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Personality Assessment

What The Article Is All About:
You thought that the written test is the biggest hurdle on your way to a top B School and you could relax after the written tests. Chandrasekhar Singh argues that the real battle begins only after the written test

With the first stage of selection process (the written tests) of premier B Schools over, the students must surely be a relieved lot. After months of intense preparation one may relax now……HOLD ON!!! A common myth is that clearing the written tests is the biggest hurdle to get into a top B School. Under this myth a fatal mistake made by students is that they slog for the written test and after the written test is over, leave out a heavy sigh and relax while waiting for the Interview Call Letter.

The reality is that the written test is used only as a elimination process to weed off the non serious students. The real competition begins only after clearing the written test, because now the competition is amongst the cream of students and is a face-to-face evaluation tool. Thus the second stage of evaluation i.e. Personality Assessment has to be given equal importance, if not more than that accorded to the written test.

One cannot afford to wait for the interview call to start preparing. The time duration between the interview call and the actual interview can be as less as a week. This short duration of time is definitely not sufficient to work on one’s personality. So start preparations immediately rather than wait for a call.

The personality assessment stage is much more than just a Group Discussion and a Personal Interview. GD and PI are just tools used to evaluate one’s personality. Just practicing GDs and going through couple of Mock Interviews might not be enough to clear this hurdle. One needs to work at the root level i.e. the personality. So we come to a very important question – Can personality be improved in a short span of time. Lets answer this by understanding what personality is all about and what factors does the second stage evaluate.

Personality is the outcome of host of factors like confidence, communication skills, persuasiveness, leadership capabilities, etc. But isn’t confidence a result of certain factors? Is a communication skill only about vast vocabulary and good oratory skills or something more? I think these are result of one’s self-awareness, contextual awareness, clarity of purpose, value system and knowledge. These are the areas one needs to work on.

Self Awareness:
One should sit down and reflect on aspects of one’s strengths, weaknesses, hobbies. Students often come up with doubts such as “if I say my weakness is communication skills, I will surely be rejected” or “does reading as a hobby score high over watching movies”. Accordingly, a candidate ‘makes-up’ his strengths, weaknesses and hobbies. Remember these aspects are personal to each and every candidate and hence do not follow a particular hierarchy.

Lying about these can very easily be detected. Its better to say that communication is my weakness and I am working on it, rather than fib, since communication as a weakness would be very apparent after two minutes of talking. Then the evaluator will understand that the candidate does not even know about his weakness, forget improving on it. Similarly do expect a lot of questions on hobbies. The way out is to spend time analyzing oneself & coming up with honest answer.

Career aspiration is also a part of self awareness. One must have great clarity of thought as to why is he chasing a MBA. Answers like “I love challenging job responsibilities” or “Marketing interests me” are too shallow. Even a traffic policeman’s job can be very challenging! One has to think deep as to how this interest in MBA developed and how it can help the student in his long-term goal. As a self-critique, each answer should be questioned further to get an absolute clarity of purpose.

Contextual Awareness:
Knowledge about one’s immediate surroundings also contributes towards confidence. If a candidate’s brother is a chartered accountant, not knowing a CA’s job profile reflects on the communication between them and also on the candidate’s pro-activity. It is surprising to notice how many students, spend three years in a college and still do not know the name of the founder of the institute.

Knowledge:
As a student, one’s responsibility was to study and hence one cannot hope that he is not quizzed on his academics. Having said that, it does not mean one should know everything about a particular field. But one should definitely know in depth knowledge on at least three topics of the field. Identifying these topics and brushing up one’s knowledge should start right away as doing this may take some time.

A candidate should start visualizing the entire interview process and practice the question answer series based on the above, over and over in his mind. Also the candidate should prepare himself mentally to converse with the interviewer at a level footing and not consider the interviewer at a higher pedestal.

To help you with this aspect, just understand the difference between the written test and the personality assessment stage. The written test is a elimination round where the outlook is to reject a student. The personality evaluation session is a selection round where the emphasis is on selecting a student. Thus the evaluator is seeking out strengths and not searching for reasons to reject. The evaluator does not know you and he has invested time and money to get to know you. You would have to be proactive to project yourself and your strengths.

Now the ball is in your court to identify your strengths and project these in the interview. Look out for open-ended questions to drive the interview in these areas. Remember the outcome of the personality assessment stage is in your hand and not in the evaluators.

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