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What do IIMs look for in a Candidate ft. Mr. Rajshekhar Roy, an IIM Calcutta Interview Panelist

Mr. Rajshekhar Roy, who has been on the IIM Calcutta Admission Interview Panel for the last 7 years has come forward to share his valuable experience with all the B-school aspirants in the hope that his advice would help them prepare well for the IIM Interviews.

In this post, he will share what IIMs look for in a candidate during the interview. But, before we get to that, let me first introduce him to you all.

About Mr. Rajshekhar:

Mr. Rajshekhar holds a BE in Computer Science from Jadavpur University, Kolkata (1986) and a PGDM from IIM Calcutta (1988). He has worked in the software services industry for 27 years, last 15 years as a CEO. Since 2015, he is running a Management Consultancy practice from Hyderabad.

To date, he has advised more than 1,000 people on B-school admissions, has also formally mentored 150 people directly on WAT/PI preparations to help them get into the top B schools. He will also mentor a select number of people for CAT 2020 and a larger number of people for WAT/PI preparation.

He also has a personal blog called Financial Safari which has more than 5 lac views with around 500 posts.

Rajshekhar Roy IIM Calcutta
Mr. Rajshekhar Roy

In Mr. Rajshekhar's Words:

I see a lot of publicly available posts on Quora and other forums which state that the panelists can make or break the fortunes of a call-getter. While this is technically true, you will do well to understand that the panelists don't do it on any random basis, there is some well thought out theme that they follow. Also, there are a lot of fake posts on Quora, Facebook and other places so do take heed of any such posts with a fistful of salt :)

Let me try to give you three examples of where the panelists did create a make or break situation for the aspirant. Before that understand this well - there will be about 10 people for each panel in each session. The panel will at most like 2 people who they want to get selected and at most dislike 2 people who they do not want to get selected. For the rest of the people (normally 6-8 ) it will be business as usual. The three examples below are over the past 3 years.

Example I

One girl who was very good in every respect was asked to name some famous places in MP. She had done well in the interview and this was the final question. Her answer was, "who knows about MP?" and she followed up by saying that she only knew about states and places which were worth visiting. The panel had a long discussion on this and decided that their institution could not take her.

Example II

A guy had a very high CAT score and reasonably good credentials from his academics. He was also pretty well prepared for the interview. When asked about his thoughts on why diversity was important for a B school, he countered that it was clearly unnecessary and B schools needed to be more discerning about such things. The panel gave him 2-3 chances to take a more balanced view but he remained adamant. The panel was unanimous about not taking him.

Example III

This girl was from reserved quota, though her profile and CAT score were quite good. The panel started by being ambivalent but when questions were asked on budget, economics and her branch Computer Science, she proved to be quite brilliant with her answers. The alumnus in the panel was from Microsoft R & D and she was able to handle all his questions rather well. The choice in her case was unanimous. Happy ending - she now works in Microsoft US.

One line maxim for cracking the top IIM and other B school interviews is this - be humble and not arrogant, show substance and not attitude :)

Feel free to get back to me if you want some inputs on your interview in IIM ABCL, XLRI etc.


If you wish to reach out to Mr. Rajshekhar, you can visit his Quora space CAT 2020 Mentoring or e-mail him your query at A heartfelt thank you to Mr. Rajshekhar for sharing the real-life examples of interviewees to help all of us understand what the interviewers expect in the IIM interviews.

You can also comment below any topic or question that you'd want Mr. Rajshekhar to address in the upcoming posts on the blog.

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