Sunday, 22 January 2012

How to tackle PI

Firstly, sit back and pat yourself. You are among the few in the country who have got the Call for
interviews from the prestigious IIMs. Though some of you may not be happy that you didn’t get
a call from A,B,C but you did get a call from the IIMs for which there are many others out there
craving to just get a call from IIMs and convert them. So cheers! Well you see – No point in giving the
Interview with a sulky mood, with lack of will and confidence. It’s as good as not giving an interview
in that case.

There is never a Standard Operating Procedure for any interview. You actually never know what the
interview panel really looks at, or for that matter you may have heard cases where the interview was
excellent according to your friend but he finally never made it through. So I would suggest just sit
back, relax stop analysing what the panel wants. Don’t take the interview as a Question & Answer
Session. Just think of it as if you are going to have a normal conversation with some people. I know
it’s tough but it would help soothe your nerves and calm down.

Analyse & introspect who you are. Think about yourself & know yourself. According to me, this is
probably the reason you have come across your friends who may have not slogged as much as you
have but must have got through because they came across as confident and impressive. Makes
sense, Right! Try not to act too smart or witty or pretend someone who you are not. You are facing
people who are interviewing candidates from years and are well versed with the tricks you have up
your sleeve and they can easily catch those. Once caught, you would be done and dusted.

I would suggest you start your preparation with introspection (which you may have never done
before). This will make you ready for the Standard $$ Million Dollar Question $$ – Why MBA??
Before giving cat you may have never thought about it. And after giving Cat – You would say
to yourself – Its all for that Money honey! But Alas, can you say that upfront in the interview??
Personally speaking, I would say Yes, you can say that answer provided you are able to give a logical
coherent explanation to it. Shocking is it? Well trust me I have seen people with the rudest & the
bluntest of the answers getting through – Bet you will agree with me. Lets analyse the situation –
Had you answered as stated above – a typical grilling would be people have become rich without an
MBA (Dhirubhai Ambani, and many other entrepreneurs) Now, how the hell would you tackle this?
Well I have no idea. But if you do – Then What an Idea Sirji! But if you can defend yourself in a very
logical sense, trust me no one can stop you. And that logical sense can be explained in a creamy,
presentable language (Lets all be honest) keeping in mind the following points:

• Your current background
• Connecting it to the future – Where you want to be in the future.
• Your value addition.
• New Opportunities and the rewards and why you want them.
Be sure to use these pointers.

The introspection would also make you ready for questions like –

  • What are your strengths and weakness?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
  • If not MBA what else
  • What would you do in your spare time?
  • Why should we choose you over the other 10 standing outside? Etc.

As I said before, there are no standard answers to these questions. Though there are some standard
ones taught in coaching classes which the Panel may be hearing for the millionth time and you
would hence be inferred as just one more candidate in the crowd.

I would seriously suggest you first sit back and spend time with yourself to know yourself.

For the Freshers:
You guys are fresh out of college and will mostly be asked about your academics and hobbies as
there is nothing else to grill you on :p, unless and until you throw up something for them. (Will
explain this below). So be thorough with basics of your academics, final year projects, subjects
studied, favourite subject, hated subject, hobbies – specially. (No hobbies like – reading, singing,
dancing, etc) Cut the crap – If your hobby is cricket (This is India) – Be ready with a plethora of
questions like largest cricket stadium to pitch dimensions to important statistics of players, etc.
Difficult to by heart in just a few weeks, but if you were truly passionate about it, half your job would
be already done. So know in & out of your hobby.

For Experienced Guys:
Well, focus will be less on academics and more on your work experience, your achievements there,
your value addition to the company. You may be grilled on your opportunity costs and Why MBA
precisely and about your future plans and after MBA.

On a general note, be well versed with the latest happenings in and around the world. For Example –
As on 21st Jan, 2012 –

European Debt Crisi (What is it, IMF, Greece, Spain)
Wiki blackout – Internet Censorship
Indian crickets performace disaster
FDI – Single Brand, multi-brand retail, Aviation – Kingfisher Story
Salman Rushdie – Jaipur Issue, etc.

Know something at least about these topics and have an opinion. As in say, your take on Google &
Facebook censorship. These may help you in your written analysis topics also.

Final Gyaan

--Be ready to answer questions like Tell us something about yourself & Tell us something about
yourself which is not there in this PI form. There are the 2 main questions; I repeat THE questions
which would almost decide where the interview is heading. Don’t cram the answers. Introspect
and prepare a good structured answer. Be sure of what you are speaking as you are basically giving
the panel a set of Guns to shoot you. Didn’t get it hu? Well let’s say, you start telling about yourself
and gloat to glory that you are the topper and this very determined person with no weakness –
ROFL, I say. In such a case, be ready to face questions like – give instances where you showed your

determination, etc. If you mention you are born and brought up in Bombay & not Mumbai – You
may immediately be corrected that its Mumbai – and there you and the panel may end up discussing
about Mumbai. So you see. Be careful of what you speak and say as you are actually giving them
weapons to fire at you.
--Know almost something to everything about whatever you have written on the PI form. Example:
If your college’s name is say Swami Vivekanand Engineering & Technology – I would seriously
suggest you read about Swami Vivekanand from the Wiki Page. Similarly, CGPA system, absolute &
relative grading, etc – You never know how the interview may end up there – the place where you
least expected. Trust me the interviewers have a knack of getting to this place where you are least
prepared. You won’t be forgiven if you do not know about something which you yourself have said
or have written on the PI form.
--Be ready to explain whatever your points and qualities are with some real life, personal examples
(Eg – Proving that you actually are a hardworking & a determined person, that you are a social
person, etc). This would make you stand out and make the interview unique. Pushing yourself
further in this field can make you think of implanting an impression in the panel’s mind – So that at
the end of the day, when they may sit back and review – They should remember you – Oh that CGPA
wala interview was interesting!!
--Go one step ahead by reading about that particular IIM and say probably how you can contribute
to that IIM. Eg – That particular initiative by that IIM (or its club) is what interests you and you think
you can contribute to take that initiative further or develop something on the similar lines. These
days B-Schools look at what & how you as a participant to their program can add value to the school.

Keep your calm and cool. Just go and enjoy!

For all those Roadies Fans out there – Fakes will be easily found out & also there is no mercy for
those of you who cannot stand by what you have actually written – I bet you guys will agree on this.

Sum it all in a nutshell – Be sure with what you say, Keep your calm, Don’t burden yourself with
thoughts of its now or never and other negative thoughts. Just enjoy the process. (Easier said than

Remember – Things happen twice in this world – First as a thought and second in Reality. So be
careful of what you think as it may turn out to be a reality.

See to it that you are what you speak & you speak what you are!!

All the very Best!

The article has been written by Abhilash Kanaparthi, PGP 2010-12 He can be reached at

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