My ISB Interview Experience - 2008 - Part Deux

I was happy. I was excited. I got the much awaited interview call from ISB. This was my third interview with ISB and I am not ashamed of this fact. I have never failed. To me, all unsuccessful ventures were termed as "learning experiences" and not failures. But it was the third time and that got me highly nervous during the interview.

Anyway, it was 8-Nov 2:50 pm. My interview was scheduled for 3:20 pm. I reached the venue just to find the whole floor deserted. All the rooms around were empty. "Did I read the correct date?" Yes it was. Then I rushed to the Admissions Office just to find out that the interview venues had been shifted to the Executive Housing (EH) because of Belgium's King's visit. I found out that had I come through the main entrace, there was a security personnel guiding you to the new venue. I was already on campus so I did not use the main entrance. Anyways, I was late and I had to run now for my interview. Gosh, it was so hot that day. By the time I reached EH, I was sweating. Thanks to the sun and the suit, I was feeling so fresh now. I got the 100 words essay on the word "fathom"; with one hand I was wiping my sweat and trying to write with second calmly. I was blacked out. Where was I? Did I prepare for this interview? What answers did I prepare? What do I have to say? What's happening?

At around 3:40 I was called in. There were three people: an adcom senior person (M), a lady from the adcom, Jayshree (F) and a current student (S). I just sat down with the essay sheet in my hand. I expected them to ask for it but they didn't, immediately.

[[ I am writing each and everything that happened in the interview including the answers I gave. I know I am out of the race but I want to help R2 applicants and other readers of my blog. ]]

F: So you are applying for the third time. What happened the last two times?
Me: Well, the forst time was in 2005, and I was waitlisted after the interview.
F: Oh.. (asking another panelist) Was there a waitlist policy?
F: (To me) So why weren't you selected?
Me: The feedback that I received...
F: No. Not the feedback. What do you think were the reasons? How did the interview go?
Me: Ma'am I believe the interview went great. I think I wasn't prepared for an MBA at that point of time. I had 2.5 years of work-experience.
F: Ok, What happened the second time?
Me: Last time I applied in 2007. In fact, I was interview earlier this year.
F: So you were called for an interview again?
Me: (C'mon, I'm not that bad) Yes Ma'am. The intervew went great again. I got the feedback that I needed to show more energy and enthusiasm during the interview. Based on that and based on the discussions that I had with current students and alums, I think I was not able to present myself effectively.

F: Ok.. So tell me. What are your career goals?
Me: I want to open my own network integration firm 5-6 years down the line. I have had good amount of exposure in telecom business ranging from telecom software services to product development. But before that...
F: To open your own firm.. (Me: oh please let me complete) why do you need an MBA?
Me: Ma'am before starting my venture, I want to gain experience in the business developement area of a high-tech firm. Once I feel I have gained sufficient exposure I will take the plunge. An MBA will provide me with the required knowledge and I will build a sound network, that will help me again when I start on my own.

S: So what if you don't get selected? Will you never achieve your goal?
Me: Of course I will. I will find ways to get into sales or business development in my organisation. But that will take more time. An MBA will facili...
F: No we are not asking why an MBA will help. Anyway, why are you so desperate about doing an MBA?
Me: I am not desperate about doing an MBA. (I was totally blacked out by this point. Somebody, please get me out of here) I have a specific plan in mind and I am working towards it.

M: So when you said high-tech firms, what are the firms that you are looking at?
Me: Well, high-tech firms not only include telecom firms but other networking firms too. Like Cisco, BT, for example that offer BD roles in ISB.
M: Ok. Why you only chose network integration business? Isn't there too much competition there?
Me: I agree there is. But over the years I have gained competence understanding the technology and I think I will do well. As far as competition is concerned there are firms like X, Y, etc that serve GSM or 3G networks. I want to enter into 4G equipments and thus would target only a small segment at first.

S: What is your goal? MBA or ISB?
Me: (I think they had already made up that third time means two times failure. Let him go) Sir I think it's neither. Opening my own firm is my goal and MBA is just a means to achieve that.
F: There are so many technocrats these days that venture into entrepreneurship without an MBA and are successful. So why do you want an MBA?
Me: (didn't I already tell that?) blurted out the same thing.

F: Okay, your application says you organized an event in college... (Specfics about that incident)
Me: (Smiling) Well, that was one interesting event. (Told them in detail)
F: Tell me one thing. When I moved from "Why MBA" to extra curriculars I saw a big smile of relief on your face. Were you not feeling comfortable during that time?
Me: I agree I did smile (I was smiling then too) but that was not a smile of relief. I was just reminded of that event and thus smiled.

Some more extra curricular discussion.

S: I see you are a Mensa member. What is Mensa and what prompted you to join it?
Me: Answered in detail.
S: Ok. solve this puzzle for me.
Me: (Took some time. Halfway through I hought of giving up too. but finally managed to solve it)

F: I'll give you a simpler problem now. Tell me how many paper cups would be consumed in ISB per day.
Me: (Good. estimation question. I was more confident now) I was solving and as the usual tips say, I was trying to think aloud. I was calculating weekly numbers. She stopped me twice correcting "Just give me the daily numbers"
Me: Sorry ma'am I was just trying to think aloud.

I got so confused by that time by interruptions that I mixed up some weekly and daily numbers and gave the answer as 3000. I think it is huge and I deviated a lot.

F: Ok. Thanks a lot.
Me: (What?? That's it? No "Do you want to tell something else?" No "Do you have any questions for us?")

If that's it, then that's it. I got it up, thanked everyone and left. The interview lasted around 30 minutes and I did not get a good feeling after that. Went for a swim later and washed away the worries.

I ruined it and it took me 2 days to get over it. In the meantime I met Ashwanth who had come over for interview the next day. Ashwanth, I think you have a good chance. All the best.

I am off to my other apps now.


Sugnyan said...

I dont think you should loose hope at this point in time ...All the very best for your other apps ...

Ashwanth said...

Thank you, Nitin.

You should keep your hopes alive. There are positives that come out from your interview - like your focus on the goals that you have set for yourself, your true interest in ISB, your analytical ability...

In any case, I am quite confident that you'll hear from Tuck as well. You have two good things to look forward too!


MBAlmighty said...


Thanks for the post, I am a R2 applicant and that certainly helps.

BTW I dunno why, but reading this post, and the one below (Indian Idol), I am reminded of the guy in this years Indian Idol lot who is participating for the 3rd consecutive year, after being rejected last 2 years in the first and second rounds respectively.

The fact that you have persisted with this goal for 3 years isnt a small thing by itself! It shows you never applied on a whim, and really mean business. I only hope the outcome for you is the same as it was for that guy in Indian Idol - he is now a part of the top 14.

Good Luck, and keep the faith!

siddharth said...

Nitin, Take my made it ... they were just trying to stress you out and by giving the same reply each time you showed you were consistent .... all the best buddy...hard work never goes to ruins

Sankar said...

Hey Nitin,
I think I met you on the interview day. I am Sankar (tall, fair guy). There were 2 Nitins there, a guy sitting down (from Bangalore) and I guess you must be the other guy, remember me?
In any case, kudos to your perseverance, good luck!

The Teacher said...

@Sugnyan: Thanks man.

@Ashwanth: Man, I really don't think anything positive will come from ISB. I do hope for an interview call from Tuck. Thanks.

@mbalmighty: Right, there is a guy called Bhanu in Indian Idol who cme for the third time and is now in the top 14. He is an inspiration. But what can we do. The situation is different and I guess I didn't sing the song very well. :)

@siddharth: Let's see what happens man. Thanks.

@sankar: yes, you are right, I think I remember you. So how did your interview go? You seemed pretty confident.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Nitin

Wanted to share my thoughts on your experiences. IMO, 'preparing' for such interviews is counter productive. Reading the essays once and articulating why you have decided to do an MBA should be the only things you should do before the interview. One goes through a lot of introspection while doing the essays and interview does not require separate preparation.

If one is not good in communicating and articulating, it calls for a preparation from basics though and this cannot be done effectively for the sole purpose of the interview.

My 2 cents...ignore them if they offend you

Anyways, I think you should not be pessimistic abt the results. There are similar experiences that end up in selection :-)

All the best

siddharth said...

Hey Nitin,

Any inside news on r1 Results .


Ghurram said...

Lovely little blog ..

I was an applicant - Round 1. Got a reject though.

Before I go ahead, congrats !!

I see that this was your 3rd interview at ISB. I am sure that I would be a reapplicant. Wanted to know your view of the whole issue.

Shall mail ya soon, hope for some help on this front.

Btw, got to know about you on puy.

All the best, and wish you a wonderful one year ahead !

Vivek Singla said...

Hard Luck,

You could have got guidance on how to ace the ISB interview from ISB Alumni members who have been on both sides of the table. Those who are yet to appear for their ISB interview may want to have a look at their website as under

isb mantra said...

Your post is just outstanding! thanks for such a post,its really going great and great work.
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