Personal Interview related
How do I select a career goal for an interview without Work ex? I dropped a year after graduation to prepare for CAT, how do I justify that?
That is a great question.
InsideIIM has already created an interview guide for shortlisted candidates. You can look at it here.
Although B-school students will be able to provide better insight (I have listed some sources at the end), I have some understanding of the MBA admissions and interview process and would like to share some insight.
How To Select A Career Goal
This actually takes us back to the key question “Why MBA”, and once you are able to structure an answer for this, you will be able to answer your own question. If you ask me, I don’t think you need to be absolutely sure of what you want to do, and I don’t think that an interview panel even expects a fresher like you to be absolutely certain of your exact career objectives. You don’t have to necessarily say,
“I want to be an Area Sales Manager at Unilever and I want to be a part of their Future Leaders Programme.”
However, in the same breath, I will say that you need to create an overarching story around your 5-year plan.
For example, you can say that
“In the next 5 years, I see myself in a leadership position at a top brand, solving business problems, constantly learning and adapting, and rising within the organisation. In the longer-term, I see myself as a C-suite executive at the helm of the organisation, with a direct impact on the company’s direction toward profitable growth.”
This is just a basic template of what you can say, but of course, your answer will have to be tailor-made to your profile and career expectations.
How To Explain A Gap Year
Here is what Nitya Muralidharan, an XLRI alumna, has to say about a gap year and its justification –
“A gap year does create a difference, some companies do notice it, but whenever I was asked the question during my interview, I told them the truth. It’s tougher to defend as the GAP increases, but we all have our reasons for making that choice, travel and writing was a major part of my reason and I did that, I don’t regret what I did.”
I came across this article on InsideIIM. You can read it here.
Here is my opinion:
Usually, I don’t think anyone is busy with amazing extra-ordinary activities that keep them from taking up a job. It is usually the fact that CAT preparation is very difficult with a job, and it appears to be a logical conclusion to not work while preparing for CAT. An interview panel doesn’t see it like that. They’ll say,
“Bhayee 70% of our batch has 1-4 years of experience, and the other 30% are fresh graduates. Why weren’t you able to do what they have done? Why did you need to not even take up a job and prepare for CAT? That means you are not capable enough for an IIM because your management skills are quite poor.”
And this is why it is so difficult to answer this question. So my suggestion is that unless you have genuinely been a part of some brilliant extracurricular activities or have other valid reasons for not working while preparing for CAT, you will need to think of a reasonable justification for your gap.
If I were you, and I didn’t have any reason to for a gap year, I would go ahead and be 80% honest about my decision. I would put it like this:
“Sir, I chose not to take up a job because I needed that amount of time to prepare for an exam like CAT, and my efforts have borne fruit. I don’t think I would have been able to prepare at this level with a job, because I am well aware of my capabilities. In hindsight, I think it was a risk that I took, which is why I have already begun applying for jobs in case this risk does not give me the returns I expected. If I am unable to convert a business school this year, I will come back the next year, this time with corporate experience under my belt.”
You can also read how an XLRI student would answer “Why MBA”.
Also, take a look at InsideIIM’s Why MBA Archives. It may be of some help.
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