Updated: May 4, 2020
Inputs from IIM-A Professors
For the purpose of preparing for a any interview, you need to understand the expectations of the panelists from the candidates. I’ve had this conversation with two professors of IIM Ahmedabad, who have been on the interview panels. Here is a gist of the points they shared collectively:
Panelists wait for the candidate to drive the interview in his/her comfort zone. If the candidate is unable to do so, the panelists use a list of standard question types to judge the candidate’s suitability.
Some of these questions are hygiene checks - the candidate should be able to answer them well. For example, questions on the academic background or work experience.
Some of these questions are differentiators, which help the panelists form an opinion about the candidate’s values and skills. For example, situation-based questions or HR questions.
Through each question, the panelists try to evaluate the value the candidate will be able to add in the classroom setting in case of B-schools and the company in case of jobs.
There is an expectation of something different to happen in the interview that doesn’t bore the interviewers, who are to interview 3x-10x the number of candidates they are going to eventually take.
Now that the expectations are set to clear, here is how you need to prepare for the interview. First of all, bucket the question types into the following:
Academics and Work Experience
Value-based or Hypothetical
Current Affairs & General Knowledge
Then, gather the data points you need for each one of them. Here is how you do that:
For Introduction, note down your life’s milestones from the very beginning. Then, pick the ones that are important (to you) and can be weaved together in the form of a coherent story. Don’t forget to end it on an interesting note - it could be a hobby or a life goal - it should just be interesting enough to get a follow-up on.
For Academics and Work Experience questions, you’ll have to brush up the basic concepts or the roles and responsibilities you assumed. If you’re a fresher, you must revisit at least 3 subjects of your interest. If you’re working, you must keep a note of at least 3 projects you worked on and added value in.
For Value-based or Hypothetical questions, there is a technique. Note down all the significant events of your life on a piece of paper. They may or may not be significant for others but they should mean a lot to you. Then, note down what you learned out of them or the values you demonstrated while in that position. Now, pick up a list of frequently asked HR questions and while answering each one of them, pick one event from your list that can back it up as an example. Let’s say, you’re asked to share your strengths and weaknesses. Merely saying that you’re hardworking may not fetch you as many points as an answer backed by a real-life example will.
For Current Affairs & General Knowledge, you need to keep yourself abreast with whatever is happening around. Read two newspapers at least (one general, one business). I read The Hindu and Mint. . Read their editorials because they will help you in forming opinions. Whenever you read about any issue, try to note down the facts that support your opinion as it will show that you’re basing your arguments on facts. Also, check your CV/Resume once again. More often than note, GK questions are asked on the candidate’s hometown, school/college name, hobbies, etc.
After you’ve done all this, what may help next is a mock interview. Try to practice with some of your friends, who can give you honest feedback. Also, try to practice your responses to some standard questions in front of the mirror. This should help.
After your preparation, go through this list of the 7 Biggest IIM Interview Mistakes that candidates make. Avoid them, stay confident and you should do well :)