The ISB Selection Process & My Journey from Software to MBA

by Apoorva Mishra, ISB PGP Class of 2017

The most typical profile applying to ISB: software engineer for 3 years, Indian, male.

I was that. During my 3 years at a prestigious technology company in Bangalore, I got involved in developing mobile applications for personal ideas and with an entrepreneurial bent of mind. However, as time progressed I started losing interest in coding and began taking interest in the business side of the ideas. It is then that I realized that I want to switch to a business function such as a role in strategy, finance or business development in an organization.

However, the skills that these roles required couldn’t be found in a software engineer with 3 years of experience. Hence, I decided to do an MBA to enhance my skill-set and make myself relevant for such jobs. Once the decision to do an MBA was made, the next step was to pick the schools and programs I wanted to join and understand their admission process and criteria.

MBA from where?

After careful deliberation, I decided to pursue one of the Global MBA schools in India or in the USA. I didn’t consider Europe as I didn’t find it appealing in job opportunities due to language and cultural differences. I finally decided to target top US MBAs and ISB from India. ISB was clearly my best choice after top 10 US MBA schools due to multiple factors: (1) less fees, (2) one year program so low opportunity cost, (3) top professors from across the world, (4) well known for entrepreneurship programs, (5) strong alumni base, (6) good placement track record,  and (7) a network of diverse and experienced peers.

In the next paragraph, I will talk specifically about my process to apply for ISB, however, these steps are applicable to other schools as well.

The ISB Admission Process

First, there is a profile based shortlisting which mostly depends on academic and professional experiences, then the admission essays and finally interviews for the shortlisted candidates. The final call depends on GMAT score and interview performance.

For candidates having less than 2 years of work experience, ISB has a special program called the Early Entry Option (EEO) through which candidates can get a 1-year deferred admission (if accepted) to the PGP program. This is different from the Young Leaders Program (YLP) at ISB, which is for candidates who are undergoing their undergrad education in their pre-final or final years. At the time of applying, I had less than 2 years of experience and applied through the EEO program and was finally accepted into the program with 1-year deferred admission.    

The first step in the admission process was writing GMAT and school essays and getting recommendations from undergrad professors and previous employer.

#1 – GMAT

I gave my GMAT well before (~1.5 months) before application deadlines. I started my preparation for the exam around 3 months before the date of the GMAT. A safe score to apply is typically 700+, however, a high score is not a guarantee of admission or interview invites as candidate profile also matters to the admission committee.

#2 – Essays

After taking GMAT, I spent most of my time writing essays and getting them reviewed from my seniors who had already completed their MBA and also from my friends. It took at least 10-15 iterations per essay before arriving at the final draft for essays, and hence I suggest start working on them as soon as possible.

#3 – Interviews

After submitting the essays and recommendations along with GMAT score, ISB rolls invites for interviews. ISB interviews are generally not very stressed and are focused on assessing the fact that how clear the candidate is about why he/she wants to pursue MBA, what are his short term, long term goals and how ISB will help him/her attain the aforementioned goals.  

I hope this article has been helpful to all the prospective candidates and I wish them luck towards attaining their goal to getting an admit to a top business school.

Apoorva Mishra


Apoorva Mishra is a student at Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.

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