This interview season, in all probability, will be completed by the end of May 2020. While some of you have already converted your dream B-school, many others are anxiously waiting on the side-lines for a ticket to enter into their desired B-schools. Some others are yet to appear in interviews. In light of that, let me share a personal experience of my GEPIWAT (Group Exercise, Personal Interview, and Written Ability Test) process at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune.
It was the morning of Valentines’ Day (14th February 2020). My GEPIWAT process was scheduled at 8 A.M. The journey to the Institute was nothing short of a joyride! I stayed calm and immersed myself in appreciating the stunning landscape of Lavale. SIBM Pune is located on hilly terrain and is flanked by the city of Pune on one side and the evergreen forests on the other. "This place is surely going to delight photographers and fitness enthusiasts alike", I thought to myself. I stood and breathed bouts of fresh air (a rarity in cities) and then proceeded for my GEPIWAT process.
After document verification, we were guided to an auditorium where the director of SIBM Pune briefed us about the process, the timelines and the different courses offered by SIBM Pune along with the uniqueness of each course. We aspirants were also shown a video that gave us glimpses of the MBA life at SIBM. The video reinforced the motto of SIBM Pune as a 'student-driven college'. In the meantime, I struck up a conversation with a few of my fellow aspirants and was awed at the different skill sets that each one of them brought to the table. After the director's address, we were taken to a large hall and made to sit in groups. Each group had a mentor who guided us through the process in detail. That also proved as an opportunity for all of us to 'break the ice' and introduce ourselves to the entire group.
This was conducted in groups of ten. After we were settled, a member of the Aspirant Relations Team came forward and explained the procedure. Then we were greeted by two professors, who motivated us to give it our best. The first part of the Group Exercise required of us to look at an image and make notes on it. Then each of us had to weave a story and narrate it in forty-five seconds to the other members of the group. The trickiest part was that each of us was shown a different image. After each one narrated their individual stories, the entire group had to discuss each point and make a story out of it by linking the ideas as suggested by each member. The time allotted for this process was 15 minutes. Luckily each one of us could come up with constructive ideas and put forth at least 4-5 points to finish the story. Before the Group Discussion, we were asked to not speak for more than 45 seconds at one stretch. This advice resulted in a smooth discussion and our group was able to reach a consensus.
Written Ability Test
The WAT took all of us by a surprise. It contained five questions of General Awareness (well, not many would have anticipated this) and an essay on a rather popular topic 'How can sustainability lead to a cleaner environment'. We had 30 minutes to complete this exercise. My performance in General awareness was dismal but I did manage to put forth a few valid points in the essay. Personally, my WAT turned out to be average at best!
The most important criteria for selection to any B-School. As far as SIBM P is concerned, the PI serves as the gateway to enter the prestigious Institute. The evaluation process was unique and comprehensive. Unlike a lot of other B-schools where the written exam is given 60-80 per cent weightage, Symbiosis gives a lot of importance to the learning outcomes of a student. One has to be reasonably adept at 'soft skills to ace every round. The panel doesn't merely award points to an aspirant on the basis of high scores in Xth, XIIth and graduation. Rather, it is the knowledge and overall demeanour of the candidate that is checked upon in the interview.
I was called for my interview by one of the seniors and was briefed of the process. About a minute before facing the panel, I was handed a piece of paper which contained the topic 'Should one vehicle per family be the norm?' I was given sixty seconds to prepare and then give an extempore to the panel. On completion, I entered for my PI.
My panel had two senior professors (let us address them as P1 and P2). Henceforth I would refer to myself as S.
S: Good morning sir. Good morning sir. (greeted them with a smile)
P1: Good morning. Please have a seat.
S: Thank You, sir.
P1: So, I imagine you were handed a piece of paper before you entered the room?
S: Yes sir.
P1: So, what's your topic?
S:'Should one vehicle per family be the norm?'
P1: Should one vehicle per family be the norm?' (P1 sounded a bit assertive). Please start.
S: Tried to chip in with a few points revolving around the merits and demerits of such an implementation. But before I could complete, I was interrupted by P2...
P2: Alright. That's okay.
P1: So Purkaaayastha.....( stressing each syllable of my surname ), why did you not join the Indian Navy?
S: Sir, after I was recommended by the panel, I was declared unfit by the Special Medical Board due to a defect in my right eye. So, my appeal was rejected and I could not make it.
P1: But I'm sure you would have looked great in the cap and uniform'. So where are you from? Maharashtra, right?
S: No sir. I am a native of Kolkata.
P1: Oh, so you are the ones who are protesting against the CAA-NRC right?
S: No sir. Absolutely not. I personally believe that the CAA-NRC has both positives and negatives as well as a challenge on implementation.
P1: By the way, this was on a lighter vein. (Both P1 and P2 smile for the first time). So, tell us, do you have any regrets?
S: (taken aback). No sir. Whatever I have done in my life has been of my own accord and decision. While I try to better myself each day, setbacks along the way only make me more determined to strive harder for success.
P1: So, you are an Electrical Engineer by degree. What's this? (Holds out his left arm in a 3D shaped vector).
S: (damn.... common......I tried hard to recall the name...the concept.... Then I blurted out). Fleming's left-hand rule!
P1: And what do each of these represent? (pointing to the outstretched fingers)
S: The current, the direction of the magnetic field and the force.
P1: Alright. Good enough!
P2: So why did you leave your first job?
S: Sir, I always wanted to serve in the Armed forces. So I decided to take a year off to prepare for the UPSC exams.
P2: And where are you working now?
S: I am presently involved as a content associate in the e-learning industry.
P1: What do you do?
S: I write academic content for students and recreate my content in animated form using digital media. I also write blogs on education and support my organization in content marketing.
P2: What does your organization do?
S: Sir, our organization strives to teach English to all those who find it uncomfortable by using a blended and flipped learning module of online teaching.
P1: But why will people accept your product?
S: Sir, we aim to implement English not as a language but as a skill set for students to improve over time. Less than 30 per cent of our graduates have the ability to communicate effectively. So, our communication module aims to create a personalized roadmap for every student, right from the time they start in school to the time they land a job. We increase the level of complexity by analysing a student's learning curve.
P1: Why do you think English is important in a country like ours?
S: Sir, English serves as a medium of communication for graduates. So, a lot of them struggle to cope up with the subject in graduation. And this results in them performing poorly in aptitude exams, competitive exams and job interviews. We aim to bridge the gap by providing individual attention to students through the use of online resources and human interaction.
P2: Who is your target audience?
S: We aim to target the parents of K-12 students. We have the potential to reach an active customer base of 10 million in the next ten years.
P1: So do you read newspapers?
S: Yes sir. I read the editorials of THE HINDU and have been keeping track of the news since the last six months.
P1: Why do you read THE HINDU?
S: I think that the editorials help me to gain a holistic understanding of trending issues. Moreover, I find the vocabulary used in the editorial section to my liking. It has greatly improved my writing ability during my role as a content writer.
P1: So, we all know about the Corona Virus in China. Please give us the names of the species it originated from?
S: Snakes, Bats and Pangolins.
P1: Alright Good enough! Can you tell me the chemical formula for chalk?
S: Calcium Carbonate. CaCO3.
P1: Who is the vice-president of India?
S: Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu.
P1: Who is the speaker of the Lok Sabha?
S: Mr Om Birla.
P1: Who is Angela Merkel?
S: She is the chancellor of Germany.
P1: Where is Meghan Markle and Prince Harry now?
S: (What was that?) Sir, I am not aware of this.
P2: Well, I am surprised that you didn't know. They are presently in Canada!
P1: So, what other calls do you have?
S: Sir I have calls from NMIMS, SCMHRD apart from SIBM P.
P1: Which college would you choose if selected in all three?
S: Sir I would opt for SIBM P.
P1: Why? You could have said the same in all the other interviews?
S: (smiles). Sir. (takes a deep breath). SIBM P boasts of a rich alumni base owing to its presence of over four decades. This would help me to connect to corporate events, guest lectures, seminars and also during internships and final placements. Due to its brand value, SIBM attracts a diverse pool of high-performing students to its batch. This will facilitate peer-to-peer interaction and learning during MBA. Eminent faculty at the campus will provide me with knowledge and equip me with necessary skill sets to succeed as a manager after MBA. Owing to its student-driven culture, I would have the scope to participate in clubs and committees to sharpen my skills. I can also be a part of numerous corporate competitions and contribute to the SIBM P community as well as myself.
P2: So, you studied Engineering for four years. How do you apply that knowledge after MBA?
S: Sir, I would like to specialize in marketing. As this is a broader gambit, I believe I will be able to learn and grow during my MBA and afterwards as a manager by implementing my knowledge in the practical world. Then I will have the option to make a switch to the domain of Electrical Engineering when the opportunity presents itself.
P1: Ok. It was good talking to you. You are someone who believes that whatever happens, happens for the best! Wish you all the best.
P2: Do you have any questions for us?
S: No sir.
P1, P2: Thank you!
S: Thank you, sir.
This brings me to the end of the GEPIWAT process at the hilltop heaven! A big shout out to the aspirant relations team for facilitating a seamless process. I left the campus with memories to cherish for life!
Hope my interview experience will prove to be useful for future aspirants. Remember to be honest during your interviews! May all of you get into the desired B-schools of your choice! Cheers!
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