One Place Where Almost Everyone Fails – Cracking IIM Interviews

Every year, over 2 lakh candidates write exams and nearly 20 thousand students get called for the coveted interviews, all hoping to be to capture one of the 4500 seats IIMs have to offer. Many give their best to bell the CAT but that’s only the beginning of the race. What follows is preparing for a crisply written Written Ability Test (WAT) and the challenging interview which every candidate needs to ace.

After appearing for CAT, I remember studying rigorously for interview stage way before the results were declared. I was neither confident about scoring a 99+ percentile nor getting shortlists for interviews. All I knew was that I did not want to be unprepared for the part of the process you can completely control! After having given several interviews over the course of admissions and then during summer placements preparation at college, I can confidently claim that one has complete control over his/her interview irrespective of who’s in the panel.

I got asked questions ranging from US cyber-attack on Iran to role-playing of GEM category student (Yes! that’s me) for a hypothetical MBA talent show. I had to draw a map of India marking cities I have lived into creating a revamped garbage collection system as a consultant for a given city. They questioned me about my education, my work life, my hobbies, relationships – they asked it all! Was I prepared for all of it? No. Was I confident when I answered? Absolutely YES!!!


So how do you prepare for interviews in five simple steps:

1. Introspect

Spend every single day post your CAT about yourself. Analyse your likes, dislikes, passion, hobbies, goals – the list goes on. Try to understand who you are as a person and what part of you would you like to sell to the interviewers. Anticipate what they can ask and prepare for them. This exercise would also help you when you start filling a mountain of the questionnaire asked by interviewing colleges.

2. Read. Assimilate. Repeat.

Start reading anything and everything. Focus on current affairs, economics, editorials but go beyond this to trends like Bitcoin, tax reforms, constitution, technology. Try reading up on everything relevant to the domain you belong to. I frequently got asked questions on cybersecurity, application of artificial intelligence in some domain etc.

3. Interviews are for selection, not rejection

Allow me to let you in on a secret – Interviews are for selection, not rejection. I did not say this but rather the professors from my college who are the panellist during an interview. A candidate needs to show that they are willing to learn, act like a sponge with new information and be precise. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” to any question.

4. Manners “cracketh” interviews

It’s true! Walk in with an air of confidence and make eye contacts at all times. Sit straight with both legs firmly on the ground. Practice your handshake, neither too weak nor too strong and definitely not the Trump way. Wish them when you enter, thank them at exit and prepare for counter questions. Use fewer words and match it with your hand movements. Be polite and try not to argue for “interviewer dewo Bhava!”

5. Stress interviews are a myth

There is no such thing as a stress interview. I have had interviews where 3 panel members machine-gunned questions at me and another who wanted to know courtside dimensions of Badminton court (I play the sport) but it never reached stress levels. I have had them mock me and go out of their way to disprove my answers. I listened to their questions, their retorts patiently and took my time to think and answer. Get your answers correct in every sense first, there are no prizes for the shortest interview!

I hope to see you all give it your best for your interviews and do give a buzz if you happen to come to my campus. Till then, tune on to my next article which will focus on cracking the WAT conundrum in 4 simple steps! Cheerio…

Ashish Thomas

Ashish Thomas is a first year student at IIM Kozhikode. A curious explorer by nature, high on energy, computer science engineer by education, a consultant by profession, a food aficionado and somewhere in between is my MBA… I would love to continue on but whose keeping tab.. :D! Let the Samosa Conspiracies begin!