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 you want to do an MBA
- What are your long-term and short-term goals
- List your strengths and weaknesses
They would instead 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 centre
The PI is primarily a test of the stuff you are made of. So right at the centre 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, recent events, 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 defence 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 panellists might not be from your discipline. Still, they will have enough top-level knowledge about many subjects to ask you basic questions from any area. 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 must revise the basic concepts across the most critical subjects in your graduation.
- Practical applications of your discipline — This applies more to engineering and science graduates. Panellists may ask an electronics and telecommunications engineer the difference between 3G, 4G & 5G or how Bluetooth works or what IoT is, a mechanical engineer about how CVT or automatic transmission works etc. IMS students will get an e-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 panellist 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 panellist might say, which team was Real playing against in that Final. Some of you might know, and 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 panellists’ knowledge. Your job is to maximize the chances of overlap.
And remember, the harder you work, the luckier you will get.