We’ve said this earlier and we’ll say it again. We love how IMD Switzerland has designed their selection process to test MBA applicants on their communication skills, analytical ability and leadership potential. The admission team uses the regular tools of the trade (GMAT, essays et al) and then adds their own unique flavour to the filtering process.
Sandeep Sharma shared his MBA application success story in an earlier article – Second MBA from Switzerland with scholarship for HR consultant after 30. In this post he shares his interview experience and the questions he encountered in Switzerland on the IMD assessment day. As the name implies, it is more gruelling than the regular MBA interviews conducted by the other top bschools.
IMD assessment day experience and interview questions
by Sandeep Sharma
My assessment day was on 8th August 2017. The group included 7 of us (including me) – 3 Indians, 1 Pakistani / Canadian, 1 Swedish (Indian origin), 1 Peruvian and 1 Russian.
We were asked to report at 8 am in the morning. We were greeted by MBA recruitment officer Jennifer Bachelard, who then showed us around the campus for about 30 minutes and also briefed us about the schedule for the rest of the day. We all were to go through various exercises, though our individual schedules varied in terms of order of these.
Phase 1: Interview
My day started with an interview with Paola Eicher, Head of MBA Recruitments team at IMD. The interview lasted for about 45 mins and was a pleasant conversation. Paola had gone through my application thoroughly and had prepared detailed notes. She had very specific questions about my experience and learning. Some of the questions she asked me were as follows –
- Tell me about your professional experience and highlight learning you gained in each of your roles / positions held.
- Tell me about a situation where you managed a conflict – either a team conflict or an individual conflict.
- Followed up with a question on how I may have improved my way of managing conflicts, when I highlighted that this was an opportunity area.
- Tell me about the business outlook of your current company and its business strategy.
- Why was I aiming for a career in strategy consulting post MBA?
- In line with my post MBA goals, which companies was I targeting?
- My preferred choices in terms of geographies to work post MBA.
- In case, I could not get into my preferred choice of companies, what is my Plan B?
- Then she let me ask questions – I asked a couple of questions
- I have been very impressed with the research IMD students do to prepare thought leadership presentations for Navigating the Future conference. I was curious to know what do they do with this thought leadership post the conference? Do they publish it somewhere or do they present it further to some executives?
- Since, I am passionate about long distance running, I wanted to know more about the running events organized at IMD. I had heard about a 10k race that was organized last year. Is it a regular event?
Phase 2: Case study
After this interview, each one of us was given an impromptu 2 page case study to read and analyze. Each one of us was given 35 minutes to read the case and prepare few slides (on A4 sheets with colored pens). Then we were all asked to present our slides for 4 minutes.
Each participant presented to the entire group of participants as well as adcom members. The case was on Thyssenkrupp’s expansion into Americas and how it proved to be a debacle for them.
It was a pretty straight forward case with some information provided on the sequence of events that happened and we were asked to identify the key issues that led to the debacle. Case was not heavily focused on number crunching/ analysis.
After our individual presentations were over, we were asked to prepare an additional question as a group. We were given 20 additional minutes for this, followed by 5 minutes of presentation time.
Phase 3: Group exercise and Role-play
Following this, all of us were given a brief situation about how an experienced team member was not cooperating to mentor junior members in the team. We were given 20 minutes to prepare for a 3 minute discussion with this team member (in form of a role play).
The role play was enacted by one of the adcom members, who seemed to be quite aggressive in pushing her point. But, I managed to engage her into a discussion and show her the rationale behind the move. Post the 3 minute role play, Paola, who was an observer in the room, shared her feedback with me on how she thought I handled the situation. The feedback was quite positive.
After this all of us broke for lunch. During lunch, each one of us were tagged to an existing student from the current batch. They engaged in general discussion but also asked why we wanted to do an MBA, why we had chosen IMD, which other schools we had applied to, etc.
Post lunch, we discussed the pre-read case study with prof. Sean Meehan, who is going to take over as Head of the MBA program in January. He opened the case discussion asking very specific questions on various aspects.
The discussion went on for about 90 minutes. This was followed by a Q&A session with him where he encouraged us to ask him questions about the program. I asked a couple of questions on his focus areas for the program and what did he consider as the success metrics for the program.
Post this, we were asked to attend an actual class with the current students. The class was on using advanced analytics in Finance by prof. Salvatore. The day concluded post the class around 5:30 PM.
MBA Crystal Ball has plenty of experience helping folks for the ultimate test i.e. the assessment day. Drop us an email if you need some help with your application or interview prep.