With the CAT 2018 result out of the way there would be anxiety, happiness and disappointment alike. A lot of you would be weighing your options and planning whether to attend the process at an institute or not. A word of advice right at the start: Go for it! You are not really in a position to take a decision whether you would be joining an institute or not and so, it doesn’t really make much sense to worry about it right now. It goes similar to the old saw: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Best case, you can reject the institute, worst case, you get another area to work on in the coming season.
To start with, the first thing that you need to do is remove all negativity (on in some case, overconfidence) from your mind and focus solely on the process. In most of the top institutes, your written score has very little bearing on the final outcome and and score can be compensated by a superlative GD-PI-WAT performance. So, irrespective of where you lie in the call getters list, prepare aggressively for the process. It would definitely help you once you are inside a bschool as well, during your summer placements.
Start with a CV
Interviews can broadly be classified into personal/HR based and technical/content based. From an MBA entrance point of view, it will be more of HR and very less of technical. So, for starters, you need to understand yourself well. I generally recommend students to write a CV with the following heads:
1. Personal details (name, age, native place, residential place, family background, languages known, anything unique you share with some famous personality and so on)
2. Academic record (marks in your board exams, graduation scores, post graduation scores, standing in your class/university)
3. Co curricular activities/Academic achievements (something significant you achieved related to your academic curriculum, some relevant certification, position in some regional/national level test)
4. Internships/Work experience/Projects (why you chose something, how did you plan to do it, what was your role in the team, what were your recommendations and what was the impact of your suggestions)
5. Extra curricular activities (positions of responsibility, competitions won/participated, some certificate pertaining to an interest)
6. Hobbies and interests (whatever you like to do in your leisure time; don’t shy away from mentioning TV series/movies/some obscure fun thing you like to do. The common hobbies like reading, cricket, football are probably more dangerous than the ones I have mentioned above)
You should ideally be thorough with some 3 lines of questioning for each topic on your CV. For example: say you want to start a business at some point in time and you mention that in your CV, you should be able to talk about how the business came into existence, why a particular product/service, how did you fund it, if it was visualized as local or global and so on. The second line would be the present status of your business if you have it functional already: are you making a profit, what are the cost and revenue drivers, who are your competitors, market share, consumer insights and trends and so on. The third line would be regarding the future of your business be it in immediate terms: what happens once you go to a bschool, opportunity cost, short term growth plans, etc. and in the long term: how do you scale it up, how do you intend to fund it, future trends that you predict would pick up and so on. Do this for almost every point on your CV and you won’t be taken by surprise during an interview. A lot of people get stressed because a relevant question was not visualized before the interview and so, there is no ‘prepared’ answer to the question.
Once you have articulated answers to these questions, you can probably work on the delivery. That is where you mock interview/s come into the picture. Body language, leading the interviewer, maintaining your tone, non-verbal communication/cues would be easier to fix once your answers are ready.
Also, make sure that you have a list of some 5-10 things that you want to be discussed in your interview. You can form the answers to the commonly asked HR questions around these events. And make your answers as personal as is possible. The more the amount of time you spend talking about yourself and your achievements during the interview, the better are your chances of converting that call. For example: A common question that is asked is why a particular b-school is your choice? The common answers are: awesome faculty, good mix of peers, state of the art infrastructure, nice ROI (heavily misused term *shrug*), noted alumni and so on. However, these are areas that the interviewers would know more about than you. So, it effectively becomes a cat and mouse game with you being on the back foot. However, if you talk more about what research you have done, the students that you have spoken to and the profiles offered and how it gels well with your overall profile, the next question would pertain to that instead of a battle of knowledge.
Note down the important issues
From the content point of view, if you lack an opinion on events (which means that you lack knowledge regarding events), you will most probably be a spectator during the GD or will write an extremely bland essay. Make sure that you have written down the major topics that happened over the last one year (or two if you have that amount of enthusiasm) and have an understanding about the topic. You are expected to be much better than a lay person and so, if someone asks you as to what you think about the demonetization drive that was carried out by the government, you cannot talk entirely in subjective terms. You need to give facts and figures as to what the intended impact was, what were the schools of thought, and what was the outcome of the entire thing. The better equipped you are in terms of statistics and structure, the higher are your chances of converting the said call.
Finally, you need to sit for GDs and Interviews and test yourself. Get in the company of someone who is good at reading you as a person and has knowledge about a lot of issues and get interviewed. It is always better to have an external perspective when it comes to these rounds. There might be certain minor faults, mannerisms, blips that you might now be aware of that would probably get noticed during the interview.
All the best to all our readers for their processes. Do let us know if you found it useful. It’s always nice to hear from aspirants.
Also, we have launched our GD-PI-WAT course for 2018. Do check it out once here: GD PI WAT Online Course by Learningroots
It covers everything that I have mentioned above in detail and should be a good companion during your processes.