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How to impress your interviewer
Gejo Srinivasan
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December 06, 2006

Any process of selection, whether to an academic course or to a job, invariably involves one or more rounds of interviews. At the heart of these interviews are question-and-answer sessions designed to evaluate your potential and judge your capability for the role you are expected to assume.

If this interview is to ensure your selection to the B-school of your choice, this is what you need to keep in mind:

Why interviews are held

It may sound simple, but here's the main thing to remember about personal interviews -- the interviewer doesn't know you. He will form an opinion based on everything from what you wear, to how savvy you are about the B-school, to how you express yourself. Doing -- or not doing -- little things you may not even think about can ruin your chances of getting into your dream B-school.

The difference between a GD and PI

The Group Discussion gives the B-school an opportunity to evaluate your team skills. The Personal Interview gives them an opportunity to evaluate your candidature more holistically and see for themselves whether you would fit into their institute and into the profession of management.

Compared to the GD, the PI is more predictable.

In a GD, you are totally at a loss as to whether it will be a case study or a topical discussion. You do not have the faintest clue whether the topic will be factual, abstract or controversial. Even the duration of the GD and the number of people who will participate in it are not undisclosed.

In an interview, though, you can predict which areas you will be questioned on. Therefore, there is simply no excuse for going unprepared for an interview.

In order to systematically prepare for a personal interview, you will first require to identify the areas in which you will be questioned.
Areas of questioning

The areas of questioning can be broadly divided over the following parameters:

Academic/ technical

If you are a fresh graduate, one of the first questions you may face is, "Which is your favourite subject"? You say, "I like Managerial Economics." This is a cue for the interviewer/ interview panel. Questions ranging from the concepts of Utility to that of Giffens to the nature of the parabolic shape of the break-even curve may follow, and you had better be prepared to answer them.

The logic behind asking questions like this is to make sure you have actually understood your concepts in college and to check your attitude towards things you have already done or are doing.

Your favourite subject can be the paper in which you scored the highest marks in college or had done a paper presentation on. It can even be a paper which you think will be a logical extension to your MBA dream. However, whatever subject you choose should really be your favourite subject.

Preparation for this question is like going back to the good old college days. Dig out your old college textbooks and start preparing for the section you will name your 'favourite subject'. Ensure you know all the basic concepts and have the ability to explain them in layman's language to the uninitiated. Why this is your favourite subject and how management will be its logical extension are issues you should be comfortable explaining.

Work experience

People with work experience may be questioned on a range of topics including job content, employer profile, market scenario, their personal achievements, etc. It is important to note that the kind of job you did is far more important than the employer's name.

Broadly speaking, the type of questions can be broadly classified to test your interest, competence and passion with which you take on your work.

Some issues for which you should prepare responses include:

Part II: How to ace the Personal Interview

-- An IIM-C alumnus, Gejo Srinivasan is head of products at IMS Learning Resources Pvt Ltd, an educational services provider that prepares candidates for leading competitive examinations like CAT, GRE and GMAT.


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