WAT-GD-PI
Comments 51

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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51 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

  8. AEKANSH SRIVASTAVA says

    Hello sir,
    i have scored 95.5 percentile in cat with 87 in rc va. 98 in lr di and 94 in qa.
    10th-93.1
    12th-88.4
    undergrads( mechanical engineering)-82.7
    i have 13 months work experience in Vedanta and presently i am handling my famil business of
    logistics with my uncle.
    I have a profile based call from SPJAIN and 220 in Nmat.
    Based on my ca score,which college calls should i expect sir?
    any chances of getting into baby IIMs?
    Awaiting our response sir

    Like

  9. Aditya Talwar says

    Hi Tony Sir,

    I completed my graduation from BITS Pilani with 6.99 cgpa. Xth and XIIth percentages are 89.4 and 89 respectively. I have 3 years of experience and I quit my well paying IT job in June last year to prepare for MBA. However my test results are not very encouraging. I have scored 91.19%ile in CAT. Sectionals are VA 71.05/DILR 93.94/QA 95.94. NMAT score 212. And XAT score as per the released answer key is 26. I do not have any calls from any B-school right now. I am now torn between the choice of whether to go back and look for a job or wait for GD/PI calls and try to convert them. I am on the fence because my scores are borderline for above average B-schools as per previous years’ analysis and with 3 years of experience already, I am not in a position to re-appear and my gap period is only getting extended day by day.

    I would greatly appreciate your opinion on what should be my next step.

    Like

    • Hi Aditya,

      I can understand why you must be feeling pretty horrible right now.

      For another attempt, you cannot extend the gap year, you have to work while prepping to take another shot.

      Since your Grad CGPA is below 7, I am not sure of your options on another attempt unless you really max your test score.

      I think your best shot is NMIMS as of now and since you are from BITS, you will get good options if you get into NM.

      I’d say put in all effort to convert NM this year and start looking for a job once the interview is done.

      Hope this gives you a bit of clarity.

      All the best!

      Like

  10. Pingback: Why every WAT-GD-PI call-getter should write the IIM-B SOP | The CAT Writer

  11. Sumit Prasad says

    Hello Sir,

    I have secured 96.72 %ile(VA-96, DILR- 79.3, QA-98) in CAT. My academic scores are as follows:
    10th: 95%
    12th: 96.2%
    B.Tech ECE: 78.8

    I have 20 months of work ex. Can I expect calls from IIM Shillong, New IIM’s, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, NITIE & SPJain? Will Low DI-LR sectionals be a problem?

    Like

    • Hi Sumit,

      You will get calls from some of the new IIMs, IIT-Delhi, and NITIE; S.P.Jain sectionals are fine but overall is just borderline you might get a call; Shillong and IIT-B are ruled out due to the overall percentile.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  12. Aditya Lahoti says

    10th 90
    12th 78
    Grad – KC College – 4.79 / 7 CGPA

    CFP – Completed
    CFA – level 2 Candidate (exam in June 2019)

    1 year of Work Ex
    A couple of Internships
    NSE Certified Trading course

    XAT – 89.32%
    (other entrances are not worth mention because I’m not getting in any b school I have applied for via IIFT – didn’t get shortlisted or SNAP 86% or CAT 72% or NMAT – just 191 so maybe or maybe not NM Bangalore but I’m not very keen taking that up)

    I’m expecting calls from FORE, TAMPI & GIM which I should get mostly looking at previous trends.
    Can I get IMT G or XIMB?

    Other colleges I was thinking to apply was for Great lakes, NIBM maybe
    Can you suggest me a few good ones at this score I want to do specialization in Finance only

    Like

    • Aditya Lahoti says

      Thank you in advance, sir!
      Forgot the salutation in the post, sorry about that.
      Your articles have been very helpful so far!

      Like

    • Hi Aditya,

      If you are looking at Finance then you should apply to IFMR-Chennai as well, please look it up. Look at schools that have core Finance placements, I am not sure if FORE and TAPMI attract FIN firms for FIN roles, they might have BFSI firms coming in for Marketing Roles.

      But if you ask me honestly, with a CFA L2, you should take another shot at CAT and IIFT.

      Finance is a niche sector where pedigree matters a lot, I don’t think any of the colleges you(and me) have listed will even remotely do justice to your profile.

      People with fewer marks have gotten into IIFT if that is what is stopping you from another shot.

      I suggest another shot.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Aditya Lahoti says

        Thanks a lot for your advice sir, I will consider this before taking any decisions ahead.
        I will try for JBIMS MMS or SIMSREE via CET this year and I have started to prepare for it as well.

        Is MSc Fin worth a shot from JBIMS?

        Thanks again!

        Like

      • With a CFA MSc from JBIMS might be worth a shot but you need to speak to people studying there to find out. Drop a comment if you get an admit I can find out.

        All the best!

        Like

  13. Anupama says

    Hi Sir,
    I took XAT this year and have secured 94 percentile overall with sectional percentiles of 99.95 in DM and 94 in VA respectively. But, my QA percentile is extremely low (around 50). I did not perform well in CAT and managed a 92 percentile + in SNAP. I wish to pursue MBA from a top-notch b-school but I’m aware that the low sectional percentile in XAT Quants is definitely going to be a hindrance, although I am hoping to get calls at least from GLIM Chennai and IMT-G. Also, with my SNAP score, I applied to and got shortlisted for SIOM, Nashik.
    Now, I have around 3 years of work experience and my academics are pretty average (83% in X, 77% in XII and 74% in B.E). I need your suggestion on what can be a possible course of action for me at this juncture, given that I left my job a year ago and cannot really afford to extend the gap any further. Should I take a shot with any decent call I manage to get and then try to get admission this very year or should I look for another job while preparing for a second attempt?
    Also, what really are my chances of securing a call from JBIMS through MAH-CET MBA entrance test given that I don’t hold Maharashtra domicile?

    Like

    • Hi Anupama,

      In terms of outcomes, I think GLIM Chennai will be a good option, I am not sure about IMT-G (the huge batch size) and SIOM-Nashik is decent (8-9 LPA) in terms of options for Ops.

      I think it would be best for you to join this year given that you have taken a break.

      Chances of cracking JBIMS for non-domicile as are high as the probability of threading a needle in the first attempt. Last year they did not allow non-Maharashtra applicants we do not know the status for this year.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Hello sir,
    I have scored 92.38 in CAT and my acad are X/XII/grad = 83/86/67.
    I have 3yrs of exp in IT services company. Frustrated with the job,I quit last year in Jan(2018) to prepare for banking PO exams.But sadly, I could not even clear the prelims. To be honest, I have given CAT as a backup plan and appeared only for CAT.
    Now, I have prepared my mind to purse MBA as I am very uncertain about Banking exams and probably this is my last shot at mba as my gap is increasing day by day. Otherwise i see myself in a limbo. While I am preparing for GDPI, the question that bothers me most is how do I explain my gap during interviews.
    I don’t have any family business to cover for this or any ngo cert. How good is this explanation of shifting from bank po to mba and what counter ques can i expect? How much will this affect my conversion chances.

    Like

    • Hi Karan,

      Firstly, you shouldn’t mention prepping for Bank PO EXams as the reason for quitting your job. There is no way you can justify the story if you start there.

      Ideally, you should have taken up profile building activities while preparing but since you haven’t there isn’t much you can say except that you felt that moving to the business side of IT was the professional growth you were seeking and for that an MBA was a must and that your work schedule did not permit you to take up MBA prep and hence you quit your job.

      You can also look at GLIM.

      All the best!

      Like

  15. Hello Sir,
    I score 84.89 percentile in CAT. sectionals are VA/QUANT/DILR – 93.97/64.29/73.76 . My acads are 90/74/66.3 . 12 months work ex. NCOBC category. I got CAP call for 10 IIMs. What chances do I have for conversion of these IIMs.Any WAT PI tips for me ?

    Like

    • If I say, your chances are high or if I say your chances are low, should it change how you approach these interviews?

      Forget your chances and just focus on doing a great job, getting as many marks in the WAT-GD-PI round, let the college do the Math.

      The WAT-GD-PI tips are the same for everyone 🙂

      All the best!

      Like

  16. Hello Sir,
    I score 84.89 percentile in CAT. sectionals are VA/QUANT/DILR – 93.97/64.29/73.76 . My acads are 90/74/66.3 . 12 months work ex. NCOBC category. I got CAP call for 10 IIMs. What chances do I have for conversion of these IIMs.Any WAT PI tips for me ?

    Like

  17. Karan S says

    Hello Sir,
    Is it worthwhile to pursue MBA Finance from Symbiosis School of Banking and Finance (SSBF) ?
    I secured 65.5 percentile in SNAP 2018. My acads are 83/83/78 from ICSE/ISC (Commerce) /BBA(H) Backkground with 5 years of work experience. I’ve hit a wall in my work and this is my first attempt at MBA Entrance exams. Please kindly guide me

    Like

    • Hi Karan,
      It’s tough to say what worthwhile means since it depends on your expectations.

      You will get a 6-8 LPA job in front-end roles such as relationship manager. If you are okay with that then go ahead.

      Else you have to take another shot and look at 1-year programs.

      All the best!

      Like

  18. Sounak Bandyopadhyay says

    Thank you for your valuable advices sir. I am from Civil Engineering background and too have a work experience in a construction company for one year. What questions can I expect in an interview? Will it be related to my work responsibilities or entire technical stuffs? Please give some advice sir.

    Like

  19. Nikhil says

    Hello sir,
    I got shortlisted for scmhrd and sitm but i am having low score than other can i convert it into my gdpi to get the admission there?

    Like

    • Hi,
      Your preparation and approach should not change whether I say yes you have a great chance or no you have no chance.
      Your task is simple – to prepare the best you can and do a great job in GD-PI round.
      If you want to apply to other colleges as back up, you should take that call based on your risk appetite.
      All the best!

      Like

  20. Nikunj Mittal says

    Hello Sir,

    I have secured 84.52 in CAT. My academic scores are as follows:
    10th : 76%
    12th: 89%
    English Hons: 55 ( completed in 2018)
    I started looking for job after the CAT as I knew how bad my it had gone. Now I have the job offer from the not so renowned company at all or should I rather say not renowned at all. I don’t know what should I do, take admission this year or give it one more try as I know I can score way more than this. I was scoring 97+ percentile in IMS and TIME mocks consistently but screwed my DILR and that mood also affected my QA.
    Should I give it another shot or just forget about it and get into the 2nd tier B-School this year?

    Thank You

    Like

  21. Nikunj Mittal says

    Hello Sir,

    I have secured 84.52 in CAT. My academic scores are as follows:
    10th : 76%
    12th: 89%
    English Honours: 55 (Graduated in 2018)
    Is it worthwhile to pursue MBA from B-schools like BIMTECH, XIME, NIBM, IFMR, XISS, Great Lakes-Gurgaon, etc. as I have got calls from these colleges only.
    I also have a job offer from not so renowned company or I should rather say not renowned at all. Should I give CAT another shot or join this year only? I know I can do much better than this as I was scoring 97.5+ percentile consistently in IMS mocks. On the exam day I screwed my DILR and that mindset affected my QA too.
    Thank you in advance Sir

    Like

    • Hi Nikunj,

      You should attend the interviews and convert as many of them as you can.

      As far as joining goes, it is a personal choice that I will address in my next post. Your choice should not be based on the brand of the firm that you have a job with but on other factors that the post will discuss in detail.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Nikunj Mittal says

        Sir I converted BIMTECH, XIME, SIES and IFMR. Should I join this year only? I also have a job offer as a supervisor. Should I accept it or search for another job? Would be really thankful if you could reply asap as I need to pay fees too.
        Thank You

        Like

  22. Hello Sir,

    I secured 99.18 in CAT. My academic profile is as follows:
    10th : CGPA 10
    12th: 94.2%
    Graduation: 71.7 (Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at IIT Madras)

    I graduated in 2018 and got placed in a tech start up as Business Development manager.After working for 2 months, due to unsatisfactory nature of work, I quit the job around August 2018.I got 81.67 in VARC in CAT ’17.So I decided to work on my weakness during the period before CAT.Now, I got 99.55 in VARC in CAT ’18.As I was a noob in analytics, I enrolled in an analytics course on EdX after the exam.My IIM K interview didn’t go as well as I thought it would. I would rate my WAT and resume writing as above average and PI as average.Considering I am from NC OBC, do I stand a chance of converting IIM K? I don’t think I am in a position to convert IIM A given my profile and gap period.I have my best bet IIM C interview in another 3 weeks.I just would like to know the chances of converting IIM C with say, good WAT and above average PI considering my gap period and IIM K. Thank you in advance.

    Like

    • Hi Siddharth,
      Firstly, congrats on the calls.
      99.18 is great for NC-OBC and if you put in an above average performance you should be able to convert.
      You can never really judge how your K interview went since they rarely make you feel great. So give a great C interview, chances are pretty good.
      All the best!

      Like

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