PI (Personal Interview) Tips - Management aspirants need to cross several hurdles in order to put their step into their dream B-school for pursuing management programmes. The interview panel which comprises 2-5 panellists intends to gauge the personality traits and required skills of the candidates during the Personal Interview round. The motive of the personal interview round is to measure the suitability of candidates for the MBA programme in their institution/B-school. Personal Interview or PI is generally the last among key components of the selection process at B-schools. While many B-schools have either replaced Group Discussion (GD) with Writing Ability Test (WAT) or added another component like Group Exercise or Case Discussion in the final stages of their selection process, the PI (Personal Interview) has remained intact as the key component of the selection process during MBA admissions. So, it is imperative for aspirants to gather PI Tips for MBA to excel in this round.
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PI Tips: 8 keys to crack Personal Interview for B-school admission

Being one of the most crucial admission rounds, it is a mandate for candidates to know how to successfully crack PI or Personal Interview rounds and get the final admission offer. In this article by Careers360, we bring forth expert advice and toppers’ insight and PI Tips for MBA, how to crack Personal Interview at top B-schools and also, a list of Personal Interview (PI) tips to ace most essential round pertaining to the counselling round. Furthermore, a few sample Personal Interview (PI) questions have been added for the convenience of the prospective students.

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So, what do interviewers look into while interviewing a candidate? Vinayak Kudva, Chief Mentor, IMS Learning, 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 kind of person the candidate is, what are his/her interests, motivation, aspirations etc.” Typically, the panel might have 2 - 6 interviewers depending on the norms of the institutions.

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PI Tips for MBA - 8 keys to crack Personal Interview

Besides normal etiquette like formal dressing, punctuality, the overall performance during the interview may make or break candidates' chance to get into their sought-after B-school. Here are the eight key Personal Interview or PI tips for MBA to crack Personal Interview at top B-schools -

PI Tips for MBA - ready with ‘must know questions’

Candidates should be well prepared with the basic questions revolving around their thought process about career path, life and ambitions, such as ‘why MBA’, ‘how will it relate to your goal’, ‘how does your academic background relate to your goal’, ‘how relevant your experience’, ‘why do you want to join a particular institute’.

According to Gautam Puri, Vice President, Career Launcher, “The interviewers may also grill you on core-academic knowledge and may go deep into questions related to your work experience.”

Besides this, few questions may also be asked on the general interest and hobbies of candidates.

Sharing his Personal Interview experience at IIM Lucknow, Ashu Airan, says “My best PI experience was at IIM Lucknow. The interviewers were interrupting in between and never allowed me to complete my sentences. So, I never ran out of words and that gave me an edge! Here are some questions I was asked, or rather bombarded with:

Q - Is this a company name (Applied Materials)?

Ashu - Yes and explained what my company does and my job role there.

Q- Why MBA?

Ashu – I started with a job and felt the need to acquire some managerial skills...

Even before I could complete my answer, from here onward the interruption by the panellists had already started.

Q - What will you gain from here?

Ashu- Knowledge, faculty and alumni interaction.

Then I went on with a sort of rapid fire on all three points I mentioned, i.e. Knowledge, faculty and alumni interaction.

Q - What you will add to the batch?

Ashu– I talked about my industry experience which is different and a club I had started in college. They kept cross-questioning me about the club for a while. Further, they questioned me about QFD or Quality Function Deployment, regarding my work experience, my rank in my graduation, class strength and even attendance.

However, they asked me a question regarding BOM which I didn’t know. I clearly mentioned it to them. But not knowing the answer didn’t make me feel less confident about myself. Clearly, we had to move on.”

He adds that aspirants must prepare extensively on these basic questions in order to crack PI, as interviewers usually cross-question on the same. He admits that the toughest moment during his interview was to answer these questions only. “For me, the most difficult question to answer was ‘Why MBA?’ It seems easy to answer but it is not. They were grilling me on everything that I was answering. I answered in terms of learning, exposure, alumni interaction and faculty experience,” says Ashu.

Experts suggest that Personal Interview (PI) may include many questions from the subjects candidates have studied during their graduation or post graduation. Candidates should revise important concepts learnt in at least two major subjects and think about their real-life applications.

PI Tips for MBA - Reflect confidence

During Personal Interview round, one should reflect confidence while answering different questions. Interviewers often tend to cross-question even on candidates' right answers just to check the confidence level on their own answers.

As Ashish Shrivastava of IIM Lucknow shares his PI experience, “I was very nervous in front of my panel, as IIM Lucknow was my first interview. I was asked questions on my Engineering stream, a business model of Jio, my home town, the last movie I had seen etc. I flubbed a lot of questions but I kept a smiling face throughout the interview and did not become tense or rude, and that helped me a lot.”

So, how do you reflect confidence during PI? Arko Biswas of IIM Raipur says, "For a qualitative question, it is a test of your presence of mind, approach the answer logically and make your thought process visible to the panellists. The way you work things out in a situation which you don’t know about or have limited knowledge of is the best and most efficient way to make your mark."

PI Tips for MBA - Be honest to yourself and interviewers

During PI round, candidates are also tested for the integrity of their basic characteristics like honesty, humility,etc. The honest approach during the interview also makes the given responses natural and genuine.

Experts suggest that one should be fully prepared with arguments to justify whatever he/she thinks is right. Gautam Puri, Vice President, Career Launcher, says, “One needs to be honest with oneself and one needs 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.”

Toppers also suggest that it is better to skip the question which candidates are not sure about. An answer which does not convince the candidates themselves, may invite unnecessary counter questions which may embarrass the candidates further and hamper their chance in qualifying the Personal Interview.

Honest admission of not knowing an answer to an asked question/s may not carry any negative weight on PI performance. Julie Bania, who secured admission to IIFM Bhopal says, “I was always honest when I had no answer to a question. I usually answered unknown questions with 'I am not aware of it' or simply 'Sorry, I don’t know the answer'. I never tried to make stories or give vague answers which worked in my way.”

Toppers also suggest aspirants be honest with themselves to exhibit their character during interview. Jayesh Patil says “When I mentioned I worked on my own start-up he stopped me and passed on a sheet which had four beer glasses drawn with liquid at different levels in it. I was asked if I drink alcohol, and if I visited a gift shop to buy gifts before handing the paper. He asked me to give a catchy tag line to the given picture considering I’d place it in a gift shop. After I answered this, I was again asked to continue with my introduction.”

Quick Links-

How to prepare for PI-WAT rounds of top B-schools

WAT tips: Know 5 steps to crack WAT for B-school admission

7 GD tips to crack B-schools admissions

PI Tips for MBA - Be Polite

Politeness during the interview also brings a positive impression on the interviewers.
In some cases, while one might be correct with his/her answers, must not out-rightly reject interviews’ views to his/her response. Instead, candidates should listen to them carefully and put forward their response with a better argument. Experts suggest that sometimes, interviewers may also be wrong with some information, but candidates should not directly point it out. Instead, they should try to convince them politely about the correct information.

Akanksha Sharma who cracked DMS, IIT Delhi admission shares how the interview board asked technical questions and how she tackled them. “A few technical questions pertaining to Analog Electronics were difficult for me to answer. I had to put efforts to think and respond back. Panelists were very humble to give me time to think without stressing me out."

PI Tips for MBA - Drive the interview towards your strength

While the questions asked in the interview may vary from candidate to candidate, it is important to gradually invite the questions from the areas of strength as the interview progresses.

As Dipal Kumar Patel of IIM Raipur shares, “ I was able to share my answer with utter confidence. Further, I was able to drive the interview with my explanation of the previous question. This led the interview in the desired direction.” You also need to prepare answers to the basic questions in such a way that it again prompts questions on your strong areas as interviewers mostly pick questions from your answers to the previous questions.

PI Tips for MBA - Stay calm

During the interview, candidates should stay calm and never look stressed. If they are not confident of an answer, should try to skip it. In case, they are countered on a particular question repeatedly, should politely stick to the answer if confident on the same. Julie Bania says, "To appear for PI one must try to speak confidently with proper communication skills. Even if the answers to every question is not known one must never get nervous. You must be calm and lose the grip of the interview."

Sharing his experience, Dipal says, “When I was facing them, I was slightly nervous. I tried to answer the questions by keeping the stability of my emotions intact. At one point in time, I thought I might not control it but it didn’t happen.” Vidisha Mehta, an MDI Gurgaon student affirms that one needs to be patient while handling the questions. She says, "I had to go through a stress interview. For the first half, they kept arguing against any answer I gave them. The second half, on the other hand, was quite pleasant. The ordeal lasted for about 10 minutes."

CAT toppers say that handling tough moments during a PI is key to your selection. Shailav Goel who cracked GD-PI-WAT rounds of MDI Gurgaon, shares, “One of the most difficult question according to me was to tell something different about my life that was not reflected in my CV. I was not a prepared for such a question hence the answer I provided was also vague.”

PI Tips for MBA - Positive body language and approach

Candidates' body language and approach during the interview should reflect positivity. Experts say that smart response and right answers must be supported by the positive expressions, constructive approach and attentive nature of candidates during the interview. The sitting posture should be formal throughout the interview.

CAT topper Akshay Jayaprakasan says, “Body language, communication skills, and a good sense of humour can take you places in an interview. It is also important to have a positive attitude. The interviewer in most cases is looking for how you approach a question rather than whether you know the correct answer or not.”

PI Tips for MBA - Be thorough with what you write in your CV

During the interview, interviewers also tend to pick questions based on the information that CV/Resume carries. Interviewers expect candidates to be fully prepared with minute details on any information that you provide in the resume or CV.

Sharing his experience on how being aware of his CV helped him crack PI, Arko mentions, "My interview process was conducted by three male panellists and it lasted for 25-30 minutes and being a fresher, my interview was focused on my resume, some questions on current affairs and two questions on my graduation course, i.e. Mechanical Engineering."

He also adds, "My resume consisted of quizzing achievements, so there were few questions from current affairs like my summary on the implications of the latest budget by the Indian Government. I then had a conversation on Roger Federer’s comeback with one of the panelists who happened to be a Federer fan!"

So now that the candidates know how to prepare for PI rounds based on the PI tips based on toppers' experiences, they should now focus on brushing up their body language, CV and most importantly, communication skills in order to crack PI rounds of top B-schools.

Priya Ramakrishnan, a student of NMIMS Mumbai, says, "My interview experience at NMIMS was wonderful. Since there were ample opportunities to guide the direction my interview went in (which could be dangerous if not used well), I was able to make full use of the time to impress the panel. Being a bibliophile, I personally felt comfortable during my interview since we were discussing a book I had read recently. The panel consisted of three members – one faculty member, one industry expert and one alumnus/alumna.

Basic Questions of the Personal Interview Round

Some of the top MBA questions of personal interview rounds that are asked in major B-schools are provided below -

Q. Introduce yourself.

Q. What is your strength and weakness?

Q. Who has inspired you in your life and how?

Q. Describe your ideal company, location and job.

Q. What are your short and long-term career goals?

Q. How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?

Q. How much salary do you expect after completing your programme?

Q. Where do you see yourself five/ten years from now?

Q. What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?

Q. What kind of people do you like to work with?

Q. Why do you think should we select you for our MBA programme?

Q. What five words would you choose to best describe yourself?

Q. Are you a better planner or implementer?

Q. Tell me about your dream job/company.

Q. Any plans for a start-up business? Justify your answer.

Quick Links-

GD PI WAT Tips from Toppers and Experts

How to crack GD PI WAT rounds of top B-schools

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why these exams are conducting

Aniket Sharma 29th Mar, 2020

hi lramprasad,

I think you forgot to mention the exam that want to ask about. Please mention It and also the course if possible.

Please elaborate your query and provide more details so that we can help you better!!

Thanks!!!

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Can i apply for MBA at JK Lakhmipat University if i have not given CAT?

Megha 29th Mar, 2020

Hello Abhishek !

Yes ,you can apply at JK Lakhmipat University if you have not given CAT , because as per their eligibility criteria for getting admission their the candidates must have appeared in CAT/MAT/ATMA/XAT/CMAT or any other national level entrance test.

In case the candidate has not appeared for any of the mentioned tests, they will have to appear in the JKLU Management Entrance Test (MET) to qualify for the programme.

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hii experts,i want to study mba in mba or abroad.instead of that i want to clear cat or gre.among this which easyto clear and what are the requirements too study mba in abroad and also im poor guy .so please some good institutes which has good reputation,good study with scholarships india or abroad

Shivangi Kumari 29th Mar, 2020

hey ,


yes NT category students have advantages in medical field.nt are icluded in gujrat in which st,scsebs community comes.for medical entrance examination neet their is advantage to nt category students.their cutoff is approx 300 out of 700.so you can clear the entrance examination easily and have a greater opportunity to get a better collge.

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Aashima Puri 29th Mar, 2020

Hello aspirant, hope you are doing well!

CAT ( Common admission test) is a very reputed entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for admissions into various colleges for MBA. The duration of the exam is 3 hours for all the categories and 4 hours for the PwD category. The sectional duration for each section is 60 minutes each whereas it is 80 minutes for the candidates of the PwD category.

The total number of questions asked in the entrance exam are 100. It is a computer based examination.

Candidates lose 1 mark for each incorrect answer and gain 3 marks for every correct answer. No marks are deducted for the questions which the candidate didn't attempt.

The examination consists of 3 sections namely - Quantitative ability , Data interpretation & logical reasoning and Verbal ability and reading comprehension. These sections consists of 34,32 and 34 questions each respectively.

The candidates are not allowed to switch between the sections. He/she can move to the next section only after attempting the previous section which he/she was completing. Though, the candidates are allowed to switch between questions within the same section.

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Further you can go through this link to know everything about CAT exam. https://www.google.com/amp/s/bschool.careers360.com/articles/cat-exam-pattern/amp


Hope it helps! All the very best for your future endeavours!

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cat coaching Institute in hyderabad along with fees structure and coaching timings

Harshita Sharan Srivastava Student Expert 29th Mar, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

Following is the list of top CAT coaching institutes in Hyderabad:

  • IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd., Begumpet
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The fees structure differs on the basis of students past academic records and batches. However, you can expect an approximate fees of 40,000 for the year. I'll recommend you to contact the coaching personally for batch details.

Good Luck

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