Remember, CAT is a rejection process while the IIM WAT-GD-PI is a selection process.
Generally, IIMs have WAT and PI in the 2nd stage except IIM K and S. Additionally, IIM-K has a GD and IIM-S has Case Discussion (Till CAT 2017).
Writing Ability Test (WAT)
The WAT at IIMs is your first chance to impress the Interviewers before the Interview begins. Generally, I divide the WAT into the 3 Parts, and you can follow the below approach for Written Ability Test (WAT):
- Introduction: Before starting the WAT, analyze the given topic and jot down your points on the rough sheet. Make sure you always start the WAT with an introduction and keep it simple and related to the subject. Do not deviate from the topic and do not write too much in this.
- Main Body: This is a content section, and you have to write about the given topic. Do not take any side unless not explicitly mentioned in the topic or instructed by the panellists. Write about both the sides and analyzes both sides. In WAT, F&F (Facts and Figures) always have more impact than words. So, always try to add the relevant F&F in the WAT to validate or support your points. You can also add the relevant Quotes.
- Conclusion: This is the last step for WAT. Your conclusion must be very crisp to the point. Conclude the points mentioned by you and do not give a new direction to the WAT in this section.
Time Limit: In 15 minutes for the WAT, I always gave 3-4 minutes to understand the topic and jot down the points (Except in IIM-B, where I gave exclusively 10 minutes to jot down the points). I gave 2 minutes for the conclusion and last 45-60 seconds for the proofreading.
At IIM Kozhikode and MDI Gurgaon, the GD topic was similar to the WAT topic. Therefore, we had to start the discussion immediately after the WAT. However, at NITIE, panellists gave us 2 minutes to jot down our thoughts, while at FMS the time given for the same was a minute.
Here are 5 points to remember while in an IIM Group Discussion:
- Make sure you understand the topic well and jot down your ideas. You can start the group discussion and can give direction to the discussion.
- Stick to the topic. Do not deviate from the topic and make 3-4 entries.
- Do not repeat points similar to the ones already mentioned by you or the other members.
- Do not argue with the other members; remember it’s a group discussion, not an argument.
- Make the group discussion as productive as you can, as it will be beneficial for the entire group, and always conclude the discussion.
This is the most crucial part of the selection process, and it is the final hurdle between you and your dream B-School. Panellists not only test your knowledge but also judge your confidence, your attitude and your reactions to difficult questions.
For a better understanding of the entire process and to develop a better strategy for the interviews, I divided this process into the following four parts:
- Application Form/Statement of Purpose: Since few IIMs ask you to submit the Statement of Purpose (SOP) and all of them ask you to submit a personal data form in the second stage of the selection process. For the SOP you can mention your significant achievements, your career goals and how the Institute can help you in achieving these and other details.
In the Application form, you have to answer the questions given in the application form. Questions include topics ranging from your leadership roles to extracurricular achievements. I would say that they ask you everything in the application form. Therefore, you must know every word written in the application form - from the meaning of your name and about any famous personality with the same name to the places where you lived/living, about the states you lived/are living (You must know the Population of State/City, Governor and CM names), every aspect about your extracurricular achievements and hobbies/interests, and reason for poor academics (if applicable).
- General Awareness: Most of the IIMs ask you general knowledge questions. It can be the name of the Deputy Prime Minister or the name of the Vice President or the recent news. You must be aware of the Current Affairs and the latest technology disruptions. However, the preparation for this section can give you an advantage in the GD and WAT too.
To excel in this section, you have to read the newspaper regularly. Newspaper reading will not only help you improve your reading speed but will also improve your general knowledge. Do not merely read the newspaper. Form your opinions about various topics. You can also note down the important F&Fs and can also bookmark important news, or you can even make short notes about the topics you have read/are reading. You can use the F&Fs very effectively in GD and WAT.
- Work Experience/Tech Subjects: If you are a fresher then you must know 2-3 subjects from your undergraduate curriculum very well, and prepare your college and internship projects.
If you have work experience, then make sure you know everything about your profile - your roles and responsibilities and contributions to the company's operations and growth. For your contributions, always mention the significant achievements and their impact on the business. For example, you can include your Patent details and any new initiatives taken by you.
Also, you must know about your Business Environment, about your competitions and their products. You must know about your company CEO, Business Unit Heads, Vision and Mission Statements, your company’s Core Competence and Core Values, company’s Revenue or Sales Details and Profit and Loss.
If you are /were a part of a large organization like the Tata Group, Mahindra Group, and others, then you must know about your group like Revenues, Profit and Loss, Core Values, Vision and Mission Statements and more importantly about the any Major Acquisitions and Mergers, new Innovations or any controversy related to the company and the effect of that on the business, if any.
- HR Questions: The purpose of these questions is to know about yourself and in most of the interviews, the first question may be “Introduce yourself.” This question is like a sales pitch where you have to sell yourself to the interviews.
The 2nd most likely HR Question is “Why MBA.” From the mentioned reason why you want to do an MBA, try to relate the learning outcomes from the MBA to your short-term and long-term goals. Never mention financial growth or Job/Fields change opportunities due to an MBA. Make sure you prepare for at least these two questions.
The other HR Questions are around strengths and weaknesses, your most significant achievements, and biggest failures in life. These questions are generally not asked in interviews, but prepare everything; do not leave anything to luck.
For mock interviews, you can enrol for the T.I.M.E. or CL programs, and you must subscribe to Newscanvass or similar websites. Newscanvass is a paid newsletter that gives a complete analysis of daily news.
Shortlisted for an MBA interview? Here is an ultimate guide that can help you crack your B-school interviews!