Personal Interview is that phase of the ‘Road to B-school’ journey many of us are at now. The range of B-schools that one might be targeting based on the scores and percentiles could be different from another. But a Personal Interview is a Personal Interview, no matter which college(s) you have set your sights on. Here is a primer of sorts of how you go about preparinig for your Personal Interview.
The philosopical question of preparing for the Personal Interview
Plenty of candidates who have crossed the first hurdle (that is, CAT) end up with questions like, “What is there to prepare in terms of Personal Interview, really?”, “Why should I prepare to answer questions about myself?”
These questions are Quixotic. There is no doubt about the fact that you SHOULD, MUST and OUGHT TO prepare for your Personal Interview phase methodically. Shed the notion that there is nothing to prepare for this round. You prepared for CAT, and you can prepare for Personal Interview. As simple as that.
Why should you prepare for your Personal Interview?
Let us say you are into the routine of newspapers regularly. Mostly, if not always, it always so happens that when you read a news item, you just read the news item. If you are asked five questions from the topic you have “read” about, chances are you do not know the answers to at least four out of the five questions.
So, what exactly is happening?
Reading, glossing, taking a peek, et al. are terms that do not work. These jargons should be kept away when it comes to your preparation for Personal Interview. Plainly put, knowing superficial information about a topic does not lead anywhere.
You should possess in-depth knowledge about the topic about which you are being questioned.
How do you go about preparing in-depth for Personal Interview?
There is a steadfast approach to work your way around the Personal Interview preparation. The fundamental idea is as follows:
Every statement you put out takes you to four or five leading questions. Find answers to them.
Call it “Five Whys” or whatever fancier terminology you wish to incarnate the method with, but the underlying idea remains the same. The leading questions take you to a few statements which pave way for some more leading questions, and so on. Somewhere along the trail, you will end up forming a tree structure.
What exactly is this tree structure? Give me an example.
Let us illustrate this with an example. If you are someone whose interest is football, the framework starts something like the following.
- An overview of the international, national and club level football teams.
- What kind of football do you watch among those?
- Which is the country/club you like the most? Why is it your favourite?
- What has been the trajectory of the club?
- Who are the current players? What does the squad look like? Who are the key players? Coach? Manager? Owner?
As you can see, there is one layer of the absolute basics, and it just keeps building on and on until there is a chunk of comprehensive information available.
Now, this is not the only knowledge you need to have about football (if that is your interest; remember, we are just giving this as an example).
There could be other questions in your Personal Interview as well!
Chances are the interviewers would still be interested in asking questions that fall within the football horizon but might not be your forte. For example, you could be savvy with club football but the questions could be along the lines of Indian football.
- What does the scene in India look like?
- Is the cricket-crazy India shifting to football? If not, is there a scope for football?
- Who are the current players in the Indian team and squad?
- How is ISL affecting the football scenario positively or negatively?
In addition, there could also be questions like:
- What are the dimensions of the football ground?
- Why is a football composed of hexagons and pentagons? Is there any other design that is possible?
- What is the size of a football? What is its mass?
- Qatar is going to host the FIFA World Cup. Is the decision politically motivated? Or are there financial motivations as well?
What we have laid out as an outline does not just apply to the questions on current affairs and general knowledge. The same strategy holds good for what can be termed as “HR questions”. For example, if you are being asked the question, “Why MBA?”, you can look to follow the same approach.
- You want to start a business on your own. What kind of business?
- How does that industry look like today? Who are the big players?
- Why do you want to start THAT business? Why not something else?
- What will be its value proposition?
- How would you differentiate your product from the n other products out there in the market?
And so it goes.
Personal Interview is not a stage that can easily be overlooked, given there is no finite syllabus to cover. More crucially, if reaching this point was an uphill task, making the best of it is quite another accomplishment.
Check out how you should go about preparing for WAT, here.
Stay safe, Happy New Year and best wishes for your WAT-GD-PI preparation!
Rajesh Balasubramanian takes the CAT every year and is a 4-time CAT 100 percentiler. He likes few things more than teaching Math and insists to this day that he is a better teacher than exam-taker.