MBA calling: How to prepare for the personal interview

Though there is no dearth of articles on interview etiquette, there is an actual shortage of good articles on the most crucial factor in an interview — the interviewer’s questions and your answers. Many problems candidates have include nervousness and stammering in an interview, which is directly related to the candidate’s unfamiliarity with the questions and a general lack of preparation.

experts present for the readers of a few of the most commonly asked interview questions. There are no ready-made answers to the questions, instead, the attempt is to try to help you arrive at the correct answer yourself, so that you sound natural and coherent in an interview. Ultimately, an interview is a mirror to see your inner self and a subjective, specific and honest presentation is the key to success.

Q. Tell me some thing about yourself.
This is how most interviews begin and this is one question you cannot afford to be unprepared for.

To frame a good answer it is always helpful to know what is it that the interviewer wants to know about you. An interviewer would like to know.

~ Your educational background
~ Your work experience, if any
~ Your strengths and achievements
~ About your family background
~ About where you are coming from academically, professionally

You should be short and crisp about all the points mentioned above. If the interviewer needs an elaboration s/he will ask you.
Q. Why do you want to join this institute?
This is one question you should answer honestly and pragmatically. Ideally you should choose an institute based on certain criteria. Such as

~ Ranking/ placements
~ Courses offered
~ Fee
~ Location

It is good to do a little research on the institute, its placements and about certain specialisation(s) it may be known for. An informed analysis of the institute can convince the interviewer that you are sincerely interested. It also helps you in identifying parameters critical for you while choosing the particular institute.

Q. Which other institutes have you applied to?
This is a question that is very much linked to the previous question. For example, if you say that you had chosen IRMA because you have a flair for Rural Marketing and while answering this question you don’t mention the name of other institutes known to offer quality course in Rural Marketing you are in trouble. So these two questions are to be prepared simultaneously avoiding conflicts in answers.

Q. How will you add value to this institute if you make it through?
This is an opportunity to showcase your strengths but remember it is essential that your strengths should be supported by related achievements.

Your background and circumstances can also be your strengths and can be used as equally important points in supporting your answer.

Remember, an achievement doesn’t necessarily mean a prize. It can also be your successfully coming out of a crisis situation or you managing to run a small project with your friends.

Q. What do you consider your biggest failure?
CAUTION: This is not an opportunity to pour out your darkest secrets. This is a question that is best played down. For example, if you are overweight, you may mention — “I have been trying to shed weight for the last few years but couldn’t do it still.” The answer should be framed so that it does not reflect badly on your career thus far, or your future career.

Another way of answering would be a smart statement: “I have never allowed failure to drag me down. I just got up, took my lesson and picked my way forward.” Here it would help to have a certain experience picked out.

Q. Why have you chosen this career?
This is an area where a mature and realistic answer is expected. People choose their career based on several reasons, such as:

~ What is your aptitude?
~ What kind of a social, professional and personal environment do you desire?
~ What is your background and achievements?
~ What motivates you?
~ What activities do you enjoy?

Q. What is the last book you read?
Many experts would tell you that you should know the ins and out of the books and everything about the author and his writing style. If you know these facts, it can’t hurt, but if you are not the kind of a person who would research the background and other facts about books, but read for fun, it is okay to mention it. The only thing is that your answer should be natural, convincing and rational.
Group discussions: Myths demystified
Now that all the major MBA entrance exams’ (especially CAT) results are out, the next step in securing an admission in the best of the B-schools in India is crucial. Nobody can deny the importance of group discussions and personal interviews in the overall admission process for MBA. That is why experts from have provided some useful inputs on the intricacies of GD and PIs exclusively for readers .

We understand that GDs are a nightmare for most of the MBA aspirants. There is a lot of hype and hoopla surrounding the GD process. One of the most often asked questions about GD is about the format.

“Why do we have 10-12 persons in a GD and why the time cap? What are the parameters on which one’s performance in a GD is evaluated?”

This is one crucial question that hangs in the mind of every MBA aspirant.

So, first, let us try and understand the purpose served by a GD. It is an unfortunate but true fact that GDs conducted for admission to most of the B-schools in India serve more as is a rejection tool then a selection procedure. It is a tool for mass elimination of candidates. However, the elimination is based on certain ground rules. Your performance in a GD is evaluated on the following criteria:

~ Integration of knowledge: It is about how well you integrate your knowledge into the topic with the flow of the discussion.
~ Reasoning skills: It is about how well you put forward your arguments in a logical fashion.
~ Communication skills: It is about how well you articulate you ideas in the discussion.
~ Interpersonal skills: This evaluates your social skill and your presence in the GD.
~ Group Behavior Assessment: This is about the kind of role you played in the GD and how you influenced the dynamics of the GD.

Now that you have a better idea about how a GD is evaluated, let us put some of the common conceptions about GD under our experts’ lens:

Formals are not important
It is a truth that many organisations would like to maintain an informal environment and are increasingly accepting informal dressing in work culture, but have you ever seen the CEO or an important person in such a company ever attending a formal occasion in casuals?

The first one to speak surely makes it
Yes, speaking first means that you have the confidence and capability to take the initiative but speaking first also lays a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. The first person is supposed to give a clear direction to the discussion and steer the GD the right way. So it essential that the person taking the initiative must make points that are relevant and make sense. If you are not able to do that, then speaking first works against you.

The more you speak the better are your chances
If two or three people in a GD believe in this concept, it is the perfect recipe for a fish market GD. Please remember that your interpersonal skills are judged by how well you listen to others. You will be able to contribute in a coherent fashion only if you are able to listen to what others say and connect what you are about to say to it.

I spoke less than the others; I do not stand a chance!
It doesn’t matter how much you have spoken, what really matters is how much sense you made while you spoke. Were you relevant and in context? Were you able to capture the attention of the audience? These are the crucial questions that determine your chances. Specifically, in factual GDs, if one speaks less but contributes highly relevant statistical and factual information on the topic, one is definitely going to gain.

It is essential to memorise all the facts and figures
GDs are about ideas and the exchange of ideas, they are not about data. It is essential that you have a larger picture of the topic and most of the discussion should revolve around the macro-issues and not the micro-issues. So, it is helpful if you have some macro-statistics at hand but you certainly don’t have to cram up on all the minor details.

For example, while speaking of poverty in India you just need to have a rough estimate of the number of people below the poverty line, even a rough percentage will do. It is not necessary that you should also mention the criterion that determines whether one is below or above the poverty line.

One needs to have an exceptional vocabulary to be successful in GDs
Nothing is farther from the truth. If you use words that your audience cannot understand you are going to lose the audience. Nothing worse can happen to you in a GD. All you need is crisp, plain, grammatically correct language with a pinch of humour, if possible, to articulate your ideas.

I should have aggressive body language to attract attention
Body language is to lay emphasis on the words you speak, aggressive body language distracts the listener and diverts attention from what you are saying. GDs are all about capturing an audience for what you have to say; people won’t be interested in the funny gestures you are capable of.

So as a final count let us just recall the 7 best ways to ruin your GD.

~ Dress like Elvis Presley [Images]
~ Say whatever comes to your mind, however irrelevant just to be the one to speak first
~ Keep on speaking, never mind if people are listening or not
~ Wait till you get a chance to speak
~ Show them all the statistics you know
~ Use powerful vocabulary, that no one understands
~ Make wild gestures to attract attention

If you have questions, please ask below

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