The MBA skills most valued by B-schools during admissions
Dr. Senthil Kumar S
Chairperson – Corporate Interaction Committee
Management graduates are expected to critically analyze the business challenges and develop solutions that would balance the varied needs of stakeholders. They need to possess communication and team skills to influence others with or without authority. The ability to comprehend the implications of the relevant happenings and contextualize management strategies is well appreciated. In line with these expectations of the industry and society, B-Schools primarily focus on the following questions while assessing the potential of a candidate in the admission stage.
- What are the motives of the candidate for his/her choice of management career?
- How well is the candidate prepared to undergo the rigorous training associated with the B-School curriculum?
- Does the candidate possess key skills that are critical for academic performance and subsequent success in the corporate world?
Generally, the admission process in a B-School is designed to assess the candidate’s motives, self-awareness, skill, and knowledge levels so that he/she can be well trained to contribute to the industry and society.
Motives are the drives that cause someone to behave in certain ways. An MBA aspirant is expected to be driven by motives associated with business management, entrepreneurship, corporate leadership domains. The motives such as becoming a successful corporate leader, contributing to the society and environment through business, better management of resources, developing entrepreneurial skills are well appreciated by B-schools. Motives are the strong indicators of how well a candidate can complete the management education and start pursuing a career in management. They are assessed during the Personal Interview (PI) process. The interviewers try to understand the motives of the candidates and assess the strength of them so that they could determine the suitability of candidates for the degree program offered in a B-School.
Self-awareness refers to one’s understanding of his/her motivations, preferences, and personality dispositions. Candidates who possess a good level of self-awareness know their strengths and have plans to develop the knowledge, skills, and mindset required for the successful pursuit of a career in management. Self-awareness is assessed during the PI process. Interviewers typically ask the following questions while trying to assess the level of self-awareness among the candidates. Is the candidate optimistic about his/her goals and choices? Do the candidates have clarity on their strengths and the plans to achieve the goals set for themselves? Do they know about their personality dispositions? Do they know what drives them the most?
Skill refers to the ability to perform a certain physical or mental task. B-Schools appreciate those MBA aspirants who possess oral and written communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, and team skills.
- Oral communication skill is assessed in terms of a) language proficiency, b) appropriate use of non-verbal communication elements and c) active listening.
- Written communication skill refers to the ability to use the language proficiently in presenting the arguments and perspectives logically and cohesively.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skill is the ability to a) look at the problem situation from multiple perspectives, b) generate multiple definitions of the problem, and c) develop feasible solutions using novel methods and processes with an understanding of decision premises and their implications of the proposed solutions.
- Team skills refer to the ability to a) collaborate with team members in analyzing the problem and developing solutions, b) facilitate planning, communication, and execution of the solutions, and c) lead the team at the appropriate moments during the team’s functioning.
B-Schools use Group Discussion (or) Group Task methods to assess oral communication, critical and problem-solving, and team skills. Written tasks are given to the candidates to assess how well they can use critical thinking and problem-solving skills in developing perspectives and solutions and coherently present the same using the language proficiently. Personal Interviews are the right occasions for the candidates to demonstrate their oral communication and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Knowledge refers to the amount of information a candidate has in specific content areas. B-Schools expect the candidates to possess knowledge about business, society, culture, people, politics, environment, and technology. MBA aspirants shall clear the admission process successfully if they keep abreast of important happenings in political, societal, environmental, and business domains that are relevant for a business leader. The candidates are in an advantageous position if they could share the insights and perspectives gained from their graduate courses.
Motives focus on the purpose of choosing management education by the candidate. Self-awareness determines the level of motivation a candidate possess to successfully fulfill the curriculum requirements of a B-School. Both knowledge and skill levels are correlated with academic performance and managerial success. Hence MBA aspirants are advised to prepare well in the above four domains.
Strategies that can be adopted by the B-School aspirants
- Read newspapers, business dailies, and business magazines regularly
- Focus on the editorials and get the analysis of important happenings that have implications for the management practitioners
- Develop your perspectives on the contentious issues faced by government, society, and business
- Develop a positive mindset and exhibit the same during the admission process
- Have clarity on your purpose of pursuing a career in management
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