Acing MBA Interviews: Jegyasa’s IESE & Oxford Saïd MBA Success Journey 

By Arvind Kumar

Jegyasa’s story is one of self-awareness and perseverance. Her meticulous preparation and clarity regarding her career goals have resulted in her securing admits from two of the most competitive MBA programs: IESE and Oxford Saïd.

In this article/ video, Jegyasa candidly shares her experience and insights as she navigated the application process for IESE and Oxford Saïd, shedding light on the criteria for selecting the right school, her interview experiences, how working with Arvind (admitStreet) on B-school selection/ prioritization (brainstorming) and mock-interview sessions helped, and her tips for MBA applicants.

Over to Jegyasa.

Background & Motivation

I completed my Bachelors in Commerce from Delhi University. During undergraduate, I had the opportunity to intern at McKinsey and Deloitte, which provided me exposure to the world of consulting. Following my internships, I delved into the field of consulting, initially working at NatWest on internal initiatives aimed at process improvement and efficiency. However, despite gaining valuable experience, I found myself yearning for a more dynamic environment akin to what I experienced during my internships.

I then transitioned to Grant Thornton, where I currently work as a management consultant. Over the past two years, I have been involved in diverse projects that have strengthened my passion for consulting. Yet, as I immersed myself deeper into the field, I realized the limitations of my current skill set. The decision to pursue an MBA stemmed from various factors that made me realize the need for personal and professional growth. Despite the challenges and successes in my consulting career, I began to sense a plateau in my ability to advance further. While the glass ceiling wasn’t immediately apparent, it became increasingly evident as I navigated through my roles. As a result, I aspired to transition from operational consulting to a more strategic role where I could contribute to shaping the direction of businesses.

An MBA seemed like the ideal platform to broaden my horizons, gain exposure to diverse perspectives, and equip myself with the necessary skills to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape.

Choosing the Right Business School

When it came to choosing the right business schools, I primarily focused on two key criteria. 

Firstly, I evaluated how well each school performed in the consulting field, as this aligned with my career aspirations. Secondly, I assessed the cohesiveness and warmth of the school’s community, recognizing the importance of a supportive network during my academic journey.

IESE stood out prominently due to its exceptional community atmosphere. I had the opportunity to interact with over 20 alumni from IESE across the globe, and their warm response and eagerness to assist me left a lasting impression.

Even during the admission process, an alumnus went above and beyond to provide valuable insights which changed my outlook on my essays. This level of support and camaraderie within the IESE community resonated deeply with me and ultimately influenced my decision to choose IESE for my MBA journey.

Additionally, the faculty and programs offered by IESE were highly appealing. The diverse backgrounds and expertise of the faculty members, and the innovative programs tailored to meet the evolving needs of students, gave me more confidence. Overall, the combination of a supportive community, excellent faculty, and relevant programs made IESE the ideal choice for me.

MBA Interview Experiences at IESE & Oxford

My experience at IESE’s Assessment Day was rather pleasant. The day was structured to assess candidates’ fit as leaders and team players. It’s crucial to actively participate and voice oneself at appropriate times. 

During my interview with an IESE alumnus, I engaged in a lengthy conversation about my goals and how they align with the school’s values. Here are some of the key questions I was asked:

  • Walk me through your resume.
  • What were the rationales behind each career move? Follow-ups on each move
  • Why MBA? Why MBA now?
  • Why IESE?
  • If admission is granted in all the programs you have applied to, why would you choose IESE over others? Why would you not choose IESE?
  • What research have you done to gauge your career options post-MBA, and why is the IESE MBA important in that context?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed integrity.
  • In your opinion, why is diversity an important factor in a classroom?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

My interview with Oxford’s admissions committee was a conversational experience. The interviewer expressed a particular interest in a project I had mentioned in my application and sought to delve deeper into it. It was an opportunity for me to showcase my passion and expertise in that area. Here are some questions I was asked:

  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Why MBA now?
  • Why Oxford? 
  • What was that one skill you’d like to pick and learn? 
  • What sets you apart from the crowd?
  • What is the size of your ambition i.e. what sort of change do you want to make? Follow-ups on the same

One valuable insight I gained from both interviews, and which Arvind (admitStreet) kept reiterating during our mock interview sessions, is that schools are not seeking reasons to eliminate candidates but rather reasons to admit them.

Therefore, it’s worthwhile to engage with as many people as possible to refine and articulate your motivations convincingly. Depth of understanding and authenticity in conveying your story can significantly impact the interview outcome.

Interview Preparation

My preparation for the interviews centered around three main pillars. 

Firstly, I ensured a thorough understanding of my own story and application. Secondly, I leveraged interview debriefs and guidance from experts like Arvind. Lastly, I focused on refining my communication skills to effectively articulate my thoughts. 

While I have always been comfortable conversing with strangers, structured preparation helped me deliver impactful responses. My advice to future applicants would be to invest time in understanding your motivations deeply and seek guidance on structuring your responses for maximum impact.

Experience working with admitStreet

I couldn’t have had a better mentor and friend to guide me through the process. Arvind was super thorough, patient and accommodating.

Even when I was confused initially, Arvind’s guidance in our first brainstorming session was invaluable. He emphasized the importance of focusing on what I wanted from my MBA program rather than getting distracted by external noise. This perspective on how well my goals can be met by the program, helped me prioritize programs based on a structured approach through my discussions with Arvind.

When I was preparing for interviews, I needed structure amidst the chaos, and that’s precisely where Arvind helped. Through mock interview sessions, he coached me on how to structure my answers effectively, ensuring they were impactful and delivered the necessary punch.

Arvind’s guidance on navigating the interview with Oxford was particularly insightful. Adcoms are perceived as hard to break through, and Arvind told me how to navigate conversation in scenarios where I hit a deadend.

In short, Arvind’s advice proved invaluable in going through the brainstorming (school selection) and interview process, and eventually securing admission to IESE and Oxford.

Advice for Prospective Students

I believe that dedicating ample time to reflect on your personal experiences and crafting compelling narratives that showcase individual character traits is paramount. Rather than solely focusing on what appears on a resume, delve deeper into your unique stories, illustrating your values, passions, and aspirations. Personally, I devoted over five months to streamlining such stories for my applications, recognizing the significance of portraying my true self, especially in my interviews.

It’s crucial to maintain clarity about your intentions throughout the application process. Without a clear sense of purpose, there’s a risk of presenting yourself inauthentically, which can diminish the impact of your application and interviews.

Furthermore, tapping into the alumni network of your target programs can prove invaluable. Seeking feedback from alumni can provide significant insights and potentially open doors that might otherwise remain closed. Leveraging the wisdom and experiences of those who have walked the path before can often lead to breakthrough moments in the application journey.

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admitStreet has plenty of experience helping candidates for the ultimate test i.e. the interviews. Drop us an email at consultingteam[at]admitstreet[dot]com or fill in this form if you need help with your application or interview prep.

Video Debrief

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