A primer on securing admission to the MBA institute of your choice By Mansie Dewan
A candidate’s pre-MBA profile plays a significant role in their job hunt post-MBA. Employers need to know whether a candidate has a history of consistent achievement and success, and if there is a clear line of progression in their career timeline. Previous work achievements demonstrate potential and can therefore swing the odds in a candidate’s favour.
Identifying the right schools is the first step in the MBA application process and should ideally start even before the GMAT is taken. The reason is simple — once you know the schools you want to apply to, you can work on getting the requisite GMAT score to make you competitive for it. Choice of schools should not just depend on rankings but also on the school’s offerings and how they fit with your career goals.
MBA aspirants are repeatedly advised to get perspectives from alumni or seniors on potential paths after an MBA, and also explore the pros and cons. With a clear goal, it is easier to focus on the right resources and connections that you need.
Start with introspecting on your geographical preference, the domain you want to specialise in, visa norms of the country and the duration of programme. Then, scrutinise school’s curriculum, companies that come to recruit on campus, industries and roles students get inducted in on graduating and extracurricular opportunities. Also, look at the return on investment and scope for scholarships and aids. Once you have information on each of these components, it will become easy to identify the schools you are interested in applying to, before you develop an action plan to get started.
The GMAT is a big component that decides the kind of schools a candidate can apply to. Year after year, with skyrocketing scores, the most sought after B-schools globally are spoilt for choice. And considering the huge number of applications from India, it is important to achieve a benchmark score that highlights your capabilities to participate in a rigorous MBA programme. It is also a testament of your stamina and planning. Equally important is the fact that a good GMAT score brings in hefty financial aids and well-paying jobs post-MBA.
There are different ways to prepare for it. Regardless of whether you study yourself or join a course, it is crucial to develop a systematic study plan and practise regularly. Familiarising yourself with the concepts and skills tested in the GMAT and the test structure and format are the first steps. A diagnostic or practice test provides a good starting baseline.
This can help in guiding and focusing the test taker’s preparation based on their personal areas of strength and weakness. Practising different types of questions and taking GMAT practise tests helps test-takers in continuing to improve their skills and achieving their personal best.
The mba.com website offers a GMAT Prep Timeline which helps students prepare a study plan (including tips, products, advice and resources), recognising that every individual has a different learning style. It is advisable to design a study plan that fits with your lifestyle, pace, learning goals and timing.
GMAT is a standardised test and it is important to identify patterns and work towards solving the questions. Hence, the official questions are a goldmine.
Applications are your first interaction with the admissions committees and the only platform for you to showcase your strengths, aspirations and fit with your target business school. Your resume, application data form, essays and recommendations need to be in sync with one another. They should be accurate and project your profile to its full advantage to garner the attention of the admissions committee and land you an interview invite.
Beyond the tangible components (the GMAT, your grades, where you went to college, where you worked and so on), it is also important to bring to attention the intangible components of your profile such as unique talents, strengths and experiences that distinguish you. Therefore, each application section should be used very carefully, ensuring that together they form a holistic and appealing masterpiece, setting you apart from the rest of the competitive pool.
Through your interview, you reveal yourself more comprehensively to the admissions committee. Your body language, how you’re dressed, your responses, your tone, your communication style, along with the kind of responses you give to the questions asked, will help in establishing your authenticity and validate your readiness to be inducted into the incoming class. Be honest in your essays and interview. The interview aims at evaluating if the school would be able to help you meet your professional aspirations through the programme. If you aren’t honest with your objectives, you may be disappointed with the results.
Project yourself transparently and honestly, depicting your aspiration for a particular MBA programme. The interview is the final stage that decides your fate, whether you’ll be accepted or rejected.
The bottomline is, know the programme and school well, understand and be in a position to highlight how the school and you are a good fit together and be prepared to elucidate and detail the level of efforts you’ve put in to reach the conclusion!
The writer is an admissions coach and author of ‘The MBA Run’.
The interview aims at evaluating if the school can help you meet your professional aspirations.