Unlike my last article, this will be more informative. Still, I shall try to keep this an engaging one. Happy reading!!
One word that a lot of you will come across very often at any B-school is MECE (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive) - factors that are mutually exclusive and cover the problem in entirety. Problem (here) for us being - Decoding the IIM selection process. So, I'll try to give this article as much of a MECE structure as possible.
I'll be analyzing this across three time periods: Pre-interview prep, what to do during the interviews and what to do once you are through the process.
Pre-Interview Preparation Strategy
Being the longest process, this will need discipline and sincerity.
Most of you are already aware of the three major processes through which IIM panels, or for that matter any MBA institute evaluates on - Group Discussions, Written Ability Tests and Personal Interviews (the litmus test for selection). Rather than the process, I shall be covering the elements involved - CV, current affairs, behavioural questions, situation-based problems, case-based problems, and abstract topics. As we go down the article, we shall be covering each of these elements and look at amongst which process they find relevance.
Having the knowledge of what is happening around you is one of the crucial elements the process is going to test you on. You will come across this in GDs, WATs and heavily in PIs for some institutes like IIM B, IIM C, IIM K and IIM S. With the interviews scheduled around May'20, it is highly recommended that you start reading the current affairs from now. Frequent newspaper readers might not need any extra reading but a great sense of articulating the thoughts. (Those not much aware of what is around you, it's time to put on your glasses and start flipping through the newspaper.) Current affairs would cover social issues, political issues, geopolitical issues, global scenarios like the current situation of the Indian economy, any new plans/initiative taken by GOI and this list is endless.
Having an idea about things that happened since the start of 2019 should suffice for this. Following is my recommended list of sources to prepare for current affairs:
Study IQ: Covers all the current topics and a detailed analysis of the editorial section of 'The Hindu' newspaper. Brief 15-20 minute videos that are highly involving and informative.
The Hindu: One of the very best sources to get clutter-free, clear and crisp news. Do go through the editorial section of this.
The Quint: This was one of the most reliable sources of info for me during my prep. Short 5 minute videos that will tell you about things happening around you. Details can be referred to in any of the above-mentioned sources.
Also, go through the previous year topics that were discussed/asked in the processes. Parallelly, you need to work on structuring your thoughts as well. Having a notebook to jot down the major bullet points will help give your answer a proper framework.
Useful for GDs- especially for processes like IIM Shillong, these types of cases have a more structured and analytical thought process involved. You will be posed with a problem statement to find recommendations that aim to test your logical reasoning, confidence, and convincing skills. The structure mentioned above follows a step by step approach:
Step1: Situational analysis
Step 2: Problem definition
Step 3: Statement of objectives
Step 4: Evaluation of alternatives
Step 5: Recommendation
Step 6: Plan B, if any
Group Discussion also have abstract topics. Abstract topics look to test your wits and creative thinking. You can have a great GD with less number of entries and more impactful points. IIM L, IIM B, IIM C, and many others give abstract topics to write on and coming up with fresh new ideas will earn you bonus points for the same.
This shall cover most of your GD/WAT and PI prep on the content front but there are few things specific to PIs.
Whether you are an experienced professional or a fresh out of college graduate, this piece of paper will eventually drive your PI. Ensure that anything and everything you write in your CV, know the details of it. For a fresher, interviewers focus more on academic projects and your extracurriculars. Professionals can expect more from work experience, initiatives taken or PORs. From the past interview experiences; academics, projects, favourite subjects, extracurriculars, PORs, academic achievements are some of the favourite topics interviewers like to grill on.
In case you have ever given an interview, you probably must have come across this question an infinite number of times- 'Tell me about yourself'.
Sounds simple. Right?
Honestly, this is the point where the interviewer gives you the choice to drive the interview because, after this, an IIM professor interviewing you would give you none. This is where you leave your mark.
Tell things that define you and share your experiences; your major achievements backed by impactful stories in a structured manner.
I have interviewed my peers for mocks and always recommend them to leave hooks for the interviewer to hold on to and ask you questions.
Prepare questions like 'Why do you want to MBA?', 'Walk me through your experience at your undergrad college/work', 'What are your interests/hobbies?'.
In any answer, I look for a personal story and what has the candidate learned from it.
The answer should be structured and a simple framework that you can follow for this is the STARK (We did it Mr. Stark!! :P) framework.
Define the situation/challenge with the task that you had to do. Mention the objectives and the way you approached the challenges to attain the objective. Results may deviate from the projected outcome but this will have learning for you. Do not forget to mention it and how you can implement that learning in other avenues.
Wwhoo!!! Enough said. My fingers now need to rest.
But before I go, all said and done, one last tip- the key to cracking any of these processes, CONFIDENCE, gives all of this a frame to implement. Practising shadow answers and mock PIs/GDs/WATs should get you going on this.
In the next part of this article, I shall be discussing the key aspects you should keep in mind while in a GD or an interview room. Till then, all the very best and keep rocking!!
You may like to go through another article that I had written:
PS: I would appreciate your feedback on this. Please leave your feedback in the comments below.