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We emphasize on the profile for short-listing candidates, says SPJIMR Deputy Director

| 23 Sept 2013 1019IST

In this freewheeling interview, Dr.Atish Chattopadhyay, Deputy Director, PGDM programme at SPJIMR, speaks about the admissions process and thought process behind the two phase of interview among other admission related issues.

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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.

SPJIMR’s PGDM programme is now open for admissions for 2014-2016. The online applications process was launched on Sep 15, 2013. In this freewheeling interview with, Dr.Atish Chattopadhyay, Deputy Director, PGDM programme at SPJIMR, speaks about the programme, admissions process and thought process behind the two phase of interview process at the institute. He also speaks on how the selection of specialisation at an application stage benefits candidates.


Q: What is the registration window and eligibility criterion for PGDM admission to SPJIMR?
The registration window for the two-year PGDM programme for 2014-16 batch began on 15 September and it will remain open till 18 November, 2013. To be eligible, an applicant has to have a Bachelors degree or equivalent (10+2+3) from a recognised university. Students in the final year of graduation can also apply. SPJIMR accepts CAT 2013, XAT 2014 and GMAT scores for admission.

Q: What kind of a response do you expect this year?
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. 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 examine and evaluate while offering admission to candidates?
We give lot of emphasis to the background of the individuals 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. We also put 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.

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: But you are still specifying a qualifying test score…
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.

Q: SPJIMR makes profile-based interview calls even before the CAT/XAT results are announced. What is the thought process behind this?
Yes, since last year, we have started to actually strengthen this.

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. The applicants will have an opportunity to come and appear for the interview and talk to us early. With an early interview phase, our shortlist would be available even before the test results are available. 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: You have also announced that aspirants can apply for specialisation in two streams. That’s new. Why have you allowed this?
It has been our experience that aspirants when they apply have some thinking that the chosen specialisation is good for them. During the process of interviews or process of shortlisting, we want to see the fit between the specialisation and the competencies, skill sets and the type of person the individual is.

So even though the applicant may be a good fit for some other specialisation, it sometimes is the case that the applicant is not even shortlisted for the interview because of that mismatch between specialisation opted for and the competency the person is seen to bring in.

Giving an option to choose the second specialisation will give the applicant an opportunity to be considered in the second specialisation in case the person is not found to be fit for the first specialisation.

Q: What is SPJIMR criterion for short listing candidates?
The short-listing is based on profile. For us, profile is academic background, co-curricular activities, versatility, achievements, adversities faced and relevance of experience.

So, when we do the shortlisting, we create a ranking based on this profile of the applicants. We call them in two phases. In the first phase, we shortlist around 1,500 candidates before test score results are still not declared. We ask these applicants to appear for an interview in Mumbai.

While giving the second phase calls, we consider the profile and also their relative performance in entrance test. In the first phase of calls, there is an element of uncertainty whether they will qualify in the entrance test. However, since they have a consistent academic record and they have been shortlisted by us, our experience is they generally qualify. But for the second phase, we know that they have qualified, that’s the difference.

Q: You have additional seats reserved for PIOs above 240. Are these seats open for general pool in case it is not filled with PIOs?
This is the sanction that we got last year. This 36 is over and above the 240 sanctioned seats. We cannot fill these seats with non- PIO, non foreign nationals. This year, we are going to reach out to the international community and it is important that we get to learn the process of getting aspirants of different nationalities in our programme.

This will aid diversity; also, eventually Indian schools have to be global and have to source applicants’ globally. This is one competency that schools need to acquire -- the art of attracting foreign students to India.

There will be a learning curve and we will go through the learning curve - the intention will be to shorten the learning curve.

Stay tuned to for more special interviews on B-school admissions.

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