15 tips and tricks to help you write your IIM Bangalore SOP
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
The IIM Bangalore SOP is one of the most important documents since a significant part of your interview will revolve around it. They will take cues from what you have written about yourself and use it to direct the interview. It is a make or break - I cannot emphasize how vital an IIMB SOP is for converting the call.
Hi everyone, I am CA Umang Gupta and I am a student of IIM Bangalore - Batch of 2022! Let me take you through the basic mantra of writing your mandatory SOP for the IIMB admission process.
The basic theme of the IIMB SOP is the "story of your life till now and how doing an MBA from IIMB will help you achieve your dreams." – it is like summarizing your life journey in a single page.
It includes the answers to Tell me about yourself, Why MBA, Academic achievements, Strengths & Weaknesses, Where do you see yourself five years down the line, Work-experience, Awards & achievements, Positions of responsibility, etc. all weaved together into your personalized life story that keeps the interviewer wholly engaged.
The SOP's coherence is essential, and it should not merely look like a boring CV will all these elements monotonously listed down. There should be a human element (personal touch) to your SOP. It should also include your value system, thinking, and the lessons you have learned in your life.
All in all, you would aim to convince the interviewer that doing an MBA from IIMB is the obvious and natural progression for you in your career and that you would add value to their institute in your time there.
Topics to cover in your SOP:
1. Background – Academic, Personal
2. Achievements – Academic, Professional, Personal
3. Value system and strengths
4. Weakness, linked to why Why MBA and Why IIMB
5. Ultimate life goal and purpose
Tips and Tricks
1. Originality – The SOP is about you, your life, your career, your goals – and you cannot do justice to it by copying someone else's.
So, referring to different SOPs is acceptable to get an overall idea of structuring it, but keep it completely original.
2. Writing an SOP is not an overnight affair – You must show the SOP to at least 7-8 people – IIMB students, coaching institute faculties, your friends, etc. and take inputs from everyone about how it sounds – is it engaging or not, what do you make out of it, what additions, etc. to make. There must be multiple iterations to your SOP. It generally takes a week to get the perfect masterpiece right.
Read-Edit-Repeat is the mantra.
3. Stick to the instructions given related to the word limit, font style, size, etc.
4. Content matters, but so does style – I cannot reiterate how important the SOP writing style is. The interviewer should be completely immersed and engaged while reading it. Take a cue from authors you admire – Reel them in, pique their interest and do so authentically.
If you are not a natural writer, refer to point 2 – you will know someone more skilled at it to help you phrase yourself better.
5. Include 1-2 Quotes – I see people including famous quotes in the SOP which they resonate with
E.g. – (a) I have always believed in "Do your best, God will do the rest."
(b) "Continuous effort and hard work is the key to unlock our potential" – Churchill. This quote has summed up my personal and professional life till now.
This is a personal preference and hence use it at your discretion.
6. Why MBA and why IIMB must be answered – IIMB gives immense importance to this question. If you are not able to convince the interviewers to this question, you will not get in. Try to avoid generic reasons for choosing IIMB such as alumni, networking etc.
And the only way you can effectively convince them is if you are clear about your goals and how the college fits into them!
7. Try to link your strengths to specific instances in your life – Saying that you are a hard worker is a cliché. However, saying that pursuing a professional course alongside your internship/college taught you the value of hard work is personalized.
Try to link your weaknesses with why MBA – How an MBA from IIMB will help you overcome your weaknesses and become the best version of yourself.
8. Be Specific – Instead of saying I got good grades in my 12th board, try to quantify it by saying I was in the top 2% of my batch. It is never "I came first". It is, "Amongst 200 people, I stood first." - Help them visualise the magnitude of your achievement.
9. Work Experience – When you describe your work-experience, focus more on your role in the projects, your achievements, learnings, and skills learned from the experience, and how all this has shaped you like the person you are now.
Do not just list out your JD.
10. Do not add complicated jazzy vocabulary – Refrain from using unnecessary complex Shashi Tharoor kind of language.
11. Do not lie on the SOP – The interviewers are experienced people taking interviews for the past 10-15 years. They will easily spot apparent lies on the SOP and will undoubtedly grill you on them in your interview. All in all, be yourself and only write what you are comfortable with and can defend.
12. Have some talking points/hooks in your SOP – There must be at least 3-4 exciting things in your SOP, making the interviewer interested in knowing more. The advantage of this would be that the interview would revolve around something you have prepared well and are comfortable with.
13. Spell Check your SOP – Use a Grammarly Premium or some other software to grammar check your SOP's final version. An SOP with grammatical errors is a complete turn-off for any interviewer.
14. Prepare your SOP points well for the Personal Interview– The SOP is the most critical element of your interview. So, prepare all the points mentioned in your SOP very well since you will most likely be grilled on them. Have instances to quote to defend your qualities and be prepared to talk about any part of them at length and with conviction.
15. Do not compare - Have faith in your answer, your story, and yourself. After having drafted and submitted your SOP, do not ever peep into what anyone else has done/how they have written it.
Some reference SOPs (Do remember the no copy rule) :
A special tip to the CAs:
a) Chartered Accountants must watch out even more since they may be grilled on "Why MBA after CA? Why can you not get xyz role directly? Have you wasted your CA?"
You can refer to the Why MBA answer on this thread here.
You can also refer to my answer on Why must a CA even do an MBA here.
b) Secondly, do not get too technical with the IndAS adjustments that you worked with at your office. The faculty may not have expert knowledge in that domain and it will only lead to him skipping it over and you would have wasted precious SOP real estate.
c) Finally, get your SOP vetted from non-CAs as well and ask them if they are able to understand and appreciate the technical stuff. For Example, we use short forms like EBIT, ETF, CD, YTM, ROA, YTD etc.
Non-CAs might not understand these easily in an SOP.
To conclude, an SOP is like a perfect dish prepared by the chef meticulously and patiently with complete sincerity and dedication.
Making it, showing it to different people, taking their feedback, redrafting it, and doing multiple iterations is a lot of effort but trust me, it is all worth it when you convert the coveted IIM Bangalore call. :)
Congratulations & Good Luck! :)
I can be reached on our Instagram handle’s DM for any queries and suggestions, linked here.
In the meantime, stay tuned for the other articles in this series 😊