MBA Personal Interview – the phase many candidates are waiting for, after the different B-school entrance examinations they have written, namely CAT/XAT/SNAP. This is the third article of our Personal Interview Experience series.
For the other articles of this series, click on the following links:
The first MBA Personal Interview for this season took place on 22 January, for me. I was attending the process for the 1-year PGPM course offered by the Great Lakes Institute of Management.
“The mandate”, rather. The candidates with 2+ years of work experience are eligible for only the PGPM and those with less than 2 years of work experience are eligible only for the PGDM course. So as things stood, I could apply only to the former.
Before the Personal Interview: The AWT
The Analytical Writing Test (AWT) happened separately on 19 January between 6.45 pm and 9 pm. I went in, thinking it would be the kind of test that resembles GMAT or the one that is part of the post-CAT selection process in IIM Ahmedabad.
I was proved wrong. It was more akin to the Written Ability Test (WAT).
How did the AWT go?
From the three topics given, we were to choose one and write an essay of 300 words; the time allotted was 30 minutes.
I do not exactly remember all the topics, but the one I chose was along the lines of: “Should brands resort to marketing and branding based on the product features? OR, should they do more social messaging?”
The world limit made it slghtly trickier paobably because I had not practised writing a few WAT essays myself (For a list of highly relevant WAT topics, click here). However, I managed to complete the essay after two revisions, within the stipulated time.
MBA personal interview – The Great Lakes experience
The process happened over Zoom (looks like Zoom has become ubiqiotous in this aspect). The panel consisted of two Professors – one male and one female. The former asked questions on work experience, academics and hobbies, while the latter stuck to the “HR questions” like “Why MBA?” et al.
The reverse chronology
This MBA personal interview was fairly straightforward (or rather, fairly straightbackward). The questions started with the current organization I work with and my role, moving on to the previous organizations; then they touched upon my undergrad and proceeded to my hometown and schooling. Towards the fag end of the interview process was the HR questions.
The questions and answers
There were two sets of questions – those that were asked by the male and the ones that were asked by the female.
Set 1 – Questions from the male panelist
- What does your organization do? What is your role? – Explained in great detail, expecting some follow-up questions. There were follow-ups.
- You mentioned about SEO. How do you make a write-up “SEO-friendly”? – Explained the process and mentioned the name of couple of tools that serve the purpose.
- You have worked at both non-profit organizations and for-profit workplaces. How do you view the distinction? – This was a question I was expecting anyway, in some interview or the other. Had a detailed answer for the same.
- If you have taught students in a previous role of yours, why did you not venture out into teaching roles? – Again, this was also something I had prepared myself for. Was able to answer convincingly well.
- Do you want to puruse a PhD sometime in the future? If yes, in what discipline? If not, why? – I had applied for Doctoral Programmes with my CAT 2019 scores last year, so I was slightly aware of the fact that there are options. But, mentioned that I am not inclined at this point, and over the course of time, I might be interested.
- What are your favourite subjects in Mechanical Engineering? – Thermodynamics and Additive Manufacturing.
- What is Carnot cycle? – Explained. They asked me to draw the P-V diagram (technical jargon; if you are feeling meh, that is natural!)
- If Carnot cycle is just a theoretical framework, what are the practical applications? – Explained that this acts as a benchmark to evaluate the actual efficiency of Otto and Diesel cycles.
Set 2 – Questions from the female panelist
- You come from Cuddalore. What is it famous for? – Gave a list of things that my hometown is known for. Started by saying how Cuddalore is known just for infamous things – natural calamities, proximity to Pondicherry/Puducherry, the “liquor city” as it has been stereotyped – but there are some must-visit places.
- Why have you switched jobs so frequently? Don’t you think it will reflect negatively in the future? – Yet another question I could be asked in any interview. Had come prepared for this one.
- Your long-term goal and your want to pursue an MBA – how do they add up? – In cricketing terms, this was like a ball coming on nicely to the bat. Answered in detail.
Like one of my friends said later, “The panel might not have been looking for reasons to eliminate you, but rather they just wanted to evaluate you.” This was the most linear interview experience I have had thus far.
To give a contrasting example
I had attended an interview last year (not an MBA personal interview, but for some other purpose), where the questions started the moment I entered the room. Before I walked up to take my seat, I have been asked a question; in the sincerity of answering the question, I took my seat. The interviewers said, “We did not ask you to sit.” Somehow – just somehow – in the heat of the moment, I gave out an embarrassed smile and still did not get up. “Won’t get up. So stubborn, eh?” At this point, I was almost lost, and tried getting up. The fileI had in my lap fell on the floor, and they asked me to pick it up. After picking up all the papers and the file, I kept it on the interviewers’ table (which I did not now I was not supposed to do).
I need not say how the interview progressed from then on, need I?
Anyway, that is the end of this one. Do stay tuned for further updates on the MBA Personal Interview series.