Interview Experience & Preparation Strategy | Rituparna Das, IIM Lucknow

The journey of getting into an IIM is not very different from a hurdling event. It is not a one-shot-all event. And hence requires consistent persistence till you clear all the hurdles. Congratulations, to all those who have completed the first hurdle and have received interview calls.

Now, most candidates are looking at the next challenge, which is WAT/GD/PI. With the interview dates nearing, the cortisol levels seem to be skyrocketing. To keep the nervousness in check and prep better, here are a few tips-

  • Know yourself well

Gone are those days when interviewers would start the interview with the clichéd, “Tell me about yourself?”. But that doesn’t mean interviewers today aren’t interested to know about you. It’s just that the way of asking has become more subtle. Knowing your background and every little detail you mention in the forms/SOP is very crucial. More often than not, the questions are made based on that and not being able to answer them can turn the entire process against you.

Be it your undergrad major, your hobbies or your work, you better know as much as you can about them.

  • Current affairs

Knowing every major event that has taken place across the time fabric of history isn’t important. But knowing the major happenings around the world always helps. Like the sliding Rupee, US trade war, RBI autonomy, cashless economy, bank frauds. Also, make sure to be in touch with any important news that happens during the time of your interview. Do not forget to read the major headlines on the day of your interview. I remember having been asked questions on the Nirav Modi case which happened on the day of one of my interviews.

  • For any other curveball questions

There are always going to be situations which are orchestrated on purpose to make you uncomfortable and stressful. There are times when you are clueless about something, it often happens that we still make an attempt to answer it even though we are not confident about it. Remember, that it is absolutely fine to not know a few things. And the best thing would be to tell that straight.

IIM Lucknow Interview Experience

(Was the last but one candidate to enter)

P1: Hello, how are you doing? A long day isn’t it?

C: I am doing good, Ma’am. Yes a long day indeed, but that’s fine.

P2 : (Directly jumping into the business) So I see you have worked in Visa? So can you explain how does Visa make money?

C: Simply put, Visa makes a small amount of money each time a card is swiped. Visa processes (authorizes and settles) the transaction between the banks (the retailer’s bank and cardholder’s bank) and thus charge a pre-determined “interchange” fee on the transaction.

P2: How do you think the payments banks, UPI, GooglePay will affect Visa?

With UPI interface and GooglePay, it does get difficult for Visa as more people will definitely choose these modes of payment. ( Told them about how it’s APIs at the backend with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are the products that Visa is starting to focus more on). Also, there is blockchain that can be integrated for a faster and more secure payment channel. Visa is already filing a patent for the same. Plus, the major revenue for card companies is due to the cross-border transactions which involve a currency conversion. And I don’t see any reason for that to decline in the near future.

(This was followed by a few questions on Demonetization and its pros and cons. They countered me on certain points but I mostly stuck to my grounds).

P2: Asked about the risk and cybersecurity at payment networks. A few things about DSS PCI ( Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Told them the basics, did not know a lot about it.

(Explained them the model and the different technologies used).

P1 : (Pointing at a bottle of packaged drinking water) How many molecules of water are there in that bottle?

C: Well, the question caught me off guard as it was unrelated. I took some time to think and went on to explain the mole concept. One mole of water has a mass of 18 grams and hence Avogadro no. of molecules. Also, a volume of 18 mL (as the density of water is 1 g per cm3). So, depending on the volume of water in the bottle, we can calculate the number of molecules.

P1: So, you mentioned poetry as one of your hobbies. Do you write as a hobby or have published anywhere?

C: Mostly as a hobby.

P1: Can you recite one?

C: I don’t remember any. However, I can write one if you want me to. (I deliberately asked them this, as I had already expected a question on similar line).

They went on to give me a topic to write on. I wrote down a piece and they read it, nodded and smiled. They wished me luck as I left the room.

Bottom line, try to be confident.

It’s okay not to know everything in an interview. Keeping the calm is what generally helps you sail through.

All the best!

This article was originally written by Rituparna Das: 


Rituparna is currently in her first year of MBA at IIM Lucknow. She graduated from NIT Warangal, majoring in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. She had worked as a software developer in Visa thereafter. She loves to play with the 26 letters and acrylic. She has a creative bend of mind and loves to discover new places. She has shown her mettle and perseverance by bagging an internship at one of the top consulting firms, A.T. Kearney

Pratik Ranjan

Pratik is an MBA candidate at IIM Lucknow. He is an ardent aspiring marketing strategist. His passion for marketing multiplied multifold post his internship with Unilever, where he was conferred with a PPO. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug & seized by afflatus to read, write & explore, this twenty-something believes in the power of dreaming with his eyes open. He is a columnist in various newsletters and is up for any discussion that involves the nuances of marketing and strategy. P.S: He's charged by the fuel of caffeine.