ISB Admission

ISB Interview 2022-2023: How to prepare, experiences, common questions, Tips, and Myths

The Indian School of Business (ISB) being the dream business school of several MBA aspirants, applicants put in months of effort in preparing for the GMAT/GRE and developing a strong application. An interview invitation from ISB, therefore, is a welcome development for an applicant – one that takes you much closer to the long-awaited final admit. An interview is normally not a make-or-break step in the admission process but it does hold a significant weight if you are to make it to ISB. This is also your only chance to seal the deal, having worked so hard in the preceding months. It is, therefore, crucial that you prepare well and practice enough to perform to your strengths in the final interview. 

isb-interview

ISB Interview Structure

ISB rolls out the interview invite 4 to 6 days before the interview date. The Interview panel consists of members from the admission committee and ISB alumni. A typical interview lasts for 25-30 minutes and may continue for 35-40 minutes in some cases.

In wake of the Covid- 19 and the absence of a physical environment, ISB interviews are now held virtually.  Through the interview, the panel wants to understand how you fit at ISB. They break down the details of your background, professional experience, future goals, and aspirations to understand you better.

On the day of the interview, you may face connectivity issues, waiting rooms, and stretched interviews. For the convenience of candidates, ISB, in the past, has also moved the video interview to a telephonic one. ISB has designed the interview process in a way that does not put any candidates under undue stress.

Most commonly asked ISB interview questions

Like every business school, ISB focuses on asking a few specific questions. Here is a list of the most commonly asked ISB interview questions: 

  1. Tell us something about yourself
  2. Tell us something that is not there in your application
  3. What do you do at work?
  4. What are some of the challenges you generally face at work?
  5. What is your biggest/best achievement in your career?
  6. Where do you see yourself 3-5yrs from now?
  7. Why MBA?
  8. What if MBA does not happen this year?
  9. Why do you think ISB is the best choice for you?
  10. Do you have any specific questions for the interview panel?

Types of ISB interview questions

There are 4 broad categories under which we can divide the ISB interview questions: 

The interviewers will dive deep into your professional experience seeking information on skills developed, achievements, responsibilities, and business decisions. team structure, project delivery, approach, work culture, etc.

In order to excel in this part, it is important for you to be really well versed in your engagement at work. You can expect the panelists to get into the details of the work mentioned in the application, and the personal values presented in the first essay.

This is an extremely critical part of the process that can decide your future at ISB. Every business school is looking for candidates who add value to their legacy and ISB is no different. The institute prefers candidates who can project clarity in their goals and aspirations. They want to see how ISB fits into your future and how you can contribute to the holistic environment at ISB. 

The interviewees will try to understand the quality of work experience you have had and your plan of action to enhance the same. It is also very important to be aware of the scope of the work and the fundamentals of your work. 

It is okay if you don’t have a fixed goal in mind. ISB will open up many new avenues for you to choose from, and it is justified to have no one option fixed in your mind.

But at the same time, there is a difference between keeping your options open and knowing nothing of your options.

ISB requires its potential graduates to think analytically, be creative, and be multilateral in nature. Every ISB cohort consists of students who are both smart thinkers and all-rounders.

You should be well prepared to answer guesstimates questions and puzzles. Questions related to current affairs, economy, politics, sports, etc. aren’t asked very often but if you mention your interest in one of these subjects, the interviewer may be tempted to understand the authenticity and depth of your interest.

Sanjay Dhingra

“It is often noticed during the interviews that candidates find it hard to defend their achievements as stated in the essays and application form since most of those achievements are inflated or not well thought out. You must make it a point to state only those facts in your application that are realistic, defensible, and genuine; and that you prepare on them religiously and with solid details to back them up.”

Sanjay Dhingra, ex-ISB Admissions Officer, and Chief Mentor at ISBmantra

The questions asked are centered around what is written in the application & essay. The interviewer can ask questions about recent achievements and challenges faced in achieving them. Your application is the most important source of information for the interviewers. 

It’s highly likely that the interviewer may pick on the examples you have listed in your essays or in the application form and go deeper to understand the same. 

In conclusion, you must keep in mind that a successful ISB interview is a balanced mix of preparation,  deep and verified knowledge of your profile, a clear view of your future goals, and an informed mindset

ISB Interview – Evaluation Parameters 

There are two non-negotiable parameters during the ISB interview, quality of work experience and communication skills. Other parameters are the science of leadership potential, team player, and analytical skills. 

Apart from your academics and work experience, ISB also looks at your ability to handle pressure, innovate, and your personal and moral integrity, communication skills, and learnability. Areas like your extracurricular activities and interests beyond your work life give the panel insights into your personal qualities. Overall ISB aims to admit well-rounded and versatile individuals who can contribute to society in positive and meaningful ways. 

We have listed below a few distinctive qualities that ISB looks for in their potential graduates:

  • Leadership in past experiences
  • Consistent thought process
  • Ability to present logical arguments
  • Analytical acumen
  • Conviction in responses
  • Clarity of goals

ISB interview admission & Interview panel

A M Kannan

“At the time of shortlisting, you give the benefit of doubt to the candidate and shortlist anyway if they are on borderline. At the end of the day, the Adcom takes the final decision. The benefit of the doubt at that time goes to the school. While we do not want a deserving candidate to get rejected, we also do not want a non-deserving candidate to come into the school. We focus on maintaining a delicate balance in each batch.“

AM Kannan, Former Director, Admission and Financial Aid at ISB

Every year close to 5000 candidates apply for the flagship program at ISB. The admissions committee at ISB has a set admission process for the same. Let me take you through what happens once you submit your application at ISB.

The ISB admissions committee consists of around 6-7 people. Deputy Dean of Admission, Admission Director, 2-3 ISB faculty members, and 2 senior alumni. There is a difference between the admissions team and admissions committee to avoid any biases. The final decision rests with the senior team members of the Admissions Committee.

Two people from the admissions team will go through your applications once received. The admissions team will then put you under one of the three categories, i.e. yes, no, and maybe. The Admissions Director will take the final call for your applications if there is a tie-breaker.

It is important to note that selected ISB students from the current batch will check your applications. They only give recommendations to the Assistant Director or Associate Director. The admission team ratifies the recommendation and either confirms or negates it. There are chances of rejection for positive recommendations and acceptance of the negative ones

Now let’s talk about the Interview, 2-3 alumni members conduct the ISB interview. Every alumnus on the panel gets training to conduct the interviews. ISB tries to match you with an interviewer with a similar profile but it’s not necessary. E.g. An alumni with a tech background interviews a candidate with a marketing background.

Let us talk about how we can help you. ISBmantra has been a pioneer in the education consulting industry. We are the only Consulting Company with former ISB Admissions Officials on board. Our core team comprises ex ISB senior manager, Director, and Associate Director. 

One of our core team members is Mr. A M Kannan, Senior Mentor at ISBmantra and Ex ISB Director, Admissions and Financial Aid. He worked with ISB as the Director, Admissions and Financial Aid and also coached ISB students on career options during his 7-year stint with ISB. He was heading admissions to the flagship PGP program at ISB to ensure quality intake of students. A graduate of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Bangalore, he has extensive industry exposure and uses his 25+ years of experience to mentor students to identify and achieve the right career path. 

If you wish to be mentored and assisted by ISBmantra in your B-school journey then you can write to us at info@isbmanta.com for a free profile evaluation. 

How to prepare for the ISB Interview?

If you wish to succeed in the interview then your preparations play a crucial role. ISB interview requires thorough and detailed preparation. Given the dynamic nature of the interview, it is essential to have detailed knowledge about your profile and develop the right approach to answer each type of question. Let’s dive into how you should prepare for the interview:  

  1. Mock interviews and strategy sessions:

    Practicing before your ISB interview will make a significant difference in your level of confidence and communication on the day of your actual interview. Ideally, candidates should prepare with people who can help them frame unique answers and structure their thoughts.

  2. Study about ISB:

    Interviewers do not ask direct questions but it gives you an edge if you have done your research. It is good to know about the history of the college, clubs, events and notable alumni, and individuals of the institute. Using the information organically in your answers will show your interest in securing an admit.

  3. Know your story:

    Have control over the direction of the interview. In order to do this, you need to have a clear and ready mind map of your story. You should be prepared to answer any questions and be sure of the statements you make. It is also essential to know your gray areas and work on them eg: career gaps, inconsistent job changes, etc

  4. Have an elevator pitch:

    Most interviews start with the question “Tell me about yourself” In this case having a one-minute crisp, concise, and precise elevator pitch will take you a long way in the interview.

  5. Be presentable:

    Dress Well. Whether the interview is physical or virtual, formal attire with a clean look does add to your personality and presence.

ISB Interview Tips

The interview round helps ISB understand what you bring to the table and know you better. A lot of you might be looking for some interview tips that would help you sail through the process. Do not worry we have you covered! 

  • Your story should have consistency. The content in the LOR and Essay should match. Achievements and actions listed in the LOR should also appear in the essay; it helps in validating your story.
  • You should show and defend your motivation, need, and intent to pursue an MBA. It is also essential to have clarity on career goals. 
  • Make sure to go through your application end to end and do not leave it up to the consultant. Be prepared with behavioral event-based and guesstimate questions. 
  • Do not prepare 50-60 questions and be a parrot during the interview. It shows. 
  • If you are someone with a high amount of work experience then it is necessary that you have demonstrated some amount of leadership experience. 
  • Candidates with less than 2 years of experience should focus on the initiatives taken at the workplace that lead to leadership.
  • Communication is a very important aspect of your interview. Prepare your responses to deliver impact during the interview. Work on how you converse, your language, clarity of thought, your listening skills, and the energy you bring into the room.
  • Enjoy the interview, and be positive, realistic, and honest. It will definitely come across in the interview and, needless to say, ISB values it.

ISB Interview Myths

ISB is undoubtedly the dream college for MBA aspirants across the world. Candidates make sure that they do not leave any stone unturned to add ‘ISB’ into their CVs.  However, there are several myths that have cropped up about ISB interviews. Let’s look at a few ISB myths and bust them for you. 

A high GMAT score will guarantee one’s admission into ISB:

There are 2 types of selection criteria, objective and subjective. GMAT and academic scores are objective criteria and LOR and Essay are subjective criteria and a judgment call. For example, someone can have a high GMAT score and have a poor academic performance and vice versa. It is unfair to compare the application based on the GMAT score. Each candidate in the application pool is compared with other similar candidates. For example, Engineers are compared with engineers.  

The interview panel focuses on weaknesses:

ISB does not believe in harping on the candidate’s weakness. Questions are usually centered around their strengths and work experience. 

Timing of the Interview:

Timing of the interview invite post application does not indicate that you are a more preferred or less preferred candidate. Interview invites are sent on a rolling basis, and this could just be based on when your application was read by the admissions team. 

Duration of the interview :

A typical interview lasts for 25-30 minutes and may continue for 35-40 minutes in some cases. While there are many factors that can affect the length of an interview, duration of the interview does not determine one’s chances of securing an admit. 

ISB panel grills candidates with low GMAT score:

The ISB interview panel does not have access to a candidate’s GMAT score. That said, your GMAT score is only one component of the many factors considered. While a higher score increases your chances of receiving the final admission letter. In the interview process, other objective and subjective criteria also play a pivotal role. The interview questions will be focused on the details mentioned in your application. 

ISB Interview Questions asked in 2021-2022

ISB has recently concluded the second round of admission for their PGP Program. Let us take you through a few unique questions that candidates were asked during their interviews. 

Work Experience Related Questions 

It is important to be aware of the changes and developments happening in organizations you have worked for. For your benefit we have listed below a few questions candidates were asked this year.

  1. What learnings or strengths have you brought from your previous job that helps you with your current role?
  2. Why did you transition from your previous organization to your current one? Was it your choice?
  3. What did you do at your previous job?
  4. Your previous organization has acquired an e-commerce platform – what are your thoughts on that?
  5. Where do you think your previous organization is headed wrt to the new verticals that have come up

Why ISB

It is important for ISB how they fit in your future and why you want to be a part of their institution. Mentioned below are a few questions asked by the interview panel.

  1. Given you’ve had this kind of experience, why do you want an MBA? Why not continue in your current position for a few more years? What is your short-term goal?
  2. What do you hope to take away from ISB and contribute to ISB? 
  3. How would ISB enable you?
  4. What are your post-MBA goals and why can’t you achieve them by staying in your current role/position. 
  5. Why do you need an MBA? Are you sure this is the right school for you?

Questions about yourself

ISB is looking for candidates who have clear goals and aspirations. The interview round helps the panel understand if you are the right fit for ISB. 

  1. Where did you grow up? How has that shaped you?
  2. What are your interests? How have your interests changed you?
  3. Who/what influences me?
  4. You are in the 50% of the applicants with an engineering degree and IT background, what are you gonna do to differentiate yourself from the rest applicants, from an admission perspective?
  5. What is your life story?

ISB Interview Experiences 

ISBmantra has been part of the education industry for over 10 years. We have a decade of experience in mentoring candidates for the wide range of programs offered by the Indian School of Business (ISB). In the last 10 years, we have helped applicants from diverse backgrounds secure an admit to ISB. 

Let’s have a look at a few candidates with diverse backgrounds who secured an admit to ISB through ISBmantra. 

Sagar’s journey to ISB as a re-applicant 

Sagar had close to 7 years of experience when he applied to ISB PGP. He did his undergraduate in Management studies followed by MBA in Communication Management. Over the course of 7 years, he worked on various film marketing campaigns and launched the largest theater initiative in the country. 

“So, I didn’t apply with the same profile to ISB. When I was reapplying I got in touch with ISBmantra, Prashant told me that we can’t change fixed variables in my profile. i.e 10th & 12th scores. Instead, he told me to put all my efforts into the next year. He asked me to work on my GMAT scores, improve the quality of work experience, get a promotion, etc. These small nuances added to the improvement which I put together with ISBmantra’s guidance.” Sagar Shirodkar, ISB PGP Batch 2020

“ISBmantra helped me calm the chaos & turmoil in my mind. The consulting team helped me put together all the bits of my profile into a unique story. The team also helped me gain confidence and clarity of thoughts which reflected well during the interview.” says Sagar 

You can hear more about Sagar’s journey to ISB with ISBmantra in the below video.

Here are a few more ISB interview experiences of successful candidates.

Ramapriya made it to ISB as a Full-time Trek Leader

Ram joined the Hyderabad Campus of ISB in 2020. He has one of the most unique profiles that got into ISB. After completing his engineering, Ram worked in the corporate sector for a short period before becoming a full-time trek leader. Ram was responsible for leading treks in the Himalayas. He planned & executed the terrain, supply of food, local transportation, etc. 

“When I decided to apply to ISB, I knew that the leadership skills I had could easily transition to what a business school is looking for. ISBmantra added a lot of value to my application, the consultants helped me highlight the strengths in my career and my goals.” Ramapriya Ranganath, ISB PGP Batch 2020 

To know more about Ram’s experience as a trek leader and his journey to ISB, check this video.

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FAQS

Does an outstanding profile offset a low GMAT score?

Not necessarily since they are two separate buckets, the definition of the profile is varied. When we talk about the profile, we look at the kind of work done and how it is different. The essay and LOR should also reflect the difference between them and the other applicants.

What are the parameters on which the candidate is evaluated?

There are two non-negotiable parameters during the interview, quality of work experience and communication skills. Other parameters are the science of leadership potential, team player, and analytical skills.

What happens once the interview is completed?

Once the interview has been completed, the interviewer rates the candidate based on the parameters. The admission committee then takes the final call. 

What should reapplicants keep in mind while applying for admission?

Your profile should show incremental change compared to last year. Your key focus should be on highlighting significant changes in your career and profile. Show why you should be considered for ISB. 

What documents do candidates need to carry to the interview location?

Candidates do not need to carry anything except their ID. ISB does not need to verify any certificates related to your degree, work-ex, or achievements, during the time of the interview.

Can I reschedule my ISB interview?

Since the interview is one of the biggest interviews of someone’s professional career, such instances are very rare. In case a candidate is unable to attend an interview in case of emergency, the ISB Admissions Team is very flexible in helping the candidate reschedule the interview. However, it is not advisable unless there is a genuine reason to do the same.

Where can I read about the ISB interview experiences of successful candidates?

Take a look at these ISB interview experiences of successful candidates. These candidates have work experience in Consulting, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and many more industries.

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