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Can you handle a stress interview?

December 02, 2005

During the course of your career, you may be subjected to a stress interview.

What is that, you may wonder?

In a chat with Get Ahead readers on November 29, trainers Gautam Puri and Arun Wadhwa of Career Launcher (I) explained to MBA aspirants: In a stress interview, the interviewer will try to put you under pressure (or make you uncomfortable) and see if you can still think logically.

CAT expert Gautam Puri, co-founder and managing director of Career Launcher (I) Ltd, chatted with aspirants for an hour and answered their queries. An MBA from IIM-Bangalore, he has had successful stints at Hindustan Petroleum, Britannia and VAM Organics. He has prepared close to 1,00,000 students for CAT. To keep himself abreast with the latest trends, he has also been sitting for the examination every year for the last 10 years.

Arjun Wadhwa has been associated with Career Launcher since 1999, when he was a student with CL preparing for his MBA. Influenced by his mentors in the organisation, and armed with his passion for teaching, he joined Career Launcher straight from campus after completing his MBA from MDI, Gurgaon. He has been with CL for four years.

For those who missed the chat, here is the transcript:

Part I:
Ace your Group Discussion/Interview

Part II: Is good English necessary for a great GD?

ramna: hi, I did my engineering and now I am doing my Law. After this i want to do my MBA in HR or PMIR from TISS XLRI or MDI. Which is the best. I have a score of 67 in my CAT . What would be my market value.

Gautam Puri: 67 in CAT, please start preparing for Personality Assessment.

Adam: sir, I have done B.E. Chem but now i want to spent my carrier in IT by doing testing course. Is it right?

Gautam Puri: Apply to IT companies directly.

mohini: hi the difficulty level of the paper in XAT,FMS,NiMNs and SNAP will be same as CAT or it will be easy Do we have GK in Xat this year lot of confusion over this and i dont think XAT is online thanks

Gautam Puri: CAT is the toughest paper, XAT is easier than CAT and SNAP is the easiest. This year, most probably, XAT will not have GK.

ramakrishnaudupa: hi, i am a civil engineering manger with 8 years experience with a pay of 5 lakh per annum.i am expecting a score around 42 in cat.what are my chances ,what oher colleges do i apply apart from IIM

Gautam Puri: SP Jain and MDI are likely to happen for you. You have an outside chance in the IIMs on account of your work experience.

VF: Hi Arjun & GP !!! last yr i had a call from IIM B and had joined the PDP at CL, Lucknow. Was honestly very disappointed by the programme. So this yr I plan to prepare on my own (scoring 51 in CAT). My comm skills are reasonable good. Plus I am quite aware of the latest business trends as I work in a consultancy. So how do u suggest I prepare for the GDs ?

Arjun Wadhwa: A few practice GDs are always useful. If you choose not to do so this year, I suggest that you try and spend time recollecting what went wrong last year, to ensure that you don't repeat your mistakes.


Gautam Puri: Focus on SNAP, XAT and FMS. With a score of 22, chances of a call from a good institute are negligible.

Career: Hi Arjun & GP ! I have got 6yrs of IT industry experience and right now i am doing my PGDBA course thru symbi. I have heard a great about the 1 year programs started by IIM's for working professionals. Will there be any value add in my career if i do that course. Is it worth to spend huge sum of money doing that course ??

Gautam Puri: IIM-B's PGPSEM can be considered.

jayasimha: sir ,i heard about post graduate diploma in pharma mgmt PGDPM,,at NMIMS,mumbai,,what kind of institute is it in general and in placements also,,,cud u pls guide me.

Gautam Puri: NM is a very good institute but this is a new course. We need to wait for a couple of years to see how good it is.

ajay: sir plz tell , for the exam like xat and fms what should be the right statergy as the time between gd and pi and exam is very less...and how must one go about in these months?...what are the cutoff in xat? and what are good institute under it?and wat are the cutoff for xlri and spjain in xat?

Gautam Puri: Start preparing for Personality Assessment in December so that you do not have to rush through your preparation in January. The better institutes through XAT are XLRI, SP Jain, MICA, XIM-B and GIM.

monica: hi siri am in final year b-tech now.i want to do my ms in usa.could u plz give me some visa tips.

Arjun Wadhwa: Please send a mail to for more information.

clever17: Sir What are the key points to face a stress interview?

Gautam Puri: In a stress interview, the interviewer will try to put you under pressure (or make you uncomfortable) and see if you can still think logically.

VF: I have a job ex of 18 months currently. Though I am a Mechanical Engr, i work in a business consultancy (far removed from my "core comptency"). For the PI should I revise the technical engg stuff or jus my job related stuff would be enough?

Arjun Wadhwa: Predominantly from work experience, though revision of at least one subject from engineering would be useful.

rashmi: sir, i have heard that SCMHRD gives preference to girls, is it true?

Arjun Wadhwa: Not really.

EC: Is MBA from ICFAI good?

Gautam Puri: Can be a back-up option.

chandranath: Sir What to do when in a GD few people make group and try to dominate their decisions although it was wrong.

Gautam Puri: Give logic/ reasons to explain why you are correct and don't agree with their point of view just because they are numerically larger.

melina: I have done B.Sc Physics, to be honest i chose to do MBA mainly because on advice of my brother, what wud i tell for the questions such as why did u opt for Business education?

Arjun Wadhwa: Try to find out more about the course and reasons why it would be a good career move to pursue an MBA.

Vipin: what and all should i tell to the tell about your self questions?

Arjun Wadhwa: Focus predominantly on areas that you are comfortable with and those which are likely to make a positive first impression on the panel.

nig: I am mech engr with 2 years it do u think i shud explain my career shift?

Arjun Wadhwa: Tell them the truth as to why you took a job in technical.

motorhead : Sir, in case of a PI of an institute for which one has decided not to join, should one falsely indicate interest when asked about joining that college?

Arjun Wadhwa: If you have filled the form, got through the written test, gone for the interview, then it might make sense to take it a step further.

naveenn : In a GD when i am loosing ground how should i recover the lost ground.

Arjun Wadhwa: You do not win or lose in a GD, you need to create a +ve impression on the panel by showing that you are high on content and a good team player.

rvksharma: Could u tell me what sort of a reply is preferred by interviewers to the question"tell me about yourself" do they really appreciate candid reply or prefer diplomatic answers?

Arjun Wadhwa: They expect you to give direction to the interview and highlight areas where they could question you further.

Vipin: should i focus on personal or career aspects?

Arjun Wadhwa: Both.

naveenn: can you give us what are the common questions which can be asked in PI.

Arjun Wadhwa: i. Tell me about yourself ii. Your strengths and weaknesses iii. Why do you want to do an MBA? iv.  Questions on academics/ work exepience.

Scorpian: Sir, I am student of CL Ahmedabad. I am more inclined to do master in international business. Is there are chances to get call from IIFT or SIIB with good score but very poor acades ?

Arjun Wadhwa: Yes.

pallaviwakhare: Dear Sir, is there any email or some reference where i can contact you in future also for guidence or my friends and siblings.

Gautam Puri:

imtiaz: sir, every time i attend interview, i know the ans of asked question but unable to delliver proper ans

Gautam Puri: Go through a couple of mock interviews so that the problem can be identified.

naveenn: In a GD when i am loosing ground how should i recover the lost ground.

Gautam Puri: By giving logical explanations for your point of view and by giving examples in support of your points.

rishhi: sir my final year result is delayed due to re-appear. so how should i face interviews in this situation.

Gautam Puri: It is a fact that you cannot and should not try to hide. Tell them truthfully the reasons for reappearing, even if it is negative.

motorhead: Sir, in case of a PI of an institute for which one has decided not to join, should one falsely indicate interest when asked about joining that college?

Gautam Puri: You could say that the final decision will depend on the options available.

chevy: sir i am scoring around 86.3 marks in CAT 2005 what should i do i have applied to nearly 8 institutes other than iims can u assure me getting into one of these institutes or is there a chance that i can fail thiss time also (2 time).

Gautam Puri: 86.3 marks with sectional cut-offs cleared ==> start preparing for Personality Assessment.

ajay: what will the cut off for iift this year?

Gautam Puri: Should be around 42-43.

imtiaz: i do merchandising, i am trying to switch job but during interview they asked me why did u switch the job? what is the exact/proper ans of the question.

Arjun Wadhwa: The truth.

amit_ranjandce: Hi, I am expecting score of 47, But just 9 in DI.. Are there any chance for any calls from IIMs.. I have almost 40 months work experience. working in a Top IT company.

Gautam Puri: Yes, you have an outside chance. Hope you are preparing for XAT also.

CatCracker: sir various insts have given various cut-offs for IIM calls. Can u plz give ur take on the overall n Sectional Cut-offs for IIM calls.

Gautam Puri: Overall around 48, QA around 13, DI around 11 and English around 18.

motorhead: Sir, my academics are not really that good. when asked for the reason, what is the best answer? can i say i was not really interested in that stream?

Arjun Wadhwa: Tell them what else you were doing in your school and college years, which kept you away from focusing on academics.

jayasimha: i hav heard the average salary offered for PGDPM at NMIMS was 4 lacs,do u think its good by pharma industry standards.

Gautam Puri: Yes.

rashmi: sir,can u tell me that which institutes do not take sectional cut offs and consider overall scores because i am expecting less marks in quant?

Arjun Wadhwa: MICA, TAPMI, IMT HR, IMI, KJ Somaiya, Welingkar, NIRMA, UBS are unlikely to have sectional cut-offs.

Arjun Wadhwa: Bye All, all the very best. Pls send further queries to

Part I: Ace your Group Discussion/Interview

Part II: Is good English necessary for a great GD?


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