How to crack a B-school Interview

B-school interview is different from a job interview. In a job interview, you tend to focus on your experience relevant to the recruiting organization. In an MBA entrance interview, the admission committee is more interested in gauging whether you have certain traits that will help you gain the most out of their MBA program. While they will probe you to get these traits out of you, it is very important to know what to write in your essay, resume and application so that you don’t end up writing stuff which will convince them that you lack these traits. Further, it is important to know what traits they are looking for so that you can focus on these while conversing with them.

In general, most good B-school interview panels are looking for certain traits like your ability to

  • Cope up with their rigorous academic program
  • Create an impact by executing innovative solutions
  • Lead a team towards a common goal
  • Foresee a vision which others have not been able to see
  • Learn from your mistakes and adapt

In order to gauge these traits, most good interviewers prefer selecting a part of your application they find most relevant to these traits (or asking you what area you find most comfortable with), and digging deep into that part. This is a very effective approach as you usually cannot fake at multiple levels on same point, and eventually they will see through you. Hence, you should only write true and relevant information in your application which you can defend at all levels of probing.

Communication is another important trait that is tested in an interview. Good communication means that you can convey your point in a clear, concise manner to the other person, without beating around the bush. The trick is to listen to the question carefully, gather your thoughts for few seconds, reply to the point and stop speaking after completing your answer to let the interviewer know that you have completed your answer and they can move to the next question.

Last but not the least, always remember that nothing in this world is perfect and the admission team understands this. Hence, it is very important to showcase that you have the ability to learn from your failures and adapt accordingly.

How to crack a B-school essay

An essay is your chance to showcase the traits admission team is looking for. However, the word limit on essay makes it necessary to showcase these traits in the most concise manner. So I’ll break the essay writing tips in two parts – content and presentation.


B-school essay is not a job application. The admission team is not looking for a rocket scientist. Instead, it is looking for

  1. Certain personality traits you have displayed in the past which will ensure that you are a good fit for their MBA program and that you’ll leverage the skills acquired during the MBA to be a future leader
  2. Answers to certain questions like
    1. Why do you want to an MBA?
    2. Why is this the best time for you to do an MBA?
    3. Why do you want to do an MBA from their particular B-school?
    4. What value do you bring to the table.
    5. How are you unique/better than others in the application pool
  3. Clarity of thought and alignment of your experience with your career goals and skill set

Our consultants have been part of actual MBA admission team and interviews at top global B-schools. Therefore, we know what the admission team of a B-school actually looks for in a candidate, and can guide the candidate accordingly.

These questions can be asked either in separate essays specifically or in a generic SOP. However, if an essay asks a specific question, please focus on that question only in that essay. While answering the above questions, you have to showcase certain traits which the admission team is looking for using incidents from your work and life. For this, you need to know the following-

What are these traits? – These are mostly common across all B-schools. Some of them are listed below

  • Academic excellence – so that you can cope up with the rigorous workload during your MBA. If this is already evident through your GMAT score and your undergrad college, you can avoid spending too many words on this. However, if not, then you might want to showcase that you have the IQ and can work hard enough to garner the maximum out of your MBA course
  • Achievement orientation – You need to mention incidents where you have made significant impact, which could either be at work (preferably) or any other avenue in your life
  • Leadership – Leadership refers to an ability to lead a group of people towards a vision/goal which you can foresee before others. Although leadership trait is very important, you might not have got the chance to display it at your work yet. In that case, you can think of incidents from other avenues of your life where you have displayed this trait
  • Team management – A leader cannot do everything himself/herself, and need to rely on their team to get things done.
  • Learning – This is perhaps the most important trait as nobody is perfect, but if someone is willing to learn and adapt from mistakes, one can scale any heights
  • Incidents from your career and life where you have demonstrated these traits – Crackgmat will help you identify the most relevant incidents from your life and career, where you would have created maximum immpact.

Once you have identified the incidents that demonstrate these skills, see which incidents can fit in for answering which questions. For example, in “Why MBA” essay, you can say that while you have xyz skills, you still need to acquire abc skills which you can only acquire in a short span of time in an MBA. Or in “Why you” essay, you can chose to write about the traits/interests/ which set you apart from rest of the application pool in terms of diversity/uniqueness/ability


Words in a B-school essay are like real estate – very expensive and limited. Hence, you have to make best use of the words you get to display the maximum relevant traits you can while answering the questions admission team is looking to get answered.

  • Always write the incidents in form of stories in STAR format – Situation, Task, Action, Result. Start the story of your incident with the situation or context, mention the task/target you had, write what you did in that situation to solve the problem at hand, and conclude with the result or impact you created to solve that problem
  • Never be verbose – Always be as concise and to the point as possible. The admission team is intelligent enough to understand what you want to convey in one instance
  • Don’t be repetitive – If you have written an incident/story once, you don’t need to repeat it in another essay or in the same essay
  • Weave the stories in your essay in such a manner that it conveys the overall message you want to convey in that essay

Lastly, structure the essay by breaking it into small paragraphs. Start with an introduction, then list few examples (in STAR format) from your personal/professional life elucidating the point you are making in the essay (keeping every example in a seperate paragraph), and finally conclude in a seperate paragraph.

If the above points are taken care of, you can crack any B-school essay.

ISB Interview Tips – What ISB is looking for in an interview

Interviews at ISB are one of the best and most methodical interviews, where the idea is to look for strengths and leadership traits in a candidate’s profile rather than focussing on the gaps or weak points in the application. The interviewers have tremendous work-experience themselves, and are mostly ISB alumni or ISB admission comittee members. ISB interviews are of 20–30 minute duration, and mostly stick to the application only. Typically, the interviewers will pick-up couple of things from the application, and discuss those in detail, trying to gauge the leadership traits and other qualities they are looking for in an ideal candidate in the process. If you are confident about your application, and have really done the stuff you have mentioned in your essays, then you dont need to worry about anything. ISB interview panel is looking for few things – just make sure that you give them what they are looking for –

  1. Leadership personality traits displayed in past – They will ask you questions from the instances you have listed in your application, and try to assess the leadership traits you have displayed in them. So, you should be absolutely prepared about everything you have mentioned in your application – prepare it in the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Also think of the challanges you faced while execution of these instances and how you overcame these challanges.
  2. Clarity of thought – Clarity of thought in your career goals, and why ISB will help you achieve it – basically your essay 2 in the application. Make sure that your answers are always aligned, despite the variations in the questions. For example, if they ask you about your plan B in case the short term goal mentioned in your essay doesn’t work out – your answer should still be aligned in a direction which would fulfill your long term goal.
  3. Communication – Don’t beat around the bush. Listen to the question carefully, gather your thoughts for few seconds, and answer to the point in a concise manner. Once you complete your answer, stop speaking indicating the panel to move to the next question.

That is it. Remember, ISB interview panel is looking for reasons to select you rather than reject you. Just give them those reasons.

ISB Essays tips 2020 (for class of 2021-2022)

ISB has come out with two essays (and one re-applicant essay) for PGP program this year. Topics for the two essays are

Essay 1: Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)

Essay 2: What are your short term and long-term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words max)

There are two major changes this year compared to last few years in ISB Essays –

  1. The word limit has been increased from 300 words to 400 words per essay. This means that ISB wants to give more space to candidates to express themselves in these 2 essays only rather than writing something in the “additional information” essay, which might not have required a new essay in first place.
  2. Essay 1 focusses on leadership potential in the candidate explicitly this time. Till last year, it used to ask how the candidate can differentiate himself/herself from rest of the applicant pool and why should he/she be given admission in ISB. This reflects the focus of ISB on creating leaders and narrows down the scope for the candidates to showcase their qualities.

Essay 1

ISB wants to know a personal quality about you which you have displayed in the past, and which can significantly enhance your prospects of being a successful leader in future. Let us analyze these words bit more carefully.

First of all ISB wants to know a personal quality, which means a personality trait you have rather than a professional skill which you have picked up while working. This is because your personality traits more or less remains a constant, whereas professional skills can be learnt and picked up anytime. Moreover, ISB wants to know about only one such personality trait because it wants you to go deep rather than wide. Once you have identified that one personality trait, you can build on that as a strength and nurture your leadership style based on that one personality trait you possess. Third important keyword is leadership. ISB wants to create future leaders, hence it wants to admit students who have the potential for leadership. A leader is someone who can envision the future before others, and can inspire and lead a group of people towards that vision. Although there is no specific list of qualities that can make someone a leader, still some common qualities which have been seen in the leaders are vision, integrity, honesty, empathy, trust, communication, delegation, empowerment, accountability, achievement orientation, self-awareness, learnability, courage, risk appetite, humility, resilience, influence, strong execution, structured thinking, creativity and innovation, emotional intelligence, problem solving and navigating through ambiguity.

In order to write a good essay, you should follow the following steps –

  1. First think and list out instances where you have created a significant impact, displayed your strengths or have been appreciated for. Think of as many such instances as possible, but not less than 3-4 professional and 1-2 personal instances.
  2. Now think of the challenges you faced and actions you took in order to navigate those challenges and reach the desired result in these instances. This will give you a sense of the most important leadership trait you have underlying all these instances. If there are more than one such quality, chose the quality showcased in the instances which have created more impact than others, and which you are confident of defending in your ISB interview. This is because ISB interview panelists like to dig deep into something that you have mentioned and evaluate you based on that.
  3. Shortlist 2 professional and 1 personal incident that substantiates the personality trait you possess that will enhance your chances of becoming a successful leader. The shortlisting should again be based on the two criteria of having more impact and you being able to defend it during the interview.
  4. Write first draft of essay. The incidents should be written in STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) – which is how a story should ideally be told. Here situation refers to the context in which the incident is placed, Task refers to the target you had been given, Action refers to the actions you took in order to reach your goal, and Result refers to the final impact you created. Task is optional, and can be done away with if there was no clear target allocated to you. Result should always be quantified in numbers. For example, rather than just writing “Doing this, I increased the revenue of my organization significantly”, you should rather write “Doing this, I increased the revenue of my organization by INR 1 Cr, which amounts to 5% of the total revenue”.

The structure of the essay should ideally be along the following lines –

  • 1st paragraph – Start directly with mentioning the quality you want to showcase – It should ideally take not more than 50 words
  • 2nd, 3rd, 4th paragraph – Write 2 professional incidents and 1 personal incident in STAR format substantiating the quality you have mentioned in the 1st paragraph – It should take around 300 words (100 words for each incident)
  • 5th paragraph – conclusion – Conclude the essay by telling ISB that you have consistently displayed this quality in past, and believe that you shall continue to display it in future and become a successful leader – It should not take more than 50 words again
  • If you want, you can squeeze 4 incidents as well in the essay, but not more than that

Get at-least 2 edits of the essay done in order to make it more impactful and free of any grammatical errors. This should preferably be done by an ISB alumni, who has experience of guiding students through the application process. You can find a friend with such credentials or take services from a professional application consultant.

We, at CrackGMAT, are a group of ISB alumni who have worked at senior leadership positions in industry, and have guided various applicants in their MBA application journey. Please check-out the plans and talk to an admissions expert at




Essay 2

Through essay 2, ISB wants to know your clarity of thought so that it can judge if you really need an MBA from ISB, and whether you would be focused enough during the program to get maximum out of your MBA. This essay should ideally flow in continuation with essay 1. It should ideally build on the personal quality and incidents you have mentioned in essay 1, and address the following 4 questions –

  1. Short term career goal
  2. Long term career goal
  3. Why MBA and why now?
  4. Why ISB?

The short term career goal should be specific – what kind of role, function and industry you want to get into post MBA. Do you want to get into a mid-management/senior leadership/P&L role or a leadership program where you’d get an overview of various functions? Do you want to get into a marketing/ operations/ general management/ finance function? Do you want to remain in your pre-ISB industry or change it and enter a new industry, and why? Do you have any specific target companies where you want to work post MBA from ISB? Why do you want to be in the industry you have mentioned? Is it a sunrise sector with chances of it growing very fast in future or do you have enough cross functional experience in that industry to leverage and get into a CXO role post MBA? The short term goal should ideally leverage the skills you have picked up during your past work experience and the leadership quality you have mentioned in essay 1. The long term career goal builds on the short term goal and should be aimed a leadership position the industry/function of your short term career goal.

While addressing the Why MBA question, you have to justify why doing an MBA now will help you achieve your career goals. How you have acquired the requisite skills and industry knowledge till now, and need to buttress it with academic concepts and leverage the network to reach your career goals. How the industry you want to target is going through an inflection point and you can ride the wave by doing an MBA now. How an MBA can step-up your career to a senior leadership role where you can exploit the industry boom.

However, the more important question is – Why ISB in particular will be your best option to reach your career goals. Here you have to specify what ISB can provide you with, which other B-schools cannot, that will help you reach your goal. ISB is a global B-school in India. Do you want to work in India post MBA? Then ISB is the best bet for you. Can the large and diverse alumni base of ISB, or any of its courses or clubs help you attain your goals? ISB is also one of very few B-schools in India that focusses on academic research and has visiting faculty from top global B-schools. Can a strong academic focus help achieve your goals? Is there something specific that is famous about ISB (like consulting) which is aligned with your goals?

Structure of your essay should be along the following lines, though it can vary from case to case basis

  1. 1st paragraph – Introduce the reader to your career progression till now – industry, function and role you have worked in, and skills you have gathered. This can take 50-100 words. You can also introduce any awards or your major achievements briefly, if you think that will add value. This paragraph should ideally be aligned with your essay 1.
  2. 2nd paragraph – Mention your short term and long term career goals and the rationale behind choosing them. You can spend 100-200 words for this.
  3. 3rd paragraph – Address the “Why MBA” and “Why ISB” questions. This should take around 100-200 words.

Again, if you are writing any incident in this essay, write in STAR format. Take it through at-least 2 edits from a professional MBA application consultant who is an ISB alumni and has worked with applicants in past.

One should not write essay 3 (additional information) unless there is something which could not be mentioned in essay 1 and 2, especially now that ISB has increased the word limit for each essay.

The essay should be crisp, succinct and to the point without any grammatical errors. It should not beat around the bush and strike directly at the point. There should be a clarity of thought displayed throughout the 2 essays, and should have a proper structure.

We, at CrackGMAT, are a group of ISB alumni who have worked at senior leadership positions in industry, and have guided various applicants in their MBA application journey. Please check-out the plans and talk to an admissions expert at