Indian MBA Grads Face Hiring Test

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on September 24, 2010

In five months, the MBA will lose its status as a universally accepted credential for management jobs. In India, at least, b-school grads who want those jobs will also have to take a test.

On Feb. 20, the All-India Management Association (AIMA) will roll out the Management Aptitude Skill Test (MAST), a screening test designed to determine whether business school graduates in India are qualified for jobs, according to several published reports.

The details are a little sketchy, and my efforts to reach someone at the AIMA were unsuccessful. But AIMA President Sanjiv Goenka, told the Financial Chronicle that the test was designed to help students. “The idea is to give aspiring management graduates a level playing field. It is not always possible for companies to reach out to all the IIMs and other B-schools while hiring. In the process, talented students are left out.”

Here’s what I know about the new test. It’s computer based and 150-minutes long, and it will test the candidate’s “management aptitude, domain knowledge in areas of specialisation like finance, marketing, HR, international business, operations & IT and assess their personality traits such as leadership, handling stress, decision-making skills, stability and teamwork abilities,” according to the Economic Times.

The Times is reporting that a number of big employers are already on board, including the India-based operations of Deloitte, MetLife, Pfizer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nokia, Lenovo, and TATA Communications. But the Financial Chronicle quotes an AIMA director general, Rekha Seth, as saying the number of companies planning to use the test goes well beyond that. “There has been overwhelming response from both companies and b-schools,” Sethi told the publication. “We are looking at 200 corporate endorsements and have already got 100 so far.”

It's unclear to me if the test will be required by these companies, as part of the application process perhaps, or if it will be optional. It's also unclear if the scores will be publicly available (so employers can mine the database for high-scorers) or if the candidates themselves can direct the scores to specific employers (similar to the GMAT and other standardized tests). Other unknowns include whether candidates with degrees from schools outside of India will need to take the test for Indian jobs, and if the test will be required for jobs in India only or for any position for which a graduate of an Indian b-school is being considered.

Throughout most of the world, standardized testing is something that business school applicants are accustomed to. But the notion of a post-graduation test that qualifies an MBA graduate for employment (the way the bar exam qualifies lawyers or the licensing exam qualifies doctors) is new.

I think most employers, even if they sometimes complain about MBA grads who need to be retrained after they're hired, still assume that business schools, whatever their flaws, do impart the basic knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a corporate setting. (If they didn't believe that they wouldn't pay them six-figure starting salaries.) So I'm left wondering whether something like this, while it might make sense in a country where the quality of business school education is uneven, would be necessary or useful in the U.S. and Europe, where programs are more established.

I think an argument can be made that it is. Think about it: with few exceptions, grade inflation is as big a problem in b-school as it is anywhere else, and many top U.S. b-schools won't even disclose grades to recruiters. The programs themselves, or the portion of them given over to academics, are getting shorter and shorter--in Europe you can get an MBA in less than a year. For recruiters that's a little like buying a car without opening the hood. A test like the one AIMA has planned would allow them to look under the hood.

In a perfect world (perfect from an employer's perspective) all candidates would have internships before a hiring decision is made, giving the employer a few months to put them through their paces. But it's an imperfect world. A test is an admittedly poor substitute for an internship, but is it better than nothing at all? Is it better than "Trust me, he'll do a great job"?

Reader Comments


September 24, 2010 11:54 AM

That is super-fantastic news !! Thank you :)


September 25, 2010 8:52 AM

Tomorrow is a new day.
I join. All above told the truth. Let's discuss this topic.


September 27, 2010 9:23 AM

how many test wud one need to take to land a job?...
wat an idiotic idea...

G Singh

September 29, 2010 3:18 AM

Spare the graduates from Institutes that has CAT as admission criteria

Harsh Gupta

September 30, 2010 7:23 PM

As long as this test is optional and can be substitued with CAT scores or GMAT scores i think it should be okay.

If not that atleast the prople with significant work experience and education from premier B schools like the ISB,IIMs, SP jain etc should be excluded. This test makes sense for the vast number of tier 2 and tier 3 graduates where the companies dotn have any way to evaluate an application on a general scale.

By promoting such tests in india we promote a culture of theoretic scholarship in india. India is a country where tests seem to make or break one's student life and career.

We should move away from this culture and have a broader criteria to admit students rather than just scores. I prersonally prefer the admission process to US Science and B schools although use the GRE and GMAT scores as a part of the admission criteria but only as a part of the application and not the complete application itself.


October 4, 2010 8:57 AM

I think this idea of having a qualifying test is a ridiculous one at best. When are we going to move away from the 18th century mindset that a paper exam can encapsulate someone's personality. This is like ordering dishes on a menu by quizzing the chef - sample the food dammit!!
I guess we Indians find it hard to remove the bureaucracy embedded in our DNA.
I cant even begin to visualize a test that will examine finance, IT, marketing, leadership bla bla skills - all in 150 mins!!!!
As some one said, fix the selection process (insist on good recos, and relevant work-ex) and fix the curriculum (have more industry oriented projects than just theory) and the output is automatically taken care of.
I wonder how an industry veteran heading the AIMA is supporting this idea?


October 5, 2010 5:31 PM

Why is MBA always measured in paper , pen and computer screen. Isn't MBA about thought process?
Have the interviewers in these companies become so dumb that they cannot judge a candidate in an interview.
God save Indians from these tests!!


October 6, 2010 11:51 AM

I doubt that a 150 minute exam is going to be able to do much; all it will do is create an industry of cram schools design to defeat the test, at the same time protect the incumbents who enjoy the current benefits of the profession while incrementally making the test harder to raise the barrier of entry. It behooves me why a profession professed to be about "business" didn't come up with a market solution to the problem. Businesses that hires MBAs without looking "under the hood" while paying them "six-figured starting salary" deserve to fail. The only question is how to separate out the Harvard Business Schools from the 9-months diploma mills; but can that simply be a list of reputation ranking? I'm sure most employers already have something like this (or the equivalent black-listed schools). The question is how to get them to share the list.... and I'm sure a reputable organization such as the AIMA or some magazine can tease out the lists, compile them together, and publish to the eager crowd.


October 7, 2010 6:37 AM

idiotic idea!!this is only make an income stream to AIMA,nothing else. Just calculate 1500 per person * atleast 50% of MBA graduate produced per yr, its really big money. An 150 minute test wont determine the quality of an MBA, but the passing out institute could,CV could, good communication skill could....AIMA is going to be rich as good as top corporates


October 13, 2010 6:54 AM

it is idea by AIMA just to make money by conducting exams. Nobody need to say it is of no use in view of companies who often select candidates from quality institutes like IIM FMS JB etc which themselve skim the best brains of country for admissions. its just AIMA's attempt to target few company which need some MBA's at low packages who hardly need to use their intellectual.

Guys no worry at all for those from HOTSHOT institutes and others u dont be much concerned to it bcos its ok for you.


October 13, 2010 10:39 AM

Whatever the kind of test it might be, IIMs are many notches above the rest and for sure all the toppers would be from IIMs.


October 17, 2010 3:15 PM

This test is only going to open hundred more of academies that will make profits by giving test preparations.It won't otherwise serve any good purpose.


October 25, 2010 10:55 PM

Mediocrity should be challenged before or during the post-graduation and not after, irrespective of the fact that the candidate has a prior industry experience or not. Secondly, to put an additional sieve for those candidates passing from IIMs and like, directly implies the lack of empathy in the intellectual capability of the faculty and the student (may not be surprising these days with the amount of reservation quotas and pre-conditioned selections!!). Lastly, the interview process for getting on-boarded to some of the blue-chip MNCs need to factor in the desired level of intelligence required for the particular role and position applied for. In a nutshell, standardised set of exam will bring an additional blanket decree which can be a broad and rudimentary indicator of self-performance but an uncharacteristic way to select talent.

ajeet pandey

December 22, 2010 7:57 AM

sir may know availabilty of aima test form ..................... before this i did mba . n i want to become joine mnc.

Senthil Choo

May 19, 2011 2:44 PM

ISB very bad institute only MBA from IIM is valid. 1 year MBA is waste like ISB , SP Jain , MDi . These students nobody hires

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