FACTORS AFFECTING THE PLACEMENT PROSPECTS OF MBA STUDENTS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

Shreekumar K. Nair and Sadhana Ghosh

This paper presents the results of a study that attempted to link students’ placement prospects, operationalised through student perceptions of recruiting organisations to certain academic parameters such as performance in the entrance examination, group discussion, as well as personal interview, grade point average, internship marks, and ratings on extra- curricular activities. The study revealed that students having prior work experience got placement in organisations which are perceived to be better. Also, students with work experience performed better in the personal interview as compared to freshers. Further, students with work experience were found to be comparable with freshers in respect of their performance in the entrance examination, group discussion and internship.

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N recent times, business schools in the country are giving a lot of importance to student placements. The reason is that, to a large extent, the image and brand value of a B-school depends on its placement record. Bschools vie with one another to get the best companies on their campuses. In fact, in B-school surveys, the kind of placements offered is an important parameter determining the rating of that school. On the other hand, there is fierce competition among prospective students to gain admission to the best business schools in the country as well as abroad. These business schools really mean business and flaunt their ratings to woo the best talent. The fact is that while business schools are mushrooming in the country, placements are becoming critical to their very survival. In most developed countries like the United States, etc. the initial screening of candidates for admission to the master’s programme in business administration, at the institutes of higher learning is through GMAT and GRE. These examinations are continuously validated to ensure the suitability of the candidates for the specific programmes. The educational system also provides the flexibility to change from one programme to another depending on the aptitude and the interest of the candidate. In developing countries like India, the student has to appear in many entrance examinations for a post-

graduate programme. Different agencies conduct these entrance examinations, resulting in non-uniformity in the screening process. Moreover, very little effort is made to validate the entrance examinations as per scientific methods and procedures. In fact, the concept of test validation and development of validation methods are almost half a century old. Thorndike (1964) and Anastasi (1966) had recommended certain validation methods for tests to be used in selection. Ideally, a selection examination using a battery of validated tests should help in maximizing the chances of selecting the right candidates and rejecting the wrong candidates while minimising the chances of selecting the wrong candidates and rejecting the right candidates. The selection process of students for almost all the management programmes involves initial screening of the applicants using a battery of aptitude tests, followed by group discussion and interview. These selection methods are somewhat stereotyped in nature and business institutes rarely bother about their predictive validity, which means uncertainty as to the accuracy of these methods in selecting the best candidates for management education. Different agencies conduct these entrance examinations, most of which lack any evidence of a uniform pattern for screening applicants. Ideally, the selection tools should be able to identify potential

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managers, who could be groomed through management education and subsequently offered to industry. Indeed, companies make use of a variety of selection methods during placements to determine the students’ suitability for managerial positions. The written entrance examinations used at most of the B-schools comprise an assortment of tests to assess desirable managerial attributes such as analytical skills, quantitative skills, language ability, business awareness, etc. The tests are usually of the objective, multiple-choice type format, calling for both speed and accuracy since they are loaded with a large number of questions which the candidates have to answer within a limited time. There are minimum cut-off marks for each of the tests to avoid selecting candidates with low scores in any of the specific aptitudes. The scores on each of the tests are aggregated to get total marks on the entrance examination. Thus, the short-listed candidates are at the higher end in terms of total marks and also comfortably surpass the test-wise cut-off marks. Since managerial aptitude tests assess managerial potential, there is reason to assume that candidates with better performance in the written examination get better placements. In almost every B-school, candidates short-listed in the written entrance examination are called for group discussion (GD) and personal interview (PI) for which marks are awarded separately. Finally, marks in the entrance examination, GD, and personal interview are added to arrive at the aggregate marks, which are considered for selection to the programme. While making campus recruitments, HR executives from different companies invariably conduct group discussions and interviews with the students. The GDs and interviews conducted by these recruiters are usually similar to those conducted by the B-schools for their admissions. Even the attributes that are seen in the candidates are similar. Therefore, those candidates who score high marks in group discussions as well as interviews conducted by the business schools at the time of admissions are quite likely to find themselves placed in better companies at the time of campus recruitments. From the placement point of view, companies are found to generally prefer students with 2 or 3 years of experience in industry vis-à-vis freshers from B-schools. Students with experience are already exposed to the dynamics of organisational functioning and are in a better position to adjust rapidly to the complexities and crises that are characteristic of organisational life. With students having adequate experience, companies can usually bypass the need for further formalized training, putting
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them on the job straight away. A study by Weinstein and Srinivasan (1974), tried to link the annual compensation of 136 alumni of a graduate management programme with their work experience. Results of this study showed that work experience prior to graduate school entry was predictive of managerial compensation. In the case of students passing out of college with professional degrees, the single best-known indicator of their academic achievement is the grade point average (GPA). Particularly in business education, the GPA has been used as one of the important pointers for students’ academic performance. Recruiters sometimes explicitly specify the requirements for a job applicant’s GPA, and recruiters almost always require applicants to report their GPAs either directly or indirectly (Fang et al., 2004). It seems that recruiters believe that students’ GPAs offer evidence of how well students are prepared for their careers, other things being equal. In one study (Rosson, et al., 1973), the results based on the 478 responses indicated no significant differences between the GPAs of employed and unemployed graduates. In other words, based on the evidence of this study, the assumption that students with high grades have a better chance of obtaining employment is not valid. However, the Rosson et al. (1973) study included responses from various fields of study. Subsequently, Astin (1977) pointed out that students with higher GPAs are more likely to complete occupational and professional training than are students with low GPAs and therefore, GPA can be used as an indicator of career development. In another study (Albrecht, et al., 1994), 80.5 per cent of all recruiters representing 664 employers reported a preferred minimum grade point ratio. In particular, business recruiters held true to their emphasis on grades. The results of the study indicate that employers value both high grades and high involvement, such as participation in student organisation and pre-professional activities, although the value placed on grades is somewhat higher. Thus, it seems that students with higher GPAs as well as those with higher involvement in extra curricular activities enjoy better placement prospects. Ray, et al. (1994) conducted a study to find out what criteria are used for the screening and selection of college and university business graduates for employment. This research supports and further confirms other research regarding the necessity for business students to develop skill in all forms of communication; communication skills are perceived by HRM professionals as the most important criteria for evaluating business graduates. Many researchers (e.g. Edge, 1985; Porter and

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Factors Affecting the Placement Prospects of MBA Students 43

McKibbin, 1988; Ralston, 1989) have documented the importance of communication skills for business graduates. During placement time, recruiters assess the communication skills of the students through group discussions and interviews. This would mean that students who score well in group discussion as well as personal interview are likely to end up in good companies through campus placements. One of the important components of an MBA programme is the internship, which in most B-schools is for a period of 3 months. Students compete with one another to do projects with the best companies, in their area of choice. The internship is essentially a win–win situation for both the institute and the industry; while the institute finds it a means of strengthening its interaction with industry and thereby sell its products, the industry on its part uses the opportunity to research and find answers to problems that would, otherwise, have called for the services of a professional consultant. At the time of campus recruitment, companies show keen interest in the project being done by the student, and his contribution normally has a significant impact on his overall prospects of getting a job offer. Therefore, students who do well in the internship could be expected to get into better-rated companies. This view is supported by a study by Knouse et al. (1999), which examined the relationship of business college internships to college performance and to subsequent job opportunities. Results showed that internships were significantly co-related to job offers received upon graduation. Recently, Callanan and Benzing (2004) analysed the relationship between the completion of an internship assignment prior to graduation and subsequent employment in a careeroriented job after graduation. This study showed a link between completion of an internship assignment and finding career-oriented employment after graduation. Based on this review of literature, we identified certain factors that were important for placement. However, in-depth research in this area, in the Indian context, is not available in the published literature. It was therefore felt worthwhile to identify the factors that actually determine the placement prospects of B-school students in India. Accordingly, the following hypotheses were examined. Hypothesis 1: Candidates with experience get into a better organisation. Hypothesis 2: Candidates with better performance in the entrance examination get into a better organisation.

Hypothesis 3: Candidates with better performance in the group discussion get into a better organisation. Hypothesis 4: Candidates with better performance in the personal interview get into a better organisation. Hypothesis 5: Candidates with higher grade point average get into a better organisation. Hypothesis 6: Candidates with better performance in the internship get into better organisations. Hypothesis 7: Candidates participating in extracurricular activities get into better organisations. Each academic year, in developed countries like the US, numerous new management graduates emerge to seek employment (Maher and Silverman, 2002). Despite increases in unemployment among managers in recent years (Barta, 2003), competition for these and other business administration graduates, especially for those who are highly qualified, is intense (Strout, 2000). The prevailing situation in India is no different. Given the buyer’s market for M.B.A. talent, business schools and students would be well advised to satisfy the desires of the prospective employers. Today, a science, commerce or engineering degree alone does not help attaining faster career growth: many realise this after being in the job a year or more. The management institutes attract a good number of candidates with experience, all aspiring for fast-track career growth. On the other hand, organisations are realising that it is ultimately people who are the driving force in companies, and are therefore investing substantially in hiring and grooming bright young management graduates. B-schools prefer to admit students with adequate work experience, the reason being that they are more saleable as compared to freshers. When recruiting MBA candidates, corporate staffing specialists look at the value and appropriateness of a candidate’s work experience prior to graduate school (Ettorre, 1992). Indeed, students with experience are more adept at relating classroom learning to actual situations in organisations, and therefore benefit more from business education. A study by Carver and King (1994) reviewed the admission, criteria for a non-traditional MBA programme by investigating a group of students who were employed full time while pursuing the MBA degree. The major finding is that the combination of GMAT score, undergraduate GPA and work experience is the best predictor of success for students in an MBA programme.
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Students with prior work experience have a good blend of theory and practice as regards their technical knowledge. The entrance examination papers contain a mix of theory as well as application oriented questions, which is why students with work experience can be expected to perform better in the written examination as compared to freshers. Moreover, students with work experience are generally found to exude more confidence vis-à-vis students without work experience in group discussions and interviews. No doubt, sufficient exposure to the workplace helps a B-school aspirant to get a feel of organisational realities. It is also a fact that a majority of B-schools prefer students with work experience as they have an edge over the freshers during placements, meaning that candidates with work experience may score higher in the personal interview for admission to the programme. It is also reasonable to expect students with work experience to do well in academics, since they have better insights into workplace realities. Therefore, they can be expected to have a higher GPA as well as a higher internship score. Above all, students with work experience can be considered to be better in extracurricular activities as well. In almost every B-school, there are regular events organised by students which are either semi-academic or cultural in nature. The experience of working in any organisation can help a person to gain the skill set required for organising – and even participating in – various events during the course of the programme. Based on this rationale and the findings of studies quoted earlier, the following hypotheses were formulated: Hypothesis 8: A candidate’s performance in the entrance examination depends on work experience. A candidate’s performance in the group discussion depends on work experience.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The main objective of the study was to identify and relate factors contributing to the placement prospects of MBA students in a B-school. The study attempted to relate students’ academic admission-related variables with the overall rating or brand value of the companies in which they got placements. The factors/variables considered to have a bearing on the placement prospects were (1) Work Experience, (2) Entrance Examination Score, (3) Group Discussion Score, (4) Personal Interview Score (5) Grade Point Average, (6) Internship, and (7) Rating on Extra-curricular Activities. The study also attempted to relate students’ prior work experience with factors such as (1) Entrance Examination Score, (2) Group Discussion Score, (3) Personal Interview Score, (4) Grade Point Average, (5) Internship, and (6) Rating on Extra-curricular Activities. METHODOLOGY A sample of 154 management students who passed out in different batches from a B-school located in Mumbai was considered for the study. The performance of these students in the entrance examination during the course and for the placement was tracked and normalised. These continuous variables were seen for their distribution pattern and then grouped into three based on quartiles. Placement prospect of the student was decided on the basis of the overall rating of the company in which he/ she got placed during campus recruitment. Since nationwide objective ratings of the companies are not available, in this study, an attempt was made to quantify the perceptions of the students regarding the organisations based on five parameters, viz. (i) job profile, (ii) company image, (iii) career growth, (iv) salary and perks, and (v) HR policy. Student perceptions of the companies on these five dimensions were considered for rating the organisations. To get the “Overall Company Rating”, perceptions of students about the organisations were captured using a survey questionnaire containing items pertaining to these five dimensions. Responses of the students to the 20-item questionnaire were obtained on a 5-point Likert scale with the options: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Variables such as work experience, entrance examination score, group discussion score, personal interview score, internship score, and GPA were in ratio scale, whereas rating on extra-curricular activities and overall company rating were in interval scale (Likert

Hypothesis 9:

Hypothesis 10: A candidate’s performance in the personal interview depends on work experience. Hypothesis 11: A candidate’s grade point average depends on work experience. Hypothesis 12: A candidate’s performance in internship depends on work experience. Hypothesis 13: A candidate’s participation in extracurricular activities depends on work experience.
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type). Rating on extra-curricular activities was based on the active involvement of the students in certain activities during the course of the programme. Participation of the students in extra-curricular activities was assessed by considering the time spent by them on activities, viz., organising academic-cum-recreation events like summer internship contest, business incubation, case study contest, business quiz, placement and project related activities, coordination with the press for the institute’s activities, etc. DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS A comprehensive data analysis was conducted using various statistical tools to find out the factors having an impact on the campus placement of the students. Most of the variables were regrouped into three such as Satisfactory, Good and Excellent. Work Experience was clustered into four groups, namely, <6 months, 6–12 months, 12-30 months, and >30 months for doing chisquare tests. ‘Extra-Curricular Activities’ was categorised into three parts: “No Participation’, ‘Moderate Participation’, and ‘Active Participation’ groups. We did the cross-tabulation from the placement perspective for the overall company rating with all the other variables, i.e. Work Experience, Score in Entrance Examination, Group Discussion Scores, Personal Interview Scores, Ratings on Extra Curricular Activities, Internship, and GPA. Table 1 gives one of the cross tabulations of overall company rating vs. work experience in months. Similarly, other study variables were tabulated, overall company rating being common to all.
Table 1: Overall Company Rating vs. Work Experience: Cross Tabulations
Overall company rating in months 1. Satisfactory 2. Good 3. Excellent Total Work eperience <6 23 15 8 46 6-12 4 23 13 40 12-30 10 27 11 48 >30 3 13 4 20 Total 40 78 36 154

personal interview during admission process and extra curricular activities during the course have an impact on the placement position of students.
Table 2: Chi-Square Tests of Homogeneity for Overall Company Rating
S. Grouping No. variable 1 Overall Company Rating Response variable Work Experience ChiProb> Square Chi-Square 21.71 0.0014**

2 3 4 5 6 7

Score in Entrance Examination Group Discussion Personal Interview Extra Curricular Activities Internship GPA

1.937 2.339 21.12 6.131 1.578 9.45

0.3796 0.8860 0.0017** 0.0466* 0.4543 0.0508

Note: * Significant at 5 per cent level of significance; ** Significant at 1 per cent level of significance.

Table 3: Means of Overall Company Rating for the 'Work Experience' Groups
Work experience No Yes Number 46 108 Mean Std. error Lower 95% 3.1012 3.5013 Upper 95% 3.4606 3.7250

3.28093 0.09096 3.61315 0.05662

Note: Z = 3.10, P = .000968

Chi-square tests of homogeneity were performed for the groups based on the category of organisations they have been placed vs. work experience, their performance in the entrance exam, GD, personal interview, their performance in various semesters during the course, and their involvement in the extra curricular activities. The summary of results is given in Table 2. The chi-square tests of homogeneity indicate that work experience,

Further, it was of interest to try and ascertain if students with work experience have an edge over the freshers in terms of better campus placement. We clustered the data into two groups: with and without work experience. Means of the overall company rating were compared for the two groups. The means of the two groups have been tabulated in Table 3. The mean of overall company rating is 3.61 for the group with work experience and 3.28 for the group not having work experience. P-value (probability of significance) for comparing means is 0.000968, indicating that the candidates with prior work experience are preferred by better-rated organisations. Another factor which had impact on B-school students’ placements was their performance in the Personal Interview (PI). Therefore, it was of interest to know if candidates with better performance in PI get into better organisations. Performance in PI was clustered into five groups, viz. Satisfactory, Fair, Good, Very Good,
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4.5 Overall Company Rating 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 2 3 4 5 All Pairs Tukey-Kramer 0.05

Figure 1 : Overall Company Rating vs. Personal Interview Performance

and Excellent. The means for the same have been tabulated in Table 4 along with standard error of the means and 95 per cent confidence intervals of the means. Figure 1 shows the pictorial view of data and means of the overall company rating for the five groups based on the personal interview scores. The means of the overall company ratings for the five groups were compared through one-way analysis of variance. The F-ratio of 2.4660 with df 4 and 149, and P-value of 0.0474 showed
Table 4: Means of Overall Company Ratings Scores for 'PI Performance' Levels
PI Performance level 1. Satisfactory 2. Fair 3. Good 4. Very Good 5. Excellent Number 31 43 18 28 34 Mean Std error Lower 95% 3.2207 3.2266 3.1131 3.3168 3.5873 Upper 95% 3.6477 3.5892 3.6735 3.7661 3.9951

that these means are significantly different for the groups. The Tukey-Kramer test was, therefore, applied to find which pairs of means are significantly different. The test showed that the pair for which means of overall company rating was significantly different was the pair with ‘fair’ and ‘excellent’ performance in PI. This implies that the students scoring higher in personal interview during their selection for the MBA course do get placed in betterrated organisations. The third factor that was of importance in the placement of B-school students is extra curricular activities. The next line of analysis was to see how different levels of participation in extra curricular activities helps the students in getting better placements. The mean scores on overall company rating of the three groups based on extra curricular activities were compared through ANOVA. The F value was found to be 5.370 at 2 and 151 df with P = 0.006. The means, standard error, and 95 per cent confidence intervals are given in Table 5. Further, when Tukey-Kramer test was done to compare the pairs of means, the ‘Moderate Participation’ and ‘Active Participation’ groups turned out to be significantly different. Subsequently, we were interested in exploring and finding out as to which of the factors were associated with work experience. All the study variables were tabulated with respect to work experience. A student with less than 6 months of experience was considered to be a fresher. Table 6 shows one such table of work experience vs. PI performance. Chi-square tests and P-values are tabulated in Table 7. The data analysis shows that work experience has an impact only on personal interview and

3.43419 0.10806 3.40791 0.09175 3.39333 0.14181 3.54143 0.11370 3.79118 0.10318

Note: F= 2.4660, P=0.0474.

Table 5: Means of Overall Company Rating Scores for 'Extra Curricular Activities' Groups
Participation in extra curricular activities 1. No Participation 2. Moderate Participation 3. Active Participation Number 83 39 32 Mean Std. error Lower 95% 3.4118 3.0678 3.5752 Upper 95% 3.6716 3.5076 3.9223

3.54 0.0653 3.28 0.1086 3.74 0.0851

Note: F = 5.370, P = 0.006.
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Table 6: Personal Interview Performance experience: Cross Tabulations
PI performance 1. Satisfactory 2. Good 3. Excellent Total <6 23 19 4 46 6-12 6 23 11 40 12-30 8 27 13 48

vs.

Work

Work experience in months >30 7 7 6 20 Total 44 76 34 154

Table 7: Chi-Square Tests of Homogeneity for Work Experience
S. Grouping No. variable 1. 2 3 4 5 6 Work experience Response variable Score in entrance examination Group discussion Personal interview Internship Extra curricular activities GPA ChiProb> Square Chi-Square 2.006 0.340 17.598 0.1040 1.897 0.855 0.3667 0.8460 0.0002** 0.7470 0.387 0.652

recruitment. As pointed out by Ettore (1992), recruiters invariably look at the value and appropriateness of a candidate’s work experience while selecting MBA candidates. Personal interview was also found to have a bearing on student placements. That means, students obtaining more marks in the personal interview at the time of admission to the programme got into better-rated organisations, and vice versa. Thus, this finding supports Hypothesis 4. Moreover, participation in extra-curricular activities was found to be related to student placement. Students who had been actively involved in extracurricular activities during the course of their programme got into better organisations and vice versa. This vindicates Hypothesis 7 as well. Findings of this study, however, show that factors such as students’ entrance examination marks, group discussion marks, internship marks, and GPA do not affect placements. Therefore, Hypotheses 2, 3, 5, and 6 are not supported by the results obtained. The entrance examination seems to be acting as a screening device only and is not really predicting students’ placement prospects. Same is the case with group discussion. While communication skills are considered by researchers (e.g. Edge, 1985; Porter and McKibbin, 1988; Ralston, 1989) to be important for business graduates, performance in group discussion is not positively related to placement prospects. It seems that although almost all companies conduct group discussions at the time of campus placements, the attributes that are looked for in the students are different from those sought by the B-school. Further, as an index of students’ academic achievement in the programme, the GPA did not play a role in their prospects of entering a better-rated organisation. In retrospect, while looking at the GPA we found that, firstly, the range in GPAs is very small across different batches. Secondly, some companies conduct their own tests in the subject knowledge for the initial screening, ignoring the GPA. These could be the possible reasons for the GPA not being statistically significant as far as placement is concerned. As such, the study by Rosson, et al. (1973) did not find students with high grades to have a better chance of obtaining employment vis-à-vis those with low grades. Internship marks are also not seen to be predictive of students’ chances of getting better placements. Just as in the case of GPA, students are found to score very good marks in internship, making it difficult to differentiate between them. This could be attributed to the fact that the students who constituted the sample in this study represented the crème-de-la-crème of the student community in the country.
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Note: ** Significant at 1 per cent level of significance.

not on the other study variables, i.e. group discussion, entrance examination, internship, extra-curricular activities as well as GPA. That is to say, the performance of students with work experience gets differentiated only in their performance in PI. It can thus be inferred that students with experience perform better in the personal interview and get placed in better organisations. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS Results of the study indicated the span or duration of work experience to have an impact on the kind of placements that students get. This supports Hypothesis 1. In fact, it was found that students with 12 to 30 months’ work experience get into better organisations in comparison with those with less than or more than this range of experience. This means that the relationship between work experience and placement is not linear. Further analysis was done to see whether students with or without experience differ in terms of their placements. Results clearly showed that students with prior work experience are preferred by better-rated organisations during campus placements. This reinforces Hypothesis1. Interestingly, this finding also indicates a conscious attempt on the part of companies to consider work experience as an important parameter for campus

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The next stage of the study consisted of finding out whether the two categories of students, i.e. students with work experience and those without prior work experience differ in terms of variables such as entrance examination marks, group discussion marks, personal interview marks, internship marks, GPA, and extra-curricular activities. Results indicated that students with work experience perform better in the personal interview. Hypothesis 10 gets supported by this finding. As such, performance of the students in the personal interview leverages their selection in the course. It is possible that by virtue of their prior work experience, these students are comparatively more practical, mature and confident enough to face the interview panel. On the other hand, freshers are probably not able to relate to the practical problems of the industry and lack the much needed selfconfidence required to do well at interviews. It is also likely that there is inherent bias in favour of students with work experience for the institution as well as the recruiting companies. Generally, B-schools take into account the experience requirements of the recruiting companies while selecting candidates for their management programmes. In this study, the relationship between the admission interviews and the placement interviews could not be explored, as we did not have access to the marks of the students for their placement interviews. As such, recruiters are found to apply different parameters and yardsticks in their recruitment interviews, there being little similarity in their placement processes. In respect of the other variables, students with work experience were found to be no different from those without work experience. Thus, Hypotheses 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 are not supported by the findings. Further analysis (in the form of one-way analysis of variance) of the relationship of candidates’ performance in the personal interview with the overall company rating revealed that students who were rated as ‘satisfactory’, ‘fair’, ‘good’, ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ in the personal interview got placed in companies with significantly different overall ratings. In other words, these five categories of students got employment in companies differing in their brand image. Students who were given employment by the better-rated organisations were the ones who scored higher marks in the personal interview. In fact, we observed a maximum difference in the ‘fair’ and ‘excellent’ categories of students as regards the overall ratings of companies they have been placed. These two categories of students were distinctly different in terms of their standing in the personal interview and finally ended up in two different levels of companies in accordance with their interview performance.
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The findings of this study have implications for Bschools which follow a three-step process to admit students for their management programmes. As a selection criterion, prior work experience should be given sufficient weightage by the B-schools, otherwise it could adversely affect their placements. In fact, B-schools have to keep in mind the nature and duration of work experience as desired by the recruiters while selecting the students. Further, the fact that students’ marks in the personal interview had a disproportionate impact on their placement prospects justifies the use of the personal interview, in its present form, as a method for selection of students for the management programme conducted by the B-school under study. However, students’ performance in the written entrance examination as well as group discussion did not prove to have any influence on their placement prospects. This perhaps raises questions about the utility of these two approaches in their present form in selecting students who can get good placements. But this would in no way mean that selection methods, entrance examination and group discussion do not serve the purpose of spotting good candidates for the management programme. It would also be worthwhile examining the way internal assessments are made to award grade points to the students. Likewise, it would be prudent to have another, closer look at the way evaluations of internship/ project presentations are done in the B-school. This study is purely exploratory in nature and the results are based on data collected from a single B-school. Therefore, the findings cannot be generalised in terms of applicability to all B-schools in the country. Indeed, data from an adequate sample of B-schools in the country have to be drawn for arriving at definite conclusions regarding the factors influencing the placement prospects of MBA students. Further, it would be of interest to all management institutes to have an understanding of the variables that discriminate the deserving candidates from the undeserving ones in terms of their performance in the course. Future research should consider other plausible academic as well as personal variables of the students that can have an impact on B-school placements. Most importantly, on-the-job performance of the graduated students could be tracked and related to the various antecedent variables. Moreover, the validity of the placement interview in identifying potential managers could be an added dimension to be studied while extending this research.

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Shreekumar K. Nair, Ph.D. (shreekumar@nitie.edu) is currently working with National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai as Associate Professor in the area of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management. He has more than 16 years experience in teaching, training, and personnel selection. He has published empirical papers on topics like the job characteristics model, managerial effectiveness, locus of control, emotional intelligence, and work values. His current areas of interests are emotional intelligence, work values, and competency mapping. Sadhana Ghosh, Fellow-NITIE (sadhanaghosh@nitie.edu) is currently working with National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai as Professor in the Operations Management area. She has more than 25 years of experience in teaching, training, and initiating quantitative approach to problem solving in organizations. She has been a Board Member of NITIE, Academic Co-ordinator and also the Professor-in-charge, Placements, at NITIE. Her interest areas are quality management and process improvement through six sigma.

VISION—The Journal of Business Perspective Vol. 10 No. 1 January–March 2006
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