This episode of YOBO (You Only B-School Once) Live was a special one because it covered two essential interviews in the life of a B-schooler:
- WAT-PI Process
- Placement Interviews
This article will cover the first part i.e., the WAT-PI Process. The panellists were current students from Top B-schools:
- Aishwarya Maru (IIM Ahemdabad, 98.5%ile in CAT),
- Shailaja Yeleswarapu (IIM Kozhikode),
- Surabhi (NITIE Mumbai, 97.59%ile in CAT)
- Shashwat Dharmadhikari (XLRI, 98.7%ile in XAT and 99.38%ile in CAT),
- Sanjeeban Nanda (SPJIMR, 97.9%ile in XAT),
- Mohit Kaushik (IIM Calcutta, 99.64%ile in CAT),
- Debayan Pal (IIM Kozhikode, 98.22%ile in CAT) and
- Fayaz Shaik (IIFT Kolkata, 99.37%ile in IIFT).
WAT-PI Process can be intimidating, and you never know which question might come up next? But what if you could drive your interview? What if all you had to do was to know yourself enough and be confident?
Here we go:
1. How was your interview experience at IIM Ahemdabad, and how did you prepare for it?
Aishwarya: It was delightful, in my case. It seemed as if they wanted to know me, my likes and dislikes etc. rather than grill me during the interview. They asked me about academics, projects, and even the city I live in, Mumbai - like what I learned from Mumbai. It was an engaging conversation rather than a scary interview.
Preparation is rigorous, but during the interview, you have to calm your nerves. Because that pressure doesn't work during the interviews. To prepare for the interviews, I started reading about the topics that interested me and kept a book where I noted my GD topics etc.
2. What was the most helpful thing for you to crack the interview, during the preparation or interview?
Aishwarya: It helped when they asked me about my Undergraduation project - What was it? How I did it? What were its applications? It gave them the vibe that I was keen into whatever I was doing and give 100% efforts. In a gist, you should be well aware of whatever you are doing or whatever you've done in the past. Don't bluff - if you don't know something, admit honestly that you don't know it rather than bluffing. Honesty goes a long way in the interviews.
3. What was your preparation strategy as a fresher for XLRI? And did you have the same strategy for different B-school interviews?
Shashwat: Interviews are interactions, and you can't prepare an interaction. The preparation needs to be holistic. You don't need to prepare separately for different institutes because it will be the same senior faculty members. It's going to be the same YOU - the only thing other will be the institute you're interviewing for.
Panellists try to gauge your potential based on your performance in your Undergraduation - not only in Academic terms or Technical knowledge but also Positions of Responsibilities (PORs) and Extra-curricular activities. For PORs, prepare a good narrative of different events and activities you've organised. If you're an engineer, have good knowledge about the stream/branch you're pursuing engineering to get a better hand.
4. That makes a lot of sense. One of the most simple, yet most intimidating questions in an MBA interview is "Tell me About Yourself". How can you condense your entire life into a narrative that will lead your interview?
Shashwat: Looking at the question from a panellist perspective, it's a filler question for them while looking at your documents. Most of us have similar profiles, so you should say something that sets you apart from the others like any sports, or any other hobby (I was an RJ), that's an X-factor that catches the interviewer's attention. Go ahead and talk more about it because if it's intriguing, the interviewer is likely to know more about it and the best part is: It's your area.
5. NITIE offers Specialization courses. So was there any particular strategy that you used to crack NITIE interview? Also, could you touch upon this mind-boggling question of "Where do you see yourself in five years"?
Surabhi: The interview is not based on the specialisation; it is based on a paper in front of them, which is your CV. Even the question "Tell me about yourself" is about how honest and trustworthy you are so don't fake it because the Professors can pin-point it when you're fake. Go through your CV. If you're a Work-ex person, then be prepared for questions like the challenges you faced at your workplace, the key moments etc. so that it makes your interview a little interesting. A NITIE interview mainly comprises General Awareness, the Branch you've been in and your Projects.
Coming to your second question, no one knows. Even the Professors don't expect you to know it exactly. But it would help if you had a basic idea - you'll be in a B-school for two years, then you'll work as a Management Trainee (MT) for one year after which you'll be on a fundamental level etc. - so calculate. You don't have to put flying saucers in this question; your answer should be feasible. Considering the calculation I gave you, two will be spent in B-school and three years incorporate in the next five years. There also, one year as an MT and two years in your role. So, you can say that you'll be more aware of your position, how you'll deal with other departments etc.
There are only three things that the interviewers are expecting from you - Clarity, Communication and Confidence.
6. How important are current affairs in the B-school interviews?
Shailaja: IIM Kozhikode gives a lot of emphasis on GK in the interviews apart from CV-related questions. They will continuously try to put you in a situation where you contradict yourself. It will be an exciting conversation with conflicting opinions. One thing that always works out is that you should still maintain your calm and composure, no matter what. You should always be clear about your stand.
They asked me many GK questions - like about Surat, its history, administration etc. since I graduated from NIT Surat. They also asked me who developed the Internet etc. I don't think they're looking for the right answer every time since they don't expect you to know everything. But it would help if you had an opinion and not go completely blank. You can say "I don't recall" or "Could you give me some more hints about this" but never lose your composure.
7. What is your opinion on the answer "I don't know" in an interview? Do you think it's something that goes against you? Or does it put you as an honest person?
Aishwarya: I don't think it ever goes against you; it's a safer option than bluffing. Though, in most cases, you can take a close estimate.
Shashwat: I think it depends on the question as well. When it's GK or Current Affairs, it's completely okay if you say you don't know it because everyone can't know everything. You can even say this, "I don't know, can I make an intelligent guess?" and say if there's something at the back of your mind.
Surabhi: You can also say, "I'm not sure about it, but this is as per the best of my knowledge" or say that "I'm not sure about it".
Shailaja: Interviewers expect you to know the answers to your work experience and most recent academics. Saying "I don't know" confidently and puts you in a better position.
8. A SPJIMR is unique in its process - with Group Interviews and Psychometric Test. So how do you handle it? Is there a specific strategy to crack it?
Sanjeeban: It's essential to know yourself in a SPJIMR interview, and the psychometric test becomes more effortless. What they're looking for in a Psychometric test is consistency. One question can be asked in 3-4 different ways, and if you're not consistent, it shows that either you're faking around and don't know yourself or trying to be someone who you're not.
Group interviews are not like GDs. You will be sitting with four other people, and each of them would've applied for a different specialisation. It's not a GD, but you need to show that you understand what's going on around you, you have to be empathetic etc. because the next question will come to you and if you're not sure, it shows that you don't have listening skills.
Group Interview 1 is eliminatory. Group Interview 2 is about ethics - you have to show the same personality as your SOP. They might give you situations and make you change your answers, but you need to hold your ground, be polite and trust yourself. I never prepare for interviews because you are who you are and you cannot change yourself in a night or even in a week. So, "Be yourself and Be confident".
9. How did you answer the seemingly tough question "Why MBA"? What should one ask themselves to come up with an answer to this question?
Mohit: I never thought of why I wanted to do an MBA while preparing for CAT. But by the time I reached the Interview table, I had a reasonably good answer designed with me. I think the opportunities post an MBA require you to be an all-rounder instead of perfect at just one thing, and my profile was like that.
I think to frame your answer; you should have a graph with four quadrants, each specifying a particular field of your life - say one for Academics, another one for Extra-curricular etc. and write what you're good at in each of them. You can think of a career option based on your answer in the graph you've created.
Fayaz: I had three years of Work-experience. I honestly told them that I felt my learning curve declined after 1-2 years, and I wanted to learn more, which was why I wanted to do an MBA.
10. When you're talking about your hobbies and extra-curricular activities in an interview, what all should you be prepared to answer? What is the depth of questions that they can expect you to go into?
Debayan: If I say that my hobby is quizzing, I must be aware of General Knowledge and Current Affairs. If I say that my hobby is Creative Writing, I need to specify Fiction or Non-fiction, a favourite author, etc. I cannot rely only on Foreign authors; I also need to specify Indian authors. It's always good to leave no stone unturned.
If you talk 1-2 lines about some extra-curricular activities and achievements, you know what the next question will be. Knowing about extra-curricular activities helps you buy time and drive your interview. It is a good conversation starter. That's my two cents on the process.
Thanks to all the panellists for answering all the important questions related to the process in such an insightful manner. If there are any other queries related to the entire process, please feel free to drop a comment with your question, and we will do our best to answer it.
All the Best to all the aspirants for their interviews!
We hope you get into your dream B-schools!
Watch the live discussion here!
Our team at Kounsel is absolutely thrilled to present to you 'The Final Push' (TFP), a WAT-PI training program where we put you directly in touch with business school students and alumni from your dream institutes. These MBA students and alumni, having gone through the grueling WAT-PI process themselves, will train you to smash any and every b-school interview that comes your way!
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