Preparing for admissions to top B schools

Listen actively and try to understand the course of discussion. Despite this, if you find it difficult to understand the topic, hinge on to known aspects and contribute something relevant. For example, if the topic is Nepotism in India crushes real talent and you are not sure of the meaning of nepotism you can at least express something relevant about that is real talent and what happens when it is nullified and negated.

In a GD, the one who speaks first does not have any advantage over others by default. Only if the speaker makes a relevant / pithy point and sets the tone of the GD, he / she stand to gain. If a person speaks just for the sake of opening the GD and falters / meanders, it will not cut ice with anyone.

A stress interview is one in which the panel deliberately acts hostile unsettles the candidate and puts him /her in a spot. The aim is to gauge the emotional quotient and maturity of the candidate. A manager should be able to handle stressful situations with grace and equanimity.

One of the ways to handle a stress interview is to stay cool, answer questions politely and not become emotionally high strung. In case the stress becomes visible on the face or gestures breathe deeply relax and proceed with your response.

The question, why MBA? is asked only to assess the seriousness and clarity of a candidate regarding his/her choice of career. A jumping on to the bandwagon syndrome will not gel with the panel. So, a candidate would do well to dwell deeply on the why MBA aspect in terms of enhancement of skills, empowerment and career progression.

Why this institute in particular? Is a question to ascertain whether the candidate knows the mission / vision of the institute; the course highlights / placement statistics / batch diversity etc. It will do you well to have read the institute’s prospectus and to have spoken to alumni and seniors at the institute before the interview.

A PI involves one or more of the five categories of questions:

Academics / Technical questions in which the panel attempts to validate what you have actually understood of the concepts you learnt in college. You are expected to have and demonstrated a sound understanding of your discipline.

Extra curricular activities / hobbies, which helps the panel understand if you have a one track personality or a well rounded multi faced one. Participation in extra curricular activities and hobbies shows them that you know how to strike a balance between work and fun.

General awareness an area that may or may not be touched upon but if it is the purpose is to check how alive and sensitive the candidate is to his environment and also to check his/her maturity and reasoning ability.

Career goals in which the panels assesses if you have given a reasonable amount of thought to your career, balanced all the pros and cons, the benefits and the pitfalls before choosing it and that you have your priorities clear.

Personality is the broad area that allows the panel to form a more holistic picture of you and to consolidate the opinion that they may have formed of you through your answers in other areas.

In a GD, keep in mind the ability to initiate a discussion and the ability to summarize. Keep track of the number of times you express an independent opinion while trying to illustrate your points with relevant examples or statistics. Maintain eye contact and keep in check your hand gestures, voice level and audibility. It is not wise to suggest an overly aggressive or too laidback a demeanor. Stay involved with the group and be attentive and don’t interrupt people too often or allow yourself to be interrupted while speaking.

In a PI, exchange pleasantries with the panel and if offered give a firm handshake. Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor, leaning slightly towards the interviewer and maintain natural eye contact with the interviewer, shifting your glance from one to the other while speaking. Don’t play with your hair or your hands as that suggests nervousness

It is important to never slight a former employer or a professor. Approach bad experience from a positive point of view and to not sound conceited. Let your answers be brief but avoid yes or no answers. Don’t worry about pausing before you answer, it shows you can think and are not spitting out the sound bites you learned. In the same way don’t embellish answers or lie. It’s ok to admit you don’t know something this to a bare minimum. Be prepared for unexpected questions as that is designed to see how you cope with the unexpected. If you are given a chance to ask questions, you could ask them something about the institute or about the faculty or an exchange program if any.

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