Amrinder had 7-year long work experience and came from a Chemical engineering background. His journey to his dream school, ISB, was quite an interesting one.
Amrinder’s approach to his goals story was very generic. He was answering like an undergraduate student when asked what his short-term goal was.
Applicants do this more often than you would imagine. They talk about moving up in an organizational hierarchy using an MBA. However, that is not a good enough answer for “Why MBA?”. What Amrinder was talking about was how his past and a few skills from an MBA, like finance, marketing, etc., would help him grow in his organization.
Well, you can learn all these subjects online as well, can’t you? That’s exactly what the admissions committee would have told Amrinder had he stuck with his current goals. The admissions committee wants to what can an MBA offer you, which you cannot receive through any other form of education or professional experience cannot.
Applicants have to justify the equation of employability “Past + MBA = Short term + Long Term Goals”. Whereas, Amrinder’s first approach was, “I think an MBA would be good for my career so let me do it”.
On being informed of this ideology, Amrinder’s research concluded with him choosing a General management background as it was a focused function, and also close to what his original reason behind pursuing an MBA was.
Amrinder’s application essays answered the questions perfectly. Be it his best accomplishment, his weakness, or his strengths, his answers contained factual information about all of them. But that was all they were, facts.
In order to make sure he was answering every part of the question and not missing out on information, Amrinder had written very robotic essays that laid down all the facts of a situation like the news. His essays were missing the human touch.
We asked Amrinder to take a shot at the questions again. But his time, we asked him to also mention how he felt during the incident he was describing in the essay.
The admissions committees know you’re human. They are aware that you must feel frustrated or panic in various situations. The questions they pose aren’t to know if you’re emotionless. These questions are to know how you react when you’re in crisis mode.
We then asked Amrinder to pick up more stories from his personal life rather than his professional life. He was told to stay away from incidents that were present in his resume and to write about moments and experiences that have in some way shaped him into the man he was.
We wanted the admissions committee to see what Amrinder was other than his professional accomplishments.
Being prepared before going for his class visit did help him as his answers for “Why this business school?” were more authentic and not a brochure. A brochure answer is something that a school adds to its admissions brochure. It’s highly generic as it is supposed to attract a large population.
When applicants write such answers, the admissions committee is quick to judge that they have no solid reasons to be at the school and are trying to use flattery as space fillers on their essays.
Amrinder seemed to grasp this explanation well as the next drafts came out more refined.
The result was that he got his dream admit to ISB, a top Indian business school.