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MBA calling: How I aced my personal interview
Krishnan Sekar
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January 17, 2008

The CAT results have been declared and IIM hopefuls are now focussed on acing the secong leg of the admissions process -- the group discussions (GD) and the personal interview (PI).

To help students prepare themselves for all the possible twists and turns a personal interview can take, we publish first-hand experiences of students who managed to breeze through their PI and others who crashed and burned.

Here, Krishnan Sekar, a first-year student at IIM Calcutta, shares his IIM Indore interview as a part of the CAT 2006 selection process.

am a mechanical engineer, with 30 months of work-experience in the manufacturing and the software industries. Once I cleared the CAT, I received a total of 5 calls -- from IIM A, C, I, K and L. I eventually decided on IIM Calcutta, however, here I recount my interview with IIM Indore.

The interview panel consisted a gentleman and a lady.

At the Personal Interview: Gentleman (G), Lady (L) and Me

When it was my turn, I walked into the room and wished both of them.

G starts off with the question of why I shifted from the manufacturing sector to the software sector.
I was expecting this, so had a well-prepared answer and was quite convincing.

G: What was your role in Bharat Forge [Get Quote]?
Me: I was in the production line. I then proceeded to give the details of my role and responsibilities, which part of the line I had handled etc.

G: Since you are mechanical engineer, let's try a few questions on that.
Me: Sure, sir

After this for the next 5 minutes, I answered a whole lot of technical questions relating to my mechanical engineering. I did quite well in this part of the interview and impressed the panel.

Next, we moved on to the work-experience part.

G: Describe your current job profile?
Me: I am currently working in the automotive embedded domain. (I went on to explain the entire life cycle to him.)

I was then asked a couple of questions on simulation and its application, as that was my field of expertise. A couple of more questions on my work, which were pretty straightforward, and I was through with the work experience part. This lasted for about 5 minutes.

Next came the general part, and it is over to the lady. I had mentioned reading fiction, cricket and writing as my interests.

L: So what do you read?
Me: I mentioned a few authors and the type of books I read.

We settled on Jeffrey Archer finally.

L: Name a couple of his books that you have read.
Me: As the Crow Flies and Not a Penny more, Not A Penny Less

L: What did u like the most about the second book?
Me: I said a few things about the book. I also mentoned that the last line was great -- where they realise that they have to return the money (You will have to read the book to understand this part).

Both seemed to agree with me on this. We spent the next few minutes discussing the reasons for the protagonist's imprisonment and other related issues.

L: What is your opinion on celebrity endorsements? Do you think it affects their performance?
Me: No. (I then gave the example of Sachin Tendulkar [Images].) Players are signed up to endorse products only when they are performing. (I substantiated my viewpoint with a few more examples.)

L: But should Sachin endorse products? Is he an authority on toothpastes, cars etc?
Me: No ma'am, cricket is what he is best at, but the reason he is asked to endorse products is because he has a huge fan following and might be able to influence people.

L: Would you be influenced by him?
: Not really, I would not buy a product just because he is endorsing it.

L: But others might get influenced?
Me: Yes, that might happen but since the final decision is in the hands of the consumer, the celebrity should not be blamed for endorsing the product. Being public figures, I feel the only place they should draw the line is when it comes to endorsing alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, things that are harmful to health.

L: So you follow cricket. I know you would have prepared about the World Cup. So I am not going to ask you that. Name a couple of women cricketers from India.
Me: Meetali Raj and Anjum Chopra.

Then there were a whole lot of questions relating to players from yesteryear. I was thankfully able to answer all of them, which in my opinion was the clincher.

They then grilled me for a couple of minutes on my writing. The general part of my interview went on for a little over 10 minutes.

End of interview

I made it to IIM Indore when the results were declared. This probably is an example of how good things can be during an interview. Prepare yourself for questions on your areas of interest and on general knowledge, don't try to memorise facts that you expect to be discussed or will impress the interviewers, you might just end up getting confused and that will go against you.

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