ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012

3 Nov

The R1 ISB interviews for Class of 2012 are almost over. Delhi was the last venue (severely postponed because of the Ayodhya verdict – no the panel was not involved in declaring it!!) and a few remain at ISB itself and telephonic. Results are scheduled for Nov 15th and we are pretty much on track.

This year was slightly different from last time. I dont know if its the likes of Pagalguy or the GMAT coaching institutes that define the flavor of the year, but something has got to be happening out there to this respect. It reminds me of MTV’s Artist of the Month (when MTV still used to be about music, most of you might not even remember or believe that!). All you got to hear through the 30 odd days was that artist, and rarely anything else.

So while last year, candidates smoked up Social and NGO shit as their future goals, this year it was entrepreneurship.

Which is, if you really think about it, the most terrific and fool proof longterm goal mankind can ever come up with. It doesnt require you to be one till now, doesnt require you to give out any details and because its the future, you can cook up anything.

Panel: “So you want to be an entrepreneur in the future? Whats your timeframe?”

Candidate 1: “10-15 years”

Panel (thinking to themselves): “This guy might also know what he will be wearing when he is signing his will”

Panel: “So what are the ideas you have been working on?”

Candidate 2: “Ohh..really havent given it much thought. I have a few ideas, but they are too premature to be discussed”

Panel: “Still, you must have something”

Candidate 2: “ummm, I would like to do something to solve the traffic problems in Delhi”

Candidate 3: “I want to start my own consulting firm”

Candidate 4: “I want to be able to do something meaningful to society”

Candidate 5: “I want to start my own private equity fund”

Phew! ISB surely draws a lot of society movers.

You know, I admit. Its out fault. Asking a candidate for long-term goals is a very poor question and if it were to me, I would remove that essay and question all-together. Short-term goals are important, because they define what you intend to do post-ISB and whether thats realistic (Read: How to Prepare for the ISB Admissions Interview). But long-term are not testing the candidate on anything.

They are bound to come up with such socially desirable or not-thought-through responses. I wouldnt know myself what my long-term goals are. I know (I think) what I want to do in life, but thats the means, not the goal!

However, the good thing this year, or that matter every year, is that candidates seem to be well prepared (or I fear, well-coached) for interviews. Why MBA questions are dealt with far higher confidence, sound justified and appear to be realistic given the candidate’s profile.

The candidates are also loosening up a bit, which I personally love. I hate interviews wherein the candidate is nervous, sweating and is under a lot of unnecessary stress. Personally, I like calling the candidates in and ALWAYS have a quick conversation leading to the interview room, hopefully to relax them. Come up with a stupid joke (which I am so good at anyways), have small talk or just place my arm around their shoulder (in a few, but yes – actually done, cases!).

Unfortunately, there are instances wherein the panel, for whatever reasons, makes the interview into a stress one. I HATE THAT. Absolutely abhors sitting with panelists, either alums or admin, that feel they are in some god-like seat meant to be the superior party in the conversation. Reactions to candidates’s responses such as “I dont agree with you at all”, “You are not going to get into consulting, I can tell you that”, “What can I ask you, you dont even have 3 years of experience”, “I dont believe that you are handling this kind of responsibility at work” are deplorable. Who gives them the right and authority to say such things, and more importantly, what are they trying to get out of making such remarks! Whats the idea, corner the candidate or explore his/her strengths?

I recall my interview at Delhi in 2005. With just 2 years of experience, all I had to offer was my energy and passion. Nothing beyond that. And I knew that! And when I responded that my options after MBA are to go back to consulting or to enter finance (given my stats experience and interest in the field), one of the panelists picked my resume from one its end, held it like a piece of shit and went “If I were a finance company, I would never shortlist this resume”.

There was no need for that statement and there are surely finer ways of putting the same thought across. My response was a simple, “Then I am glad you dont work for a finance company!”

Give it back to them! ISB is the one that has shortlisted you. So dont take their shit, just because you want to desperately get in!

Waiting for the next round and all the best to those that went through this one!

50 Responses to ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012


Debaditya Roy

November 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Hi Ankur,
Just came across your post. Very informative indeed. I am applying for ISB in R2 and plan to submit my application by 25th Nov 2010.Just took GMAT and scored 710 and now gearing up for everything that follows!Would like to get in touch with you (of course if your time and interest permits)to try get some facts right and also to understand and evaluate my profile and candidature more accurately. I am hoping to get some valuable insights and guidance from your vast experience with ISB interviews and of course your success careerwise. Hoping to get a reply…


Ankur Warikoo

November 4th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hi Debaditya

Will be happy to help. You can write in at



November 4th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Liked the post!!! Thanks for pointing out to the world that ISBians or those connected are ‘mere mortals’


Ankur Warikoo

November 4th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

@Vaibhav: Hahah!! The secret had to get out someday!



November 5th, 2010 at 1:58 am

Good post Ankur. But I’m not sure what you mean by well-coached. You mentioned it twice. I can agree with well guided at times, but you even take guidance from friends who are related to ISB. If proper guidance is given to people in how to project themselves effectively, there is nothing wrong in it as long as the profile isn’t cooked. Why don’t we despise candidates who have taken GMAT coaching?



Ankur Warikoo

November 5th, 2010 at 10:44 am

@Nitin: I chose “coached” carefully, because thats what I meant. Being well-prepared is fantastic, but I have seen enough cases and several institutes (some of them unfortunately run by ISB Alums themselves) that literally coach people on the right things to say.

Every system has its faults and ISB’s are too many for the system to be foolproof. In such scenario, its honestly technically possible for someone to “pretend” to be someone else, say the right things and make their way through. And I maintain that ISB is an easy school to get in, but a really hard school to get out! its easier to get into ISB than to survive the one year inside it! :)

Hope you are doing well. Lets connect sometime


ISB 2012 class aspirants - Page 440 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2009, GMAT, XAT, MAT

November 9th, 2010 at 9:32 am

[…] Re: ISB 2012 class aspirants – 09-11-2010, 09:32 AM Interesting Read: Blog of an Alum, who was also on the interview pannel, on ISB r1 intervews. ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012 | ankur Warikoo […]



November 9th, 2010 at 10:04 am

Hey Ankur, Good One…!!!!! Close to practical experience of every applicant…!!!

I attended the interview at hyderabad and my first reaction was exactly as yours….IS ISB OFFERING ME FREE EDUCATION…. :)

I felt the interview was stereo type and many ways in the eliminating mode. You can either do an interview in the selective mode or in the eliminative mode, and I feel you need to respect the candidate irrespective of his OUT OF THE WORLD ideas.

I was pretty disappointed with the standard of interview itself…the current student who was part of the interview panel had a look on his face which was really hard to get over for a quite a number of days …!!!!
“YOU NEED AN ISB SEAT THEN MERI GHULAM BANO…” was the exact message he was trying to convey….


Ankur Warikoo

November 9th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

@Venkat: Thats truly unfortunate. I know I dont stand for anyone But please accept my sincere apologies for the same. I find it very disturbing that such instances happen more than we would want to, and I admit that the system is at fault on multiple levels. I just wish we realized that its people’s career and life at stake!

I will go far as saying that in such a scenario, ISB doesnt deserve a candidate such as you. Its our loss, but go ahead and please apply to other schools which respect you for who you are!

My apologies again! And all the best for the future.



November 9th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Hi Ankur,
This indeed is a very interesting post. But what if a cadidate is actually serious about the stated long term enterpreneurship goal. I agree that one can not precisely define where he/she will land up but isnt it only natural to have a sense of direction in terms of what you want out of your professional life and make concentrated efforts to achieve those goals(and yes preferably goals which may be viewed lofty or hard to achieve). Given that the non-traditional is the new traditonal, how do you seperate the wheat from the chaff or in this case the passionate from the admission consultant made up crap.
P.s.: I am one of the candidates who wants to start his own private equity fund. ;)


Ankur Warikoo

November 9th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

@Keshav: Its not that hard. Once you sit on the other side, you will realize how shallow people sound when they are making things up. Someone who wants to be an entrepreneur will already be one, in thought! Its not that suddenly he will buy the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit after 5 years and presto! :)



November 9th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Hey Ankur,

Great post and i completely agree with your last set of statements about giving it back to them..
Thankfully i had a stress-free interview. The panel made me feel comfortable.
And i completely agree with your view that someone who wants to be an entrepreneur will already be one, in thought…

All in all.. I like reading your posts.. Keep it coming!!!




November 9th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Ankur – “And I maintain that ISB is an easy school to get in, but a really hard school to get out!”

Please explain this. Can u give data to back ur claim ?



November 9th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Can u elucidate theflaws in the ISB system.. Have you taken this up with ADCOM


[2010] ISB Admissions Director Dr VK Menon's Official Admission Query Thread - Page 40 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2009, GMAT, XAT, MAT

November 9th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

[…] […]



November 9th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

@Ankit – Glad you enjoyed the experience! :)

@Pranjlik – I admit the statement might have come across incorrectly. I have rephrased myself and meant that its easier to get into ISB than it is to survive the 1 year inside it. So even if you somehow made it to ISB without knowing why or how, the 1 yr is not going to be pleasant.
Being a young school, the amount of feedback that goes into the system is not funny. I at times sympathize with the ADCOM because they to not just do their job but also keep working on the feedback they receive. And we alums do our bit by generating some of that feedback!



November 10th, 2010 at 10:05 am

It’s really great to see such a caring alum(like you Ankur) who not only goes gaga about his alma mater but also gets into the act of making it the best in the world. I have seen people who get their degree certificate and hit the Shift+Delete button on their alma mater. People like you make ISB what it is and god willing one of the best places for education in the world. Keep doing the great job.Alas there aren’t too many people like you who care so much.Also there is this other section of people who welcome applicants with a Mike Tyson punch or a Shoaib Akhtar facebuster to the interview and expect them to be as cool as a cucumber during the interview, solve case problems, guesstimations, answer all their questions from their heart, while they are recuperating form the jolt.
You Rock keep the good work going.


Ankur Warikoo

November 10th, 2010 at 11:24 am

@Prabal: My love for ISB is no hidden fact! :) Anything to make the school better than the best!



November 10th, 2010 at 11:31 am

It will be Ankur, with a few more alums like you taking charge of things.I can see it(I am no Jyotishi though)the commitment of its alum makes a school great not 1CR+ salaries. The more ISB has alums like you the better it will be the faster it will sprint to GREATNESS.


Ankur Warikoo

November 10th, 2010 at 11:32 am




November 10th, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hi Ankur, Nice post. I applied to ISB this year and was called for the interview.

But if the candidates are well coached, whose fault is that? The candidate who is making or breaking this one chance at an MBA college or the college that expects a candidate to know why MBA, short term and long term goals?

Lets get into the shoes of a candidate who desperately wants to do MBA and is not going to settle for some c-grade college in Mumbai. The only reason he wants to do MBA is so that he can stop travelling in the ridiculously crowded local trains, get pushed around by a 100 men in a 10 sq foot space, he wants to get out of the rat race so that his parents can be proud of him, so that he can move out of the one room kitchen into a house where everyone has their own breathing space. This is his short and long term goal, but is ISB ready to hear that truth? No, and hence the well rehearsed answers.

In a country, where there is serious dearth of good higher education, if a candidate rehearses and by-hearts answers, its not his fault. Its because he would rather say what he is supposed to than take a chance with the truth.

I am sorry if I sound rude. But its about time we stop finding faults with candidates who make it to the interview. These people are achievers and will always be, and they all deserve an MBA because noone can take away the right to education. Its just that here, we just dont have enough opportunity. Its not the candidate’s fault – at all.



November 10th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

@Sharmishta: I will beg to differ. If you feel that an MBA is the path to a better life, then its only an MBA that can rid you of this illusion! :)

When I say well-coached, I didnt mean for ISB. I meant for MBA in general. There are a lot of people out there who dont require an MBA to do well in life (and trust me when I say this), but its discomforting to see them sitting at an interview and claiming that they are best suited for an MBA. Its at this stage that they come across as coached! Its like applying to the army and claiming that you love it. You think the person will survive??

ISB especially is a school thats very very hard to survive. Its a rigorous program and takes a toll on students, emotionally more than physically. At that stage you DEFINITELY dont want that guy who “claimed” that an MBA is the end to his woes, to be shitting in his pants and cribbing why he got into the school in the first place!

There are several instances where we realize that the candidate is only brand-shopping. He just needs the tag of an MBA and an ISB to go forward in life. And thats completely acceptable, as long as several other conditions are fulfilled simultaneously! So yes, ISB is not only ready, it also accepts the truth!

I understand where you come from and respect your sentiments. But please dont think of an MBA as a magic wand! Its an education not a placement agency! Definitely not a lifestyle upgrader!



November 10th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

My 2 cents on the ‘Why MBA?’ debate and the need to be in ISB would be to watch this:

The MBA will give you the Nunchucks not make you Bruce Lee. Many people think they will become Bruce Lees when they have the Nunchucks in their hands.It’s completely upto you how you use the MBA(Nunchucks) and what you want to do with it: injure yourself or play pingpong against two CONVENTIONAL players with it like Bruce Lee does.



November 10th, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Ankur – My comment may sound clichéd, but you are doing a great job here!

Its like searching a useful site in the chaff of information on MBA.

It seems like August-December is a new addition to the already existing seasons in India. The MBA season, where the leaves of Jobs shall fall from the tree called MBA (Glad you differ on this)

Thanks for maintaining this site. Really find it worth following.



Ankur Warikoo

November 11th, 2010 at 11:00 am

@Ashutosh: Thanks for the kind words! Truly humbled! :)



November 11th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

MBA is definitely not a magic wand and will never be and moreover I completely agree that you donot need an MBA for success.

But Ankur, the Corporate world is not ready to accept that truth. Ask the HRs who are fighting for the Day Zero Spot :)

I see younger and younger brats from MBA schools being recruited in decision making roles with no experience of the industry what so ever, TOI recently carried an article about how the MBA school brand is bigger than MBA itself. I am not saying that MBA from a great school is needed for success or climbing up the corporate ladder! The HR is!

Anyways off the point here :) my basic point remains that we need more quality education, more great b-schools like ISB because quality education IS life upgrader. And all of us are here to better our lives, in terms of knowledge, ability, power, money or whatever it is that matters to us! It would be naive to deny that education is not a life upgrader (subject to the candidate’s grasping powers ofcourse)

Anyways Ankur, I have all the respect for you and your blogs. But you had already done your MS before ISB, so why did you want to do an MBA?


Ankur Warikoo

November 12th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

@Sharmishta: I did my MBA because I wanted to get into consulting and I didnt have the finance skills to excel in it! Had I wanted to go ahead with my MS I didnt need it. Which I why I worked before my MBA to figure out whether I needed it or not.

Education is a life upgrader. An MBA is not!! Big difference



November 14th, 2010 at 1:54 am


Great insight on the hallowed ISB interview.
I was one of the few who faced a stress interview. I came out of the interview room fuming. Could definitely not give my best in the tense environment.

Hope your post is noticed by the Adcom and they indeed bring out a change for better.



Ankur Warikoo

November 14th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

@tanaya: Sorry to hear that! Maybe for a reason. Till the results dont come out, you never know why!



November 16th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I can point several loop holes in your argument but hey ISB has given me a chance to experience it all for myself. So let me come back in a year and a half and I ll know who is right and who isnt!



November 16th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

@Sharmishta: Yup! Experience it and then lets exchange notes!


[2010] ISB Admissions Director Dr VK Menon's Official Admission Query Thread - Page 41 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2009, GMAT, XAT, MAT

November 19th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

[…] in the system? Following is the link, is it being quoted out of context – (Comment Number 6) ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012 | ankur Warikoo Our track record speaks for itself and we would not like to comment on words taken out of […]



January 6th, 2011 at 11:41 pm


Really enjoyed your blog entries. :-)
I have a question for you. It might be a good one for all ISB aspirants who look forward to become entrepreneurs.

If you check the top 10 first generation entrepreneurs of India or for that matter even the world, most of them haven’t started their careers with an MBA, so how do you think an ISB degree can help someone (forgoing 22 lacs plus one yr salary lets say 15L) caught by the entrepreneurial bug fulfill his/her dream? How can they hope to take that giant leap forward after taking two steps back?

Look forward to your response. Thanks


prerna dhawan

January 12th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

hi ankur,
just got over with my delhi R2 INTERVIEW?
boy,was it tough? there was this stone faced female sitting in the panel (prob a student). asked all kinds of questions from me? tried to convince me that the path i had chosen was not the right one and that i should look to other options and not an MBA. i want to go into vertical corporate research in a pharma comany?(im a doctor with 5yrs exp). but i refused to accept it and stood by my decision till the very end. he “holier than though” attitude really pissed me off. another gentleman on the panel was very polite and put good questions to me.
i was reminded of the “GOOD COP BAD COP ROUTINE” to get the truth out.
i was thinking whether sticking to my goal was a good interview ploy?
what is the “weightage” of the interview in the selection process.



January 12th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

@Doc prerna: Definitely sticking to what you have set out for, makes sense. As long as it made sense from the beginning. Thats all I can say, from the limited description you gave me! All the best though. Hope to hear the good news on Feb 15th! :)


DR rohit jain

January 16th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

docprerna – r u a doc? can u plz write to me at

i m also a doc , just done with int in delhi ….


ISB 2012 class aspirants - Page 828 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2011, GMAT, XAT, MAT

January 21st, 2011 at 3:02 am

[…] Hope it helps a bit atleast to others who are yet to attend their interviews. All the best ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012 | ankur Warikoo […]


Chintamani K

January 21st, 2011 at 9:22 am

HI Ankur,

Would like to know what is the information that the ISB interviewers will have about me before hand? And what is the data that I need to take along with me?

Chintamani Kurse



January 21st, 2011 at 9:45 am

@Chintamani: The panel will have all possible details (resume, essays, recos) except your scores (GMAT, Academic). And you dont need to carry anything with you!



January 31st, 2011 at 8:54 am

Hi Ankur,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for your posts. It was really helpful.
I had interview at hyderabad yesterday and unfortunately it was a disastrous one!

I think there are 3 types or interviewers –
1. who want to know your story
2. who know you are talking crap and dont really care!
3. who, for some reason, act smart by comparing your knowledge about the subject with theirs!

I am from a sales & marketing background in a niche industry and he (student or alum, not sure) is grilling me with questions on production costs! (coincidently i have mentioned in my essays that i wish to learn about other functional areas during MBA)

Except my 1st question which was conventional (but was abruptly cut with many questions during my response) the others were quite random.

I have a great respect for ISB alums and students (i work with many of them), but yesterday i felt a little cheated ! (added to the fact that i had to wait 2.5 hrs as my interview was delayed)

I think that ISB should not invite so many applicants for interview that they are compelled to eliminate 4/5 post interview phase (the interview focus is all about in/out ).
Most top colleges call fewer people for the interview phase but are atleast willing to give them a good hear.

(personally i would have felt a lot better if i had not been shortlisted than go through that experience! i cud have saved some money not having to travel all the way from Pune to hyd :)


ISB 2012 class aspirants - Page 910 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2011, GMAT, XAT, MAT

February 7th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

[…] ISB 2012 class aspirants – 07-02-2011, 02:26 PM ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012 | ankur Warikoo This blog is written by one of the alums who took R1 interviews..he has shared his experience as […]


Ramakanta Sahu

March 9th, 2011 at 10:41 am

What would be an ideal structure of “Tell me something about yourself” question ?



June 26th, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Folks : You can take the services of , Its a initiative of ISB alumni and provides essay guidance to applicants for top bschools



October 9th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Hi Ankur,
Very good article. Gave me good understanding of what ISB looks in candidates and what clarity the candidates should have.
thanks a ton for sharing your thoughts and experience.



October 23rd, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Hi Ankur

I had actually written to you regarding my upcoming ISB interview. No worries, i know you will respond. I have come to enjoy your posts and find them very informative. I feel they are one of the best sources to prepare for the ISB interview.

Though i am convinced of my answers of why i want to do an MBA, and why now, i feel i have certain disadvantages as well:

– I am younger compared to the average age of people who apply- im 24 now.

– Only have 3 years of experience, and that too in two separate fields(Sales and HR). I want to start something of my own, which has nothing to do with the bulk of the experience i have gained-I want to enter food business.

-The only thing i have going for me is my passion about food. I live to cook and create. I have tried my hand at other fiels(Sales, HR) but nothing satisfies me more than creating something from scratch that i havent seen in any cookbook or online blog.

I’m sure ISB is the place for me; i know im the right fit. I just want to know if the above points will put me in a compromising position in the interview. What if the panel feels that i dont need to do an MBA to start a food business/restaurant? Im a bit nervous at this point. Would really appreciate some advice.




Ravi Mittal

November 17th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Dear Ankur,
Thanks for the wonderful post. It helped a lot. However I am not clear on one critical aspect.

First about myself. I am having 7+ years of experience in IT and currently working as Project Manager – PMO from last 2.5 years. I am ready for the MBA and see it coming in my way in terms of my skills – project management techniques etc and credibility of your suggestions. Whenever I give an idea it gets discarded may be because I just have 7 years and not even MBA when talking to 15-16 years of my counterparts. Apart from this I genuinely feel the MBA will help in being better at my role.

I want to continue in the same IT industry post MBA and work as account manager as I really love to do this. I know that MBA will help me in reaching there faster and will make me prepared be a better account manager and later business head but I am not able to nail down exactly how?

I have done research that MBA helps in networking , peer experience and other stuff but I am not sure about it helps in enhancing your skills. Is this good enough?

One more point I have is I want to be in India and start my own business in longer term. Since I want to be India I am not looking to get MBA from outside and what better than ISB? It is only 1 year and I can come back to IT industry without much gap.

Will it be possible for you to spend sometime for me and have chat so that I can gain from your wonderful experience. My mobile number is 9886678184, Please provide me your number (if it is fine with you).

Ravi Mittal


ISB Class of 2013 W/L - Page 9 - - The Everything of MBA in India and Abroad, CAT 2011, GMAT, XAT, MAT

December 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 am

[…] Re: ISB Class of 2013 W/L – 02-12-2011, 09:29 AM All the best Palintir..following link has a bunch of interview experiences from the past..thought may be helpful to you and others attending the interviews shortly.. http://www.*******…ience-2009.htm But I would suggest that you go through the 2013 aspirants thread to get a more recent sense of the interviews My personal favorite is the following blog interview panellist from ISB shares his experiences..nice perspective from the other side of the table.. ISB R1 Interviews For Batch of 2012 | ankur Warikoo […]



August 16th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Take advice from faculty of ivyctor about b school application, how you can get mba scholarship and much more information regarding your entrance into b school.



January 4th, 2014 at 12:44 am

Hi Ankur,

Came across your website and read through your posts on certain topics.

I must say that your promptness, modesty, gentle straight-forwardness and command over your thought process is truly impressive and nothing less of admirable.
Your words speak your personality, you have a genuine fan here!

Best Regards,


Abhishek Mitra

February 13th, 2015 at 3:40 am

Happened to stumble upon your website, subsequently blog, and have been reading for the last 2 hrs. Extremely captivating discussions, I must say.

Not sure if Sharmishta survived ISB, and if yes, would like to have a first hand account of her experience :)

@Sharmishta- If you happen to see this, please respond.

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