi-circle and discuss a given topic.The topic can be as general as ‘Women make better managers’ or as specific as ‘India-US nuclear deal’. What matters in group discussion is your stand on the topic, your ability to analyse, your awareness about the topic, and the way you present it. One person from the group is asked to introduce the topic, what follows is the discussion and the conclusion. The focus here is more on leadership and decision making, because in a GD you may or may not reach a consensus since the issues given to you are debatable. The end result of GD will not always be to reach a consensus, but to assess your people skill.

Who wins?
Those who have:
Good listening skills: Listening doesn’t mean hearing. It means understanding what the other person is saying. If you have good listening skills, you will be able to keep a track of where the group discussion is moving. You will know different points that have already been raised and you have to bring in some new point.

Knowledge of the topic: Earlier it was just about discussing pros and cons of an issue, but now knowledge gathered from various sources, analysed and presented in a structured form, holds the key to success in GD.

Reading newspapers, magazines, and going through Economic Survey would help in enriching the content of GD.

Confidence: You might have all the knowledge and good listening and analytical skills, but if you do not have confidence to assert what you are saying is right, that might prove to be detrimental.

Introduction: Introducing the topic can make or break the situation. Explain the topic, don’t read what is written.

Say what you think of it. People think that taking a stand in a GD might go against them. But there is difference in being assertive and in being rigid. You are expected to give your point of view.

Who loses?

Those who speak a lot: Of course, not speaking in GD will not take you anywhere but speaking too much can also make you lose the GD. Remember, it is not a one-man show. It is a group discussion. If you try to grab the attention of the panelists, cut other person short, it shows that you are not a team player. If you do not speak in the entire GD, but give valid points twice that can add value to the discussion, then you will be appreciated.

Those who become emotional: There are topics that involve some sensitive issues. You have all the valid points to support that women make better managers, but bringing in the element of argument and accusing other persons in the group will only get you rejected.|

Those who over-dominate: You are taking and managing the group discussion well, listening to the arguments, giving your point of view and letting everyone speak. Everything is in your favour and suddenly you decide to be a godfather of somebody who has not spoken at all and who doesn’t have one single argument to present.

Cutting short somebody who is making a valid point and asking the silent one to speak, can actually go against you.

Personal interview
Your academic skills were checked in the entrance test, your people skills in GD. Now, comes the turn of gauging you on your own standards. The B-schools want to know how much you are aware of yourself and how much you relate your goals to your personal self.

Students spend most of the time in going through course books whereas 90 per cent of the interview questions are based on you. But answering questions on yourself can catch you in a tight spot. There can be some rules set when it comes to GD because there are certain expected etiquettes, but there can be no rules set for the interview because everyone has sui generis personality. The best way to tackle interview is to sit and know yourself in and out. Think why you want to pursue an MBA. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Not only will it help you analyse your personality, but will also help you prepare for many other questions for the interview, including:

Why do you want to do MBA?
What are your personal goals?
Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
What are your hobbies?
What are your strengths and weakness?
Tell us about yourself.

Who wins?
Those with:
Self awareness: You should be able to delve on each and every aspect of your personality, family background, the city you come from and the institutes you have studied in. If you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to justify them. For example, the panelists may ask someone about his poor academic record. As long as he knows why he under-performed, he can come up trumps.

Goal clarity: You should know how the MBA programme will help you achieve your long-term goals. There might be different reasons for doing MBA, for different people, and even for one person there can be more than one objective to do MBA. But you should analyse it beforehand rather than doing it in front of the panel.

Ability to remain calm: The real you comes up when you are under pressure situation.The panelist will try to grill you on your weakness or on the answers you are giving. They want to put you under pressure and see whether you lose your calm once put under pressure.

Who loses?
Those who:
Give practised answers: You have your own strengths and weaknesses. But while attending the mock interviews, you were told how some students gave impressive answers and got selected. If you try to give the same answers, you might be caught.

Lie to the panellists: They are very experienced people and can catch you if you try to bluff them on your academic record, or on a fact-based question, or when you try to answer the question even if you don’t know the answer.

Think that the battle is over: The interview is not over till the last question is asked. The moment a candidate says, “I am sorry, Sir, I don’t know the answer,” he starts coming under the pressure. There is no harm in accepting that you do not know what the population of China is.

Belling the non-cats

IBSAT – 31st Dec 08
JMET 2009 – 14th Dec 08
XAT 2009 – 4th Jan 09
SNAP – 21nd Dec 08
NMAT 2008 – 28th Dec 08
TATA Institute of Social Sciences – 14th Dec 08
AIMA-MAT – 7th Dec 08
FMS – 11th Jan 09

If your preparation for CAT is sound, then the non-CAT exams should require less preparation. They would require application of the skills honed till now. But the competition for seats in institutes like XAT and FMS is even higher than CAT, because the number of seats in these institutes is significantly lesser than the IIMs.

XAT  (4th Jan 2009): The XAT 2008 paper was nowhere comparable to the standard of XAT 2007. By and large, the RC passages entailed time-consuming reading. However, many of the questions were easy.The sentence completion questions were fairly simple. The paper had its share of critical reasoning questions, and, even here, the language of the questions was often vague and unclear. As regards XAT, you may not require to prepare much, if your CAT preparation is fine. You can orient yourself to poems which keep appearing in XAT. You can also specifically orient yourself to caselets, decision making questions and homophones which appeared last year.

FMS  (11th Jan 09): The questions in the English section have been of a moderate to difficult level. The words given for analogies, fill in the blanks and synonyms, are tough in terms of knowing their meaning. Other questions, such as classification into maxim, paroxysm, diatribe, etc, are also quite difficult. However, some questions such as those on idioms, quote and unquote, are of an average level. The passages given last year were all of high difficulty level, with the topics focussing on subjects like Psychology, Economics, Intermingling of senses, etc. Hence, FMS really requires you to consolidate on your CAT preparation in terms of Vocabulary and RC. Just continue the good work after CAT.

JMET (14th Dec 08): JMET is a much sought-after exam for engineers. The English section is of moderate to difficult level. The RC passages are generally short to medium in length but have close choices. JMET also has a good number of questions on Verbal Reasoning. Be prepared for tough syllogisms and critical reasoning questions.

IIFT (  23rd Nov 08 ): IIFT has displayed some experimental question types in the area of homophones and reading comprehension, but they are attemptable. It has a typical question type in Reading Comprehension where statements from the passage are picked up and there are true/false questions, or even match the following type questions.

SNAP  (21nd Dec 08) and NMAT ( 28th Dec 08): These two papers have been relatively on the easier side, with attemptable questions of various standard types in the English section. NMAT often comes up with some non-standard types like probably true/false types in the logic part. But they are crackable.

All in all, the English sections of most of the exams are getting more and more challenging. It also means that a well prepared student will crack most of the exams!

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