Comments 30

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 seems 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 either the latter or the former) — is you.

So draw a circle with you as the centre 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.



  1. Anand says

    Thanks sir.
    I was kind overwhelmed by the range of things/topic I have to prepare for. This article helps to compartmentalize things. Its a good way to get going. Tick off one quadrant at a time.


  2. bhushan kharche says

    Hello Sir,
    I read every article of yours and I like all of them. But today I couldn’t stop myself from saying this.

    I read the 1st article, came to this second one, just read a little and with all due respect, a thought came to my mind, ‘This guy is SIMPLY GREAT!!’.

    Thanks a lot for all these selfless efforts.. 🙂


    • Thanks a lot of the generous praise, Bhushan.

      I started the blog a few years ago when I was running IMS Chennai. I saw that all of my students were travelling to meet me, and some more than an hour, to ask the same questions.

      I felt that all of our times could be better used if the common questions were dealt with through a blog and the 1-1 could be used for personalised guidance.

      I am no longer in that role but the habit of running and updating the blog and now interacting with students through the comments section continues.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ishita0311 says

    Sir i would like to have your email id so that i could discuss my queries with you!


  4. Aditya Aher says

    Hello Sir ! Just loved this blog… as how you have put every major aspects simply in the form of quadrants. I have a doubt, if we don’t know anything about a particular question asked upon such as politics or any other topic, then how to tackle such scenario?


  5. Jaiyant says

    Thank you for the great content sir.
    I am Jaiyant , a General Engineer Male category aspirant . I have got 99.59 overall percentile in CAT. My acads are
    10\12\BTech : 96\85\91.4 . I have 18 months of work experience. I have already been rejected by A , C , L . Because of my low 12th marks I am sure I will not get call from Indore too. IIM B is unpredictable for me . Can I get call from IIM K and FMS ?? If not , should I start applying for foreign MiM programmes?


  6. Apoorva says

    Hi Sir,
    All your posts are very helpful and absolutely on point.
    I question I wanted to ask you is off topic with regards to the post. How well do people with low percentiles compete once they get into college with people with higher marks? What is your general observation?
    I scored 96.09 percentile in CAT 2019 (95/95/91). I am a SC category candidate female engineer and have received L,C,A calls so far. I have scored 217 in NMAT, 140.5 in IIFT. All sections cleared.
    But I feel very under confident about converting the calls and even more about surviving in college.
    I am getting very strong inclination about not filling forms. I know I wont be repeating for another year.
    I have a lot of confusion if I should go for the IIMs for the fear of competition and some guilt (many friends with very good scores aren’t getting calls). I have not even started filling any form till now and I was not able to make myself do it.
    I constantly feel i wont be able to handle it.
    Your advice is very much needed.

    Thank you in advance!


    • Hi Apoorva,

      On the whole, most of the queries the people ask on the blog are things that I have heard before but once in a while some queries do turn up that are very unique and yours is one of them.

      Firstly, congratulations on scoring a 96.09 percentile on the CAT, and 217 and 140.5 on the other two tests.

      Put together all the three scores indicate that you more than have the aptitude required to do an MBA.

      In India, we place undue importance on percentile as an indicator of a capability to succeed in an MBA program, most of it is because of a demand-supply issue. Harvard, has about 900 seats and the number of takers of the GMAT worldwide are about 2,00,000 the same as the CAT. So it is not that you are no as bright and yet got through but that you have the capability but given the supply-side constraint only a few can make it.

      The more important thing to know is that test scores are not everything, in fact they do little to predict the performance in an MBA program as well as later in life. If it were so important, then international schools will also have a very high percentile requirement, right? What’s the average GMAT score at Harvard, 720, which is around the 95th percentile. Shouldn’t Harvard, the most sought after b-school in the world select only 99-percentilers? No, because doing a few questions more in a test scenario does not translate into success in an MBA program and in a managerial career. It is important to note that this does not mean that aptitude is not important but anyone above the 95th percentile has the aptitude to do well in a program. The rest of the things — professional experience, skills, attitude, personality, et al — will determine the chances of success.

      So firstly, get rid of the silly idea that high percentiles mean more deserving candidates, it is a mentality born out of scarcity that about.

      You will easily be able to handle the program it is not all that tough, it is hectic and crazy and manic, yes, but not something you cannot handle. Not everyone will be able to top or get into the top 50 but everyone can learn, do decently, pick up skills, and get a good start to their career.

      And more importantly, you should not be feeling any guilt, you are getting what is rightfully yours for the injustices of centuries past. If this country had provided access to education and equality to all of it is citizens from time immemorial, we would not be a developing country we would have raced ahead since our entire human resources would have had the knowledge and most importantly self-belief. I am not a votary for life-long reservation, I feel after two generations get access to elite institutions, the ones after that should not have to rely on it and hence do not need it.

      Just go ahead and apply without fear, if you do not take what is given to you who will?

      All the best!


  7. Hrishikesh says

    Dear sir,
    I took 6 months off after my graduation for CAT preparation. I was not good at VARC, but due to this prep, I could at least get 92 percentile in CAT VARC. Now, I have received calls from IIM L, SP Jain, (Hoping for IIM K and Indore). I am currently facing a dilemma. I am not good with wat and GD.

    Sir, Is it recommended to join a company or continue with GD-WAT-PI preparation? Can you please help me with this?

    Thank you


    • Hi Hrishikesh,

      I would suggest not joining now since you would again have to take leave to attend interviews and stuff, which if you have just joined is not that good an idea.

      Finish your preparation and then go ahead and take up a job.

      All the best!


      • Hrishikesh says

        No sir,
        I have not joined yet. I am in a dilemma of whether to join or just prepare for GD-WAT-PI.
        will joining now give me any benefit during the interview? or it will not have any effect?
        Thank you for your help.


      • Hi Hrishikesh,

        If anything it might backfire as they might grill you that you are being unfair to the firm, have you told them that you will leave if you get a call, you will be wasting their training cost and so on.

        So in a way it will be counterproductive.

        All the best!


  8. Jonty Padia says

    I wanted to know which type of questions can be asked if a person mentions his family business as his work-ex?


  9. Kartik Thakur says

    Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room. You have given me direction ! The starting point, else I’d be just happlessly reading newspapers here and there.


  10. Anonymous says

    Hello Sir,
    Thanks for the wonderful post.
    Actually, I have realized that there is nothing productive which i can call as my hobby or any activity to which i repeatedly devote my free time (sad realization !). How to answer the “No Hobby” question with minimum damage in Interviews and college forms??

    Please provide some guidance. Thanks in advance.


  11. Kartik says

    Hello sir,
    Thank you for another great post. These two articles helped me with many of my queries.
    But there are a few things related to PIs on which I would like to get your opinion.
    See, I have had this habit of bringing humor in the conversations, even the formal ones. I believe it is a part of my personality now to be a little bit funny. I would like to be myself in front of the panelists too but I am not really sure how they would react to it. I know that I’ll have to be sublte and not overdo it in any way. So, should I play the dead serious candidate or just be “me’ with a witty and humorous nature?
    Also, I am planning to include my “sense of humor” in the lists of my weaknesses ( mainly because I have been in situations where I had to stop myself from saying something because of the type of setting I was in). I do have some examples of incidences where I nearly evaded getting into problems due to my sense of humor. Would it be a good idea to do this?


    • Hi Kartik,

      The answer is simple — be natural and do not offend anyone with your sense of humour, so use it judiciously.

      You do not need to make sense of humour into a weakness, they want to check your self-awareness in terms of areas of improvement in a professional setting. If you feel it is an important area of improvement then mention it else leave it.

      All the best!



    Hello sir
    I got a call from IIMA FABM and I am really interested in this program. I am from agriculture background (education B.sc. agriculture And family). How should I prepare to convert the call?


    • Hi Chanchal,

      Congrats on the call.

      As far as the interview process goes there is no difference, you would be expected to know the latest issues in the agribusiness sector(BT Brinjal, crop-loan waivers etc.) as well as your education, which as I said is the same for any person with work-ex.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  13. sneha says

    Hello sir, I have got a call for WAT-GD-PI at SCIT Pune at 49.02% in SNAP. I am skeptical as to why I received a call at this percentile. Therefore, I wish to know if it is worth going for the subsequent rounds or not. Thank you.


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