After CAT

All round preparation and development is needed for the interview stages for a business school.

Preparation after getting through the CAT is crucial as the competition is only that much tougher now. So how exactly does one prepare for the Group Discussions and Personal Interviews (GD / PI) that need to be cleared for the final step towards your MBA? Essentially confidence, general knowledge and grooming are extremely important at their stage.

The examining panel is basically trying to assess the managerial abilities that are inherent in each candidate, so the ability to make decisions comes up with problem solving ideas and performance under pressures as some of the parameters judged . Future managers are people who should be able to hold their cool in all kinds of situations and also take charge.

The first round of the GD is a short but telling statement on how a candidate acts and reacts in a gathering. Leadership skills all come to the fore here, applied to a specific topic given by the examiners. It is there they look for those who can not just talk but also list. It is not all about shouting down the others, but steering the conversation. Also, the ability to bring in a fresh perspective will be noticed and remarked upon so keep an analytical track of the topic and discussion.

There are many opinions on how to crack this particular step in the journey to getting your MBA but what everyone agrees on is that you need to get noticed. The age old technique of just droning on because you know what to say is definitely not the answer – don’t put your audience to sleep! How to say it is much more important, so do practice your people skills, learn the art of interjecting without disrupting and be extremely non confrontational while getting your point across. The examiners are looking for talented, knowledgeable people who are able to get others to see their point and work with them, not a confrontation expert.

The Personal Interview (PI) round is more about you as the candidate and person, rather than the public persona. Now be clear and focused about personal goals and expectations and this stands true for all the other numerous interviews you will face during your career.

Be prepared for personal questions and the whys and wherefores of your decision to do an MBA, and in that particular school. There is no set pattern to ace it – but be clear in your statements, objectives and stick to the truth since lying only gets you entangled. Do not try and parrot your answers in the one size fits all approach – this will get you nixed very fast. Make sure not to use stock phrases or words that you are not sure of in order to impress the panel – it always helps to stick to your own personality and thinking.

The basics that always matter are even more important now – dress professionally, be there on time, speak concisely and to the point – don’t meander, project warmth and make eye contact. Show enthusiasm not arrogance and avoid confrontation. Make sure that you are original not derivative in both thinking and personality and naturally study hard to be up to date on all current and academic developments.