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Presence of Mind - A Necessity During the Personal Interviews of B-Schools and in Jobs/Businesses

Ashish Chowdhary | Wednesday 7 November 2012 ( 0 Comment)

What if you're asked a question and you don't have an answer to it, but you know that the answer to the question would decide your future? Probably you'll give a bizarre expression, think a lot and finally give up, bluff or straightaway say "I don't know". When you know that answering a question is critical, the only thing that can save you is the way you tackle the question. There are many qualities that a B-school looks for in a candidate. Among all, perhaps, the most important quality is presence of mind. 

Simply stated, presence of mind is the ability to think quickly, act wisely and solve the problems using the available resources. But why is so much stress laid on presence of mind during personal interviews after B-School exams such at CAT? 

Why is presence of mind so important during the personal interviews and in jobs or businesses

IIMs want students who don't just think out-of-the-box but also act outside the box. Presence of mind can really save you when you're in unforeseen trouble, when you want to impress someone, when you want to make the ambiance lighter, when you want to do something spontaneously, etc. The mind may wander here and there and hence it's necessary for mind to be alert and present. Here's a nice anecdote:

"A person I know in Bengaluru had a habit of reaching late to his college everyday. A few days passed, a few weeks passed, a few months passed - everyday he would come late to the class and would produce new reasons. One day he was late by almost an hour to the class. He asked the cab (rickshaw) driver to directly take the rickshaw inside the college premises. As soon as he got down, the Dean of the college was waiting for him. The Dean was very furious on him as today he was able to catch him red-handed. 

But before he could vent out his anger, my friend said, "Sir 500 ka change he, rickshaw wale ko dene he? (Sir, do you have change of 500 Rs., need to give to the cab driver) The Dean burst out laughing and all his anger drained down." My friend's presence of mind saved him from scolding.

Intelligence is useless if it's not backed by presence of mind. No wonder why presence of mind is a necessity during personal interviews of B-schools and in the life thereafter. 

How to Increase Presence of Mind

"The only thing that grows with human's age is human's mind." 

Having said this, how do you enhance your presence of mind? While there is no sure-shot method of increasing presence of mind, here are a few things that one can do to increase presence of mind and increase the chances of getting selected during personal interviews for b-school admissions or jobs:

  • Read a lot - comics, funny quotes and anecdotes
  • Solve a lot of puzzles - Doesn't matter whether or not you are appearing for any exam or job, presence of mind is required at all ages. Here is one link to get daily puzzles.
  • Make your mind stable through meditation or concentration
  • Take part in discussions on various topics
  • Play a lot of games

Here's a few presence of mind questions that got some people a coveted position in respected institutions (try yourself before scrolling down for the answers):

1) How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?

A. Concrete floors are very hard to crack! (UPSC Topper)

2) If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?

A. No time at all it is already built. (UPSC 23rd Rank opted for IFS)

[This could have been considered as Work and Time problem as well which is tested at the CAT]

3) If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?

A. It will be Wet or Sink as simple as that. (UPSC IAS Rank 2)

4) What looks like half apple ?

A: The other half. (UPSC - IAS Topper )

5) Bay of Bengal is in which state?

A: Liquid (UPSC 33 Rank)

Do share if you have more "Presence of Mind" questions.

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