WAT-PI Tips: Relevance of career goals, Sincerity, Positivity keys to unlock an MBA seat, says VistaMind expert Arks Srinivas
Urvashi Dalal, 08 Feb 2016, #CAT
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With GD-PI-WAT kicking off at top B-schools including Indian Institutes of Management, Careers360 presents to you ‘Expert Interview on GD-PI-WAT’, where MBA experts guide you on right approach to crack this final stage of admission process.

In this interview, Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind talks on different aspects of Written Ability Test and Personal Interview. He also shares his insights on key qualities that a B-school admission panel looks for in a candidate, along with the crucial factors that can influence your selection at top B-schools.


How to ensure a positive outcome in your GD/PI. Click here and enroll to get Tips/Tricks and Smart Techniques to deal with situations smartly


Read below Arks Srinivas expert interview on GD-PI-WAT:


Careers360: WAT is being preferred over GD as many B-schools? What is your take on this?

Arks Srinivas: WAT is definitely needed and hence an introduction of WAT is a highly desirable thing. Many MBA students have poor written communication skills and hence testing this is a positive step by almost all Institutes.


While PI tests the personal reasons for pursuing an MBA and gets out the genuineness of the candidate, GDs have been used to bring out the group behavior and leadership aspects (which are not easily tested in an Interview). Hence, I feel that replacing GDs were not in the right direction.  

One reason of course for replacing GDs has been the fish markets the IIM GDs have seen in the past where the desire to out-shout the opponent has led to meaningless GDs. However, a moderated GD could bring out the best qualities of a would-be manager – viz- Team Skills and Leadership Skills.


Careers360: What are some of the hot WAT topics for 2016 admission year?

Arks Srinivas: Almost all current issues are relevant topics for WAT. A few of them below:

1. Centre- State Relations in a Federal Set-up

2. Swach Bharat Abhiyaan

3. Make in India OR Make for India

4. Digital India is merely a Slogan!

5. RS 10,000/- Cr earmarked for Start-up India is a great beginning

6. Banning Diesel vehicles alone is not going to reduce pollution

7. Terrorism has no religion

8. Falling Oil Prices and Global Economy!

9. Infrastructure development rather than MNREGA would uplift the rural poor

10. Smart Cities – a long road ahead of India.


Careers360: What should be the approach and structure for WAT?

Arks Srinivas: Typically, the WAT procedure is only for about 20 minutes. In these 20 minutes, one has to gather the thoughts pertaining to the topic, put them in order and write a Coherent Essay.


Here are some of the ideas that one can use for writing an Effective WAT.


Step 1: For the first five minutes, gather all the thoughts on the topic at hand. Look at the pros and cons and examples that you could think of to support or contradict a position. Decide what stand/position vis a vis the topic that you would take.


Step 2: Plan to write at least three paragraphs.

The first one for introducing the topic with a clear stand as to what your position would be when you eventually conclude.


The second para would be to give reasons and add more perspectives on the topic with examples. The third para basically would be a conclusion with final arguments and examples for the topic/issue at hand.


Careers360: Please share Do’s and Don’ts for WAT?

Arks Srinivas: Simple things to remember:


1. Don’t use flowery language if it can be avoided. Unless you are very sure, it is better to stick to simple words and language so that the entire paragraph is coherent and easy to understand

2. Try not to overwrite on what you have written. Strike off a word/sentence if it is not good rather than overwriting

3. Check for spelling mistakes and ensure that there are none.

4. Keep grammar simple!


Careers360: Is there any Time Management strategy to be followed by the candidates?

Arks Srinivas: It is important that you complete the essay in the stipulated time.


The simple way to do this would be to divide the time available into exactly four parts.

First part: Gathering thoughts and deciding on the various points.

Second Part: Writing the intro para.

Third Part: The body of the WAT that has reasons and examples discussing the idea of the topic

Fourth and Final part: building the conclusion and finishing it in time.

It is better to finish a minute early and read through the essay to correct simple errors (such as spelling mistakes or grammar issues)


Careers360: How important is PI for students? What does the panel look for in a candidate?

Arks Srinivas: Almost all the IIMs give close to 40% weight-age for the Personal Interview. Hence, PI forms probably the most critical phase of selection for a candidate. It is the most difficult one for many a student as they have more or less concentrated on the written test till then, but hardly gathered their thoughts as to why they want to do an MBA and what is in store for them, save knowing that they will get better placements and packages.


The panel, however, is looking for more depth in the candidate than just to appear as a person who was to avoid what he/she is doing (Engineering/IT job etc).


Careers360: What are the minimum and maximum numbers of members in an interview panel? What are the must-prepare areas for the interview?

Arks Srinivas: A typical panel consists of three members (there are two and five member panels too). Each panelist seeks to find out more about the candidate in one or two aspects of the candidate’s life and career.


The candidate is asked on variety of questions which can be categorized as


1. Personal Questions: Birthplace, City, State, Parents, School, College, influences, extra-curricular activities, Interests and Hobbies, Strengths and Weaknesses etc.

2. Career Choices: Why MBA, Why Specialization, Career goals in Five years, 15 years etc.

3. Academic and Professional Life: Undergrad subjects, Math, Work experience etc. 

4. General Awareness: Current Affairs and opinions on various issues that affect the country and the world!


Careers360: What must be the criteria/thought process of a candidate to tackle Personal Interview?

Arks Srinivas: A student has to be himself!


While it is imperative that he/she prepares for the PI, it is more so like a semi-autobiography that one is preparing for. Except the areas on Current Affairs, every other aspect of the Personal Interview revolved around the Individual (hence called Personal Interview) and hence one should be ready to speak about himself/herself without worrying about trying to convince the panel. Many a time, the student is worried whether his answer is being taken well by the panel. This approach will get one nowhere. It is better to concentrate on convincing oneself on all aspects of personal life (when asked).


The candidate should know that the IIMs and other B-Schools are equally nervous about taking the right candidate and hence will give all chances to ensure that the right candidate is selected. In such a scenario, an honest person would come out in shining colours!


Careers360: What are the factors that influence selection at PI stage?

Arks Srinivas: The Panelists typically look for a mature individual. Hence, the factors that determine the final outcome out be.

a. Relevance of Career Goals to the present application to an MBA

b. Sincerity in pursuing one's goals till date

c. Consistency of performance and thought processes

d. Positive responses to provocative situations


Other Feature Stories on B-School and MBA:

What B-Schools look for in a Candidate?

IIM Admission Criteria 2016-18

GD-PI-WAT Topper Interview

Director Interviews

Top B-schools MBA Fee

Life @ B-School Campus

Top B-schools Admission Criteria

MBA Internship Series

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Dear Aspirant,

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Dear Aspirant,

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See if you have failed in past then its bot necessary that you will fail again or you might get a very good percentile this time.The only thing that is your hand and by which you can perform well in CAT is my preparing with determination and consistency.
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Hey there

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