How to tackle GD-PI-WAT rounds at top B-Schools

 IIMs declaring the shortlist of candidates for the next round of admissions, the MBA aspirants must be getting prepared to face the panel for the Group Discussion, Personal Interview and Written Ability Test rounds. What should be the approach for the preparation and the day of your Personal Appearance? In this interview with  Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind and Director, Vanguard Business School, Bengaluru shares tips to tackle GD, PI and WAT rounds.

Srinivas also mentions the qualities which are looked for in a prospective student at a top B-School. Read the interview to know more.

Excerpts from the interview
 What is the importance of Group Discussion rounds for B-School Admission Process?
Arks Srinivas: Group Discussions are an integral part of many B-School Selection processes. Though, off late, some of the IIMs have done away with the GD as a part of the Selection Process.
A written test measures the aptitude (Quant, English and Logic) of a candidate. An Interview helps in ascertaining the seriousness and suitability of the candidate for the B-School. But, it is the GD which brings out the Team Skills and Leadership Skills of an individual. A student may profess to have good leadership or team building skills (in an Interview), but a GD is a good forum wherein the same can be easily verified.
 What are the parameters for Group Discussion on the basis of which candidates are evaluated?
Arks Srinivas:  Typically there are four parameters on which a GD is marked. These are:
1. Content
2. Communication Skills
3. Team Skills
4. Leadership Skills
Of the four, Content is very important to show case the other skills one has.
 How shall a candidate tackle the Group discussion of B-School admission process?
Arks Srinivas:  While appearing for the Group Discussion round, keep the following factors in mind.

  1. Keep a plain paper and pen handy when you sit for the GD.
  2. Write down the GD topic clearly when it is announced by the Moderator.
  3. If you have the chance to start the GD, please do and ensure that you give a direction to the discussion. This can also give one Leadership points. Remember that it is a discussion and NOT a debate and hence you are NOT required to take a stand. In fact, it is advisable NOT to take a stand for any topic (at least at the beginning of the GD)
  4. If a GD is of 15 minutes, the total number of points may not exceed 35/40. Therefore it is important to speak at least 5 to 6 times and come up with at least two original points.
  5. Do not unnecessarily be rude or butt-in when another person is speaking.
  6. However, there will always be moments of calm in the GD which is a good time to intervene with your points.
  7. Usage of words like “Excuse me, let me make a point”, “Let me complete”, etc are nicer ways to interrupt and participate in a GD.
  8. Do not make any one an enemy in the GD as it may be counter-productive.
  9. Use facts only when the facts give a logical conclusion to the issue at hand.
  10. 10. Summarize at the end of the GD (by keeping track of time). It may not be bad to actually summarise the part of the discussion after some 7 to 8 minutes are done and then set a direction for the next 7/8 minutes in a 15 min GD.

 What are the key personality traits that the interview panel looks for in a candidate during the Personal Interview rounds? What should be the strategy to clear this round of Interview?
Arks Srinivas:  Honesty, Ethics, Sincerity and Commitment are some of the key personality traits the professors of B-schools look for in a candidate. This, of course, is in addition to the traits which ascertain the suitability of the student for a Management course.
The Personal Interview is all about you. And ONLY you know fully about yourself. Hence there is no right or wrong answer about you.
Most students falter in a PI round due to their misconceptions about the expectations from the professors. If it were true that every institute is looking for a particular type of candidate, then it is logical to assume that all students who get into any particular institute will have all students who are similar to each other! But, the reality is otherwise. Every student is unique and what the Professor looks for is that uniqueness.
 What should be the strategy to clear this round of Interview?
Arks Srinivas:  Here are my ten pointers to a successful interview.

  1. Make sure that you prepare all the basic questions on yourself thoroughly.
    a. Tell me about yourself
    b. What are your strengths, give examples?
    c. What are your weaknesses, give examples?
    d. What are your Interests and Hobbies?
    e. Why do you wish to do an MBA?
    f. What are your short-term long term goals?
  2. Prepare more than one answer for each of the above questions. One could be a short answer and the other a longer answer. Depending on the situation and the requirement at the time, you can extend the short answer (while in an Interview).
  3. Be thorough with your application form. Most questions are asked from the application you have submitted to the institute. Know everything about your place of birth and place of stay.
  4. Keep your answers short and to the point. Only when asked to elaborate, you may do so with examples.
  5. Prepare thoroughly on your basic subjects in your engineering/degree OR Work experience.
  6. Some of the IIMs (A and C) ask basic Math questions, be prepared for the same.
  7. Make sure that you read the newspaper thoroughly from now on till the date of the Interview. Read the newspaper, without fail, before going into the Interview room.
  8. If you do not know an answer, please say “I am sorry, I do not know” and proceed. It is perfectly fine not to know some answers.
  9. Do not treat the Interview panel as if they are some Monsters. As much as you are worried about your selection so are they! The Interviewers are always looking for reasons to select you than reject you.
  10. Always be honest and ethical in your answers.

How is a candidate evaluated on the basis of WAT?
Arks Srinivas: The Evaluation parameters on which WAT is analyses are as follows.

  • Quality of content – Facts, Interpretation or Analysis, Conclusion/Opinion/Solution
  • Quality of Logical arguments – Support your Conclusion
  • Coherence
  • Clarity of Language
  • Basic Spelling and Grammar

While the above parameters are exhaustive, each B-School decides which of these parameters they should give more weightage to.
Any tips, guidance or suggestions for the students who would be appearing in your B-school’s GD-PI-WAT rounds? What are your expectations from the future students?
Arks Srinivas: At Vanguard Business School, we look for almost all the above qualities for an aspiring MBA candidate. We believe that a student who has the right Attitude towards work and studies is welcome at VBS.
Also Read
GD-PI-WAT Preparation: Tips from Toppers and Experts
Stay tuned to for more on GD, PI and WAT.

January 14, 2015

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