As the new pre-admission season gets underway, the aspirants set their sight on cracking the entrance tests and GD – PI rounds. This period is significant as it is going to be a transition from having a student mindset to the mindset of being a professional.
An aspirant should always remember that the examining panel is always looking for right talent and is essentially interested in selecting the candidate rather than rejecting. This implies that the candidate has to give a strong reason to the panel to get eliminated. So, if the basics have been executed well, there are good chances of getting selected. This also depends on the competition.
So what needs to be done in order to ensure that you do not get eliminated?
Firstly, understand what MBA is all about and who can succeed in the realm of management. MBA is a generalized study of management science and it requires an individual to have the hunger and motivation to work for definite objectives within tight timelines in an innovative manner. This also calls upon for a balanced and disciplined approach as well as a go-getter attitude. A management degree should be perceived as more than just a ‘job–fetching degree’. In fact, it has positive repercussions on overall personality of individuals and their outlook towards life.
Keeping this in mind, an aspirant should identify if pursuing an MBA degree would be the right career choice. Career is not only about the professional work that is a part of an individual but it also reflects through higher education. Considering higher education as a part of one’s career is the first step towards cultivating a professional mindset. Once MBA has been identified as a right career choice, then the aspirant should start identifying right options for an institute to study in. This is followed by the main task of preparation for entrance examinations.
Usually, when an individual clears the first round of written exams, he or she is a step closer to getting into the B-School of his/her choice. Next are the Group Discussion & Personal Interview (GD- PI) rounds. The group discussion is where you are required to exhibit strong communication skills and various skills such as participation, knowledge of the subject and the analytical ability to pick up the subject and make logical contribution to the discussion. Being assertive is required; however it is important that the participant in the discussion is logically aggressive and emotionally stable.
Some of the things to be avoided in the GD round are speaking over each other, deviating from topic, focussing on unrelated content, not letting other group members speak, over-display of emotions like enthusiasm, excitement, nervousness etc. While some panels would like to identify those who contribute more to the discussion as a positive effort, there are some panels which do not perceive speaking too much as good attribute in GD.
The To-Do list can be quite extensive, some of include taking initiative to start the discussion, regularly participating in discussion, staying on the subject, bringing the group back to subject if there are deviations, quick analysis of topic, listening well, being articulate, being tactful and staying calm rounded up with a good body language.
There is also one very important aspect in any group discussion. How to disagree with someone? If such a case arises, you should not argue with other member of the group or enforce your point of view on them. You should rather listen attentively and use phrases like “I understand your point but I would like to differ in the opinion because of these points…”, “I respect your opinion but I firmly believe in ….” This displays maturity and respect for others’ opinions. Also, don’t miss any chance to display leadership skills by involving a passive member in the discussion.
Even if you do reasonably well, you should still hope to sail through the round. Remember the bottom line – Do not treat other members of the group as your opponents, rather take them along with you. Also, sticking to the basics go a long way.
Another important component is the presentation. Lot of good B-schools are conducting presentations now-a-days as a part of inducting the right candidate in the program. Most of the aspirants see presentation as a threat to their chances. On the contrary, it should be seen as an opportunity to highlight themselves and how differently they can position themselves in the correct manner.
Presentation is not only about speaking in front of several listeners but also an exercise of demonstrating your communication skills. In the field of management, public speaking is an essential art. In fact, many great managers in the corporate field are known for their speaking skills. Getting nervous is obvious but it should not be projected during the presentation.
Prior to making a presentation, an aspirant has to prepare well. Preparation does not mean trying to mug what you are going to speak. It’s about knowing what you are going to speak. Decent formals and clean clothes are a must. Before beginning the presentation, it’s advisable to hold on for a moment and place yourself properly in the situation. At times, when the candidates are nervous, they start speaking about irrelevant content, which should be avoided at all costs. Greeting the panel and the audience is important and then start delivering the content. Don’t be too fast or too slow; keep a steady pace of delivery by modulating your voice as and when required. Looking at each side of the hall and maintaining a stable body language is crucial. You can also consider moving around a bit to cover the stage area if it is big.
While progressing through the presentation, it is important to have a proper command over it. You are expected to explain the presentation clearly to your audience and hence your voice should be audible to everyone without being too loud or rough. Don’t create bulky content as that would be counter-productive and audience would soon lose interest. Keep the content short, simple yet extremely engaging. While delivering your talk, if you miss anything that you planned or forget something, don’t ponder over it for a long time, just apologise and move ahead. Ask if anyone has any questions at the end of your delivery as this shows you are considerate of the audience’s queries and concerns. Thank the audience and panel before terminating your talk. Cultivating strong presentation skills is a soft aspect of communication but extremely essential in order to succeed in the field of management. Again, if you do the basics right, there are good chances that your aspiration for MBA is a step closer.
Now, the third and most important component of entrance process is the personal interview. Here again, unlike the view of many aspirants, the panel is interested in selecting the candidate. It just needs to be backed by some decent performance face to face. Performance here does not imply that something very drastic needs to be done but one should ensure that all the things that you intend the panel to know about you are communicated clearly.
To start with, carry necessary educational documents in a file and dress in formals. Greet the panel, don’t be too loud and avoid using unnatural ascent or style. If there are uncomfortable questions and you don’t know the answer, simply apologize for your inability to answer rather than bluffing. Lying or bluffing is never appreciated and it would put you in a bad spot as the panel is very experienced to catch for such anomaly. Be sincere and honest but tactful. Try to dwell more on your strengths.
The crux of the matter is that in all the components of entrance evaluation process, be confident and disciplined. Be careful not be complacent and rough. Have a clear focus on your objectives and strengths while communicating really well. Keep a tab on nitty-gritties of performance and presentation too. By avoiding small and casual mistakes, you can confidently nurture a hope of not getting eliminated.
All the best!
The author of the blog is entrepreneur, founder partner of Moneyfarm (www.moneyfarm.co.in) and IBS Jaipur alumni.
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