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Personal Interview is a crucial stage in the admission process at every top B-school as this stage makes or breaks your chances of admissions. During the personal interview round, the interview panel evaluates spontaneity in the character; confidence level and stress management capabilities of a candidate.
Personal Interview (PI) is the last among the key components of the selection process at B-schools which includes Group Discussion (GD) with Writing Ability Test (WAT). While many B-schools have replaced GD with WAT or other components like Group Exercise or Case Discussion in the final stages of their selection process, Personal Interview has remained intact as the key component of the selection process during MBA admissions. Careers360 presents key factors the students must follow to impress the interview panel, and the Dos and Don’ts of a personal interview.
Experts suggest that before appearing for a PI, interviewees must know how to tackle witty and twisted questions of the interview panel and impress them by a smart reply. So, what do interviewers look into while interviewing a candidate?
Vinayak Kudva, Head – PG India & Mumbai Region, IMS, says, “A personal interview is the last step to get to know the candidate well. Personality traits that cannot be uncovered through Entrance tests, GD or WAT are evaluated here. The selectors try to understand the candidates’ personality, his/her interests, motivation, aspirations etc.”
How to get started with PI prep?
There is no particular methodology to prepare for PI as the more spontaneous and clear you are, better would be your performance. Since PI rounds will also include questions on your graduation subjects, work experience, current affairs etc., an overall preparation would be necessary.
Kudva mentions, “The selectors try to understand the kind of person the candidate is, what all are his/her interests, motivation, aspirations etc.”
Approach for PI:
Get answers to the common questions - To start with, list down the most common questions which are asked in the PI rounds. Introspection is very important for the PI preparation. As Himaghna Banerjee a student of SPJIMR Mumbai says, “The important part of the preparation for PI involves structuring the answers to the common personality related questions”.
Sandeep Manudhane, Chairman, PT Education suggests asking the following questions to yourself as part of the introspection exercise.
Who are you?
What do you want from life?
How far have you come so far?
What excites you really?
What depresses you to death?
What do you like about your country?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What would you really like to become one day?
How much money do you want to make?
Did you really study? Prove it.
Which movies do you like? Why?
Can you sing / dance? Do it.
“The PI section of any IIM or B-school is structured in a way which can test the candidates on different parameters like, Current affairs, Educational background, and Personal Interests, or maybe a general discussion on the GD experience and your goals”, shares Jyotsna Chadha of IIM Rohtak.
Have clarity on your MBA aspirations – The inevitable question in the PI round would be ‘Why MBA’. Prepare the answer carefully so that it does not sound like a mugged up answer. It must be an honest answer to be given with conviction. As Gautam Puri, Career Launcher Expert mentions, “One needs to be honest with oneself and one need to think objectively to the basic questions. There is no right or wrong answer in an interview; it depends on how the candidate offers his responses. The interviewers expect honest answers without any bluffing.”
Apart from the ‘Why MBA’ question, also prepare for other pertinent aspects like ‘Where do you want to see yourself 5 or 10 years down the line?’, ‘Why do you want to take admission in this B-School?’ etc. “Also know a bit about what to expect in the B-school and the different specializations offered by the B-school. B-schools desire mature students who are able to think independently and are tolerant of differing views on an issue. You should be able to recognize the pros and cons of any issue,” says Kudva.
What does the PI test?
In the PI rounds, the interviewers get up close and personal with you. You can be asked anything under the sun, but to streamline, you can refer to your CV which includes your education, work experience (if any) followed by your hobbies, likes, dislikes, opinion on current affairs and last but not the least, your performance in the GD and WAT rounds. The interviewers can very well ask you to justify your views or actions displayed in those rounds.
Strategies to crack PI
Based on Experts analysis and toppers insights, below are a few strategies to crack the PI rounds of a B-schools management admissions.
A. Reflect confidence: During Personal Interview, you should reflect confidence while answering to different questions. Interviewers often tend to cross-question you even on your right answers just to check your confidence on your own answers. Amir Khan from IIM Rohtak shares a question being asked in the interview which was to check his positive approach and confidence. “There was a question on estimating the number of 100 rupee notes in all the ATMs of the country. I found this question a bit tough since I was not aware of the method of answering such guesstimate questions at that time but it was fun analysing the same. In the end, I understood that it was not the answer that mattered but the approach I took to arrive to an answer”, he said.
B. Be honest to yourself and interviewers: During PI, you are also tested for integrity of your basic characteristics like honesty. Your honest approach during your interview also makes your responses natural. Experts suggest that you should be fully prepared with arguments to justify whatever you think is right. Toppers also suggest that it is better to skip the question which you are not sure about. An answer which you yourself are not convinced may invite unnecessary counter questions which may embarrass you further and hamper your chance in Personal Interview. Jay Mehta of JBIMS says, “A candidate’s honest nature and confidence is the key. There were some ‘I don’t knows’ during the interview, which the panel appreciated as I was honest towards their questions”.
C. Be Polite: Your politeness during the interview also brings positive impression on your interviewers.
In some cases, while you might be correct with your answers, you must not out rightly reject interviews’ views to your response. Instead, you should listen to them carefully and put forward your response with a better argument. Experts suggest that sometimes, interviewers may also be wrong with some information, but you should not directly point it out. Instead, you should try to convince them politely about the correct information.
D. Drive the interview towards your strength: While the questions asked in the interview may vary from candidate to candidate, it is important for you to gradually invite the questions from your areas of strength as the interview progress. “For PI it’s very important to try and guide the personal interview towards your strength. So it’s important to identify your strengths i.e. topics which you are comfortable with and try and guide the discussion towards those topics,” Soham Barman, a B-school student, shares.
E. Be thorough with what you write in your CV: During the interview, interviewers also tend to pick questions based on the information that your CV carries. Interviewers expect you to be fully prepared with minute details on any information that you provide in your CV. Prakriti Sharma of IIM Kozhikode says, “I think it is extremely important to be thorough with everything that is written on CV. It is alright to not be able to answer some questions with regard to current affairs and academics but the inability to answer questions about oneself is unpardonable.
“I believe the most important thing is to be confident when you answer questions during your PI. Prepare well for current affairs. Even if the first few PIs you appear for do not go as well as planned, do not get disheartened, and do not let that affect your performance anywhere else”, suggests Nitish Bagai of MDI Gurgaon about how to tackle and crack the PI rounds of B-School admissions. It is important to be thorough, confident and honest for a positive selection.
WAT-PI Tips: Relevance of career goals, Sincerity, Positivity keys to unlock an MBA seat, says VistaMind expert Arks Srinivas
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Dear Akshat, CAT is exclusively conducted by the IIMs. So the selection for admission to any of the 20 IIMs is through CAT exam. Unfortunately no other score except for CAT score is accepted for IIM Ahmedabad. You can check their selection process at:
Dear Sai, IIMs look for Diversity factor in Academics. They have a special rating scale for Professional courses like MBBS,BDS, CA, etc. We shall help you with the admission process of IIM Ahmedabad just as an example to show how does the selection process work. There are 3 sections in CAT: QA, DILR, VRC. IIM A has released its 2019 cut off percentiles. Only those Candidates who have scored this percentiles will be shortlisted for further rounds. The cut offs are as follows:
VRC DILR QA Overall
General 70 70 70 80
OBC-Transgender 65 65 65 75
SC 60 60 60 70
ST 50 50 50 60
PWD 60 60 60 70
PWD-ST 50 50 50 60
On an average IIMs need a cut off 90 percentile and more for admission to their colleges. You can check the complete selection process of IIM A at:
Now based on these cut offs top 5 percentile from each Category will be short listed for WAT and PI. So inorder to be able to score these cut offs, you need to know the exam pattern and marking scheme. CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.
NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.
Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.
Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.
In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.
Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.
As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.
Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months
We can recommend a few books for you:
NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma
How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha
You can also download free downloadable e books at:
NIFT has nothing to do with CAT or GAT. Those are the exams for MBA. NIFT is for admission in fashion courses.
The eligibilitiy is just marks of your 10th and intermediate. The main point is the candidate must have qualified both from a recognised board and must be having PCM as the compulsory subject.
The exam has an age limit to be 23 and there is 5 years relaxation for category reserved candidates.
For more information please check the article:-
Hope it helps!
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