In this article we shall try to understand the approach to handle questions which are popularly asked by the MBA selection panel, and are critical to the admission process.
This is a question which is not well respected by a lot of candidates as they classify it as a cliché one, not being able to understand the underlying challenges. In fact, it is an opportunity to present yourself in a manner which helps you to establish a positive connect with the panel. The following may help in this direction:
- Start with your strengths and try creating innocuous ‘teasers’ for the panel. These ‘teasers’ will have the potential to lead the panel, if supported well with back up information, examples, illustrations etc. At the same time, they may put you in an undesirable situation, if not handled well.
- Try laying emphasis on “learning” from varied aspects of life. This is a huge plus as the program is aimed at selecting candidates who are willing to learn from the surrounding environment.
- Create a desirable exit point. This helps you to exit gracefully and not be enmeshed in a question which puts you in an embarrassing position. For example, there may be an uncanny silence once you’ve introduced yourself and before the panel asks the next question. This requires you to create an exit point and you may do so by asking the panel if they wish you to elaborate any one aspect of your profile.
Why do you want to pursue an MBA?
This is a question which can outsmart even the most confident candidates. The challenge here is to position your answer in a way which synchronizes well with your profile and also resonates with the outcome of an MBA program as well as with your subsequent career path. The following may be of help in this context:
- Create a differentiator by making the answer specific to your profile.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the contents of the MBA program.
- Map the answer with your career goals.
What do you already know about management?
This question is asked because it captures the essence of the program you are aspiring to enroll for. This challenge may be managed in the following ways:
- Draw attention to management as a generic term and state its application in day to day life.
- Establish a link with any subject related to management that you may have studied during your course of study. If you already have a management qualification during graduation, get the panel to ask you questions on your areas of interest.
- If you have been working, pull out situations from your work life which demonstrate an application of management.
- You may also take this as an opportunity to talk about activities/hobbies relating to management.
Why is there a dip in academic performance?
A poor/humble academic performance gives the panel a reason to investigate the reasons for the same. However, you are suggested not to feel like a criminal here, but try to understand that the panel is keen to know the way you invested your time. If you did not earn good grades, which was your prime responsibility as a student, then how else did you utilize the available time. The following may be of help here:
- Demonstrate an ability to analyze and reason. Academic performance is only one measure of learning---show light elsewhere!
- Draw attention to concepts/preferred subjects; you may not be a test taker!
- Take responsibility for the outcome but close it on a promissory note.
Why should we select you?
This is not about favoring your selection illogically or about getting overly defensive, but it is more about rationally stating reasons in favor of your candidature. The following may be of help:
- Offer a value proposition based on your strengths, which may gel well with the program requirements. For example, an MBA panel highly prioritizes an ability to work in teams, and if your profile indicates the same, then it strengthens your candidature.
- An upside can be created at both entry and exit points! These are the two points which are extremely critical as they have a potential to leave an indelible mark in the minds of the panelists.
- The question can be answered in a dichotomous manner – you as an individual AND you as a member of a team!