Congratulations! As I say that, I recall my call letter and with that the confusion to drive my interview process through the maze of relative scoring and entangling questions. Having said that, I understand that all of you, my dear friends, are right there trying to figure out the perfect mix between “tell me something about yourself and the aligning strengths & weaknesses”. But before I begin to share with you my journey through the maze, I’ll put forth some background information, for you to gauge that what acted in my favour and what did not.
I am a fresher and completed my under graduation in the domain of Business Administration, in May 2017, so that meant that the percentage contribution of the work experience component was a straight 0 for me. This left me with evaluation areas as follows - the NMAT test score, case discussion, personal interview, my past academic record and my individualistic profile which in my opinion includes for every individual - soft skills, extracurriculars and personality dimensions. Yet again, the impact of the percentage contribution of the NMAT score (which is sufficiently significant), reduced to almost negligible because I was just one mark above the cutoff score. Therefore, before I entered the campus, I knew that all I had to play on was primarily my performance on that very day itself, which would leverage on my academic record (here I was fairly well positioned, as I had a 96.5% for XII with a 9 pointer for graduation) and characteristics that prominently differentiate me from the others (maximum of them happening to be engineers with significant work ex as well as high test scores).
So, I was scheduled to appear for the process on 14th of February 2017 (yes, I can sense a few ‘hahahas’ there) and the only thing that I would use to describe that day is that everything heard, read or learnt at any point in life does come handy, where all one has to do is create an amalgamation of the most relevant pieces at the correct time.
The case discussion was the first round of evaluation, the subject of which revolved around current day lifestyle issues. All I did in those 12-13 minutes was to focus on “what should not be done in any case discussion” rather than focusing on “what needs to be done”. This I believe is sufficient enough to drive through any case because 12-13 minutes for those many people, who have met for the first time, to come to a consensus, is quite difficult to achieve, given that it is a zero-sum game.
My focus on “what should not be done in any case discussion”, helped me to ensure that at any time I spoke, I replaced the ‘I’s’ with the ‘We’s’’. Following which I leveraged my debating sessions to make sure that my voice was a perfect mix of confidence, willingness to embrace change and sophistication. With all of this, what comes without saying, was my conscious decision to ensure that my eyes acknowledged everybody, my posture stood upright while my facial expressions and hand gestures were in control with no show of irritation or impatience. To top it all, I got lucky because all the others with me happened to do just the opposite of all that I just mentioned.
However, in my opinion, it is not about just me getting lucky, all of you will, because maximum times you will find very few who would focus on “should not’s”.
Moving ahead to tell you about my PI experience, what drove the entire session for me was my domain knowledge, which in my words I often call the real knowledge. If one is aware of the subjects that he/she learnt in school or college and most importantly can relate it to how it is actually used in real business- you are already safeguarded for the duration that grills you on “what was your favourite subject/ tell me what you learnt in (this) subject in (this) semester of graduation”. How it worked for me was - I was questioned on any recent policy decision that was taken that time by the Government and I remembering answering the Repo Rate. Here is the catch, I did that purposely because I was well aware of the fact that my next question would be - “How does it impact inflation or the common man”. Well read about its impact, I explained in a sequence that flowed from RBI’s decision to its impact on commercial banks to the interest rates- hence the borrowing and finally the demand and supply at common man level. Credits for being able to answer this goes to The Economic Times and the PI prep classes. Also, here is another tip, which I learnt through my experiences - the background of every answer lies in the mismatch between demand & supply and if you are able to get there, you’ve hit the bullseye.
After having explained the series of events that follow any decision on the Repo Rate, I had established my credibility, which instantly drove my interview towards my individualistic characteristics. Here again, as the saying goes, Family always stands by - it definitely does. I belong to a joint family and mentioning about the same did half the job to judge me on cooperation, adjustment and cohesion. Following which, I was engaged in a small discussion on the societal issues that surround us each day.
Having spent approximately 40 minutes, the interview culminated into “I am moved by your determination”. If I were to be true here, by this time I was well aware in my head, that I had managed to differentiate myself, thereby achieving the objective of sitting in a personal interview.
Therefore, all I would say is - the only safeguard for the PI session is real knowledge, the ability to give real-world examples and to only be your real self. Being your real self and talking about things that you personally believe in brings out the one thing they look for - Conviction.