IIM Ahmedabad Interview Experience And Preparation Tips By An IIM A Student

An interview for a seat in one of the best B-schools in the country which have produced some of our greatest business and economic leaders – it is bound to induce some amount of nervousness and anxiety. It’s completely natural and totally unnecessary. An interview, in its most basic form, is a conversation and not an interrogation; and everyone, especially the interviewer, likes to have a good, healthy conversation. What that requires on the interviewee’s part is the confidence to sustain one, and the twin sources of confidence going into an interview are: 1. Surety of one’s knowledge and preparation and 2. Practice – the feeling that you’ve been there and had those very conversations before. For both of these, an aspirant is not generally short on resources. Therefore, if you are willing to give it time and apply yourself, there is nothing standing in your path.

I will first talk about what topics I covered for my preparation, and then give a brief overview of my interview – about how it fit right into the preparation process. Now there’s a necessary disclaimer here: the fact that this worked for me in no way means that it will work for everybody. This is just a generalised framework which I believed covered most of the topics that could come up in an interview; everyone can have his or her own structure. That said, let us have a look.

  1. Know About Yourself

This bit is the most important. If you fumble on a question such as describe yourself, which is by far the most common question in these interviews, then it gives a very strong negative impression. A couple of days of intermittent introspection should be enough to ace this bit otherwise. Broadly, two things need to be covered here: 1. Who are you? (Achievements, strengths, weaknesses, leadership and group experiences, interests, hobbies, why should we take you, what differentiates you etc.); and 2. Why are you here? (Future plans – 5/10 years down the line, how does PGP fit into them, for freshers – why MBA now etc).

  1. Know About The World

Iran-Turkey relations have never decided an interview. Even though general knowledge is an essential part of your preparation, you are not expected to know everything. However, a basic understanding of the polity, history and economy of your immediate surroundings, state and country is essential. You should also focus on things immediately attributable to you, such as your interests and hobbies, the city you live in, the school you went to, major landmarks near you etc. GK about your undergraduate specialisations should be covered. Other than this, coverage of current happenings and some essential static GK (amply provided in coaching institutes’ handbooks) should hold you in good stead.

  1. Know Your Subjects

This one’s pretty straightforward. Deep dive into a couple of favourite subjects; know the essentials of the rest. This should ideally be an important criterion in evaluating you, and would almost certainly come up in some form or the other.

  1. Know What And Whom You’re Interviewing For

You should not be found wanting on the basic aspects of the course you will be doing or the institution you are interviewing for. Visiting the institute’s website and Wikipedia page should suffice in most cases.

And Then…

Have Some Practice Interviews

Nothing prepares you for interviews like practice. As you get more feedback, you will understand a lot more about your delivery and shortcomings in terms of presentation and knowledge. Specifically, this will help iron out any issues with the body language and the tone used during the interview. For some people, there will be other b-school interviews lined up as well, but some practice interviews are still advisable since in the former there is no constructive feedback.

My Experience

There were two (now I know: excellent) professors in my panel. My interview started with a simple “So Aditya, tell us why we should select you?” From my oft-rehearsed monologue, they moved onto Angel investing (I’d mentioned an internship at an Angel fund), and asked me why they were called angels and my responsibilities there. Since I had some strategy analysis in my JD, they moved on to subjects: Strategy and Micro-economics (one interviewer was an Economics professor and asked about consumer surplus). Then we moved on to the distinction between Delhi and New Delhi, upon which we debated for a bit since I didn’t know completely (Careless, I know). The last leg of the interview was about my hobbies. They focused on cricket and cooking. Under the former, I was asked about the cricket matches going on then. Cooking went on for a bit longer. On being asked, I told them I could cook pasta well. I was immediately asked about the shapes (I couldn’t remember Fusili). In retrospect, I think the final question was primarily asked to have fun. However, at that point in time, in the room, it was highly unnerving: “Why do you sauté the garlic before tomatoes while making the pasta sauce?” I didn’t know the science, so I told them sautéing the garlic released its flavours, and putting tomato in first would make the garlic soggy but they seemed highly dissatisfied and continued to probe unsuccessfully for a minute or so. After this struggle, I was asked to leave and given a candy as a parting gift. Even though at that time I was unsure about my performance, my preparation had ensured that I had something meaningful to say for every question thrown my way, barring the last one. I still don’t know the science behind putting garlic before tomatoes.

In Conclusion

In the end, it’s the performance on the final day that counts. I’d suggest lots of sleep and relaxation right before it. I know people who did not prepare at all and made it by being calm and confident in the interview. I also know people with very good percentiles who skipped their MDI and Kozhikode interviews to prepare for Ahmedabad but didn’t make it. The lesson here is that it’s important to know things, and it is equally important to ensure that you can convey things convincingly. To conclude, I’d say: don’t worry, create and follow a structure for the preparation, practice, and give it your best, because you only have one shot at it.




About the Author:

Aditya Khanna for InsideIIM

Aditya Khanna is a BMS graduate from SSCBS, University of Delhi, and is currently pursuing PGP at IIM Ahmedabad. A keen reader and writer, he is a huge Conan Doyle, JD Salinger and Allan Poe fan. He also loves the game of cricket and the art of cooking.