“The battle is over”, thinks the CAT aspirant as they ace in one of the toughest and most unpredictable exams in our country but sorry to break it to them that this was just the first hurdle that they cleared.
After this comes the long and treacherous turn of events in the name of GD-PI which ultimately ensures whether you enter those hallowed halls of your dream B-School.
But before we get into this lets first delve into what happens immediately after the CAT results are declared. Well, right after the CAT results are declared shortlists are released by the various B-schools. The criteria for the shortlists differ hugely from B-school to B-school with some putting high premium on previous work experience while some highly valuing your board percentages.
But a few criteria which we can safely say are common and will play a role in you getting a shortlist are the following:
- Your class 10th and 12th marks (Ah the past haunts us again :p)
- Your graduation marks (Oh how we regret not studying even a day before exam because of that party we were missing :/)
- Your duration of work experience (Typical Indian mentality of placing premium on quantity over quality XD)
- Any professional certifications done (e.g. CA, CFA, Actuarial etc.)
- Any stupendous achievements in extra-curricular or co-curricular activities (only considered by a few colleges before they roll out calls)
- Which social category you belong to and your gender (Both play a huge role in you getting calls)
- Your stream of study during your undergrad degree (Being a non-engineer helps)
- Soft markers can be the name of your undergrad college and your designation at the company you worked with prior to pursuing MBA (Might not be the case in most instances but your parents were right, being from an IIT or SRCC helps)
After all these variables are churned and weightages assigned as per the B-school’s individual guidelines the calls are rolled out.
Well if you are among the lucky bunch who get a call, don’t get too ahead of yourselves cause that is the time for you to buckle down and work very hard for the looming GD-Pi which will ultimately decide your fate.
To give you some statistics in most top tier colleges the ratio of converted candidates to rejected candidates from the one’s called for interviews is 1:10.
Well that should light some fire in your belly to prepare hard for what waits ahead.
So just like a typical B-school student now that I have explained the problem statement and done the situational analysis, I’ll provide you my solution to this particular situation (Don’t worry no consulting charges are required :p)
- Read a lot of current affairs from sites like PTI, political weekly, EWP, RajyaSabha/LokSabha, mint etc.
- But since we are the digital age and many of us have low attention spans so instead of reading we can listen to podcasts by Study IQ which is aYouTube channel for civil service preparation but gives you the best amalgamation of current affairs knowledge in a very short and precise fashion.
- You can also listen to the audio clips in Curio app to keep abreast of the current happenings in business and economy.
- Tell me something about yourself is a great conversation starter and just like dating a girl getting this first question is very critical in making a first good impression. Be honest, pleasant and not a hard sell. This question should be practiced to the point that it becomes etched in the mind before your first interview.
- Brush up the key concepts of your undergrad studies especially the ones where you have scored very high GPA’s and the one’s where you have scored extremely low (Being average sometimes helps!!)
- Construct you answer very carefully for Why MBA? For the interview. For this you will have to reverse engineer your life and think about the instances where you felt an MBA degree will help you upskill and cover the lacunae that you currently might be having.
- A clear goal must be prepared for the future. Its tough to have one now but try to talk to current students, friends, relatives and faculty mentors to get an idea about the various roles and the kind of job they entail. You can do simple google search to find out the same.After you do this initial basic research you will have to map your skills, inclinations and previous work experience with that one MBA major and one particular job profile which you feel suits you the most. Following this envisage yourself in the short term of say 3-5 years and imagine where you want to be. All this will give you a clear idea as to what is it that you want out of your MBA. Its ok even if your idea is not that well formed cause you are just entering your MBA and its given that you’ll explore.
- Say you feel marketing will be your major in MBA then brush up a few basic key concepts really nicely before the D-day.
- Know about your extra-curricular activities and your professional certifications really well.
- Eco-majors and engineers should be doubly prepared for some really deep questions as there will most likely be someone in the panel who would be an eco-graduate or an erstwhile engineer.
- Have an opinion (unbiased, rational, apolitical and flexible) about the latest political happenings in the country. Read the Hindu to develop the same.
- Last but not the least – dress immaculately putting on your best attire and manners. As you will soon come to know in your MBA that half the game is in presentation. Be well groomed with proper shaved face for men and hair nicely done for all. Look sharp, fresh and professional. (Having a good night’s sleep would be recommended)
Well, apart from this there are a few GD-PI hacks that I have collated based on the experience of myself and my peers from the numerous GD-PI’s that we have been part of pre and post MBA.
Here is the list:
- Sit with an upright posture and a mild smile on your face. Don’t look tense or nervous. The point being the palpable tension should not be visible on your faces.
- Look confident with an open stance while sitting in front of your system. Please don’t keep drooping shoulders, lackadaisical body language
- When not speaking your body language matters as to whether you are listening to your peers or not and how you are reacting to their arguments. Please don’t show any condescension or vehemence at the other’s argument through your facial cues
- In a GD you would typically get 3 good entries so please don’t waste it introducing the topic, talking about the background of the topic, instead jump straight to the solution of the problem stated in case of case discussions. While for group discussions you should lay down interesting facts not spoken about by your peers till now and then give a rational argument about the pros and cons of the situation
- It is not mandatory to choose a stance in the case of GD. If you lay down facts and give rational arguments you can play a Devil’s Advocate. This will show you are rational and less biased compared to others which are qualities of a good manager
- If you take the lead make sure your points are good else you would lose the advantage and might also paint yourself in poor light
- In case somebody is cutting you off midway request him/her politely to allow you to finish your point. He/she will comply else it will reflect negatively on him/her
- Since normally you will get around 3 entries in a GD with an average time of 15-20 seconds try to speak in one breath and lay down your facts and arguments as quickly as possible before you get cut off
- If you are not getting a chance to speak albeit a weak voice or any other reason, wait for the right moments. Everybody will have high energy towards the beginning. But after the initial few minutes he energy will come down and people will be bereft of points. This is the moment you should capitalize on by entering the discussion and putting forth some solid points.
- You may even change the course of the discussion at this point if you have valid points. This builds a very good impression in front of the recruiters
- Preferably be among the first 3 people to speak. If you cannot manage this, no need to panic. Just stick to your guns and make very good points whenever you get the chance
- Please don’t try to summarize the discussion unless a consensus is built amongst all and the discussion is towards a close
- Do not attack anyone personally during the GD. This is a strict red flag. The points of a person can be debated on politely without taking the person’s name and from an unbiased view
- You should continue the discussion for which you need to listen to your peers very closely. Don’t break the track and go on a different line of argument without context. That gives the impression that you were not listening.
- Don’t let any personal bias for a political party, caste, sex, religion etc. creep in your arguments. This will be detrimental to your selection
- Try to keep a pleasant demeanour while speaking and don’t get overly aggressive.
- In the 1-minute window given to think come up with at least 7-8 points that you might to speak on and rank them in order of your preference. It so might happen that you get a chance to speak after a while and by then 4 -5 of your points have already been spoken about by your peers
- In case you do not have much idea about the topic or your peers have already spoken on the points you had thought of try to pick on the points of your peers from the discussion by listening intently and give a different perspective based on those same points to add some value to the discussion. You are all from different backgrounds so there will be some uniqueness to your thought.
This article is contributed by Abhishek Saha, a 2nd-year PGPM student at MDI Gurgaon.
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