ISB MBA Interview
Candidates are generally called for an interview with 4 to 6 days of prior notice. The ISB PGP interview panel consists of admission committee and alumni. The interview typically lasts for 25-30 minutes or may continue for 35-40 minutes.
Questions asked in the interview can vary from personal experiences, professional achievements, short term and long term goals and industry and general awareness (in rare cases). All candidates appearing for ISB PGP interview are evaluated on 4 parameters – Leadership qualities, Team work, Communication skills and Analytical skills.
It will pay off if you are aware of ISB’s mission, vision and values and align your application and answers accordingly. Schools love to hear such answers.
Frequently Asked Interview Questions
Why ISB? Why do you want to join ISB?
What is your short-term goal after MBA or 5-year goal? What is your long-term goal?
How can you add value to our class? Why should we select you and not anyone else?
Do you have any questions for us/me?
Other questions to watch out for – Situational questions, Behavioral questions, Cross questions based on your answers
One word essays to practise – Significant, Reward, Nightmares, Fallacy
Interview Transcript - 1
It started with a one word essay, word being nightmare.
Then they asked me what kind of nightmares do you have. I said mostly the ones where I have failed to achieve my goals. They asked me what was the last nightmare you had. I said a couple weeks ago, I had a nightmare in which I didn’t get an interview call. It was scary, they laughed it off.
Then the real interview began, they asked me, you had interviewed previously for YLP, what has changed since the last time. I said I have got more clarity on why i need this MBA from ISB, I have matured as a professional and acquired new skills in the last three years. I have also got a better GMAT score this time and most importantly I am a lot more confident.
Then they asked me why ISB, i told them, ISB has the right mix of repute, faculty, infrastructure and alum network to help a budding entrepreneur. Also, talked about how ISB can get me the kind of exposure and job i want. They asked me what’s the kind of job you want after MBA, i told them business technology industry me product development /manager role. They then asked me what kind of companies would you be targeting, name some… i said hacker earth, instamojo, inmobi etc. They then asked in detail about inmobi, i told them the basic bio of the company, the acquisitions and funding etc.
Next they asked me why would a company hire you as a product manager. i talked about the core abilities of any successful product manager… leadership, creativity, market analytics, technical knowledge, then i said i have all of these skills.
Then they asked me about music, and about my performances at various places. They asked if you’re so good, why not try a career in music instead, i said am passionate about music, but recently I have been more passionate about technology, also I consider it as a hobby.
Then I think they tried to stress me out, by saying that my essays are so much brighter than me, i told them, yeah, i am proud of my content writing abilities and if I could match my spoken skills to my writing ability I would be the happiest person ever.
They tried another stress question, asking me the 3rd line of the second para of my second essay, to their surprise I recalled the exact line.
They moved to the application again, asking about my long-term goal of entrepreneurship and if I had a business model, i detailed my plans did a little market and revenue computation, and they were satisfied. They asked me for questions for them, i asked about clubs in ISB and how the election process happens. They replied in detail. End of interview.
Interview Transcript - 2
Every Indian applies to ISB after taking GMAT, I too applied in the same in R2.
some of my friends and batch-mates were already studying at ISB and they were appreciative of the ISB’s curriculum, career services, clubs etc.
I got an Interview call on 30th Jan, 2016 and it was an Off-campus Interview in Delhi. There were 2 alumni (supposedly from the same background as mine since they asked me few technical questions on my experience).
The questions were:
- Are you a Trained Dancer? Why don’t you pursue that?
I was not but since I mentioned that I teach in a dance studio, they probably presumed that.
- What’s the name of the dance studio you work at?
- They scanned my application hard-copy and were prepared to grill me on some results achieved. How did you achieve those results?
- How and why did you shift into this different domain? I don’t think technical people can do that?
- How would you achieve the Post-MBA goal you have written? What would you do at ISB?
- Why did you shift back to technical work? I think they were really skeptical of my work experience.
- Why ISB? Why MBA now?
- Questions for us?
I asked 2 questions. They responded perfectly clearing my concerns.
Overall it was a nice experience though I was sure they were not fully convinced of my work profile.
Interview Transcript - 3
Had my interview yesterday.
Location: Delhi, 4:15pm, Panel 8
Panel: 2 alums (both co2011) + 1 ISB ELP committee director
One word essay was on ‘Reward’. Interview was brief (20-25 mins max). No grilling or cross questioning. Panel found my profile interesting. Questions were as follows:
1) Why do you want to leave your business (even though its a profitable venture with annual sales of Rs.1.5 crore) and Why come to ISB?
2) How did you get into this business?
3) Take us through your professional journey so far
4) Take your own business as a case study. What will you do to improve the margins? What are the problems involved?
5) How did you get into quizzing (had mentioned it as my hobby)?
6) Do you know what consulting companies look for while hiring candidates? (had mentioned consulting as post-MBA goal)
7) How do you think your entrepreneurship experience will help you in your consulting career?
No guesstimations questions at all. No questions on my EY experience.
Interview Transcript - 4
They started with the incident that I talked about in my first essay (Professional achievement) – like why it happened, how it happened, how did i tackle etc. and asked me a lot of question on that.
They had completely gone through the application (every word of it)
After this, they actual started the interview and followed it up with the usual questions –
Why did you choose your post MBA career to take up the role of “x”?
How will ISB help you perform better in the role of “x”?
Why not stay back in the current organization?
Why specifically ISB and how will you contribute?
Why not part time MBA?
Since I am from IT and with 8+ yrs. of experience, they questioned me on my post MBA aspirations a lot and questioned me on what if I did not get a job that I was looking for post ISB?
Interview Transcript - 5
Interview: 28th Feb, Mohali Campus
Interview was scheduled at 10:20. Reached the venue at 8:30 am. There were only another candidate who was scheduled for a 9:40 interview.
At 9, we were given our one word essay. Mine was “significant”.
Wrote something instinctively. The first person was called at around 10:25. Could heard the admissions coordinator that work load for 2 days was being pushed squeezed in a day. (there were around 20 candidates and only one panel). The interviewers seemed a bit miffed with the scheduling. So, I expected a short interview. The first one got over in 10-15 minutes. The first person coming out mentioned that they were asking generic questions. I had to wait another 15-20 minutes before I was called. Two professors (later found out that both were assistant / deputy deans), middle aged and it was a conference room (with a whole view of what’s happening outside). I greeted both and was asked to sit down.
P1: We have gone through your profile? You can give your introduction in two minutes? Mentioned family background, academic background, professional background
P2: What is this fellowship you were awarded? Talked in brief
P1: You have this offer to join US based startup, why not join it? Told that I lack operational skills – and do not find myself competent of setting up a business in a foreign country. Probably, after a PGP, I might consider.
P2: Why not Public Policy? Told them that I have an offer from LSE & Columbia for their two year MPAs. But at that time, I wanted to research on Gross Happiness Index for India, UK is already measuring it. However, I felt that it is too far fledged idea for India as we have other priorities, got exposure in corporate side and I feel the real development can only happen by creating jobs.
P1: Where do you see yourself ten years from now? I mentioned heading a vertical in a company. Then linked to roles in my present industry and what I want to do.
P1: You have an impressive profile, have political background, why not join Politics. You understand macro scenario well? Why not join AAP? I said I would have contested elections but AAP did not contest Haryana elections after their Lok Sabha debacle. (P1 nodded in agreement and mentioned certain reasons) But a lot of cross questioning followed.
P1: Is the transition to corporate side because you were disillusioned and felt lost in the value chain? I mentioned my contributions and highlighted that these were no small things. Every day I was influencing policy and legislation. Gave specific examples.
P2: How was your experience working with an MP? Did you enjoy it? I started with how there is misconceived notion that MPs do not work, and people only judge them by what they see in Lok Sabha. There is a lot of work – committee work and other issues. I counted all the committees – home, defense, civil aviation, children, food security, etc.,- that he was a member of and how hard we all worked towards everything. (P1 mentioned that he knows a few leaders, and they do work 14-16 hours everyday).
P2: What is short-term goal? Mentioned what I had written in my essays. Want to get into an operational role in the energy sector itself. Talked about coal auctions, power sector scenario. Gave a good sense of both these sectors
P2: What is the difference between this govt. and the previous govt. Mention three. 1) How the corruption index seemed to have gone down. Or at least the perceived corruption level has gone down (P1 agreed and said at least at the top level) 2) Talked about the previous govt.’s obsession with right-welfare based approach (RTE, NREGA, Food security), whereas this Govt. identifies areas and targets them in a mission mode (Make in India, etc) 3) Bureaucracy (P2 pre-empts – it does not work?) is empowered. PM directly deals with them and wants them to directly reach out to him. (P1 agreed again).
P2: Keeping aside your previous experiences, how would you rate this Government? I mentioned I am biased. P2 smiled and said try to be neutral. I said, that I have been observing the Governments working and there are two parameters: Social and Economic. On the social front, the Government is not doing pretty well and there are cuts in the budgets of various social sector schemes and on the economic front- the Govt is trying, but its hands are tied. Banking system is full of NPAs, so they are not able to lend generously. Moreover, the industry is full of debt, and most of the companies are trying to get rid of debt. So there is not much investment happening. It is a vicious cycle and something major needs to be done (no counter question)
P2: Tell me again, what do you want to do? Was very specific again. re-iterated again. Explained the scope and opportunities in power sector and coal sector again from a different perspective. Explained the skills I lacked.
P2: Will you take a sabbatical? I said yes.
P1: Ok. Great. This is it. Any questions? Asked about the cases at ISB being more US focused. Both of them explained in detail the reasons.
Both stood up, shook my hands and wished me good.
It went on for 35-40minutes. Came out and left immediately. I was largely satisfied. No direct questioning on why ISB, why MBA, etc. Nothing from current work experience directly. But at every given opportunity I tried to bring the interview to my future goals. I missed mentioning a lot of achievements, credentials but they were more focused if I have clarity in my mind. Fingers crossed.
Interview Transcript - 6
I had my interview today. It was actually pretty stressful, contrary to the popular belief. I was asked to analyze two cases which nearly took 20 minutes. Then one more question related to group assignments, how to resolve conflict and what kind of task can be assigned to different team members based on their background. There were hardly any questions like what value would you add. How would you contribute at ISB and so on? The interviewers were stone faced. No smile. None of them even asserted whether I was right or wrong. So, guys be ready for the worst. Maybe it all depends on the interview panel.
The interview lasted for 45 minutes. I lost hope but let’s see what would happen.
All the best to all the remaining in.
Interview Transcript - 7
It’s time for me to give my two-cent’s back to the community. I just finished with my interview today.
I was taken to the room by senior alum Ashish from 2005 batch. As soon as i entered the room i was greeted by adcom member. We exchanged greetings and i was asked to take my seat.
1) Initial question was that i have over 7 years’ experience with the company. Can i comment more on that.
The way question was framed i stumbled for first line and then picked on from there and completed the answer. midway through the answer halted by adcom. He asked sorry for the interruption.
2) Then i was asked why product management.
3) What kind of companies for product management.
4) Why cannot you become a product manager now.
They didn’t look very convinced initially. Though i kept blabbering on my convictions and found a blank face.
5) what are your three biggest strengths which help you at work
6) what is your biggest failure at work.
I initially said on a feedback at work and then i was asked to listen to the question properly. I blabbered on one of my failure at work. they didn’t look much convinced. or rather i found a blank face.
7) You have mentioned you want to be entrepreneur. can you mention why.
five minutes’ speech on my idea.
adcom – you have done a good homework, have you talked to investors. no because of certain reasons.
adcom – fair enough
adcom -any questions for us?
1) question open ended – got good answer.
2) question – adcom i am not aware of it. write mail to the club.
I was left with a feeling “why didn’t i get a better question to ask”
Me – that’s it. Thank you and greetings exchanged.
Take away – The whole interview lasted for only fifteen minutes. I found blank faces most of the time. Have no idea on my chances?
Interview Transcript - 8
I posted my debrief in some other forum as well but because GMATCLUB is the forum that helped me come this far… I owe my debrief and success (in case I get selected) to it…so here it goes (a little modified version of the debrief after I could recollect some more questions) ?
Interview location- Hyderabad, slot – 21st Feb, 2.45PM. Panel – 5, 3people not sure if they are alums, they didn’t tell, I didn’t ask. Don’t remember their names, let’s say P1, P2, P3.
P1- Are you from Hyderabad?
Are you the only child?
What is the employee strength of your company? (also asked approx. count working from each of the two offices in India)
How many countries does your company operate from?
What are those countries? (Told the major 4…I said I can’t recollect the others)
Tell me the top 2 most important achievements of your Toastmasters club during your term as VPPR
P2- Everybody says this Toastmasters is so fancy but tell me what are its negatives, critically evaluate the program
P1- Tell me about what you wrote in your first essay, you told that it is your biggest achievement. Told him. Asked for more and more explanation.
P3- (Picked from what I said only) Asked me something business terminology related, I know the answers but I couldn’t recollect, which I know is very bad.
P1- Little more grilling about essay-1
P3 asked me something in the middle while I was explaining but I am not sure if I got carried away or whether P1 cut me with another question making me get carried away.
P3- Again coming back to your Toastmasters thing….. ( I got so carried away answering this question that I don’t remember what his question exactly was but I hope he asked about my learnings in Toastmasters?) Told him an incident and challenge I faced and what I learnt from it.
All- Any questions for us? – No thanks.
P3 was so good at catching people off guard ?
No other regular questions at all. Interviews have an advantage of surprise element. They take us by surprise no matter how much we prepare. So, as long as you are aware of what’s written in the application, it’s better to stay calm and pray that you will be surprised in a pleasant way.
My feeling just after exiting the room was a positive one but as I retrospect I don’t have a clue about what they decided about me. I am only scared whether I got carried away too much while answering (a severe problem I knew I had even before going to the interview room). However, I performed or whatever the result might be, I will remain proud that I have been extremely confident and didn’t feel nervous at all even after going through a lot of turmoil till yesterday.
I feel compelled to appreciate the interview panel for making the entire experience so stress free and beautiful. A clichéd but important suggestion to people who are yet to attend their interviews is, just stay relaxed and try not to get bogged down. It is going to be a stress free and nice experience. All the best!
Interview Transcript - 9
So, had my interview on the 21st, very different from b school interviews from abroad.
The panelists have already read your apps, so I got a bit of grilling on my essays. It was as if they didn’t believe that A) that these things actually happened and B) that I actually did them
the conversation then generally went towards the business and industry in general before they asked some hypothetical questions such as
1) what are the top 5 things I’d do if I were CEO of my current org 2) What would I do I in my immediate role post ISB (have to say I fumbled a bit on this before coming up with a slightly underwhelming answer)
Throughout the interview I kept providing examples and instances (sometimes they would prompt for an example, other times id volunteer the information) , usually met with blank faces and the occasional laugh.
Overall I don’t think I could judge how the interview went or read their reactions. Hopefully it’s all good.
Interview Transcript - 10
Interview debrief: Feb 13, 2016
The interview was scheduled for the afternoon. I reached with about an hour to spare and that’s plenty!
My panel was running behind the schedule, thanks to some board meeting they had to attend. But this gave me a chance to interact with a bunch of other candidates (well-spoken people!)
I was jittery when I arrived but we all quickly got immersed in a chat and by the time they called me in for the interview, I was feeling very at ease.
Given that the interviews are almost unpredictable, one piece of advice that would always work is to interact with the other candidates. Nothing settles you down as well as this does. And who doesn’t want to make new friends?
The interview started with a light moment, thankfully, and from there it was all business. It was a two-member panel, the nicest people I have met in a while. They were very well spoken and paid great attention to everything I had to say, even when it was prolonged.
1. (As expected) Take us through your profile: I was preparing to deliver my 30 second pitch, but it somehow turned into a longer response (close to 5 minutes)
Guys so keep a longer introduction ready, just in case!
2. A long discussion ensued here about some of my career decisions. They wanted to know the reasoning behind choices I have made. They seemed to nod in agreement even when I wasn’t completely convinced with my responses (not complaining!)
3. My current work is in Business Intelligence and I am relatively new to this field, and they wanted to know if this was a deliberate shift, at this point in my career (I have around 6 years of IT and social experience)
4. The exact nature of my current work (very exact here)
5. Post MBA career goals: This area took up the most part of the discussion. We have debated many possibilities about my goals (the industry, function etc.)
It pays to have a clear understanding of what you want to do post your MBA.
There’s no escaping this discussion! No Sir!!
6. Dream Company: Be prepared to answer why that company and what your role is going to be.
7. What if your plans don’t work out: I just responded saying that I have great confidence that I could find employment in the sector I am focusing on (and some stuff about how the PGP will help me in assuring that)
8. Why not join the startup movement which gives you the necessary client exposure, knowledge and experience
9. What would you do if your focus area tanks in the future (Deep learning etc. obviating the need for analytics): I don’t quite remember what happened to this question
10. What if not an MBA
11. Why not opt for a Master’s degree in Statistics or some Analytics related subject
12. ISB loves diversity in its class and how would you contribute or add value and diversity to this year’s class?
13. They asked about one of my initiatives at work and what was my part in it.
14. I spoke about my long-term goals (10 -15 years) and said that they are still a little crazy (meaning still vague) and I used that to justify why I wouldn’t opt for a master in stats etc. and why I need a holistic view of business management.
15. If we were to give you 5 Crore rupees and ask you do as you wish, what would you do? I said I am more patient now and I would wait until I gain the needed experience in my domain before rushing into spend my capital. (I felt wussy, but they nodded somehow)
16. Oh, the one word essay was on ‘Fallacy’. (I taught GMAT verbal for some time, so this was an easy one for me)
The interview lasted for about 40 minutes (+ or – 5)
For the most part, I was totally honest with my experiences, my feelings, my fears and my ambitions. I don’t know if it was the wisest thing to do. Guess I will find out!