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.
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