The S.P.Jain profile-based shortlist is out and as expected there will be more people wondering why they did not make it than those eager to read this post.
But as is the case with life in both cases it is best to stay balanced. Those with a profile-based call still need to clear the minimum cut-off percentile, which is 70 sectional and 85 overall . We had a student last year who got a profile-based call but failed to cross the cut-off mark.
For those who were expecting but did not get a profile-based call, do not hang your in disappointment or scratch your head endlessly over where you lost out. There are usually more score-based calls given out than profile-based calls. Last year for example the ratio of profile-based call getters to score-based call-getters at IMS Chennai was 1:7. So just take it on the chin and stay positive, the season has not even started yet.
While some of the questions asked in the S.P.Jain form are not likely to be asked in other forms or in PIs, a few are relevant for everyone. So even the non call-getters can read through.
Specific Distinctiveness or What is unique about you?
Describe yourself as seen by your parents/siblings, teachers, friends, colleagues & superiors in 5 distinct statements (not more than 30 words each).
Firstly, do not misread the question as name 5 of your biggest strengths! If you read the question that way then this is what you will do
- for parents/siblings something soft such as loving/caring or something that will work for an MBA such as responsible/dutiful but then better save responsible for superiors
- for teachers you will bring out the thesaurus — diligent, meticulous, punctual or whatever catches your fancy
- for friends most people will tend to choose reliable since a friend in need is a ….
- for colleagues there is always the lowest hanging fruit that is team-player
- for superiors you will choose one of the adjectives that suit professionals, most likely that from the thesaurus words that you took out for teachers you will keep one for superiors
What will be the end result? Most answers will end up being the same and you will not differentiate yourself at all from your peers. This does not mean that you deliberately choose random descriptions.
It just means that you should stop thinking about what panelists will like and what will please them and genuinely look at what is unique about you. Believe me each one of you is unique.
How would your parents/siblings describe you?
For those of you familiar with Indian myths, the best answers to this question need not be Shravan Kumar,who took his blind parents on his shoulders on a pilgrimage across India; King Puru, who exchanged his youth for old age to take on a curse given to his father; or Lord Ram, who we all know went to exile for the sake of his father’s honour.
These need not be the only frames of reference for this answer. Think about the way you were as a child? Try to look for a trait that best describes you as a child.
- were you very naughty, hyper-active, outdoorsy (someone who is always out of doors playing or loves to be out of doors); high-energy is a good thing to have
- were you are the eldest child and thus have always carried a sense of responsibility and that is what your parents value most about you, write that.
- if they feel proud of your achievements and view with a sense of pride (may be for fulfilling their dreams/aspirations/expectations of you), write that.
The same thing applies to how your siblings would describe you.
- were you and your siblings more like friends than siblings or
- was the age gap such as they always looked up to you or
- were you partners-in-crime planning pranks and always being up to some mischief
All of these can be good points for conversation in an interview and it will give them a sense of what you are.
How would your teachers describe you?
Think about how your teachers would remember you if they met you now.
- were you so much into sports that they would remember you for being an ace sportsman in your school
- would they remember you for your participating in cultural activities
- would they think of your as someone with leadership qualities or someone every responsible since you were a prefect/head-boy/class rep
- were always in the top 5 in school and hence be remembered as someone who stood out academically
- were you so well-behaved and mild-mannered that they would remember you for not giving them any trouble at all
How would your friends describe you?
Even this answer need not be the cliched one — reliable.
- are you the most talkative one in your group
- are you the funniest guy in the group, the one who always elicits the most laughs
- are you the most adventurous guy in your group when it comes to taking up new things or activities
- are you considered the mature/sensible one to whom everyone turns to for advice
- did you always help out your friends with their studies and hence would be called helpful and the one responsible for them passing their exams
- would you be the called the studious/bookworm since since you were always focussed on your studies
How would your colleagues & superiors describe you?
For starters do not use the word team-player. The frame of reference should be all things that contribute either to a positive work environment or to maximising your team/organization success.
- would your team mates call you amiable/affable/approachable/enthusiastic/positive — qualities that would make it easy for people to build a rapport and work with
- do they think you have great people skills and can deal effectively with a diverse set of people be it colleagues, clients or vendors
- are you considered to be cool under pressure and hence the go-to-guy whenever there is a crisis or an escalation
- will they look at you as creative/innovative since you are the one who comes up with most ideas whenever they is a meeting or a brainstorming session
- do they look at you as someone who takes initiative and hence give you additional projects to work on the side or organizing office events/parties
- will they describe you as someone with great attention to detail hence ask you to do a final check
As you can see there are more options than they would seem to be on first glance, you can use one for colleagues and one for superiors as applicable.
Make a long-list, rate yourself, draw up a final list
Start by listing all the things that you feel best describe you using words/phrases.
For each quality (not necessary for the parents/siblings one) honestly rate yourself and your friends/peers/colleagues on a scale of 1-5. Choose the ones were you would rate yourself higher than your peers.
You should fill at least 3 and not more than 5. So it is not compulsory for you to force-fill 5 things that are specifically distinctive about you.
You can write one for the each group of people, use the same description for two sets of people (my colleagues and superiors would describe me as).
The key is to create as genuine, unique & positive a description of yourself as possible.
Do not pick up interesting things from the list I gave just because they seem distinctive, you have to come across as the same when you are sitting in front of them for the interview!
Describe your formative years
Formative years typically refer to your early childhood (less than 15) that shaped you as an individual. You need to think about the things that have had most influence on what your are today
- do you come from a background where you had to study well and make a mark for yourself so that your family can have a good future
- did the city/town/village you grew up in have any bearing on your interests/aspirations/inclinations
- did your parents/grandparents instil any particular belief-system/values that have shaped you profoundly
- were there people in your immediate or extended family who inspired you to take up a particular course of study or a life-goal
- was there any one activity that dominated your formative years — sports, reading, music, dance — out of your own interest or because of your background or parents
- was there adversity that you had to face individually or as a family that had an impact on you during your formative years
- did you grow up in different cities and did that impact you
Again the onus should not be on pleasing the panel but on putting across things that had the most impact.
Mention any distinct contributions made to the community by you or your family members.
This is self-explanatory. List any activity that falls under supported society. The support can be monetary, material, volunteer-work individually or as part if an organization (even CSR activities carried out by your firm). Do not leave this blank as this is something that S.P.Jain highly values.
Were you part of a team where the intended outcome either failed or exceeded expectations? What was your role?
You can use a work situation or a college situation that involved working as a team. It is not mandatory that you have to have a situation where you exceeded expectations, it can also be a failure.
The main focus has to be on the learning that you got out of it and not on covering yourself in glory.
Have you faced an ethical dilemma? How did you handle the situation?
To answer this question you can use a this can be professional or a personal situation. Do not force yourself to invent a situation. Keep in mind that it has to be ethical dilemma and not just a general trade-off situation.
- have you been asked for a bribe to get something done and in case you were in a dilemma how did you handle it
- was a colleague being unethical and you were aware of it and faced a dilemma whether to report or not
Have you been in a situation where you have brought about any improvements in yourself?
This question gives ample scope in terms of areas that you can choose from. The simple yardstick — were you below par in any field/area/competence and did you work to get better at it, possible scenarios can include
- overweight as a child and worked hard to get fit
- had fitness/health issues and took up sport to overcome it
- learnt a new skill to better utilise your spare time such as running the marathon or learning a language etc.
- were not very proficient in a particular area/subject in your education or at your workplace
- lacked specific skills such as communication skills or had a speech defect and worked to get better at it
- were introverted by nature and worked to improve your people skills
Look for a situation were you pushed yourself to become better than what you were.
Are you interested in entrepreneurship after MBA ?
Do not answer YES unless you already have a clear idea as to what you want to do — which sector , what sort of company, what sort of investment.
If it is just a dream and you have not spent any of your waking hours actually thinking and researching about it then do not answer YES. You will get asked questions in your interview and then they will figure that you have not really invested time into it.
Do you intend to opt out of the campus placement process?
The answer is obvious, a big NO.