The selection process of all major business schools is a multi-stage affair, beginning with the entrance test. After taking the entrance test, the subsequent rounds are a combination of two or more of the following: Group Discussion (GD), Written Ability Test (WAT or essay writing), and Personal Interview (PI).
Some B-schools organize a case discussion instead of a simple group discussion. A case study simulates a real-life situation and instills in you the thought process and action plans to get the best possible solution. There may not be any wrong or perfect solutions to a case study, but they’re definitely is the best possible solution, which the group is expected to collectively arrive at.
Both the above-mentioned tools evaluate some basic personality traits such as clarity of thought, communication (including listening) skills, ability to critically evaluate, and ability to interact in a group.
Historically, the rounds used to comprise GD and PI. However, in the last couple of years, institutes have started including the WAT as well, in some cases doing away with the GD altogether.
The preparation for GD, WAT, and PI should ideally start much before the test since it is knowledge of current affairs and the ability to communicate opinions effectively that are tested. However, starting January, the GD, WAT, and PI preparation must intensify exponentially, so that you reach the peak of your ability during the actual GD/WAT and PI rounds.
The key elements for GD/WAT/PI preparation are:
1. It is okay to say ‘I don’t know in an interview’. Instead of answering a question without any knowledge about the topic (read bluffing), be humble and state that you are not aware of the facts.
2. Here’s the classic opening question in a PI – ‘Tell me something about yourself.
Answer to this question can make or break the interview. Typically, one should talk very briefly about family, education, career goals, hobbies, and interests. Do not talk a lot about the past. Briefly refer to past education, life journey, and future plans.
3. Another common question is ‘Why do you want to do an MBA?’
Answer such questions keeping in mind the holistic development you’ll get during MBA and acquisition of skills for life-long success in personal and domestic space. Remember, post an MBA, one lands a job in corporate where there’s rapid career growth along with high monetary returns. But then, management as a career is also a challenging profession.
4. The third common interview question is – ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?’
While answering this, focus on skills development, increased responsibility while highlighting your goals as achievements. But do not say I want to become VP or General Manager or similar stuff.
5. Read newspapers regularly so that you don’t fall short on content.
6. Try to enter the GD at the right point, such as when others are taking a small pause. Be loud and assertive on points.
7. It is not necessary to arrive at a consensus during a GD. Candidates have different opinions and consensus can’t be arrived at at times. But it is necessary to conclude the GD.
8. Do not try to prove others wrong in a GD. Just remember it is not a debate but a group discussion.
9. While participating in a GD, focus on the following:
10. Ensure participation by putting up relevant points, showing maturity. Build your arguments with facts, figures, and situations. Keep a logical approach throughout the GD. It becomes easy to build on others’ arguments and conclude.
Written Ability Test (WAT) is a pen-paper-based writing test of 15 to 30 minutes duration conducted by IIMs and other top B-schools to test your writing skills after you are shortlisted for the final admission round. In fact, most of the IIMs have replaced Group Discussion (GD) round with WAT in the final selection round.
Out of the 20 IIMs except for 2 IIMs, all have replaced the GD round by the WAT round as their final selection process for admission to their flagship programmes. IIMs found WAT a better testing process to assess a candidate than GD as many candidates could not express their opinion and views during GD while those who could speak louder made their presence felt during the GD round.
In the WAT round, a candidate can freely put down his views and thoughts on paper coherently without fear of getting disrupted
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