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Qualities that top B-schools like IIMs look for in an MBA candidate

May 25, 2017 10:36 IST

Qualities that top B-schools
Qualities that top B-schools

Getting into an MBA programme at India’s top B-schools like IIMs is akin to finding the ‘Holy Grail’ for aspirants. Since the beginning of MBA admission season in July 2016, the majority of MBA aspirants planning on getting into top B-schools are busy preparing for CAT 2016 – the mother of all MBA entrance tests. However, despite all your best efforts, cracking CAT 2016 with flying colour might not be enough to get into IIMs! The exponential growth in the competition among the candidates have forced IIMs and other top MBA colleges to rethink their admission policy to pick the best of the best when it comes to MBA aspirants. Apart from above 99 percentile in CAT 2016, leading MBA colleges in India also look for several other qualities to pick their students.

If you have been just looking at CAT 2016 as the ultimate prize, its time to rethink your strategy and also focus upon developing the personality traits and qualities listed below to get into IIMs.

Without an iota of doubt, leadership qualities are one of the most important personality traits that needs to be taken into consideration, when it comes to MBA programmes. India’s top B-schools like IIMs, IMT or FMS prepare students to be future leaders in business, corporate and social world. Leadership skills are not something that can be learnt from a book or taught in a class; they are imbibed and developed by a candidate over several years. India’s top B-schools are looking for future business leaders and if you have a proven track record of your leadership skills even before your set foot on their campus, it would certainly work in your favour during the GD / PI rounds.

So, make it a point to include projects that you have led as part of your academic of professional responsibilities in your MBA application form. The size of the project is not really a concern for the admission committee; however, the impact that you leave on the final result with help of your leadership skills is something that will earn you additional points.

Business has only two functions – Marketing and Innovation.’ This famous line from Czech-born writer Milan Kundera sums up why innovation holds such an important when it comes to being selected for MBA programmes at IIMs. The best MBA colleges in India are looking for candidates that can not only think creatively but also offer innovative suggestions to tackle the problems and put out realistic growth plans for the projects they are involved in. Innovative thinking also helps candidates set themselves apart from the crowd when it comes to final selection through GD / PI rounds. So, If you are serious about being selected to top MBA colleges in India, innovation holds the key for you.

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Business leaders, especially those walking out of top B-schools are required to handle complex problems. The corporate world today is full of competition and therefore there is near zero tolerance for any mistakes or goof-ups. The only way to successfully solve such problems is with the help of you analytical ability. Therefore, business schools like IIMs look for candidates that possess a high degree of analytical skills. As an MBA aspirant, you should be able to understand problems and the aspects related to it analyze available data sets and evaluate all the alternatives available and pick and implement the ones that offer the maximum return. Apart from this, MBA aspirants should also have a valid justification for not choosing the other alternatives.

If you want to do well in top B-schools interview, you might want to go through some complex case studies to help enhance your analytical skills.

Communication is key to good business and therefore vitally important weapon in the arsenal of an MBA aspirant. If you look at the placement data provided by top B-schools of India, it seems that although several MBA graduates are able to learn the general principles of finance, accounting and even the best business practices, they lose out when it comes to interpersonal skills. As a future manager in top brands, an MBA aspirant needs to possess impeccable interpersonal skills to impress the admission committee. Having excellent interpersonal skills will not only ensure that the work flop and operations of the team would be smooth, it would also open up several opportunities for networking. It also works in favour of aspirants if they can take things up a notch and also develop excellent negotiation skills along with interpersonal skills.

The best part of interpersonal skills is that they can be learnt quite easily with rigorous practice in few months time. So, if SWOT analysis of personality puts interpersonal skills under ‘W’, its time you start working on them seriously.

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Teamwork is a pretty self-explanatory success mantra that is applicable to all students and professionals including MBA aspirants. However, when it comes to MBA aspirants, the concept of teamwork needs to be looked upon from a different perspective. MBA graduates are told to be leaders of the business world who need to lead their team to achieve the goals set out by their organization. Therefore, many MBAs find it difficult to be team players. While it's important to prove you can lead a team, it's equally important to prove you can be part of a team. As a leader, you must be aware of all the strengths and weaknesses of your team and as a team player, you must be able to side step and let others take the leadership in matters that are their strengths. In simple words, you should be able to maintain the fine line or balance between your leadership traits and teamwork in order to extract the maximum potential out of your team.

India’s top B-schools lay special emphasis upon teamwork and the same can be seen in the number of group projects and assignments that students are made to undergo during the two-year programme.

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Business administrators are termed as problems solvers in the corporate world and the same rule applies to MBA aspirants when it comes to the best management colleges in India. A key quality that MBA aspirants must possess is to calmly assess a problem situation and offer realistic and implementable solutions under pressure. It might sound pretty easy, but it becomes herculean task when handling complex problems. Therefore, candidates who panic under pressure or those who are too idealistic when it comes to solving problems are often sidelined by the admissions committee at top B-schools in India.  

Today’s businesses even the ones that are deemed local work in under a global economic clout. The impact that even domestic economic policies or minor economic irregularities can have on businesses globally can be seen through the sub-prime crisis of 2007. Therefore, business schools in India look at MBA candidates that are aware of the global scenario not only on the economic or political level but even at social and cultural level. MBA graduates are expected to predict the economic impact of socio-economic and political policies across the world, do the risk assessment and implement damage control measures.

Today, an MBA degree, especially from top Business schools in India; is deemed as a shortcut to success. However, like any other academic degree, MBA is just another learning programmes that prepare you to be a good manager, it doesn’t guarantee it. Therefore, MBA aspirants who depend upon their MBA degrees to provide them with a lucrative career plan are frowned upon by the admissions committee at IIMs. In fact, they would like to know what have you planned out for your future and how would you like to use your MBA degree as an enabling factor to realize your dream career. While, they do prefer candidates who have their own career plans, they also like candidates who are practical and realistic about their future. Therefore, make sure you have an excellent career plan in place that is not only good on paper but also implementable before you appear for your personal interview for IIMs.

Another quality that will earn you significant brownie points before the admission committee at top B-schools in India is your entrepreneurial ability. Top management colleges in India like the IIMs, like to look at their students as not only the future business leaders but also entrepreneurs. So, if you have a dream to setup business of your own after completing your MBA degree, it would surely work in your favour. However, apart from a great idea and an excellent pitch, the admission committee would also like to learn more about your business model and how do you plan on making an impact on the life of general people with help of your business.

These are just a few of the qualities that top B-schools in India look for in their students. If you feel that we have missed out on any other personality traits and qualities that can help you become a great manager with help of an MBA degree, do point them out in the comments section below.

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