If acing CAT is tough, getting into BLACKIS may seem tougher. I was just getting started with my final semester when I got my calls from these colleges. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Why? Quora. If you ever chance upon the answers to interview related questions there, I can guarantee the experiences shared there will haunt you. "Blood bath" and whatnot. Like any curious aspirant, I sifted through the answers, and none of the experiences seemed comfortable enough for me to gain some confidence. Every one of them wrote about how they were grilled by panellists and how stressful the interview was for some reasons. I who had no idea about an interview of an IIM seemed pretty convinced that I will not have a smooth ride through this journey. To make sure I didn't gain any confidence back, my practice interviews were worse. One of the interviewers even told me that I wouldn't be able to crack any interview as far as he could judge my ability to tackle pressure. Honestly, that did not break me, on the contrary, that one line boosted my will to work harder than ever. That will turn into confidence once I sat in the interviewee chair at some five-star hotels.
Before delving any deeper, I would like to present you with my background; it would help you to understand the context in a better way.
Name - Soutik Ray
Degree - BE in Mechanical Engineering(batch of 2020)
College - Jadavpur University, Kolkata
I received mails with mentors' contact details from C and L: this ensured me that it'd be a bloodbath since they're providing them to prepare me for their interview (thank you, quora?). I remember I used to text them at any time of the day, and they were very helpful in this matter. They helped me shape my answers in a better way. I started reading business dailies and news and revised my academics. But still, there was some void in my practice, which I realized pretty soon: "Introduce yourself", something I missed while I started working on my knowledge regarding a few things. This, as I realized, is the "make or break" question that I had to face. This was the question that allowed me to drive the conversation to my comfortable spot. If I fumbled here, I'd end up somewhere I might not want to. I believe one must know oneself while answering this question. I had been advised to not just repeat my CV, in fact not say anything from it at all. They already had that with them, right? What else could I add by just uttering it again? So, I prepared an answer that contained things about me, things that define me as a person and as a competent candidate. Then there was this question " Why MBA? " …….. And, instead of giving a generic answer like 'I aspire to be a manager in the coming two years, so I consider it to be imperative to acquire knowledge regarding the various verticals of a corporate', I compiled my aspirations, my qualities ( as much as I could by self-analysis) and the MBA programme and tried my best to link all these three.
IIM Lucknow Interview
Fast forward to February 6th, I called my L mentor and sat down for two hours and brushed up my answers. The effort this guy put in for me is commendable! (PS: Remember to contact your mentors because they can bridge the gap between the candidate and the unknown) He advised me to keep it simple, don't use complicated terms (otherwise they might hold you onto that till you break down), and be confident. Two days later, as I sat in front of two of the panellists, I was genuinely nervous. They started with.."So, Soutik how're you doing today", and I said, "I'm fine, excited, but nervous!", that was my ice-breaking moment. One of the panellists started talking about how the optimum level of anxiety could help me ace any exam; after that, the interview sailed so smoothly. It felt like two of my college alums were having a discussion with me about various things with few GK questions and questions about my final year project. It went for 25+ minutes. I came out with a big smile and a light heart. Verdict? Direct convert.
IIM Calcutta Interview
14/3/2020 –– most important interview I had ever sat on, never been more nervous. As I entered the room, I could hear my heartbeat! Quite unfortunately, they started asking about my dislikes regarding my hometown, my undergrad college (why????????); neither could I be blatantly honest or neither could I lie. Diplomacy seemed to be the way out. About my hometown, aka Kolkata, we discussed the situation with street vendors and how they cause a tricky issue for the Pedestrians and what could be done about them. Also, we talked about the giants in the shopping industries like various malls and the street vendors and their market compatibility in the current scenario. They gave me two algebraic problems to solve (basic but tricky), fortunately, I had a clear mind so I could solve both of them. Then they moved to my hobby and even asked me to sing post which we discussed a little about Rabindranath Tagore's music (Yesssss!!!!!). We also had discussions about the latest government initiatives. Verdict: Direct convert.
Few of the lessons that I learnt from these experiences are that,
1) It's important to stay updated regarding current news, in the political and business world.
2) The panellists don't expect the candidates to know everything. Still, smart enough to tackle such things, if one has no idea about the topic, it's better to admit it rather than answering with wrong information.
3) It's essential to maintain eye contact with them: shows confidence.
4) Stay confident about yourself even if you meet outstanding candidates before you give the interview; focus on what you bring to the table, rather than what you don't, and maybe they do.
5) You should keep in mind what you're saying, EVERY SINGLE WORD, one slip of the tongue and you use something you have a faint idea about, they'll catch that opportunity to grill you. So it's better to keep it simple and crisp.
6) Your answers to "introduce yourself" and "why MBA" must contain things that include facts about you as a person and as a deserving candidate.
7) Most importantly, composure is the most important thing for a candidate for the D-Day.
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