IIM Interview – there could be a thousand other interviews. But, the most coveted ones are related to the first word of this post. IIM. The B-school aspirants go gaga over an IIM interview, especially the BLACKI (Bangalore, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Kozhikode and Indore) ones. Unfortunately for them, this is not a BLACKI interview experience. But nevertheless, let us delve into an IIM Rohtak interview experience, and see how it went.
I must, at this point, reiterate that this article is part of our Personal Interview Experience series. The other interview experiences can be found in the following links.
- IMT Ghaziabad
- Great Lakes
- IMT Ghaziabad #2
- IIM CAP
- S P Jain
- IIM CAP #2
- IIM Rohtak #2
- IIM Lucknow
The IIM Rohtak Interview process
The process happened on 6 February in the afternoon session (1.30 pm to 6 pm) for me. It must be noted that the previous day, I had attended the IMT Ghaziabad interview process (where I was in the afternoon session – 12 noon to 6 pm); so, the momentum was good.
The process was conducted again over Zoom. There was no WAT or GD, and the Personal Interview was also very short and concise. Mine would have gone on for around 10 minutes at best.
The start of my first IIM Interview
The IIM Rohtak interview email (at least one, among the series of emails they had sent) had clearly stated that the candidates have to be ready with all the hard copies of the documents. So I had gotten all of them ready, right from my 10th and 12th marksheets to the Degree Certificate, and the work experience certificates.
A brief idea of my profile
The most stereotypical profile for an IIM interview, I am a Male, Engineer, and belong to the General category, with ~40 months of work experience.
Now that we have set aside all formalities, let us see how the interview went.
How did my first IIM Interview for the season begin?
By now, I had attended two interviews, and was slightly comfortable, saying “No” to the questions for which I did not have an answer, ” I will try my best, but am not too sure” for those which I was taking a shot at, and going all in for the questions which were right up my alley (just like what I did in CAT, and how I ended up screwing up DILR big time 😛 – to such an extent that my sectional cutoff ensured I am not eligible for the top 6 IIMs, apart from colleges like SP Jain, as well. Anyway, back to the story)
The panel comprised two Professors – one male and one female. They were very warm and welcoming.
I was already in the Zoom call, anticipating my turn. When the hosts let me in, I went in with, “Good afternoon, Professors. How are you doing?” I have always been wanting to try the “How are you?” part in an interview, but had the slightest tinge of doubt about whether it would come off in the right sense. It worked this time.
They smiled and asked if it had been a long wait, to which I replied, “No”, with a smile, although in reality, it kind of was a wait, and I had skipped lunch. However, the stage was set for an interesting, short interview.
Then I was asked to show my CAT 2020 score card in front of the screen so that they could see my name, sectionals and overall percentiles.
Now that the initial pleasantries were done, it was time for an Extempore, with a preparation time of 30 seconds, and speaking time of 90-120 seconds. The topic given to me was, “Privacy concerns around the social media platforms.” Safe to say, I was able to knock it out of the park.
Though I cannot give a word-by-word transcript of my answer, the following was the route I took.
The brief types of questions
Just like my IMT interview, the questions here fell into three broad categories.
- Work experience-related
- Current Affairs
The questions and answers
As I have mentioned above, the panelists started off with questions related to my work. A part of these questions also touched upon my hobby.
Set 1 – Work and hobbies
- Fermat Education – what is the company about? What does it do? – This was a very straightforward question. I told them just enough information to see if the leads I left would translate to follow-up questions. But, no they moved on.
- Why do you blog? We see that you write in quite a few different platforms. Is there a reason? – Gave them the reason as to why I use different platforms. Some are official, some are personal; some conntain very formal posts, while the others are for informal expressions.
- What motivated you to write in two languages? – Told them about my interest in writing in Tamil, and about why I started writing in English (very cliched response, one might argue, but the answer was my weakness in English, and how I wanted to set out to bridge the gap.)
That was the end of the first set of questions.
Set 2 – Academics and college
- Describe yourself by elaborating on your college and professional achievements – again, this was a routine question. Explained with pauses in between to see if they wanted to hear more, but they let me go on. So, I listed out what I thought were important accomplishments.
- Why did you switch from Mechanical Engineering to an IT job, right at the start of your career? – Cited the GST as a reason; when it was implemented in 2016, there was slowdown in the auto sector. We were all advised to be cautious about not rejecting the offers – core or non-core – that came our way (I am from the Batch of 2017, and that much should be obvious already). Truth be told, I thought they would grill me further; there was also the doubt that they could ask me about the technicalities of GST, in which case I might have floundered. But luckily for me, they said, “Hmm, interesting. Class of 2017, alright, fair enough!”
- What are your favourite subjects in Mechanical Engineering? – Additive Manufacturing.
- Just one subject? Tell us one more – Thermodynamics.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of additive manufacturing? – Explained.
- Give us one application of additive manufacturing – Told.
- What is enthalpy? – Had forgotten the exact definition, but told them I just remember the symbol. They asked me what it was, and I replied, “H”.
- What is entropy? – This, I knew. Thankfully. Defined the term and was about to continue when they cut me off.
- Differentiate adsorption from absorption – ouch! Forgotten what adsorption was. Explained absorption.
What a relief! I had managed decently well with acads. Now was the time for the last phase of the interview.
Set 3 – Current Affairs
There were two questions here.
- Who is the current Finance Minister of the United Kingdom? – Did not know. I thought I was following enough current affairs, but did not see this coming. “You don’t know? He is of Indian origin”, they said, and I replied, “Sorry, I do not know. I will get to know right after this interview”, and they smiled (Answer: Rishi Sunak).
- Who is the Chief Economic Advisor of India? – I must admit the interview, by then, was making me slightly nervous. Having followed the Budget and the Economic Survey, this should have been an easy question for me. But the name just did not pop up at all. I just said, “I know the second name; it is Subramanian. But, this is not Arvind Subramanian. He is the ex-Chief Economic Advisor.”
Verdict and takeaways
There are loads and loads of takeaways from this IIM interview.
Just because you have a lot of work experience, do not expect them to limit their range of questions to only your work ex. I had read up reasonably on Mechanical Engineering, and was able to manage without coming up with a series of “I don’t know”s.
2) Go in with a sense that this is just another interview
It took me a while after the CAT debacle to arrive at this place. With a range of calls lined up after this interview, I went in with the thought that if it went well, that would be a good start. If it did not, then I would boost up my preparation. That helped to a great extent.
3) Preparation as a confidence-booster
Right from the time I started preparing for my interviews, I had come to the conclusion that savvy readers and Redditors/Twitterati are going to be more updated when it came to current affairs (someone active in Twitter, for example, might have been able to answer both the current affairs question posed to me very easily). But what the preparation has given/is given me is the confidence that I am going in to this interview well-prepared.
This is very subjective. Not everyone has the privilege to experiment, if the number of calls is very limited. But there were some aspects which I wanted to sort out before my best interview (XLRI). And, this proved to be a good start to that. This, however, does not mean that I took the interview lightly.
5) Smile. Say NO.
In restrospect, when I play back the interview in my mind, I realize there were plenty of opportunities for them to grill me further. I can only make out two reasons why they did not do that.
- The best case – I maintained my composure throughout, and did not panic at all, even when I said “No” as the answer.
- The worst case – They had already decided that I am not the candidate they are looking for 😛
6) Follow current affairs. Compulsorily.
This is not about headline-glancing. Read in-depth and know what the current issues in the country and the world are. This might not just help you with answering specific questions in the Personal Interview, but would also come in handy when you are about to write a WAT (or in IIM Rohtak’s case, the extempore).
Anyway, that’s all for now. Keep following our Interview Experience Series with the fullest fervour. For, the smallest of nuggests could prove to be hugely rewarding when you attend your interviews.
Stay safe and best wishes for your WAT – GD – PI preparation!