IIM Shillong GD-PI Experience: Both, fluency of speech and cogent arguments are crucial, says Priyanshu Gupta
Aditi Garg, 21 Feb 2019, #CAT
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IIM Shillong GD-PI Experience: Striking the right balance of preparation alongwith a good attitude is the key to crack any GD-PI. For aspirants aiming for top B-schools in India, Careers360 brings to you the GD-PI experience of Priyanshu Gupta, a CAT 2017 topper, who secured admission in the prestigious IIM Shillong.

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Priyanshu clearly highlights that, for a management student, communication skills are important and the interviews look at not only the fluency of speech but whether the arguments are cogent or not. Instead of searching questions from other people, Priyanshu prepared on his topics of interests such as reading. He also focussed on current affairs through newspaper and publications such as Economic and Political Weekly. Being from a finance background, he focused on answering the technical questions and also emphasising that he is well-read and loves discussing a plethora of topics. 

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Read on to know more about Priyanshu’s experience at IIM Shillong.


Careers360: What is the selection procedure at your B-school?

Priyanshu: We were initially shortlisted based on CAT on profile followed by Group Discussion and Personal Interview.

Careers360: What was your overall experience of attending the selection procedure of your B-School? Share in detail.

Priyanshu: The overall experience consisted of preparing till the last day to make sure that I leave no stone unturned.

On the day of the interview, I was relaxed as I had taken other interviews and felt confident about academic knowledge as well as current affairs. The document verification hardly took any time and I spent the time waiting for my interviews by interacting with other candidates and getting know what kind of prospective students I will be spending the next two years with.

The Group Discussion was collaborative and everyone got a chance to speak and present their ideas. During the interview, the interviews were not grilling and it took the form of a discussion, where they focussed on academics, current affairs as well as my personality and my outlook towards my career and life.


Careers360: Which other B-Schools’ selection procedure did you appear for? How was your experience in other institutes vis a vis in your institute?

Priyanshu: I appeared for IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Lucknow as well. The interview was focusses don personal qualities and my hobbies in the case of IIM Lucknow where IIM Ahmedabad was more about knowing the all the details, including the trivial ones about the topics of my interest. IIM Shillong was the most all-rounded one as it also included current affairs and asked me more open ended questions which tested my thought process instead of factual knowledge.


Careers360: What was your WAT topic and how did you structure it? Did you find it easy or you had a difficult time writing it?

Priyanshu: For all my processes, I structured my WAT in the general essay format:

  • Introduction

  • Argument 1

  • Argument 2

  • Conclusion


Careers360: How did you prepare for WAT? When did you start your preparations for PI-WAT rounds?

Priyanshu: I did not prepare separately for WAT process as my focus was on knowing about diverse topics which would be useful in both WAT and PI.


Careers360: Do you think that a separate preparation strategy is required for WAT?

Priyanshu: A separate preparation strategy is not required but one should practice a few essays so that you can think on the spot if any abstract topic is provided and you have a basic structure in mind.

Careers360: Please share the WAT topics which you were asked during the admission rounds last year?

Priyanshu: The topics that I have been asked during my processes are:

  • One plus one is not equal to two

  • Order or chaos? Which leads to more welfare?

  • How can Indian Sports be promoted to reach the level of cricket?    

  • Can there be peace between India and Pakistan?

  • Case Study      


Careers360: How should one tackle a WAT topic, if s/he does not have any knowledge about it?

Priyanshu: One should relate it to a topic he or she is aware about. They should use the learnings from one’s own life and try to implement them in the given scenario.


Careers360: What must be the approach, Dos and Don’ts for WAT?

Priyanshu: One of the essential things required for the WAT is to keep the language simple. The test is of your argument and not the English, but at the same time ensuring that grammatical consistency is maintained throughout the passage.

One suggestion is that the writer must give a structure to the passage and not write it in a format where it seems that it has been written without giving the topic a proper thought first.


Careers360: Do you think there are some time management skills required for a student to write a complete structured WAT?

Priyanshu: Time Management is essential as an incomplete WAT could be disastrous. One should practice a few WAT questions in order to roughly divide the time between forming the arguments and then writing them in a structured manner.

Careers360: How was your personal interview experience? How big was the panel and what were your feelings while facing them?

Priyanshu: The panel consisted of two interviewers who were relaxed, providing comfort and ease to the candidates.

Careers360: Among all the interviews you have appeared in, which one was the best and why? Share your best PI experience with us.

Priyanshu: In my best interview, I was asked to defend my WAT topic, which was about choice between chaos and order, and how order actually leads to a lower welfare state. My answer was that order was like fixed systems in economics and lead to generation of deadweight loss whereas chaos revolves around the equilibrium level for the whole world’s welfare. The interviewers appreciated the analogy and started discussing my weaknesses and were quick to refute them, making me dig deeper for what I think I need to change about myself.

The discussion moved on to academics where they discussed motivational theories with me, not only asking me to explain each of them but also my perspectives towards them and which one I would like to use as a manager.

Discussing my hobby, which is reading, they discussed philosophy with me and went on to discuss Plato, Socrates and Aristotle and how each of them differ in their thoughts even though all of them were contemporaries.

Careers360: What were the questions which you found most difficult to answer? What were your answers to those questions?

Priyanshu: I was asked about the valuations and future outlook of the auto industry and which stock I would suggest to the interviewers. Since I had rough estimate, I provided an outline and mentioned that a detailed analysis needs to be conducted about the growth and revenue projections and the current reason for higher valuations in the equity market.

Careers360: How did you handle the questions for which you had no answer? Was the panel rude or easy on you?

Priyanshu: My simple answer was that I am not aware about the answer. The panel appreciated that I am not beating around the bush and moved on the next question.

Careers360: What were the most interesting questions you were asked? Please share your answers as well.

Priyanshu: I found one question particularly interesting. They asked me, since my sister owns a fashion start-up, I was asked why do I not help her instead of doing my MBA? Is it because I believe that siblings can never work together?

My answer was that I do believe that siblings can work together, it is just that me and my sister have not planned to. Moreover, I will be helping my sister in whatever capacity I can but I am sure my sister is capable of handling the management on her own and will ask for my help if and when she requires it.

I was also asked my views on Atheism and if I think theistic people are wrong. My answer was that I fail to understand the rational motive behind belief and that is something that I wish to understand by reading more about the topic.

Careers360: How is an IIM interview different from a non-IIM yet top B-School interview?

Priyanshu: One key difference that I realised during my interviews was that IIMs were less focussed on the technical profile and wanted candidates to have thoughts and ideas. During each of my interviews for IIMs, the technical and HR questions were followed with discussions which revolved around testing my attitude towards issues that need to be solved and how proactive I am towards these issues.

Careers360: How did you prepare yourself for PI? What were the PI questions that you searched for your preparations?

Priyanshu: Instead of searching questions from other people, I focussed by preparing my topics of interests such as reading. I also focussed on current happening through newspaper and publications such as Economic and Political Weekly. Being from a finance background, my focus was on answering the technical questions but also emphasising that I am well-read and love discussing a plethora of topics.

Careers360: What factors or qualities, you think the PI panel looks for in a candidate?

Priyanshu: The quality that is looked for the most is curiosity. The same is tested through questions about hobbies and interests. It is important because the B-School environment provides you enough opportunities outside the classroom but one must be driven to take up these opportunities.

Being a management student, communication skills are important and the interviews look at not only the fluency of speech but whether the arguments are cogent or not.

Careers360: Was there any embarrassing moment for you/or a question you think that was difficult or impossible to answer? What was your reaction that time?

Priyanshu: One of the unconventional questions that I faced during the interview process was:

“What do you think about?”

Having been used to questions which usually tested my factual knowledge or my opinion about an event, this question made me pause and think due to its open-ended nature. My reaction was to pause and think about what drives me and makes me study every day. I think the purpose of the question was to know whether I have independent thought and indulge in thinking about bigger issues.

Careers360: What was your GD topic?

Priyanshu: The Group Discussion was based on a case wherein a dam was needed to be constructed but it would adversely affect the local community as well submerge a temple in the valley. We had to discuss whether the construction work should be undertaken and if yes, how should the issues of the local community be solved.

Careers360: How many candidates were there in your group?

Priyanshu: The group consisted of 8 candidates.

Careers360: What was your approach towards the topic?

Priyanshu: My approach was to initially describe the problem and develop the context. As the discussion moved ahead, I countered some of the point and gave alternate solutions, including developing an alternate society as well as employment generation for the community during the construction.

Careers360: How much did you contribute towards in discussion/activity/exercise?

Priyanshu: I was an active part of the discussion as I provided points towards both the arguments and also participated in weighing these points against each other in reaching the conclusion.

Careers360: Did the discussion/activity reach a conclusion?

Priyanshu: The discussion did not reach a conclusion as we decided that construction of the dam was more feasible but further analysis and campaigning is required to know the detailed awareness of the people.

Careers360: What was the overall experience of this part?

Priyanshu: The overall experience was positive as even though there was debate, the discussion was collaborative and did not devolve into a fish market. Case analysis was an appreciated part as it tested the thought process and team work of the candidates rather than the factual knowledge.

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