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Personal interview prep tips
Siddharth Balakrishna
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January 20, 2009

After the group discussions, GDs, candidates hoping to get into business schools must be ready to face personal interviews. Typically, there is a panel of two or three members who evaluate you; in most cases these people are professors from the institute where you have applied, while some institutes ask someone from industry, typically alumni from that institute, to sit on the panel.

How an interview commences

A typical interview covers more than one theme. You are generally asked to first introduce yourself to the panel members. Remember that this is your opportunity to 'lead' the interview into areas that you are comfortable with or to topics that you wish to discuss.

It is quite important to highlight your achievements, whether academic or extra-curricular, in your introduction itself. Don't [Images] wait for the panel members to specifically ask you about them! Other things that you could mention in your introduction are your family and academic background, hobbies and interests, goals and aims in life, your strengths and weaknesses etc.

In fact, you could say almost anything as long as it is relevant, in the sense, that it reveals something about you as a person.

Academics/ Work experience

Interviews also centre around questions pertaining to academics, especially for freshers. Once again, it is hardly a good strategy to open your books just a few days before the interview and try to mug up whatever you think is important for the interview.

Try to ensure instead that you are keeping up with the subjects in your undergraduate course, are comfortable with the basics of the course and ready to answer application-based questions on these subjects.

If you appear to be the kind of person who picks up his books just to pass your examinations, the interviewers are likely to probe you further to check your genuine interest in the course you are currently pursuing and whether you, as a student, have really taken in something.

Remember that the people who are interviewing you are professors; they are unlikely to be too impressed if you seem to forget everything that you are supposed to have learnt just a few weeks/ months back!

If you have work experience, you can expect some questions around that. Besides your role in your current organisation, be ready for questions about latest developments in the industry/ sector that you are working in.

For example, if you work in an IT firm, you could expect questions relating to significant developments or news pertaining to that sector, any major acquisition that has taken place, questions like which are the four or five largest firms in the IT sector, what different software products or solutions they offer etc.

Hence, it is necessary to know your industry/ sector well and keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments.

Current awareness/ Business awareness

You could be asked questions pertaining to the world of business and important developments. The more you read the more confident and comfortable you will be and ready to answer any question that is thrown at you.

Importantly, here too, you may be able to come up with a unique insight or logic that impresses the interviewer and wins the day for you. The candidate who has prepared for just a few days is likely to be unable to go beyond the basic view or opinion which the tired interviewer has already heard from other candidates s/he has interviewed during the day.

So make sure you read the newspaper, including the business section, everyday. In addition, reading a general magazine will also help. But, more importantly, it is crucial for you to try and analyse developments and develop your point of view regarding these.

Make sure that your opinion is backed with strong logic and is not just an opinion without any substance!

General questions

You could certainly be asked questions pertaining to:

Be prepared for such questions; make sure you have thought about them and have some ideas on what you could say. Do not mug up an answer and just repeat it. Think about what all you could mention if asked such questions. Be ready for further questions based on your answer too.

In summary, make sure you do the following while preparing for interviews:  

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