SPJIMR’s PGDM programme and the admissions process-interview of Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay

CoolAvenues Newswire | September 20,2013 06:30 pm IST

SPJIMR’s PGDM programme is now open for admissions for 2014-2016. The online applications process was launched on September 15,2013.

In this freewheeling interview, Dr.Atish Chattopadhyay, Deputy Director of the PGDM programme at SPJIMR, speaks about the programme and the admissions process.


Q: You’ve launched the admission process for PGDM 2014-16. What kind of a response do you expect this time?

A: The intake of the two year programme has gone up to 240 since the last year and we receive a good number of applications. This year, we expect a better response given the fact that the programme has done extremely well over the last two years both in terms of placement and in terms of initiatives which are very contemporary and relevant. I think that the programme will receive a robust and enthusiastic response. Also, I must point out that our ranking has improved and this will also be reflected in the response we see.


Q: What is it that you are doing different this time from the previous year?

A: As far as our admission is concerned, we must understand that SPJIMR’s approach has been very different. We realise that we are ultimately catering to the industry and the recruiters who have different needs. So if we are talking about different needs or differentiated end products, we need segmentation of the input material.


If we are talking about the person who will join the manufacturing sector in the operations area, we will be looking at someone who would have some kind of a background in manufacturing and operations, and accordingly the whole training would be geared towards that. A person who would like to do finance or corporate finance, maybe the person will be a CA, and then go through the whole process of MBA and sharpen that finance base.


So the approach towards the admission is looking at the differentiated needs of the recruiter and segmentation at the time of admissions. We give lot of emphasis to the background of the individual seeking admission to our programme. Given that our whole approach to admissions is looking at segmentation at the time of admission and differentiation at the time of graduation, we ask for specialisation at the time of admission.


The way the SPJIMR’s process is different is that we give a lot of weightage to the long term leadership potential of the individual which means we not only look at the competency, academic background and the skill sets which they bring in but the overall individual as a person or the values of the individual.


So this is how the overall admission process is very different. Whereas other Institutions look for IQ, test scores and the academics, we look at the holistic personality where academic performance is just one of the components and our relative weightage on the entrance test score is much lower in the overall composite score.


Q: But you are still specifying a qualifying test score…
A: Yes, of course. That is to ensure that the basic competencies are in place. As far as CAT/XAT is concerned, the qualifying level is 85 percentile. For GMAT, the qualifying score is 650. The objective is simple: We get aspirants with the desired IQ level or the basic competency. With that being given, we look at the person. The individual is much more important when we are looking at people who will be taking up future leadership roles. And there we look at certain values that the individual possesses and the alignment of the values with our Institutional values.


Q: So the interview becomes very important and crucial in case of SPJIMR, which must be unlike other Institutions?

A: For SPJIMR, the interview is the most important factor but it’s not just the interview per se; I would say interview plus what the applicant has done earlier in terms of co-curricular activities, the roles played, the types of responsibilities the person has shouldered, combined with academic performance and specialisation fit. So these are the things which become very important when we look at the individual and the profile of the individual.


Q: So you have been doing these “profile-based” calls for some time now.

A: Yes, SPJIMR is known for profile-based calls. Since last year, we have started to actually strengthen this.


We have always been doing two sets of calls. Now we have also started conducting interviews in two different phases. Since our weightage in the entrance test score is relatively low, we believe that if we can interview the applicants early, we can get to see them in a manner and at a pace that allows us to devote more time. Also, we have a fairly large group of aspirants who applied with their GMAT scores. And we expect the CAT results to be out by the time of the interviews.


Most of the interviews for various B-schools are generally bunched around the same time after test scores are out. Applicants face the pressure of rushing from one interview location to the other. Many of them are studying, many of them are working and it becomes a challenge for the applicants to move from one location to the other in a short span of time.


So what we have done – beginning last year with the process being strengthened this year -- is that we get aspirants coming in early for interviews that we would conduct in January 2014 in Mumbai. Going forward, we expect that more applicants will appear for early interviews.


The shortlist would be available even before the test results are available. The applicants will have an opportunity to come and appear for the interview and talk to us early. The good part is, when the test score comes in (as and when it does), applicants can just update it and that would be part of their overall scoring.


So it relieves stress of the applicants, allows us to spread out the interviews and we can look at the applicants more closely.


Q: So what’s your experience with profile- based interviews?


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