March 2013

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Examination

I Semester

(Business Communication)

Time 3 Hours)                                                                                                     (Max. Marks 80

Note : Attempt any four questions from Section A; each question in Section A carries 15 marks. Section B is compulsory and carries 20 marks.

(Section A)

1.      Discuss the following statements giving concrete reasons :

(a)           Communication skills are acquired by nurture rather than by nature.

(b)           Organisational communication is strategic in nature.

2.      Identify and enumerate obstacles to effective listening. Whys listening an important skill for an organisational member to develop?

3.      Compare oral and written messages on the factors listed below. Which  type of message earns a higher rating and why :

(a) Ability to be edited              (b) Permanence

(c) Tone                                      (d) Feedback.

4.      How does kinesics and paralanguage aid in effective oral communication?.

5.      Explain transactional analysis, Comment on its applicability in organisational communication.

6.      The CEO of your company has recently moved his/her residence to a nearby locality. On his/her behalf you, as the personnel manager, draft a memo to be sent to your counterparts in other divisions.

(Section B)

7. Read the given case and answer the questions that follow :


A job-seeker's true story .

The following is the sad-but-true of what went wrong in a case interview. The narrator was a liberal-arts graduate in political science who worked for a short and unhappy time after graduation as a financial consultant and aspired to a position in management consulting. He was interviewed at McKinsey and Company. The names in the story have been changed.

It was the third week in February on a gloomy gray morning, and I sneaked out of the office and away from the phones, to which I was chained, under the guise of a personal business appointment. I raced to may car, trying perhaps to create a physical excuse for my rapid pulse. Carefully maneuvering around the droop in the ceiling, I shut myself in my dingy red '85 Nissan 200, and with a tentative glance at my leaking sunroof, I was off to be interviewed at what felt like my only salvation from the life-sucking, money-ruled treadmill that had become my existence. I scrambled in the mist from my parking lot to the third tallest building in Atlanta, and headed for the top floor. As I was greeted by the recruiter, I had condensation or perspiration-I'm not sure which-trickling down my temple. She led me back to an area with two sofas already accommodating three other interviewees. The caught me off guard slightly. For some reason I figured I would be alone since it was the end of recruiting season. Seating myself, I realized I had not really had a chance to contemplate what to expect. I waited there in the morgue.

All three of my companions looked like the antithesis of at-ease. Had I realized at the time that this was the job, I would have been nervous, too, perhaps. I was anxious all right, but it had little to do with the company If I had been interviewing for a similar paying job at Bob's Wholesale Hardware, I would have felt the same. The Truman scholar from Cali and the Valie to my left-info I would soon pry out of them-each seemed to be focused on some mental mantra that they were repeating in their heads. Both looked like they were trying to remind themselves that they were brilliant enough and also decide exactly which fine feat they .should talk about as their greatest accomplishment, or use for some cleaver analogy in their interview. I, too, had considered these questions, but not knowing what to expect, I figured I would simply say what 1 believed. Probably my biggest mistake.

I was surprised at how tight-lipped everyone seemed to be du ring those few anous minutes on the couches. I casually sparked up a little conversation and learned that each person was there fora final day-long round of interviews. They kept looking at me with a strange tilt, as if they were sending me telepathic message saying, 'What are you doing Don't you know this is MCKINSEY ??!!! They could hold this stuff against us !' One by one, they were led off, leaving me alone on the couch for a few uncertain minutes. Finely, I was greeted by a young womean in her late 20s and pregnant. I will call her Mandy for the sake of this anecdote. She was welcoming, and we chatted as she led ‘me to a narrow little station where we could talk. I found Mandy to be warm, personable, and helpful. She put me a ease in what I realized was a completely unknown environment. She asked me several 'interview-type' questions, but her torte was always helpful and inquisitive.

I think I made three mistakes during this interview : (a) I felts though I was always trying to give some nebulous right answer and falling short. I had difficulty being concise because my nerves were so shot, and I think my stammering did not help, (b) When she asked a question about where !saw myself in 10 years; I gave a very honest and unusual answer about how people create stress for themselves trying to plan and not being able to be flexible. I instead gave goals but probably was not as concrete as I should have been. I wondered if my honesty was appreciated less than a strong goal-oriented statement, (c) Although I was vaguely familiar with case questions, I was not well versed or practiced. When she asked me about how to figure out how many quarters were in a mall, I knew she would want to here how I structured my analysis, but I probably focused too much on that and also got myself caught in my own thoroughness. Had I been more practiced, I could have been more systematic in my approach and then stuck to my answer instead of feeling the need to add something I may have left out.

Walking out of the room back to the sofas, I felt that it had gone fairly well. I had shown some strengths, found some connections with her (she was human). I was not sure whether I had done well or poorly on the case question, but could not think of anything .I left out. With hindsight, I could have been a little more efficient and structured but I still think I did all right. Back on the couch we waited, and one by one, my `friends' were whisked aikay. Again, I was the last one on the couch and really beginning to believe that 1 was an afterthought, at best. Maybe, looking back,! should have been flattered, but at the time and under the circumstances, I tried hard to be amused, primarily to keep at bay the doubt that kept creeping in. When my final inquisitor-I will . call him Ken- finally arrived, I heard the hammier hit the nail.

Nothing Ken did or said put me at ease Or made me feel like the interview was anything other than adversarial. I also knew that the moment I became confrontational, I would lose: He started out with a series of questions that were harmless enough, but sent me scrounging. What was your most rev/at-ding leadership experience ?' I told him about how I started, at the ago of 15, playing ice-hockey, without knowing which way to hold my stick or how to

skate backwards, and the next year was chosen captain, and the next again when I led our team to the playoffs. Ken's enthusiastic response, 'That's nice, but how about something you did ?' Maybe I chose the wrong thing by giving a heartfelt answer as opposed to an ideal answer, or perhaps I just was not clear in my point of leadership by example. Either way, I felt his response to be colder than the February air.

He then asked me a case question : 'How much does a Boeing 757 weight'

Again, I knew he was less concerned about the number I came up with as opposed to my process, but he wan no help. I asked him all sorts of questions, and he just shrugged his shoulders and sat-tight-lipped until after the fifth attempt he finally said, 'To answer your one question, you can assume that the seats are empty and the tank is full'. Me corrected me a few times, too. 'Nor heard recently that the Concorde that they mounted atop a building near Time Square weighs 25,000 tons...'.

'Tons or pounds ?' asks Ken,

'I thought tons...right ???' I asked as I felt the last bead of self-esteem trickle down the small of my back.

'I dont's know,' helped Ken smugly.

'Well I figure the Concorde seats about 300 people, so the 757 probably somewhere around 350-375'. 'Actually, its more like 500', helped Ken again, 'and you have two more minutes'.

I could barely stand up after our time was up; my legs were weak. Ken started down some stairs, and I mentioned, 'I need to pick up my umbrella and briefcase from the waiting area', and he said 'OK, meet me at the door afterwards'. I did not know what to make of it all, but I was scared. I could hardly keep the tears back as I headed for the job I so desperately wanted out of. I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Two weeks later I received a voice message from Ken, and over the next week and a half of phone tag, I could scarcely wonder whether I was nixed, or they wanted to take another look. When we finally connected, he seemed to be friendlier than I remembered. It hurt all the more when he said, 'I've got some bad new...'. I asked why they felt they were not interested, and he said I took too long to answer some questions and seemed to be unsure with numbers. That hurt. All day long, I rapid-fire numbers and calculations on the spot as a financial consultant, always one of the first with an answer. And I have been told time and time

again that my biggest strength is being able to communicate a point quickly. Yes, I stumbled in the interview, but it still seemed ironic.

I bombed out in this interview because of: (a) innocent naivete about the big players in consulting and what that really meant; (b) Unfamiliarity with their process and what it is they look for in a first interview. I just had no clue; (c) emotional turmoil; (d)lack of confidence and certainty about what I was doing and why; and (e) some general bad luck.

Questions :

1.      What were the biggest mistakes that the author made ? Do you really think that these are mistakes or do you believe that the author is being too under estimative ? Discuss.

2.      What are some of the necessary mental preparations that the author missed and for which he paid heavily?

3.      What are some of the lessons that can be learnt from this case in particular and what can be done to improve upon those lessons?