How to Crack PI-WAT - Dipal Kumar Patel, an IIM Raipur student shares his experience of appearing for the Common Admission Process (CAP) conducted by new IIMs. While the CAP rounds include Writing Ability Test (WAT), the other B-schools’ selection process he attended consisted of Group Discussion as well. In this interview with Careers360, Dipal shares his PI-WAT experience for IIMs and other top B-schools.
Dipal attributes his success to his parents. “My father had helped a lot with my PI preparation like mock interviews and searching for various resources for questions”, he says. He made use of preparation kits provided by various IIMs and Non-IIM B-schools. In addition, he also contacted various students of B-schools. Their experiences cleared many of his doubts. Other than that, he followed various materials available on the internet. Read on for the complete interview:
How to Crack PI-WAT
Excerpts from the interview:
Careers360: What is the selection procedure at IIM Raipur?
Dipal: At IIM Raipur, the students are selected through the Common Admission Process called CAP. IIM Raipur and other eight IIMs select the candidates through this process consisting of WAT and PI. For the people who have got a call from these nine IIMs and IIM Shillong, the CAP process is not required. This was the case for CAT 2016 test-takers. It might change every year.
Careers360: What was your CAP experience as compared to other selection procedures at other B-schools?
Dipal: I appeared for the selection procedure of IIM Shillong and NITIE Mumbai other than the CAP-2017 process. Process for IIM Shillong was my first experience of GD and PI. The experience was quite fruitful. In GD, they gave us a caselet to discuss and reach a conclusion and in the PI, mostly technical knowledge was tested, and some contemporary issues were asked. The experience boosted confidence in me. The other institute, NITIE Mumbai had a similar format- GD and PI. The experience was one of its kind and I was very happy when I was finished with the process. But, CAP process had one different element, WAT instead of GD. The WAT topic was current and demanded critical analysis. The PI went in a very specific direction. It was a wonderful experience for me as I expected. All the experiences were new to me in their own unique ways.
Careers360: What was your WAT topic and how did you attempt it?
Dipal: My WAT topic was “Are conventional retail stores competing with E-commerce market and what can be the possible future?” I structured it systematically. I took my stance on the topic. Then I gave two to three reasons to justify my stance. Then I gave it a future direction as per my understanding. I found the topic easy as it was a trending topic and I already had a clear stand in my mind. In case if I hadn’t, it might have been little tough.
Careers360: How did you start preparing yourself for WAT? When did you start preparations for the same?
Dipal: I started my preparation for PI-WAT rounds just after a day when CAT results were announced. I had been following business newspaper and magazines. There are tons of articles available on the internet that can help us with WAT. Having touched with hundreds of topics and clear stand for them, I was able to save my time in the process. Although, critically thinking about the stand before starting to write is imperative. I had a pre-determined structure in my mind that I developed after taking various opinions from many people. And at least 10 mock-practice for WAT helped me with my confidence.
Careers360: Do you think that extra effort or strategising is required for WAT?
Dipal: The mode of communication for WAT is writing which obviously needs a different strategy but similar thinking process. Adequate WAT practice and not being afraid of the word ‘strategy’ would do the trick! I consider the preparation of WAT as a supplementary for the PI preparation.
Careers360: How should one go about a topic in WAT if s/he does not have any knowledge about it?
Dipal: Mostly, the topics which are provided are not completely alien. But if it happens, one should critically read the topic and the instructions were given to him/her during the WAT. Then list down every bit of information that you know about the context of the topic in rough. After this, it becomes easier than one can think. This step would drive a thought process, understanding the topic to its nearest context might also help.
Careers360: What must be the approach, Dos and Don’ts for WAT?
Dipal: The approach should be very clear. One should write in such a way that reader gets your opinion and explanation. Grammatical mistakes should be avoided. Additionally, good and tidy hand writing would always give a good impression.
Careers360: How should one manage time to complete a well-written WAT?
Dipal: It goes without saying. Think of it as a time constraint in CAT. You want to think but time is limited, you want to perform but time is limited. Just like that, structured WAT also requires time management skills. But don’t let these heavy words deceive you, practice will make it all clear.
Careers360: Point noted! Tell us more about your personal interview experience.
Dipal: My interview experience was quite unique like everybody. Interviewers tailor the questions according to your profile and the behavior. It all happens at once. I had three panelists in my interview. Up to my understanding, one panelist will observe your body movement and behavior. One might ask the majority of questions. But the case can be different for everybody. 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 of time, I thought I might not control it but it didn’t happen.
Careers360: Please share your best PI experience with us amongst all your past experiences.
Dipal: It was the interview of NITIE Mumbai. It was the best because I found myself confident about all the answers I was providing. Panelists started with asking my introduction then went on to my final year project of my engineering. I started off with a very nervous feeling with the interview. But the questions asked to me were very relevant. 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. I don’t consider it an ideal experience but, yes, an inspiring one.
Careers360: How did you answer the questions which seemed too difficult to answer?
Dipal: Questions about contemporary issues and news are not new to the interviewers. I found some questions difficult that were related to stock exchange and deep engineering concepts. I tried to ask for clarification with some time to think and answered with my instincts. That totally depends upon the degree of clarity one has.
Careers360: When the panelists put forward the tricky ones, were they rude or easy on you and about your answers?
Dipal: When I had no answer, I said no. I think that was the best I could do rather than making the situation worse. And yes, sometimes, some panelists had been hard on me. But I didn’t encounter the whole panel being hard on me.
Careers360: What were the most interesting questions you were asked? Please share your answers as well.
Dipal: I would share some interesting questions that I was asked. I was asked about my views on Paris Climate Agreement. That was a critical outcome for the world. My stance was positive about it and reasoned how previous steps like Montreal and Kyoto Protocol have helped us in many ways. The answer was a little descriptive. It was personally interesting to me. I was asked a series of short mathematical questions to solve which I did. Other very interesting questions were about my long-term goal and family which I answered accordingly. I wasn’t asked any peculiar questions.
Careers360: Interview at an IIM versus Interview at a non-IIM yet top B-School, how distinct are they from each other?
Dipal: It is not easy to find out the distinctiveness of IIM and non-IIM interviews. Perhaps, because I was a fresher, their questions were mainly academic and technical questions about my engineering. Questions about short-term and long-term goals are almost always asked, like ‘Why MBA?’. I think the difference can be in how much the individual colleges want of different qualities in the candidates and the pool of candidates they want to gather.
Careers360: How did you prepare yourself for PI? What were the PI questions that you searched for your preparations?
Dipal: I gave much importance to the preparation kits provided by various IIMs and Non-IIM B-schools. I had also contacted various students of B-schools. Their experiences cleared many of my doubts. Other than that, I followed various materials available on the internet. My father had helped a lot with my PI preparation like mock interviews and searching for various resources for questions.
Careers360: What other factors or parameters do the panelists look for in a candidate?
Dipal: I think they look for confidence, knowledge, clarity of goal, suitability, and behavior.