Continuing from where we left last time with Vijay, we discussed about his INSEAD Interview and post-offer experience . Vijay, a recent graduate from INSEAD’s MBA program, is currently working in Sales Strategy & Operations at Google’s Singapore office.

Following are the highlights of our conversation.

MBAfusion: How did INSEAD’s interview process work for you?

Vijay: I submitted my application on 1 October and got the interview calls around the first week of November. It took around a month to complete my interviews. INSEAD conducts two interviews. I was given the contact of my interviewers, both INSEAD alums, in my city and was supposed to manage the process.

MBAfusion: What was the profile of your interviewers?

Vijay: One interviewer was a Director at an Executive Recruitment Firm and the other one was a Senior Marketing guy from Johnson and Johnson.

MBAfusion: How did you go about preparing for your interviews?

Vijay: Based on my discussions with people and other research, I wrote down all the possible questions that the interviewer could ask me right from why an MBA to why a specific role in my resume. I also typed down the answers for the questions. I used to glance through the answers every day. However, the key is to appear spontaneous in your style, and hence broadly keep the main points in mind. My objective was to be more articulate and better prepared with the answers but appear quite natural. This becomes even more important because I wanted the interview to be more of a conversation and better preparation would definitely facilitate that.

I did one mock interview with my INSEAD mentor and several mock interviews with my friends.

MBAfusion: Did your interviewers have access to your application?

Vijay: Yes, they did. My exhaustive list of questions contained all the specific points that they could have asked from my application.

MBAfusion: How long were these interviews?

Vijay: Both of them were about an hour each.

MBAfusion: What was the nature of the interviews? Relaxed? Stress?

Vijay: The one with the Exec Recruitment firm was a difficult one. The interviewer did not display too many emotions and was quite straight faced. I was not able to make out whether I performed well in that interview. She specifically wanted to know why was I applying so young and whether I thought this was the right time for me to apply for the MBA. If the interviewer sees an element missing in your application, they would definitely want to test you on the trait. They would use different tactics to gauge your reaction to different situations.

MBAfusion: That question on applying despite being young would have bowled you over?

Vijay: It did but then I explained to her that my age has less to do with my decision. Timing is more important and I strongly believe that the time was right for me to get an MBA. I asserted that I am not amongst the youngest of the lot and pretty much meet the average age range of a typical INSEAD class.

The other questions were around my background, why INSEAD, what value would I add to INSEAD, my profile, some of the projects I worked on etc.

MBAfusion: How was the other interview like?

Vijay: The other interview was more conversational – why you made specific career choices, what do you enjoy more about your work, a difficult time when you managed your client, how you convinced your boss on something he was not convinced about, etc. We also spoke about Extra-curricular activities, hobbies, what I was passionate about and sports I enjoyed playing.  It turned out that both of us were marathon runners and it actually struck a chord. I tried to keep the conversations interesting as far as possible.

MBAfusion: When did you finally hear from the school?

Vijay: In mid December. The session was supposed to start from August.

MBAfusion: How did you spend your time in between?

Vijay: I quit my job and started doing some interesting things such as DJing. I went to Europe for a month travelling around. I took it easy as I knew that the one year at INSEAD would be a tough one.

MBAfusion: Now that you have already experienced INSEAD, what do you think are the key elements that define INSEAD?

Vijay: Great international diversity, Amazing faculty, and a ton of fun along with the challenging workload are the top three things that define INSEAD.

About Vijay

Vijay Ayyar completed his MBA from INSEAD and B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

He scored 730 in his GMAT and got admitted to INSEAD for the Class of 2010. He spent a lot of time on his essays and planned the application process effectively to build a convincing case to the admission committee. He had admission offers from INSEAD and Cornell.

Vijay is currently involved in Sales Strategy & Operations at Google. Prior to his MBA, he was working with Synovate Business Consulting where he advised clients on market entry strategies, market opportunity analysis, expansion strategy, market segmentation, competitive intelligence and value chain strategies. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and worked as a consultant to state governments and major private institutions advising them on their Network and Information Security related issues.


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