There comes a time in each student’s life when she has to make a transition from her college education to the next step of learning. Some opt for what is known as ‘higher learning’, whilst others look towards what is called ‘professional education’. The difference is that whilst the first deepens your knowledge and prepares you for a life in academia or research, the latter is meant to prepare you for a career. It is quite unfortunate that in today’s world preparing for a career is considered as synonymous with getting a job. Let us limit our conversation today to the ambit of B-schools that are supposed to prepare you for a career in business or management.
These B-schools are graded in popular perception as well as through ‘brand studies’, and are usually divided into categories A, B, C, D, etc, which indicate how good these schools are towards providing you the professional education that will help you in your career. Unfortunately, in the minds of students, the grading is often done on the basis of “what kinds of a job will I get, and increasingly how much salary will I get when I graduate.” This also means that B-schools have to choose who to admit to their institutions, since the demand always outstrips the supply. In HR terms, when you have to choose or select, you have a choice: you can select ‘in’ or you can select ‘out’.
Select out means that you set up criteria that filters out people you do not want, whilst select in would mean that you choose the people who you want ‘in’. If you look at most common admission processes, they are designed to select out rather than select in. Let us understand why! So let’s examine the most common processes in admission today, of which CAT (Common Admission Test) used by the IIMs and some other B-schools is a prototype. CAT tests intelligence, that too of the IQ variety, which means that it checks your basic abilities such as numeric or quantitative, analytic, comprehension, etc.
The way the test is designed is such that it eliminates all those below a particular level of performance or, in other words, it selects out those who do not meet the cut-offs that are prescribed by various B-schools. I am not suggesting this is a wrong format. However, to my mind, it misses out on several important variables that should have been important for a business school with the terminal objective of preparing students for a career in industry or business. First, all B-schools are learning institutions. A learning institution, by definition, should look at one very important criteria for selection, which is ‘learning ability’. Since B-schools are instruments for learning, it is important that the ability of a student to grasp what is being taught is an important criteria.
Second, a student does not necessarily use IQ to be a good manager or a leader. Research has shown the importance of the other Qs (Emotional Quotient and the Spiritual and Social Quotient) in making great leaders. At the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) we have the luxury of being able to select ‘in’ for now. This may not last as the school continues to build its brand, but I think those at all times we are conscious of the kind of students we would want as our students. Amongst the selection tools that we use is therefore a profiling tool called Caliper. This tool, which is administered on-line, has a large normative database of several millions of respondents in industry and elsewhere.
It measures respondents on 18 traits, which combine to display select behavior and finally roll up to six competencies. These are leadership, influencing, managing relationships, problem solving / decision making, personal organisation and service/consulting. Caliper is not used as a standalone means for selection/rejection, but it is used in combination with other selection tools and in particular the BEI or Behavioural Event Interview to profile the student. In fact, each student who joins SOIL has an Individual Development Plan created for her and Caliper is an important contributor. To summarise, at SOIL, we believe in selecting in, and this helps us build leaders from an all-round perspective, not necessarily limiting it to their IQ.
Courtesy: The Financial Express