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How to prepare for WAT-GD-PI – II

In the previous post, we discussed how to start your prep for WATs and GDs. In this post, we will tackle the big fish — The B-School Personal Interview. The Indian b-school interview is maybe the most random of all interview processes that you will ever face in your life. Going by student testimonials and transcripts over the last few years, barring IIM-B, none of the schools seem to have a fixed yardstick for asking questions.

If panels have one thing in common it seems to be their mistrust of candidates and the claims they make. Most panels start with the premise that the only thing the candidate wants is to make more money and hence it might be useless to start asking them The Big 5 Standard Questions —

  • Tell us something about yourself
  • Describe your work experience
  • Why do want to do an MBA
  • What are your long-term and short-term goals
  • List your strengths and weaknesses

They would rather test out your mettle by grilling you on the things you mention in the form or on current affairs. They will use the standard questions as a surprise element when you are least prepared for it or they might not use it at all.

So do you go about preparing for this randomness apart from the Current Affairs prep outlined in the last post?


Draw the largest circle with yourself as the center

The PI is primarily a test of the stuff of you are made of. So right at the center of it — a lamb to the slaughter or a gladiator in the Colosseum (though it is best you don’t think of yourself as both the latter or the former) — is you.

So draw a circle with you as the center and divide it into four quadrants.

Quadrant 1 — Your Personal Background

This quadrant contains all the information that is relevant to you as a person

  • the meaning of your name,
  • the number of districts, rivers, Lok Sabha Seats, the recent events, the future elections, famous personalities, anything and everything to do with the state you are from or the state you were born and raised in
  • your parent’s profession in case there are questions there, for example, a defense kid might get asked about the services

Quadrant 2 — Your Educational Background

This quadrant as the name suggests deals with all questions that can be relevant to your educational background — yes, your engineering subjects will haunt you for one last time.

Usually, the questions can fall into two types

  • Lowest Hanging Theoretical Concepts in your discipline — The panelists might not be from your discipline but they will have enough top-level knowledge about a wide range of subjects to ask you basic questions from any are. For example, students with a commerce background might be asked the difference between single-entry and double-entry accounting, a mechanical engineer might be asked questions on thermodynamics and an electrical engineer might be asked about Kirchoff’s laws. So you need to revise the basic concepts across the most important subjects in your graduation.
  • Practical applications of your discipline — This applies more to engineering and science graduates. Panelists may ask an electronics and telecommunications engineer the difference between 3G, 4G & 5G or how Bluetooth works or what is iOT, a mechanical engineer about how CVT or automatic transmission works etc. IMS students will get a book with all the previous year’s questions, scouring through that is the best way to find out the kind of questions that have been asked in the past.

Quadrant 3 — Your Professional Background

Working professionals will be expected to know more than the projects they are working on. So everything ranging from the turnover of your firm to those of your major competitors, the CEOs of the big firms in your industry, the recent controversies or happenings in your field (for example, if you work in banking then you might be asked about Deutsche Bank, if you work in the auto sector, you might be asked about electric cars and Tesla and Musk) and the major trends shaping your industry.

Quadrant 4 — Your Hobbies and Interests

Whatever you mention as your hobbies and interests you need to have an in-depth idea about the same. What do I mean by in-depth?

If you say you love football, then you need to know everything from the weight of the football, circumference of the football, dimensions of a football field, dimensions of the goal-post and everything about your favorite team.

If you say you love trekking, then you need to know what the highest mountains in the world are, what the highest motorable road in the world is etc.


This would technically be the largest circle you can draw around yourself that you need to fill with every GK or CA question that can be asked within this circle.

It goes without saying that you might not be able to learn everything about football. For example, a panelist might ask you, do you remember Zidane’s Champions League volley? You might say yes, very much, it is one of the great goals in football, the panelist might say, which team was Real playing against in that Final. Some of you might know, some of you might not. So do not freak out thinking about the most random things that can be asked.

On any topic, there is a circle that denotes your knowledge and a circle that denotes the panelists’ knowledge. Your job is to maximize the chances of overlap.

And remember, the harder you work, the luckier you will get.

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15 Comments

  1. Abhishek Saha says

    Hello Tony Sir,
    I gave up on my well paying job in August to prepare for CAT as it was a decision I took and I was completely inclined to pursue an MBA this year itself. It was not possible juggling both as I was in direct sales for one of the biggest startups right now which required 14 hours of work and negotiations with clients after which no energy was left in me for preparation. I prepared for 3-4 months then and got 99.43 percentile in CAT. Following this I have not received calls from A,B,C,L,I. My morale is really shaken up and I dont know what is the right path from here. Should I apply and join back a job or should I wait for GDPI calls and convert them?

    Like

    • Hi Abhishek,

      I think the academics have a huge part to part to play in your not getting a call.

      For, GEM Freshers, it looks like anything below a 99.7 will not guarantee a call.

      The first call you need to take is what are colleges you aspire to get into. For example, do MDI, a new IIM, SPJIMR, and IIT-B fall into your aspirational category. If they do and you still have a shot at them, then do not get back into a job right now.

      If not take up a job and prepare for another assault on the test.

      You must be feeling gutted right now but may be a bit more struggle is what is store for you, embrace it you will come out stronger.

      All the best!

      Like

  2. Abhishek Saha says

    Thank you so much for the insight sir. The past is something that is beyond my control now. I really wanted to be in ABC and the top brass but probably thats not meant to be. I just want to ask is it possible say from an spjimr or mdi or fms to be work for a consulting firm like mckinsey or bcg or at kearney etc. or its only possible through abc?

    Like

    • Hi Abhishek,
      Honestly, even if you made it to A, B or C, making it to the big 4 will be a tough ask since they really look at outlier academic profiles from colleges of great national repute.

      What I would suggest is that instead of fixating on one of two terms go with Consulting as an area and you will get options in E&Y and other firms, apart from the big 4 at an SPJIMR or MDI. You can make it to the Big 4 at the later stage.

      Keep your career options open you might become a great marketer and CEO as well if you take a liking to other areas at a b-school.

      We don’t need to have a tunnel vision about success in terms of what is at the end of the tunnel. There are so many exciting firms across various industries in India that consulting might be the boring job on the planet – you work your ass off across different industries and cities, travelling like crazy and finally what can you say that you actually built?

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  3. Abhishek Saha says

    Hello Sir,
    Well, this was certainly an eye-opening thing and I have to say that your blog and advice is pure gold. Would focus on my calls now and will love to connect with you for future advice cause I’ve rarely come across someone with the depth and wisdom you have. Thanks again for guiding lost souls like me. Hope I find the balance between happiness and prosperity.

    Like

  4. Hi,

    i have a dilemma. am currently working, I am eligible to apply for few IITs as i scored 86 percentile in cat. i want to know whether it will impact my chances of converting if i quit my job now before interview and prepare fully for interviews. Please shed some light whether its good to quit job before interview

    Like

    • Hi Jennifer,

      It all depends on how to make your case. You can say that you decided to quit your job to grow professionally through an MBA. Even if you do not make it this year, you are clear that you want to take up courses(certifications online) and experiences (NGO) that will help you to make ore of the MBA program as well as grow as a person.

      The only risk is if you fail you convert but then that is a risk that one always runs.

      If you feel you can work and prep then do not quit now.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sourav says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    How can I contact you in person ? Really needed some help and guidance in GD-WAT-PI prep.
    My XAT went decent. Expecting something to the north of 39+ . I am really desperate about XLRI-BM conversion given it being my best shot. Would be really helpful for me to get in touch with you and get directional prep.

    Like

    • Hi Sourav,

      It would be really tough for me to take out time.

      The XAT GD-PI prep is no different from the others and you can start with whatever I have outlined in the posts.

      XLRI has a unique form that they will release when the calls and out and they keep changing it. How to fill that form will be a task and I’ll do a blog on that as well. Your PI will be an in-depth grilling based on that.

      All the best!

      Like

  6. Ayush Ranjan says

    Hello Sir,

    I have secured 98.81 %ile(all sectionals above 92+) in CAT. My academic scores are as follows:
    10th : 89.2%
    12th: 85.2%
    B.Tech IT: 66

    I have 16 months of work ex. Can I expect calls from IIM Shillong , IIM Kozhikode, IIT Bombay, SPJain?

    Like

  7. Hello Sir,

    I have secured 98.81 %ile(all sectionals above 92+) in CAT. My academic scores are as follows:
    10th : 89.2%
    12th: 85.2%
    B.Tech IT: 66

    I have 16 months of work ex. Can I expect calls from IIM Shillong , IIM Kozhikode, IIT Bombay, SPJain?

    Like

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