Interview and Group Discussion – Introduction – Final Frontier with Deepali Naair 2012 (Text Transcript)

1)      Why is an interview so important? Why do business schools across the world use it as a means to select candidates for their course?

Let’s understand from their perspective. they are hiring future managers, they are hiring future CEOs, they are hiring future CXOs . What you need to do as future managers, CEOs, CXOs, you need to engage in a lot of dialogue within  the corporate organisations , you need to engage in a lot of dialogue even if you are an entrepreneur and they want to know your ability to dialogue. They know you by your form, they know you by your academic scores, they know you by your profile that you have put down before them but they don’t know you from your ability of communication. That is what they want to judge. Its not just a simple ability of saying what you prepare, its the ability to be able to react to a situation, to be able to react to the cross questioning that they put across you, its the ability that you demonstrate that whether you can do consensus building in organisations in the future and its the ability somewhere of your maturity that you demonstrate during an interview. So they make you react to situations, ask you questions to figure out also the consistency with the essays that you have put down. If you have said that you are an X kind of person and by making you react to a situation they actually judge whether you are that kind of a person or not. So your maturity, ability to dialogue, your ability to be consistent is all judged during an interview.


2)      In all these years of interviewing candidates at business schools and for jobs, which according to you are the common mistakes that candidates make in an interview?

So candidates make strange mistakes. One, they are not even prepared on the Institutes that they have come to interview for. They don’t know anything about the professors, they don’t know anything about the courses that are taught, they have not bothered to find out about the —–. This is one basic simple mistake that all of them make. The second mistake that they make is they look surprised on being asked basic questions, simple questions. How can they look surprised at the basic questions about your life, your personality, about your academic scores and your academic subjects. You cant be surprised. The third mistake they make and I think this is the one that one must completely tackle is no practise at all. Just walk in, they just walk in without say for example practising in front of the mirror. I mean that basic old technique that the orators used long ago, you know, to become better of practising in front of the mirror, try to see what are the answers to some of the simple things like current affair questions, or tell me something about yourself, or your  strengths, or your weaknesses, things that you can read on the web and you know that these questions come, how can you be not prepared, and not have practised these things. And therefore the fourth mistake that ends up happening is that you come out and there are high signs that you think, Oh, that incident could have been better managed or that answer could have been given in a better way. But you have lost the chance. And I think that’s a regret that everybody lives therefore you know in your 1st 2nd and 3rd interview and you know those are the chances that you get. You don’t get too many chances again. So lack of preparation to me is one of the most basic mistake that all candidates make. Let me give you 2 examples. So, there was a student who  walked in and we asked that student why are you more interested in marketing? And that student said because am not good with numbers and am good with people. This is not the kind of answer that is expected out of you when you go for a B-school interview. An answer that is more thought out, more logical, is linked to your career goal is more expected here, which you would have anyways thought about but at the spur of the moment due to lack of preparation you have not come up with the right answer that clearly resides inside you. Let me give you another example. So you asked a student the games he is interested into, the hobbies that the person has and this person gives you an answer and says tennis. And you know we have a passionate discussion about styles of  —and Roger Federer  and you know about various other players and very good answers come out of that person and you suddenly ask that person the length and breadth of the court or the height of the net and the facilities that are available in his city for tennis, and there are no answers to that. You know sometimes you end up making so basic mistakes which just could have enhanced your interview dramatically had you done little more preparations around those things. So there you are!!


3)      How does a group discussion help the selection panel in assessing whether a candidate is fit for the admission or even for a job?


So group discussion is normally an additional selection process that B-schools use apart from your essays, your profile, your academic scores. During a group discussion a panel is able to form an overall impression about you in the 20-30mins of discussion that you do amongst your age group people. This overall impression is the function of couple of things. One, the intrinsic knowledge that you have about the subject, or even if you don’t have too much knowledge about the subject, are you able to think in a structured manner, are you able to think in a logical manner. This ability comes through in a group discussion. Third is, your maturity comes through. Your maturity in being able to manage with your age group in terms of bringing in their thoughts into the discussion, in terms of building consensus, in terms of being able to communicate with them, in terms of also using the right vocabulary, right language, timing of discussion. The group discussion today can be the mirror for example in a board room in a corporate environment. So why not? Therefore group discussions are an opportunity for you and for the selection panel to know about your knowledge, your communication skills, your maturity, your ability to consensus building, your ability to build structured, logical thinking.


I am not good at current affairs. How can I make up for it in the next 2-3 months before my interview?

So in my experience it is clearly a main fault —-. I have not found more than 5% students in my last 20 years who are well read, well prepared. So, you cant compete with those 5% But you can compete with those 95% when it comes to preparation. Can it be done? Yes it can be done. It requires a lot of  hard work  in 2-3 months that  you have. Also it requires some one who can guide you through immense stuff that is available you know thanks to google. So what are the quality content that you can read on, thats number one. Second is that you can not prepare on all the topics. You have to choose. So you also need help to choose which are the most likely topic that you want to prepare on. For example when you come to us, we have a technique where we tell you how to read, how to prepare and which are the most likely topic you need to prepare and also customise your profile that you need to prepare on. There are of course inputs that we provide you in terms of very good content and sources that we believe will give you an edge in terms of the time that you have to prepare. Because you do have  a short time. So in short a lot of hard work, you need some one who can guide you through quality content and you also require some one to help you prepare which are the most likely topics that you need to prepare on. And if you have a long term view, say next year, start from today.


How will signing up for this course help me?

The course that we have developed for you to join is actually an investment. Its not just an investment for you to entry into the B-school, its investment for life. Let me explain, the structure, the process that we developed first of all, helps you identify who you are. Not just another engineer, not just another chartered accountant, not just some BMS student, or some other BCOM student. It identifies you as a person, as a personality, as a person with goals. And therefore, we invest time and effort in getting developed a completely customised interview strategy, for you. And once that strategy is developed we also coach you in ensuring that you are able to execute that strategy during the interview. Because, both are very important. One, you need to have personal strategy which is not common to others and second you need to execute. And this process of ‘manthan’, of getting to know you, of introspection is helped by faculty like me, who for example has 2 decades of experience in doing this. So you are dealing with people and faculty here who are experts on what they have done over the last 20 years. They have invested in developing questions, a set of essays which you answer, which do not have standardised answers. They have answers like your family background, given your experience keeping your profile in mind. And those are then utilised in making answers for your sake which you will execute during an interview. It’s almost like giving birth to a new brand. In discovering things that you didn’t know about yourself. And then what happens, you crack a B-school interview and most of my students come and tell me that the same process, the same set of essays in fact have helped them crack their summer placement interviews and their final interview. That is why you see such brilliant testimonials written on the site and they forever stay in touch. Because its not a process which is short term for a X B-school interview. It will prepare you for life in terms of knowing yourself better and then getting that best foot forward for the purpose of any interaction, any important meeting, any interview.


What is your conversion rate? Can you give me a guarantee that i will convert my call?

No, we can’t give you guarantee. And that’s because admission in a B-school is a function of not just your group discussion your interview performance, its a function of your past profiles, of your written score and whole — of other factors. But yes, this course definitely enhances your ability in group discussion, interview compared to your competitors. Well, if you want to look at our records, we definitely have a 95%+ record. And more than 90% of our students have converted on either their best or 2nd best call. And which is why I tend to get their siblings, I tend to get many references. In fact till last year, we were not on the web, therefore i continued doing this only on account of reference that I used to get from the past students. And the kind of testimonials that you read on the website is the testimony of the kind of hard work we put in to your future. Having said that, its not just investment of money , I am also asking for a commitment of a lot of hard work from you. You have to commit that when you join in, if you have only 8-10weeks for actual interview, you will have to give your 150% because if we are putting 150% then I think developing that customised product for you requires a lot of hard work from your side. And this is an investment for your future not just an entry into B-school. So remember that.