Perspectives from ISB

Every year, we receive well-written applications from several exceptional candidates. They showcase a candidate’s leadership potential, quality of work experience, academic ability, diversity, and other factors very well, making it a challenge (albeit, a welcome one) for us to shortlist applicants for interviews. However, from my personal experience, I have also seen that many promising candidates do themselves a disservice by submitting an application that doesn’t highlight their strongest points and differentiators correctly. So this week, I want to share with you some ideas and some questions that you can ask yourself that will help you identify various facets of your personality:

  1. One of the most important things for you to do early in the process of preparing your application is introspect. What do you want from your career and life? What are your goals and timelines for each? How close or far away from them are you currently? What is stopping you from getting there? How can you overcome the obstacles? How can ISB help you do this? Write them down.
  2. What have you accomplished so far – at work, in extracurricular activities, in academics, etc? Make a list of all your major accomplishments. Identify which of these had the biggest impact on you, your business unit, your company/organisation, a client’s company/organisation, society, country, the world, or even on a single individual.
  3. What challenges did you face while trying to achieve all these things? And most importantly, what did you learn from the experiences? You cannot afford to gloss over this part! It should come as no surprise to you that learning and takeaways are the most interesting things to us and we often value them more than the actual award you may have received for the accomplishment. Remember, awards and recognition are the end results, whereas we want to know how you came to receive them.
  4. Have you had unique life experiences that have shaped the way you think and act today? How have your experiences helped you become the person you are today?
  5. Have an honest discussion with your relatives, friends and colleagues about yourself and your personality traits. Often times, they see strengths and weaknesses in you that you can’t see yourself.
  6. Ask yourself, what differentiates you from those around you? Why is it that you aim higher than most of your friends? What gives you the ability to take risks? Where do the energy and drive to make a difference come from for you? Why do you continue to pay incredible attention to detail when others have stopped caring? How is it that you are able to come up with creative solutions when everyone else is stuck? How are you able to keep doing things differently? What makes you so curious about everything? Are you the one volunteering for difficult projects most often? Why has it become a habit for you to go above and beyond what is expected of you? Why do people trust you with important responsibilities? Answers to these questions can help identify not only your personality traits but also the skills that differentiate you from others.

These are just a few ideas and questions to get you thinking and by no means constitute an exhaustive list. I encourage you to use this and/or any other methods that work well for you to discover your own strengths. Once you have collected important information and gained insights about yourself, you have most of what you need to prepare a strong application. Next week, I’ll blog about how you can use these insights to prepare and present great essays.

All the best!