The IESE Assessment Day is an important part of the IESE MBA Admissions process. Surprising, then, to note that it is not even mandatory for most applicants! The IESE MBA follows an extremely thorough admissions process, and while the usual steps of asking for applications and conducting personal interviews is done by IESE too, it goes a step further by inviting a selected few applicants to the IESE Assessment Day. However, the Assessment Day invitation is not a necessary precursor for an admit – indeed, in the past, applicants have been accepted to the IESE MBA without being invited to the Assessment Day, or even after not being able to make it post an invitation. Unlike the IMD Assessment Day, which is similar but a necessary part of the process, the IESE Assessment Day is therefore not mandatory, but it is highly recommended in case one is invited.
Why is the IESE Assessment Day held?
The whole purpose of the event is to evaluate some candidates more holistically. These are usually candidates that IESE considers potential admits, but would like to know better.
This process could have different purposes for different candidates invited – this purpose could be to evaluate a particular candidate for admission, or evaluate a candidate for the scholarships, or even compare between two candidates who seem equally good on paper.
IESE is trying to judge communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills through this assessment. The Assessment Days are conducted in different locations across the world – at IESE itself, in New York, in India, or in Singapore or Brazil (as a few examples of venues).
These venues are not fixed and may change in the future. Applicants for more than one round may be grouped together in terms of invites for the Assessment Day. The Assessment Day invite is separate of an admissions personal interview.
Components of the IESE Assessment Day
IESE invites 60-70 applicants for each Assessment Day, and divided them into two groups of around 30-35 applicants each. Components of the IESE Assessment Day typically include:
– Introductions: Applicants may be asked to introduce themselves, not by way of their resumes, but in a creative and interesting way, for fellow participants to know them better.
This may be followed by a few questions by the moderator. All invited applicants are expected to not just participate and introduce themselves, but also to take active interest in known their fellow applicants for the day.
– Case discussions: In this part, applicants are divided up into smaller groups (6-8 people) and asked to analyze a case, followed by a presentation of that analysis to other groups, and to the admissions committee members present.
Intense cross-questioning can be expected, and members sitting in the audience are not removed from the questioning – the admissions committee members can call upon them for a perspective being discussed too.
The ability to work in diverse teams, to present impactfully, defend ideas, and discuss them thoroughly, is what is being analyzed in this part.
The admissions committee doesn’t just judge groups when they present, however. It is not uncommon for the committee members to visit groups preparing their case in different rooms.
– (Informal) networking: One of the key advantages of going to an Assessment Day event is of course the opportunity to network and make friends with participants from different industries, functions, and countries.
The ability to work and collaborate with peers from diverse backgrounds is key to succeeding at the IESE MBA, and often, applicants will derive a sense of delight (or foreboding – which can be useful too, telling you that perhaps this is not where you belong) in meeting their potential future IESE classmates.
When are IESE Assessment Days held?
Usually, around 3-4 Assessment Days are held per round of admission, in various locations of the globe in order to minimize travel for participants. This number may change depending on the school.
IESE Assessment Day participants usually receive their final decisions within a week of attending the Assessment Day.
See also: This interview with Itziar de Ros, the Admissions Director of IESE.