Getting into B-School: Are You Ready for the Next Round

Now that most of the students who appeared for CAT or other examinations for entry to the prestigious Business schools are waiting eagerly for their results, many have already begun the preparation for the next stage of evaluation. The second round of screening involves group discussion and personal interview, though some of the B-schools have also introduced written ability test and extempore speech. Besides these, grooming, body language and etiquettes are inbuilt in the assessment parameters of GD and PI. All these criteria are important as Management institutions are supposed to build the future business leaders, entrepreneurs, academicians, and even bureaucrats.

B-schools generally assign a maximum weight to the written examinations such as CAT, MAT, XAT, etc. followed by Personal Interview, Group Discussion, and Academic performance. Off late, a large proportion of students who score very high percentile in entrance examinations are found to be lacking in verbal or written English communication. Therefore, some prestigious B-schools have introduced extempore speech and written ability test (WAT) also in their screening process.

In the following passage, the above-mentioned selection criteria have been briefly discussed along with a few tips on tackling them.

I. Extempore Speech

Its purpose is to assess the body language, confidence, creative thinking, and clarity of thoughts, vocabulary, time management and command over the language. For preparation, you need to work on two aspects; topics and their delivery. You must read newspapers regularly and search for a few abstract topics as well those related to sports, business, current events, entertainment, and politics. Practice speaking in front of the mirror, family, and friends and also get your video recorded on mobile, so that you may notice your mistakes later on. It is important that your speech is precise and relevant to the topic. Do not repeat the same idea as it will convey that you are short of content and knowledge. Avoid slangs, use of controversial or outdated information. Try to maintain your confidence and cool and take a long deep breath to avoid nervousness. It is always better to assimilate your thoughts or sentences first and then begin rather than starting instantaneously and trying to recollect the contents later on. At times, if not comfortable or ignorant, asking for an alternate topic is better than starting with half-baked content.

II. Written Ability Test (WAT)

Future managers are required to communicate extensively with their clients, colleagues and business partners. It is therefore vital that no wrong or misleading communication is passed on as the reputation of their organization is at stake. Keeping this in mind, a few B-schools have introduced a written ability test as an additional screening stage. WAT is generally in the form of an essay but it could also be an e-mail or a business letter. The purpose is mainly to assess the writing abilities of the candidate. The sentences should be crisp and grammatically correct without any spelling errors. The use of flowery language may not be that significant but more emphasis should be on the use of words, punctuations, conjunctions, etc. so as to convey the right meaning related to the topic. Also, handwriting should be neat and clear and cuttings should be avoided. It is better if you pick some topics and write a few paragraphs on each one of them without any help. Later, get those checked by some language faculty or expert.

III. Group Discussion (GD)

The GD is conducted to assess the leadership, oratory and team skills of the candidate as well as his knowledge of the current business environment and recent events. For preparation, you must write at least 500 words on your own on each of the probable GD topics. This will help in framing your own ideas and assimilating them. For practice, it is always better to do a mock GD with a group of friends. One amongst you can make a video recording and act as a moderator. He can later provide valuable feedback to each, on the shortcomings and mistakes.

During GD, it is important to initiate the discussion but you should have valid points, to begin with. If not an initiator, try to be among the first three speakers and do not expect others to give you the chance to speak. While maintaining the decorum, you must assert yourself to begin and remain in the discussion throughout. It is always better to keep adding some new dimensions to the topic so that discussion gets centered on you. When 2-3 candidates simultaneously start speaking and create a fish market situation, better wait for a couple of seconds. You may also interrupt and politely ask them to speak one by one. Also, your gesture, body language, and facial expression should convey that you are sincerely and keenly participating in the discussion and taking interest in it. Never look at the moderator during the discussion.

IV. Personal Interview (PI)

This is the most important screening process in which candidates are assessed on Subject Knowledge, General Awareness, Attitude, Etiquettes, and Attire. While going for the PI, brush-up your graduation subjects thoroughly. You should have a clear understanding of the popular theories or concepts related to the courses studied. You should also be aware of important events that have recently happened nationally or internationally. Also, go through the application form that you filled up for that particular B-school.

One question that is most commonly asked is ‘Tell us about yourself’ or ‘Introduce Yourself’. This is a tricky question as the interviewer may pick a lot of weak spots from this introduction and may cross-question you to make you nervous and confused. Your initial introduction should be brief and must mention mostly those aspects which are not mentioned in the application form. You can tell about the graduation stream, experience if any, internships or training programs and your interests and hobbies. You may be asked the justification for opting for a management course instead of going for a job, PSU competitions or post-graduation in the existing stream. You may also be asked about your career plans on completion of the management program, after two years. Always take permission before entering the room and while taking the seat. Greet the interviewers before sitting and thank them while leaving the room. Always look straight into the eyes of the interviewer and do not look elsewhere while answering the questions. Your attire should be professional i.e. plain shirt, dark-colored trousers, coat, tie or scarf, polished leather shoes, shaven beard in case of boys and neatly combed or tied hair. This attire is still preferred by most of the corporate professionals.

There is no single recipe for success, yet some of these guidelines might be of assistance to those who are appearing for such processes for the first time or have not undergone any coaching previously. These tips might be helpful to the job aspirants as a similar process is generally followed by the companies while hiring freshers from the campuses.

At JIMS, Rohini, screening of students for admission to various PGDM programs is done on some of the above-mentioned criteria. Besides, special sessions are held regularly for the existing students to prepare them for the GD, PI and written tests for the forthcoming placements processes.

Dr. Sumesh Raizada 

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