Academics play an important role in any IIM interview and so was the case with Jayant Singhal's IIM Indore Interview in which he was majorly asked around his academic degree i.e. Economics Honours. Let's get to know the questions he was asked and how he answered them during the interview.
In Jayant's Words:
IIM Indore Interview Experience
B.A. Economics (H) graduate from Hansraj College, University of Delhi.
Work Experience: Few months with a management consulting firm.
Date: April 29th, 2020
Location: Home (online)
Time: 4:45 PM
WAT - Scrapped
Before I start, I want to state that my interview was scheduled on 4th April, 2020 in Delhi. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed and then taken online.
I waited nearly an hour past the scheduled time for the panelists to let me enter the virtual meeting room. There were two male professors, P1 (probably in his 40s) and P2 (probably in his mid 30s). P1 started the interview. We exchanged pleasantries and then P1 commenced. I'll denote myself by M.
M - Good Evening, Sir.
P1 & P2 (both together) - Good Evening, Jayant.
P1 - We are audible to you, right?
M - Yes, Sir.
P1 - Okay so Jayant, please introduce yourself.
M - (responded with a well rehearsed answer, talking about my hobbies, startup experience, PORs, internships, competitions etcetera)
Economics & Technical Questions
P1 - So, you are an economics graduate. What is the difference between monopoly and monopsony?
M - Spoke about how Monopoly is a single seller and many buyer case while Monopsony is the polar opposite case with a single buyer and many sellers.
P1 - Can you think of an example for Monopsony?
M - Explained how labour market could be an example where people belonging to a particular skill set supplying labour (are sellers) and a single company bidding for them (is a buyer).
P1 - Can you think of a practical life example also? Related to day-to-day life?
M - (after thinking for a few secs) explained how e-rick market in North Campus Delhi works as an example when an individual has to board a rickshaw.
(Both professors seemed quite happy after my answer)
P1 - What is IS-LM model?
M - (the most expected one) Explained how the same is a Keynesian technique and talked about their derivations when goods and money markets are in equilibrium.
P1 - What is Fisher's effect? Could you explain the equation also?
M - Explained how the relationship among real interest rate, nominal interest rate and inflation rate gives rise to Fisher effect. Then explained the equation further refining the expected inflation rate.
P1 - What is the difference between nominal and real interest rate?
M - Nominal reflects monetary terms while real reflects the quantum in terms of goods and services.
P1 - You might have heard of MRS being diminishing in nature as a general principle, right? Prove it mathematically.
M - Answered assuming a Cobb-Douglas preference structure and then applying partial derivatives.
P1 - Tell me how Solow model was an improvement over Harrod-Domar Model?
M - Talked about Harrod-Domar being a knife-edge cutting model wherein a change in savings rate produces a permanent effect on the growth of GDP, told how Solow improved the situation by bringing in other factors such as labour population growth.
P1 - What is normal distribution?
M - the continuous random variable and probability distribution concentrated on mean, then draw the bell shaped curve and explained its properties a bit.
P1 - What is a natural monopoly?
M - Explained about how such monopolies have very high establishment costs and then witness the large economies of scale.
P1 - What are the two major causes for market failure?
M - Concentration of Power (Monopoly) and Externalities.
Entrepreneurship & Indian Economy
(P1 then gave a signal to P2 to take over)
P2 - I can see that you have good command over your graduation subjects. Well, let's shift the topics a bit now. In your introduction, you mentioned that you have had an opportunity of working with a startup from scratch. Tell me what is bootstrap funding?
M - (nervous chuckle) an entrepreneur risking his own bootstraps (money) as an initial source for venture capital.
P2 - What is a unicorn? Give some names for Indian unicorns.
M - Startups with valuations over one dollar billion. Gave examples of Ola, Paytm, Flipkart, OYO, Byju’s.
P2 - Who was Victor Lustig?
M - (sorry, who!?) Sir, I am not sure. I am hearing this name for the first time in my life.
Fun Fact: He was an artist who is believed to have sold Eiffel Tower. (Googled it after my interview)
P2 - You sure are, anyways, who is Elon Musk?
M - Talked about him being a technology and industrial entrepreneur, also spoke about SpaceX and Tesla.
P2 - Explain a bit about Tesla cars.
M - Talked about Tesla electric cars providing world’s transition to sustainable & clean energy solutions
(Then he named a few US start-ups, I wasn't aware about any of those, so, I requested him that global entrepreneurship wasn't really my side.)
P2 - (Maybe, realising that I have a knack for Economics) What is Economic survey? Who publishes it?
M - Told
P2 - Who is our finance minister and Chief Economic advisor?
M - Nirmala Sitharaman and Krishnamurthy Subramanian.
P2 - Explain the theme of recent economy survey.
M - (Feeling relieved that I have had read about it a few days back) Explained how the same focussed on wealth creation alongside the support from government.
P2 - Okay Jayant. We will now have an extempore. You will have 30 secs to think and 1.5 mins to speak. You topic is - "COVID-19 has disrupted our lives."
M - (woahh, the topic was so simple that on the top of my mind, I felt that I needed no time to think, but still I structured my approach before speaking) Spoken how the same has affected Indian economy, global economy, core economic sectors, personal lives and professional lives. Ended the extempore on a positive note highlighting how it has knitted the whole world in a single thread of unity to fight against the same.
P1 - Any questions for us, Jayant?
M - Yes Sir. Was wondering how classes and regular activities at IIM Indore shall be proceeding amidst the pandemic crisis, if you could chart out a bit of details, that would be too great.
P1 - Explaining me how online modules are also being tested upon and a part of Term-1 will definitely be going online. Social distancing and other norms shall also be introduced whilst conducting regular classs even in the offline scenario. Rest information shall flow via official communication streams and the same will be adhered as per the government guidelines.
M - Sure, Sir. That was really helpful.
(Then P1 nodded and asked me to exit the meeting room)
Also converted IIM Lucknow, will be joining the same.
Afterword: I really felt that the interview stressed more on my acads. So, being thorough with whatever you have studied in your bachelor's is a must. I didn't really expect such a smooth conversation, but they didn't grill me at all.
As Jayant said, IIM interviewers focus a lot on the academic questions. Different IIMs have different focus areas during interviews and one can find that information here - Difference Between Different IIM Interviews.
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