Over the last decade of its existence, ISB has evolved into a brand in itself – a sense of honor, prestige and accomplishment for everyone who has graduated from the Indian School of Business! Constantly ranked as one of the top B-schools in India and also as 20th in the Global Top MBA Rankings 2012, Financial times, London. ISB has a lot to offer to future leaders in terms of research based innovative curriculum, international outreach, global best practices and insight into emerging markets for career growth. So if you are an aspirant trying to put your best foot forward in your ISB application, this blog will give you a headstart.
ISB has been constantly ranked as one of the top B-schools in India and also as 20th in the Global Top MBA Rankings 2012, Financial times, London.
ISB has constantly maintained these esteemed rankings for five years consecutively. To add more feathers to its cap, ISB has also been revered with South-Asia’s first AACSB accredited school! Undoubtedly, MBA aspirants are not leaving any stone unturned to add ‘ISB’ into their CVs. However, in this helter-skelter, several myths have cropped up over the last few years. Most of these grapevines are related to the ISB application process. We are looking at the top 5 myths!
Myth 1: You are bound to get rejected with a sub-700 score!
GMAT is important. Very important! This is because to select among thousands of applicants, this concrete 3 digit number is of great help to B-schools world over. GMAT provides a good indication of a student’s logical application in a business context that will make him an effective future leader. But do not forget that GMAT is just a part of the selection process and not the selection process itself.
Any reputed B-School, including ISB looks for a complete package to fit in their MBA program and not just one aspect in isolation. There is a reason why an ISB application with a lower GMAT score are accepted. Else they could have just put up on the website “Applicants with only a GMAT score higher than 700 need apply”. According to the official ISB statistics around 25% of the entering class had a sub-700 score. Infact over the last few years we have had several of our own students get through with a sub-700 score getting!
According to the official ISB statistics around 25% of the entering class had a sub-700 score.
This myth is perhaps propagated by those who got rejected because the other factors such as weak essays, poor interview are intangibles that no one wants to admit. I have not heard an applicant say “I got dinged because my post-MBA goals were perhaps a bit fuzzy”. While GMAT gives a more solid reason – “I got dinged because I had a 690” makes the excuse a bit more palatable. Read on for a detailed Analysis on the ideal GMAT score range for ISB.
Myth 2: You shouldn’t apply with more than 10 years of work-experience!
Till date, ISB has created over 4000 global leaders who are spread over 25 countries! Though the average experience in the class is still a “young” with 3-6 years experience being the median on the curve, more and more mid-career professionals are seeking an ISB PGP to catapult their careers to the next level.
ISB PGP admissions committee understands the unique background such senior people bring in, and works hard with the industry to ensure that they are rewarded with a position that is commensurate with their talents and experience. While the usual career progression is into a managerial position (“LEAD”), the students with more than 8-10 years of experience are provided with opportunities to interview for senior management roles such as Country Head (“LEAP”).
Students with more than 8-10 years of experience are provided with opportunities to interview for senior management roles such as Country Head.
However, a caveat over here is that ISB (or any Bschool in the world) cannot guarantee placements. This is a known fact that there are fewer positions at such a level and that an MBA is not a “placement agency”. It is important that applicants with rich experience bring with them their own network, as well as understanding of their domain. ISB placement committee can ensure that the required groundwork is done to help facilitate the process.
Myth 3: The details in the ISB application form are not that important!
The online ISB application form that contains details regarding the applicant’s profile such as educational details, work-experience details, essays, video, and recommendations. Along with this there are also some details, which many applicants consider “minor”, such as extra-curricular, awards, languages known etc. However the admissions committee gets to review a file which contains these very details before it even gets to see your essays. Thus, these details on the ISB application form become the initial point of contact between you and ISB.
First impression may not be the last one, but first impression does take you to the next level, that is the interview! Thus, every aspirant should ensure that he/she reserves enough time to fill out all the details in the ISB application form completely so that it comes across convincing, interesting and unique.
The admissions committee gets to review a file which contains these very details before it even gets to see your essays.
It is very easy to create a login to see what are the details required. Do not leave out filling the form to the last date of the ISB application, when you will be hurried and might end up making mistakes.
Myth 4: Showing NGO/not-for-profit work is a must on your ISB application!
ISB is in search for people who bring varied perspective into the classroom discussions. That is why you will come across many interesting yet so-called “unconventional” profiles at ISB of people who have been involved in the society around us through various NGOs. However, it is a myth that ISB wants everyone who applies to have contributed to a social cause.
Though, it is true that such an association does impact your ISB application in a positive way, it should only be added if the applicant has genuinely done so. Association with an NGO just for the sake of embellishing your ISB application will actually reduce your chances of an admission!
Association with an NGO just for the sake of embellishing your ISB application will actually reduce your chances of an admission!
Integrity is a quality that is highly regarded in B-schools these days. Culturally Indians tend to use their times constructively in many other different ways – not just in social causes. So, candidates should look at creative ways of revealing their managerial or leadership qualities such as playing a sport, or being a part of rock-band!
Myth 5: The essays are the crucial aspects, the interviews can be handled!
Applicants place a lot of emphasis on the ISB application essays – a correct thing to do because it is through essays that B-Schools will actually get to know about who you are as a person, and what you bring to the table. However, it is also equally important that you focus on the interview process, through which the admissions committee tries to see if the person behind the essays is interesting in real-life.
Those 20-40 minutes are crucial because it is an opportunity for you to bring out real-life examples to convey your strengths and managerial traits. There is more to you than an application form and the ISB interview panel wants to see that. Don’t deny them the opportunity by trying to play safe and telling them what you think they want to hear. Or still worse talking something tangential to what you have mentioned in your ISB application essays.
The panel wants to know you better, and the only person who can help them is you.
Here is what we suggest to applicants facing an MBA interview – treat it like a conversation, not a quiz. The panel wants to know you better, and the only person who can help them is you. Just ensure you are able to articulate the main questions well – why you want to do an MBA, why specifically ISB, why is now the right time in your career, and why should they select you. The rest of the questions should be about what *you* have done in *your* life – something you should definitely not worry about!
I hope this article was useful in busting a few myths about the ISB apllication process for you. Did you believe in any of them before you started reading? Is there any other myth you would like us to answer? Do let us know.
For those planning to apply to ISB this year , please write to email@example.com or call us @ 9008177800.
So you’ve checked out the ISB application portal, and noted down the essay questions.
You’re now sitting with your fingers hovering over the keyboard ( or pen hovering over paper, if you’re old-fashioned that way 🙂 )
You stare at the blank page and the minutes tick on..and you’re thinking, what now??
Here’s where we come in! Last year, our analysis was the most viewed essay analysis of the ISB essays. This year, we bring to you yet another authoritative and comprehensive analysis!
In this post, we will show you a clear and effective structure you can use for your ISB essays, so that you can present the best version of yourself to the AdCom.
Read on for our analysis and break-down of each ISB essay of the 2017-2018 admission season!
ISB Essay 1
ISB Essay 2
ISB Essay 3
Watch this video and learn how to write your ISB essays
ISB Essay 1:
If we were to admit just One more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you?
Word Limit : 500 words
What ISB really wants:
Imagine your closest competitor in the applicant pool. Give him/her a name and flesh out the details.
So you have done your undergrad from NIT? Your competitor has gone to IIT!
You have a GPA of 8? He has 9!
You have a GMAT of 720, you say? Well, he has a 730!
Basically, this person is roughly in the same league as you, but scores better than you on all data points.
So why should ISB pick you?
This question is what you need to answer through this essay.
How you should answer this:
We recommend the P-E-B ( Pitch – Example – Benefit ) as an effective approach to answering this question.
( Is there another approach? Sure, this question leaves a lot of room for flexibility. If you can think of a different approach, let us know in the comments section 🙂 )
Think about it – ISB has your grades, your GMAT score, your resume, and all other sundry details in other parts of your application.
So, what is the one unique thing that you want to tell them which will tip the scales in your favor?
If you have heard any of Steve Job’s speeches, this is the “one more thing moment”. This is the time in his speeches, when after talking about all the cool features, at the very end, he gives out yet another killer feature to wow the audience. Or take this analogy: If you had an hour long interview and after it got over, just before leaving, you turned around and said “One more thing” – what would it be?
Make your pitch stick in the reader’s mind. Read the below examples-
“I am very hardworking and meticulous in what I do. I never give up and always have a “never say die” attitude. I also work very well in teams, and can coordinate with people from diverse backgrounds.”
“I am like the “Wolf” in Pulp Fiction. I like to solve problems. Throw anything at me, and you have the man who can get you the answer”.
We don’t know about you, but if we were the Ad-Com, we’d want the person behind the second pitch! 🙂
There are two takeaways we want to point out to you from this example –
a. Say little, and say it well
Do not crowd too many ‘good qualities’ into your pitch. The minute you put down too many traits, the impact and power of each one gets diluted.
b. Be creative and original
Do not write a cookie-cutter essay that anybody else could have written instead of you. Bring your original voice into your essay!
As in any B-school essay, you need to substantiate the claim you have made with examples. Here is where you do it.
Do not try and fit in too many examples – use either one or two.
Whether you use one example or two, make sure you use the STAR structure.
The STAR structure essentially breaks down any story into 4 parts:
S -> Situation
T -> Task
A -> Action
R -> Results
What was the background to the problem? What was the enormity of the issue? Why did you come in? What did it mean to you? Make sure you give the reader enough background. This is like the first few scenes in a movie in which every character is described. This is to ensure you drive home the point about WHY it was so important for you.
Explain clearly the task you had at hand. This could either be an explicit job role or something you assumed without being told. In either case you need to ensure you explain what is it that you were trying to achieve.It is important that you give a clear picture of WHY you chose to do that set of actions. What was the thought process behind it? Give them a glimpse of who you are.
What did you do? Did you face any resistance? Did you have to change your plans midcourse? What was the biggest challenge that you DID NOT anticipate? A lot of writers spend almost 90% of the essay talking about what they did. Here is where you have to be careful. You need to be crisp and clear. Don’t get into too many details.
What was achieved because of this? Did people save money? Did it help a particular client? Did you get a promotion or a reward or excellent ratings? Don’t repeat what is already mentioned in the “Achievements” section of your application form. Just touch upon the impact it made to the organization and to you. Be poetic and not prosaic.
Now that you have established the quality that you think is rare and valuable to ISB, tell them how you will put it to use at ISB. For example, if your pitch is that you are very resilient and competitive, how will these drive you to perform at ISB? Don’t be wishy-washy and vague…Get specific and tell the AdCom why you belong at ISB!
“Having proved my mettle at an early stage in my career my confidence grew by leaps and bounds. I believe that this early display of leadership (‘early display of leadership’ is the pitch) sets me apart and makes me a worthy member of ISB’s student pool. I am confident that I can add significant value to ISB by taking the lead in the activities of the ‘Women in Business’ Club.”
“Having developed the ability to strive for personal change and improvement (‘constant personal evolution’ is the pitch), I believe I will be better placed as a leader to drive disruptive change in order to steer organizations in the right direction. I bring to ISB this commitment to constantly shape a better life for myself and others, and I hope to put it to use by mentoring my peers in the Senior Executive Club”
Want to see these tips in action? Read a sample essay answer that we’ve written!
ISB Essay 2:
Describe your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those?
Word Limit : 300 words
What ISB really wants:
In one word – Goal-clarity!
ISB wants to know why B-school makes sense for your career.
They want to know whether you know what you’re getting into.
And..They want to know whether you are getting into it for the right reasons.
How you should answer this:
The Start (100 words):
Clearly state your post MBA short-term and long-term plans. Don’t use obscure statements such as “get into general management” or “want a leadership position”. That is code for “I have no clue what I want to do but want to surely boss around a lot of people”.
However, note that its ok to be relatively vague about your long-term goal. With jobs getting created and destroyed every year, it is not very feasible to guess accurately what you will be doing 10 years down the line 🙂
After that you need to talk about why are you the best person to get there. Here is where you talk about where you currently are in your career. What you have learned at work (not too technical) and what makes you ready to take the leap to your future goals.
The Middle (100 words):
Next, you need to talk about the opportunities to grow. Someone from a technical background might want to understand the business side of things to get a fuller context. Someone from an operational perspective might want to grow into a role that involves more people management. Someone who is an analyst might want a more client-facing role by becoming a consultant.
For every job there is some growth, or some career “next steps” that are possible. If you are in a role that has no such career progression then either you are not thinking hard or you don’t need an MBA.
Note here: Avoid references to how you hate your job or how your manager is a tyrant. Anything negative would go against you. Focus on the positives. Talk about how you are eager to take up opportunities that will help you grow in life. Show them the ambition, not the frustration.
Now talk about the 2 or 3 absolute “must haves” for you to get into that role. It could be the brand credentials of a top MBA for consulting. It could be the general management aspect of looking at things for someone in a finance career stream. It could be the wider perspective your teammates offer,that might make you a well-rounded Product Manager. It could be all of these.
The End (100 words):
Here is where you need to talk about why an MBA from ISB is going to help you get those skills. By this point, if your writing is clear and crisp, it should be a no-brainer on WHY you should be doing an MBA. It should focus on WHY ISB.
Steer clear of generic stuff. You don’t want an MBA because it has “world class infrastructure” and “renowned faculty”. That is stuff even IIPM could claim!
Do research. Talk to current students/alumni. Attend info sessions. Read up as much as you can about the school. If possible make a trip to the ISB campus! In short – pull out all the stops to ensure you understand why ISB is a good fit. Don’t do this to impress the Admission Committee.
Do this because your decision is going to cost you the next 1 year, and over 30+ lakhs (including lost opportunity costs). You better be sure 🙂
Want to see these tips in action? Read a sample essay answer that we’ve written!
ISB Essay 3:
Please use this space to provide any other information not covered elsewhere in the application that could significantly impact your candidature at ISB.
Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know.
Word Limit : 200 words
What ISB really wants:
With just two mandatory essays, the folks at ISB understand that you may not be able to convey everything that is relevant to your application. Hence the optional essay!
ISB is not really looking for anything different in this essay – they’re just seeking more information to help them make up their mind about you!
How you should answer this:
There are 3 categories of people who would benefit from this:
If you applied previously then this essay is MANDATORY for you to write. It should focus just on what has changed in your application. You should talk about what else has happened in this time (GMAT score improvement or taking up a new project). You should also write about the additional responsibilities at work that you might have undertaken.
If you received feedback on your previous application, then do mention a couple of things that you have done to understand it better. Maybe you spent time talking to some alumni from that school. Maybe you took up a course in Coursera to know more about your chosen post-MBA career.
Don’t focus on the minor details and get too tactical. Think of the bigger picture – what were their main concerns last time and how can you best address them in this essay.
Applicants with a break in education or employment:
If you got poor grades in college or have a gap in employment then this is the best place to address it. Tell them when the break happened and the reasons for it.
A big danger sign is when people start writing a sob story about how they fell ill or how fate played a treacherous game. Steer clear of that version. Tell them the reason but quickly shift gears to talk about how the experience has made you stronger/better and why ISB shouldn’t really worry about this gap.
Also a month’s break in employment or slipping beyond the top 25% of your class is not that big a deal so don’t bring the spotlight to things that you think area problem, that ISB may not consider a problem.
Applicants who want to talk about another Wow Factor:
Remember the other 800-pound gorilla has a higher GMAT, better work-experience and in general – better pedigree than you have. So here is where you show ISB that “you are who you are”and that you are better in many other ways.
You can talk about your family background or something unique about something that could NOT have been covered in the earlier essays. We see a lot of applicants using this to talk about one more project at work or one more detail that they could not fit in anywhere else. Wrong approach.
Instead tell them about your dream, your passions – about what has made you who you are today. After reading the essay, the person should say “Wow! I didn’t know that”.
But do remember – The question says, write this only if there is something really significant you want them to know. This is not the place for minor accomplishments. Use this only if you have something really strong to say that you couldn’t say elsewhere!
We have written this so anyone applying for ISB this year has a clear idea of what to write. Hope it helps you write a winning set of essays.
We realize that those who are new to MBA Applications writing might find this word limits tricky. Either you speak your mind at length and risk rambling; or you come to the point too quickly and lose the soul of your story. It’s a tight-rope walk all the way! Don’t lose heart..It takes some effort, but you can do it, as others have done before you!!
So here are the deadlines:
ISB Round 1 deadline: October 15, 2017
ISB Round 2 deadline is January 15, 2018
If you have any feedback, do let us know in the comments section below. We would also encourage you to share it with others who might benefit from this.
If you want us to have a look at your ISB essays or discuss whether your stories make sense then let us know by filling the form below.