CAT PI – ’tis the season of interviews for the B-school aspirants. Thanks to the aftermath of COVID, almost all the schools have resorted to online-based selection process; this has meant several processes do not have Group Discussion (or Group Exercise, depending upon which college you are referring to), with SPJIMR being the obvious outlier, sticking to their Group Interview exercise.
For several aspirants, the CAT PI season is already underway in its fullest rigour, while the others are waiting for their maiden personal interview call. There is no better time to start a Personal Interview series, right? We will be posting a series of articles based on our MBA interviews in the coming days. Do watch out for further articles here!
To read about the other interview experiences, head to the following links.
- Great Lakes
- IIM Rohtak
- IMT Ghaziabad #2
- IIM CAP
- S P Jain
- IIM CAP #2
- IIM Rohtak #2
- IIM Lucknow
CAT PI: The IMT Ghaziabad process
This was the second interview of this season for me; I had attended the Great Lakes interview process earlier. As mentioned already, there was no Group Discussion (GD) as such, and it was just going to the Personal Interview (PI) phase.
First things first…
The process took place over Zoom, and it was neatly organized. There were certain confusions initially; the discrepancies arose because of an earlier email from the IMT Admissions Team which gave out a Zoom link to join, whereas the candidates had to actually join the process within the student portal (the one that was earlier used by the candidates to fill up the ‘Profile Detail Form’).
Initially, the candidates were appraised about how the process was going to be conducted. Each candidate had been given a Panel Number and a Slot Number. My slot was in the afternoon session (12 noon to 6 pm).
Was I sitting there for six hours then?
No, I was not. Which is where the slot number comes to the fore. My Slot Number was 7, and the personal interview process started at 2 pm. The coordinator had already let us know that every interview could last anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes; so, the candidates could guesstimate a rough timeline of their slot.
In addition, the coordinators also called the individual candidates by phone fifteen minutes before the actual slot.
The actual interview itself
Now comes the real deal. The panel consisted of two Professors – one male and one female. I could decipher that one of them was from the Marketing vertical (which I have given as my first preference in the list of prioritization they had asked us, when we filled the application form initially), while figuring out the other’s vertical was a Herculean task, and I could not gauge much.
The questions and answers of my second CAT PI of the season
The interview started with the most typical question on my current workplace and my role, and went on to some level of depth about my role and the marketplace in which the organization operates in.
The next set of questions were on the upcoming state elections in Tamil Nadu (I belong to TN), and they also touched upon the USA elections.
The final set of questions were on how I go about writing a blog post (one of my roles) and ended up with “Do you have any questions?”
The list of questions and answers
The first set – based on workplace and role
- What does your organization do? What is your role in the organization? – This was pretty straightforward. Explained in detail, but did not beat around the bush.
- What are some of the ways you use to optimize your Search Engine Ranking Positions? – I knew aspects related to my role, and bits and pieces of what are some of the factors generally considered to rank well – Quick load time, et al. So this was manageable.
- What is the CAT marketplace like? How does the industry expand? – By this time, you should know that I work with Fermat Education (or, 2IIM, as it is known to the CAT aspirants). I gave an overall idea of how many people take up the CAT every year, how many among them would likely take up one or multiple courses, what is roughly the ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit) and more. For the expansion part, I told them since CAT marketplace has saturated with a maximum of 2.5 lakh candidates taking up the examination every year, and every player in this space would go for a suite of products supplementing their core competencies.
- What has your organization done to tackle the revenue shortfall, thanks to COVID? – Gave out a few ideas we tried out to bridge the shortfall. I expected more grilling on this, but they let it go.
The second set – based on current affairs
- What is the update with the TN elections? Will Sasikala play a key role? Is there an anti-incumbency wave? – I have been following the news about this to the extent possible, so this question went decently well. The one aspect I failed to mention was Sasikala coming back from her quarantine, and how that is likely to play out.
- How does farmer protests echo in Tamil Nadu? Are the protests as intense in your state as it is in Punjab and Haryana? – The second one was more of a rhetorical question. Answered with a few facts using the Farm Bills explainer video.
- What are the specific takeaways for Tamil Nadu from this budget? – I had read the full budget speech transcript. Though the specific numbers had missed to register in my mind, I knew couple of TN-specific things from it – 1) The National Seaweed Park to be set up, and 2) One Economic Corridor roadway. (For a detailed explainer, follow this link).
- Trump vs. Biden – who would you prefer? – This was pretty simple and straightforward. Argued for the latter, with special emphasis on the mask-wearing aspect in terms of social messaging to the citizens. (Again, thanks largely to these videos – Part 1 and Part 2).
The third set – final formalities and a bit of grilling
- How do you go about writing a blog post? – this was the follow-up to an earlier answer from me, where I had mentioned there are certain aspects to make an article “SEO-friendly”. I mentioned the approach, and what are the parameters we give focus to, and the tools that help us do that. There was a bit of grilling, with two or three follow-up questions, but nothing that went awry.
- Do you have any questions for us? – I had gone through several aspects of the IMT website, and had a couple of questions about their magazine. They smiled and responded.
Personally, it was slightly more complicated for me than my previous interview (which was for Great Lakes). The interview spanned a range of questions, and that bit of preparation on current affairs really helped.
Coming out of the this CAT PI, though, I remained clueless on what they looked for when they asked some questions. In that sense, it remains to be a sort of a mystery (I came out from the previous interviewing, knowing well that the interview had gone pretty well).
That’s it for now! We will be writing a series of posts on our interview experiences. Do watch out for further articles along these lines!