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Who gets into IIMs - Let's attend an IIM Class to Understand!

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

I've already written a post on what IIM interviewers expect from candidates during an IIM interview. However, sometimes this question may bug you - "Am I even good enough to get into an IIM?" or "Who are the IIM professors looking for?" I'll try my best to help you answer these questions by showing you what an IIM class looks like. This post will take you to an IIM class today.


A Class at an IIM

In a regular IIM class, the professors begin with the introduction of a case (generally these are real life case scenarios that have challenged businesses in the past). The students along with the professors are protagonists of the case, each individual has to assume the role of the main protagonist, who is also the decision maker.

The case discussion begins with an input by a student or the professor. This first comment is an opinion. Using this opinion, the other members of the class build, contradict or improve the base opinion. The discussion flows from one opinion raised to another, with some members moderating, some listening and many more just contemplating. This entire scenario eventually leads the discussion to some bigger and better ideas.

These bigger and better ideas result in two kinds of learning -

  1. The first thing they teach all the members of the classroom are some key principles, strategies and business practices that should be applied in case a similar problem emerges in the real world again.

  2. The second and the far more important learning is the knowledge sharing which takes place due to the discussion. We call this 'collective responsibility' - we all are responsible to make each other learn more, be better, respect others' opinions, contribute to the class and grow together.

Who gets into IIMs?

As an IIM aspirant, you must understand that there are two significant values that are looked for in any candidate - Contribution and Adaption. What you saw in the case discussion above highlights how both these values come into foray in the classroom.

When students raise their opinions, contradict or build on each others' POVs, they are essentially contributing to each others' learning. They are making the class discussion a rich exercise. When some bigger and better ideas get generated out of these discussions, the learning process that takes place for each individual signifies the adaptation process - they learn from each other, they are ready to change, to believe others.

These two values are what sum up the entire class discussion process:


As an IIM aspirant you need to think about the value you can add to your batch mates. When you compete with a pool of candidates from the same academic background, what can distinguish you from them: Is it your theoretical subject knowledge, your internship and work experience, your hobbies and interests, your extra-curricular activities or your certifications?

There is no hard and fast rule. It can be anything and everything. You can introspect and find out how much value do you really think you can add to the batch? What is it that you know and you think others might learn it from you? When an engineer seeks help from a CA at an IIM, it is because the engineer knows the CA can guide him faster than a book. What is it that you can add to the batch?

Each student at an IIM adds value to the classroom, at least that is the intention with which they are selected. If you wish to get into an IIM, build that differentiation - be better at what you're already good at and if you're average at most things, then build a niche for yourself that can help others.

In marketing terms, we call this a Point of Differentiation (POD). It is necessary for you to have a POD to be considered worthy of getting admission to an IIM. Just having a good CAT percentile or decent academic scores is not enough. Rethink about the value you can add and ask yourself - is it enough?


An IIM is an institution where you undertake a responsibility to learn from your peers. If you already believe you know everything or you're a lone wolf, how will you ever grow? The entire class discussion will look like a meaningless activity to you. You'll only bother about your own points and opinions.

Hence, the second quality which is looked for in an IIM aspirant is that of Adaption. How well can you synthesize what you learn from others? How ready are you to accept your mistakes or failures and outgrow them? How willing are you to listen to others, respect their opinions and then take decisions?

These soft qualities are a must in a candidate. And, IIM interviewers look for them by testing the candidates in several ways during the interviews. They make the candidate handle stressful scenarios, they pose HRQs and evaluate how a candidate responds to them, they ask tricky questions and see how the candidate fares and most of all, they observe how a candidate behaves when he is told he is wrong.

In marketing, we call this a Point of Parity (POP), a quality which everyone should possess. Without this, you will not be able to do justice to the learning system of an IIM. You will only be an attendee and no more.


Hope this helps you understand which aspects of your personality do you need to work on. Don't be so selfish and worry about improving yourself for your sake. Thing about your future batch mates and do justice to them by working on yourself. Ask yourself everyday, "Is this good enough for my batch mates?"

At the same time, keep a check on your self-esteem. Are you a student of life, do you think you have a scope of learning more? Always keep a watch on yourself and see how you respond to those around you? Do you have an eye for learning from every single individual around, every single day? Stay hungry for knowledge.

With this, start working on yourself. Wish you the very best!

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