I hope your written exam scores must have surprised most of you by now. In case, you are pleasantly surprised only then you can expect to get a call for the next rounds of evaluations i.e. GD-PIs. The step that you have just cleared (the written exam) is the easiest one as you had the liberty of guessing and solving by eliminative approach as the exams were of MCQ type. But it is in the GD-PI round, you will see that things have become more interesting, more challenging and needless to say have gone to the next level, where the focus will solely be on you. Ever conscious or unconscious action of yours will be judged in order to make or break your career by assuring a seat in top b-schools.
The sole purpose of a group discussion is to evaluate your capability to discuss and work in a team as a team player and your listening capabilities. There is a myth that the person, who speaks in the loudest voice and consumes maximum air time during discussion, gets selected. Please understand that nobody ‘likes’ an aggressive and obnoxious person who enforces his views on others in a team set-up. And in GD, the whole onus of you getting selected lies on your ‘likeability’ quotient in the eyes of the panel. Be sure that your presence is felt throughout the GD by the group members and you contribute positively in the discussion. By positively one should understand that, as a team member you are expected to bring out different and relevant angles to the discussion and yet help the group’s cause in arriving at a consensus by giving a properly spaced out appearance in the course of the discussion.
As mentioned above, unconsciously many candidates tend to do a one on one discussion in a GD and lose eye-contact with other members of the group. This can be detrimental towards your progress because a member of a group you are expected to address each and every member of the group when you are putting forward your point. You have to make your chances to get into a GD because nobody is so generous but do make sure to wait for the pauses at the end when a member is putting forward its point. Don’t interrupt in between. Be assertive in your arguments and back them up with numbers if you have. As a group, ‘We could have done it this way’ leaves more impact than ‘We should do it this way’. Another myth is that the one who starts the GD scores the brownie points is partially true. Partially because, if you are starting a GD you are expected to set the tone of the whole discussion but if candidate fumbles there, it goes against him as being irresponsible and superficial. Morale of the story is ‘Don’t be a pillion rider by supporting other members of the group or acknowledging them, but drive the discussion’.
After the fish market of GD, you are in for the most herculean and most important task, the Personal Interview. Be prepared with questions as simple as Why MBA, to the most difficult ones as What if we don’t select you. Having a thorough idea of the industry in which you are working or you intend to work will be very handy and most importantly you must be ‘able to connect the dots’ between the above answers. Most interviewers decide in the first two minutes if they are going to give a nod for the candidate or not. So, it is very important to strike a chord with the interviewer in the first 60-120 seconds. The interviewer/panel will give you a chance to do it by asking the most open ended question, ‘Tell me something about yourself’ and you should understand that why it is being asked. Your profile is already in front of the panel, so give them talking points about what is not mentioned in your CV or to your area of strength, your hobbies may be.
Don’t get intimidated if the panel tries to exert pressure on you during the interview. They are simply checking your mental strength and composure. Just maintaining a smile and being positive in your talks can do wonders for you. An interview is a conversation, so be polite and look interested all the time. Show the panel that you are not very judgmental, idealistic and a nervous fish outside your comfort zone. Show them that you are rational, positive and composed. I know a candidate who converted IIM-B by just accepting the offer of cookies by the panel for the simple reason that he waited 8 hours for his interview and when panel offered him some cookies, he accepted it because he was hungry (rational).
Do thorough research on the b-school’s history and the various activities which happen there throughout the year and talk about them during interview. It is better to formulate your GD-PIs in a way that there is no scope of contradiction in your arguments because most of the times, your GD and interview panel is going to be same and you can be questioned on your arguments in GD during the interview. Some b-schools ask candidate to give an essay/write-up before appearing for the GD-PIs. Follow basics such as using simple English, small sentences, small paragraphs, giving examples and maintaining a flow. Be sure of what you write, because again it can come back to haunt you in the PI.
Thus, GD-PIs are the tools to test how you are going to behave in the classroom initially and later in corporate as a professional. In an MBA, classroom discussions will imbibe more learning in you than mere walking you through the PPTs which is called ‘death by power-point’. An MBA is not more about how much you know, but more about how you articulate your thoughts in a lucid and presentable manner. Polish these aspects your personality and ah you en-route a journey towards an exciting career.
Contributed By : Sthita Sahu