Thursday, December 22, 2011



Ace the final frontier

                    By Ravinder Bhatia*

CAT 2011 for 13 IIMs and more than 150 management colleges across the country is over and now focus for all 2.05 lakh candidates is on the second phase of admission process which consists of group discussion, personal interview, case studies, extempore etc. This is the state where candidates’ confidence and spontaneity in decision making is judged.

One can anticipate some questions and prepare the ideal answers but always remember there is no ideal answer. For this stage, your replies should be in sync with your personality and the prevailing situation and you should make your answer clear and precise.

Special touch

While selecting candidates, the MBA schools always look for special qualities which will justify the MBA school as well as the courses offered by them. You should have ‘fire-in-the-belly’ and zeal to achieve something big. They look out for achievers.

MBA programmes want students who can lead people and be responsible for the management of an entire organization. Because leadership is one of the main ingredients of success, your communication skills, initiative, and motivation can become the most important aspects of the admission process which are tested through GDs.

MBA schools look for a candidate who has created value by being at the helm in group-based activities and is comfortable in this role, works well with others and operates smoothly and constructively in collaborative situation, who is not afraid of winning and seeing others lose, has good interpersonal values and morals, brings interesting attributes, experience and depth of back ground to the group, is comfortable with change and is ready to use it creatively, can write, speak and organize ideas well. In short, B-schools look for knowledge, presentation skills, team spirit and self-understanding.

Managerial attributes

GDs are conducted to test your managerial attributes like interpersonal skills, leadership, analytical and rational thinking, knowledge and personality traits. Communicating in clear and fluent manner is a must.

How to prepare

You can prepare for GD at two levels- individual and group. Focus on improving your fluency and listening skills. Read aloud from a book or newspaper, preferably in front of a mirror. You should also do some discussion with your peer group.

Another crucial part of GD is listening. A good listener can summarise discussions in a decent manner. In this way, he can get a good score by presenting a good case over an idea provided by other participants. You should do some listening exercise for the purpose of GD preparation.

Avoid the following during the group discussion or interview:-

·        Shaking legs

·        Chewing Gum

·        Playing with your tie.

·        Slouching in the chair

·        Wearing a tie without buttoning the collar. Check it standing before the mirror.

Preparing a Case Study:


              When practicing for case study it is important to consider the following points:

·        Analyse information, conclude, act and recommend action.

·        Be logical and clear in your reasoning.

·        Maintain good eye contact and listen carefully to the information you are given.

Right view for interview:

                      The focus of a B-school interview can range from specific questions about your job to broad discussions on life.

                      Approach the interview as a conversation to be enjoyed and not as a question-and-answer order.

                      A discussion on your hobby may go on and on. This does not mean that interviewers are not serious. It just means that you are being sized up as a person and a future professional in all your dimensions.

                      Interviewers develop an impression of you in the first few minutes of the meeting and spend rest of the interview confirming their initial impression.

                      The interview panel may include students. Don’t treat them as light weights.

Before you appear for an interview, you should have a good idea about what you consider to be greatest strength. Open ended questions like “ Introduce yourself” are usually the ones that help to start the interview.

                      Lack of preparation is a common complaint among interviewers, an if you are prepared, you will stand out among your competitors.

Do your homework:

                     Do enough research about your self and the business school so that you have the right answers to some usual questions. These may include: “Why are you right for this particular business school? and “why is this particular programme right for you?”

                     You will need to develop and present a framework. Always remember to tp include SWOT while discussing the case study.

                      You don’t need to stick rigidly to a framework but use it to frame your answer. With written case studies, remember to think about your presentation – use paragraphs and bullet points to make your points clear.


*The writer is an Assistant Professor at the Asia-Pacific Institute of  Management, New Delhi.

Source:     Jobs & Careers, The Tribune, December 21, 2011.

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