The next stage after the written or Computer-based tests is the one in which candidates are called for Group Discussions/ Essay Writing and a Personal Interview. In fact, almost every institute uses Interviews to assess the suitability of the candidate. In this article, we shall examine some aspects of the Personal Interview as used by Business Schools and how candidates can prepare for this.
Topics/ Questions asked in Interviews
There are some questions/ topics that you should be ready for. These include:
• Being asked to Introduce yourself
• Questions pertaining to Academics (especially for candidates who are currently in their final year or who have just recently completed their Graduation)
• Questions pertaining to your Work Experience (for those candidates who are currently working)
• Questions based on Current Affairs and Business Awareness, to assess whether a candidate is aware of and can speak of broader issues of national or international importance
• General questions such as why you wish to do an MBA, your future career plans etc
• Your Hobbies & Interests
• Your Strenghts and Weaknesses
1. In your Introduction, try and ensure that you go do more than just mentioning some mundane details about yourself. Details pertaining to your schooling, college etc may already be available with the panel members since you are generallTry and make your Introduction interesting-by highlighting your unique qualities, interests, aims etc.
It is important to highlight some interesting about yourself and also your achievements in your Introduction-this could impress the evaluators and go a long way in ensuring your success.
I strongly suggest that you write down some major points about yourself that you wish to mention in your Introduction-you don’t have to repeat this verbatim but this will ensure that you don’t miss out anything. It may also aid in a smooth delivery of your Introduction on the actual Interview day.
2. For Academics, the candidate is advised to revise the fundamentals/ basics of the subjects that he/ she has studied during his/ her graduation. Application-based questions could also be asked. For example, engineers with an Electronics & Communication background could be asked about the differences between GSM and CDMA technology. Electrical Engineers could be asked questions about AC and DC current, voltage etc
Quite often, candidates are asked to specify their favourite subjects and are asked questions on these. So think about which subjects you are ready to answer questions on!
3. For candidates with Work Experience, you can expect some questions pertaining to the company in which you work and your role. You may also be asked about your firm’s major competitors, the industry in which your company operates etc. Plus, be prepared for questions on major recent developments in the industry-such as large M&A deals etc.
I strongly suggest that you read a newspaper every day. This will go a long way in helping you answer questions pertaining to GK and Business Awareness (besides helping you in the GD/ Essay Writing round as well).
4. For questions on your Career Goals, Strenghts & Weaknesses, Hobbies etc-ensure that you do some introspection and above all, be honest! Do not invent some hobby or strength just to impress the interviewer.
Remember also that if you mention a particular strength, you may be asked to justify it by providing an example of when you actually demonstrated that particular strength.
5. I suggest you read a little about the MBA course before the Interview. If asked a question such as “Why MBA?”, you could speak about the subjects that you are interested in or how the methodology used for teaching the course interests you-the use of Case Studies, ‘live projects’ with companies, the summer placement experience, interactions with people working in the corporate sector through guest lectures etc.
6. Finally, it is a good strategy to practice for the actual Interview by undergoing a couple of mock Interviews and seeking feedback. You will find that practice helps you hone your answers and provides you indicators on which areas you need to prepare better.
More interview tips and a detailed discussion on the questions asked and model answers are mentioned in my book ‘An Introduction to CAT-Tips from an IIM Alumnus'; available from An Introduction to the CAT: Tips From An IIM Alumnus, 3/e by Sidharth Balakrishna
- SIDHARTH BALAKRISHNA
About the Author
Sidharth Balakrishna is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been employed with the world's top Marketing, Management Consultancy and energy firms. Besides his regular Corporate job, he has written a number of books and articles for various reputed publications, is a Faculty with top Business Schools and has held seminars across the country.
Sidharth is also a Career Counselling Expert and a member of the Interview Panel to select MBA students at various MBA institutes.