“Do I have what it takes to get accepted into a top B-School?”

This is the question that goes through the minds of hundreds of thousands of students and ambitious professionals every year. Similarly, B-Schools around the globe go through these hundreds of thousands of applications each year to shortlist the select few applicants to be a part of their distinguished campus.

So, what differentiates the selected applicants from the rejected ones?

Before answering this question, one must understand the fact that entrance exams like CAT, XAT, GMAT, etc. are just the tools for primary filtration. If a good test score is the only weapon in your arsenal then you’re in for a surprise as the final selection depends on a candidate’s performance in the subsequent stages that include PI, WAT, group discussions etc. The basic idea behind such a rigorous admission process is that a candidate must be able to justify his/her test score with something more substantial.

The admissions committees are always on the lookout for that one factor in the applicants which makes them stand out from the crowd and if you possess even one of the following qualities, you’ll gain a significant advantage over rest of the applicants in your dream B-School.

  1. Leadership Potential

Leadership potential is the top box to check when you go for business education. The schools want to invest in an applicant who’ll go out and make an actual difference in the real world. Therefore, you will have to demonstrate that you possess what it takes to be a leader either in your work experience, academic life, extracurricular activities or elsewhere.

  1. Track Record of Achievement

Reputed B-Schools keenly seek applicants who have a demonstrable record of achievement. Achievement can manifest in many forms, from academic excellence to college extracurricular activities to professional accomplishments, to personal wins.

The demonstrated achievement, irrespective of its scale and sphere, is always valued during the selection process; whether you’ve started up a company, headed a project at work, captained a sports team or organized a relief fund, all these are considered as examples of achievement.

  1. Excellent Communication & Interpersonal Skills

As an MBA Grad, you’d be expected to not just be good at what you do but also effectively portray that you are good. You need to be able to market yourself and effective communication and interpersonal skills are the key to do that. If you are a brilliant professional but can’t make a pitch for your ideas and opinions or can’t convince others about your potential, then you probably aren’t ready for the big leagues. The essays and personal interviews are the stages of the admission process where you can showcase your communication skills.

  1. Work Experience

Work experience of 2-5 years is a mandatory eligibility criterion for applying to most of the fast-track one-year MBA programs. But more than your career choice, you’ll be assessed on the basis of the progress you made professionally vis-a-vis your earlier self. The factors that make you stand out are the consistent upward movement of our career graph, roles & responsibilities on the job, team-building, managerial tasks and proactive approach.

  1. Career Aspirations

When you’re applying to a B-School, you must have a few choices to help you lay down a foundation. Whether you wish to achieve a leadership role or switch careers or become an entrepreneur post your graduation, you must be able to clearly communicate it to the Admissions Committee. Remember, it’s not just about securing a place in a B-school, it is more about what difference you want to make in the real world and neither is possible without aspirations and ambitions.

  1. Right Fit with the Program

All MBA programs have a personality. For example, the one-year MBA programs are best suited for professionals who have proved their mettle in the industry and are now looking for an accelerated growth. The traditional, two-year MBA, on the other hand, has a completely different approach as it prepares the individuals to face the real world business challenges for the first time. In order to secure a place in a program of your choosing, you’ll have to effectively justify that you’re not just compatible with the program but with the culture of the school as well.

To conclude, having a strong academic acumen can only get you as far as getting a good score in the exams. Your final selection into a reputed B-School, however, is hugely dependent upon the parameters listed above. So, work hard on acquiring these skills and qualities and build an air-tight resume. Good Luck and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Mr. Gautam Lakhamraju,
Co-Director Admissions
Great Lakes Institute of Management

Gautam Lakhamraju is the Chief Marketing Officer and Director-Admissions of Great Lakes Institute of Management (Gurgaon Campus). He leads the marketing and admissions activities and has played a key role in the growth of the institution into one of the leading business schools in India. Prior to Great Lakes, Mr. Lakhamraju worked as an Management Consultant at ICRA Management Consulting Services. Mr. Lakhamraju has an MBA from MDI, Gurgaon and B.Tech from DA-IICT, Gandhinagar.