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Saumith Dahagam attended the selection process at not just one, but a wide range of top B-schools across the country. From IIMs to non-IIMs like SP Jain, MDI Gurgaon and IIT Delhi, the CAT 2016 topper cracked the selection rounds and made his way through the top B-schools to finally secure admission in IIM Raipur. In this series of GD-PI-WAT experiences, Careers360 brings to you the account of Saumith Dahagam, who shares his rich and insightful tips on how to crack PI and WAT rounds of top management schools.
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Careers360: What is the selection procedure at your B-school?
Saumith: The selection procedure at IIM Raipur involves two stages,
• Firstly, the shortlisting of candidates for WAT and PI based on the CAT scores
• Second-the WAT and PI process
Careers360: What was your overall experience of attending the selection procedure of your B-School? Share in detail.
Saumith: My selection process took place on February 28, 2016 around 4:10 pm. It was conducted at Monarch Luxur Hotel, Infantry Road, Bengaluru.
The selection process was through CAP process (WAT and PI). My WAT topic was “Dynastic power transfer in Politics and Business”. The word limit given to us was 300 words and time limit as 15 minutes.
I started by giving examples from ancient times where kings transferred power to their kin and so the traders in business. I gave contemporary examples, explained the reasons for dynastic power transfer and also mentioned the exceptional cases. Since the topic neither questions nor asks about opinions, I adopted a holistic approach and presented multiple perspectives in a logical manner.
During the personal interview, there were 3 panellists in the room, one male(P3) in front of me and the other two were ladies.
Careers360: Which other B-Schools’ selection procedure did you appear for? How was your experience in other institutes vis a vis in your institute?
Saumith: I attended selection process for IIM Ahmedabad, S P Jain, MDI Gurgaon, IIT Delhi.
IIT Delhi and MDI Gurgaon. IIM Ahmedabad interview was more focussed on General Knowledge and Entrepreneurial spirit. S P Jain process involved group interview, where I gave interview along with five other candidates It was focussed on preferred stream in MBA (Marketing, Finance etc).
Careers360: What was your WAT topic and how did you structure it? Did you find it easy or you had a difficult time writing it?
Saumith: My WAT topic was “Dynastic power transfer in Politics and Business”, I structured it in a logical manner by going from generic to specific aspects, using a neutral tone. I felt the topic was easy and within my knowledge.
Careers360: How did you prepare for WAT? When did you start your preparations for PI-WAT rounds?
Saumith: I prepared for the WAT by practising essay writing online and offline, getting it evaluated by my peers. I browsed and collected sample articles online. My preparation for WAT-PI started on the day I received my CAT results.
Careers360: Do you think that a separate preparation strategy is required for WAT?
Saumith: Although, the knowledge levels required for the WAT and PI is same, the strategy should be different as WAT requires writing in logical and cogent style. It requires more practice and evaluation by experts.
Careers360: Please share the WAT topics which you were asked during the admission rounds last year?
Saumith: “Dynastic power transfer in Politics and Business” – CAP
“Joint ventures in Family Business” – IIM Ahmedabad
“Problems Unite and Religion Divides” – MDI Gurgaon
Careers360: How should one tackle a WAT topic, if s/he does not have any knowledge about it?
Saumith: WAT topics are usually general in nature, but, sometimes it is possible that you might not even be aware of the topic. In such cases, you need to identify the key words in the topic and try to make content based on the key words. WAT topics sometimes ask for a critical analysis of issue or sometimes ask our opinion. One should carefully distinguish the topic, and based on the relevant keywords provide the examples in a structured manner.
Careers360: What must be the approach, Dos and Don’ts for WAT?
Saumith: Dos for WAT-
1) Maintain Logical and coherent structure.
2) Write in a neat and legible manner
3) Provide numbers, data, examples
4) Go from Generic to specific
5) Repeat the core idea before concluding the essay
Don’ts for WAT-
1) Don’t provide irrelevant examples, analogies.
2) Don’t provide too many examples, a maximum of four examples in the article would suffice
3) Avoid silly grammar mistakes.
Careers360: Do you think there are some time management skills required for a student to write a complete structured WAT?
Saumith: Yes, WAT requires a lot of practice, so that you can complete expressing your ideas cogently during the process. Although, time management skills are not a prerequisite for a good WAT, practice is must.
Careers360: How was your personal interview experience? How big was the panel and what were your feelings while facing them?
Saumith: PI –There were 3 Panellists in the room, One Male(P3) in front of me and the other two are ladies(one to the left(P1) and other to the right(P2))
P1: Took my file and was browsing through my file.
P3: Tell me about yourself?
Me: Gave a brief introduction about my background, internship, interests etc.
P2: Asked me about types of patents in pharmaceutical industry, drugs, regulations etc.
P1: Asked about IPO of Narayana Hrudyala
Me: I had no clue about it, honestly answered that I didn’t know
P2: Asked me about cardiac stents, government capping of stent prices, and effectiveness of the policy.
Me: Explained them in detail the major players in the market(foreign and local), the reasons for high prices of stents, margins earned by middlemen in the supply chain, and also why the policy is ineffective.
P1: Asked me about my interests.
Me: I mentioned I like reading Indian Mythic Fiction Novels.
P1: Who are the immortals in Hindu Mythology
P1: Who is Rishi Markandeya
P2: Asked me which stream would I choose in MBA
Me: I answered I would choose Marketing
They thanked me so did I, the interview ended.
There were few questions which I was unable to answer, for which I honestly said I did not know. For those questions I knew, I answered everything, putting my best efforts, expressing my complete knowledge on the topic,.I was feeling tensed in the beginning, but, later I started giving answers confidently. Overall, it was great experience.
Careers360: Among all the interviews you have appeared in, which one was the best and why? Share your best PI experience with us.
Saumith: My best interview experience was for IIM Ahmedabad. Interview process was in Hyderabad. There were two panellists(both young males in their 30s)
P1: Tell me about yourself
Me: I answered
P2: Asked about Personalized medicine
Me: Made few guesses and answered
P1: What Business newspapers do you study?
Me: Economic Times
P2: Tell us about three recent major business events.
Me: I answered Brexit, H1B visa issue, Tata Sons-Cyrus Mistry issue
P2: Asked me in detail about the Cyrus Mistry issue.
Me: I gave a diplomatic answer based on knowledge obtained from studying Economic Times, explained the reasons for the tussle from a business and economic perspective.
P1 was very impressed: Asked me how would I convince ISIS chief to quit terrorism.
Me: I said that it is against the core tenets of their religion and also it is not a sustainable strategy because in future there is a chance of other organizations to come into power with use of greater technology and powerful weapons.
P2: Asked me about three novel startup ideas.
Me: I gave few ideas, some of them were already in existence. This went upto 20 minutes.
My overall Interview was 40-45 minutes long. I was tested on my General Knowledge and Situation Handling.
Careers360: What were the questions which you found most difficult to answer? What were your answers to those questions?
Saumith: I found the most difficult questions in my MDI interview. They asked me read a newspaper, and asked questions based on it. They asked me questions like “Why Ola is going for VC funding?” I answered that they need to expand into Tier-2 towns quickly and penetrate more into the market. They were not satisfied and started questioning further. I was unable to answer more on the topic and was silent for few minutes.
Careers360: How did you handle the questions for which you had no answer? Was the panel rude or easy on you?
Saumith: It is quite common that you would not be knowing answer to each question in an interview process. One should not be desperate to answer every question. Just like in CAT exam where we try to attempt questions which are easy and doable and thereby, maximise score. In an interview one should be both diplomatic and honest in answering the questions. The questions for which I did not have an answer, I simply said it. The Panel was not rude, but sometimes they tried to put me under pressure.
Careers360: How is an IIM interview different from a non-IIM yet top B-School interview?
Saumith: Apart from IIMs, I gave interviews at MDI and IIT Delhi, MDI interview was more focussed on business acumen and knowledge, IIT Delhi interview was simple, they asked about my background , interests etc. IIM interviews were balanced with focus on general knowledge of the candidate.
Careers360: How did you prepare yourself for PI? What were the PI questions that you searched for your preparations?
Saumith: I prepared by reading articles related to WAT-PI experiences on Quora and relevant websites. I used to read newspaper daily, I selected 30 Indian and Global events/issues and collected articles on those events. Some of them included Jallikattu, GST, Brexit, NJAC etc, this helped me phrase my content during my PI, and confidently express my ideas during interviews.
Careers360: What factors or qualities, you think the PI panel looks for in a candidate?
Saumith: PI panel looks for candidate who has a clear idea about his short term and long term goals and why He/She wants to pursue MBA. They don’t expect a candidate to be expert in management, but the candidate should have a basic idea about what he/she is going to learn in MBA.
Genuineness and equanimity is much appreciated. One should know about their own strengths and weaknesses and should be able to support it with suitable examples during interview.
Careers360: Was there any embarrassing moment for you/or a question you think that was difficult or impossible to answer? What was your reaction that time?
Saumith: For difficult questions I requested them for some time to think and phrase my ideas. I tried to be pleasant and control my anxiety while answering such questions.
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