GD and Personal Interview Experiences


GD at IBSI remember the day when I had received my confirmation call for GD in one of the topmost management schools in India. I was glad to be one step closer to one of the best institutes in India but at the same time I was aware that from this point onwards smart planning and preparation would be the key to ensure my selection there.

I realized that management institutes use group discussions as a tool to evaluate many candidates in one go. They gauge and select students with personality traits and skills in communications that are desirable in specific areas of management.

With less than a month to go I had to prepare for GD and PI. I arrived at separate strategies to tackle my GD and PI. For my GD, below are the top three areas that I worked upon daily until my GD day.

  1. General Awareness:

I used to read newspapers daily but for a GD just being aware was not enough. What mattered the most was how I structured my ideas and how well I present it for a discussion. I made it a habit to note down key points on important topics. If the topic was of controversial nature I always tried to note down two points in favor of the topic and two points against it.

  1. English Language:

I decided to speak only in English for some days. Initially it felt a bit awkward but after a couple of days, I found myself to be much more fluent and confident than how I had started. Watching English news and movies also kept the momentum strong.

  1. Body Language:

Well, this was the most important area. I knew that I will be watched and then evaluated on how I walk into the room, how I take my seat, how I greet others, how I look at others, what I speak and more importantly how I speak.

How was I supposed to find out how I look while I do all these things?

So I practiced in front of the mirror till I was comfortable. Later on, I came to know that even great public speakers have used the mirror to get better with their skill!

My GD Experience: The topic: ‘Pink’

We were called in groups of ten. There were two panelists inside the room. I looked at all the panelists and wished them as I entered.  We were made to sit in a semi circular arrangement. We were being observed all the time.

We were given two minutes to think before the discussion was initiated. The first candidate set the tone by throwing a question: “Pink is for girls what blue is for boys. So can pink as a color be generalized for feminism?”

Because the group was strong I was not getting an opportunity to pitch in. So while a candidate was making her point and was taking a pause, I pitched in. I started by agreeing to the point made by my previous candidate and then added by providing two current examples in marketing where the color was being used to target a specific audience in the market. Then the discussion went on to touch multiple topics like commercialization, gentleness, female consumers, ‘Pink Floyd’ and so on.  The panelists then asked one of the candidates to conclude the discussion.

Overall the quality of discussion was very good. Six candidates from our group including me were shortlisted for the interview. My strategy for GD worked for me! And contrary to the popular thinking, a good group discussion need not be aggressive always!


personal interview at IBSI had cracked my GD and was sitting outside the interview room waiting for my turn to come. I was overwhelmed, with feelings ranging from anticipation, nervousness, confusion and confidence. I controlled my feelings and took a deep breath as I entered the room. There were two people in the panel; an elderly lady and middle aged professor. We greeted each other and with permission I took my seat.

Then came the first (and the most anticipated) question: Tell me something about yourself.

I took a pause and then told about my background (details about my educational background, my favorite engineering subject, work experience and hobbies). I made sure that I took some time to explain my job role in details. I knew that I had to engage the interviewers in the area of my interest (work experience) so that they start asking me questions around it. Storytelling helped.

In the next few minutes the interviewers asked me different questions around my work experience- business processes in my work area, latest company news and the things which I liked the most in my work. I was prepared for such questions and I made sure that I answered them in a structured manner and backed it with real time data.

Since, I had only a year of work experience, one tricky question which the panel asked me was “ Will your employer not be upset if you leave your job for pursuing higher studies only after a year of work?”

This question took me off-guard, but I slowly collected my thoughts and replied, “Our Company, as a policy, encourages its employees to pursue higher studies. Hence, the question of my boss or supervisor getting upset over my resignation will not arise. On the contrary, I am very sure that my manager will be very supportive of my decision. Also, as alumni, I will always have the option of re-applying for any open positions in our company in the future. After my higher studies, if there are any job roles that fit my qualifications and aspiration, then I will certainly remain open to exploring that option”. My answer went down well with the interviewers and they did not probe into that area further.

The panel took notice of the fact, that I was a Mechanical Engineer and they asked me some basic fundamental questions from Thermodynamics. I was able to answer most of them. For the ones that I could not answer, I preferred not to guess and to be honest with them. I told them, that I could not recollect the answers at the moment. Here, I would like to mention that while answering the introductory question (“Tell me something about yourself?”), I made sure that I mentioned about my favorite subject as I was prepared for it. So being specific helps the Interviewers to understand your areas of interest.

Another question, which I recollect, was “ Why would you want to do your MBA from our college?” I was prepared for this one and I replied: ”This college is known for the quality of its faculty, students, alumni, infrastructure, research, extra curricular activities and placement. As student in this college I will get access to some of the best minds in the country, research facilities, a great professional network, brilliant placement opportunities with top companies in the country and above all a life changing experience.” Since I researched the college website and additional news related to the college, I was able to throw in some data when I answered this question. I remember taking the names of some alumni of the college who was in news during that time, the names of the annual events conducted by the college and some of the internship facilities provided in the Campus. The panel was impressed with the data and they asked no further questions in that areas. College research does help.

Then there was a very simple and common question, which they asked me-“ Tell me about your weaknesses”. I replied- “ I consider them as the areas of self development for me. My primary area of self- development is to improve my public communications. Though, I am a good in public speaking, I would want to take my presentations to the professional level. For this, I am already working with my mentor in my office and I have also joined the Toastmasters International Club. I have realized that working on my action plan has helped me a lot. I plan to continue improving my communications”. The interviewers nodded and I knew that they appreciated my answer because I did not try to ‘cover up’ my weaknesses by projecting them as strengths. I was honest and I had a plan to work on my weakness.

Overall the interview was very satisfying. I prepared for it and was glad that I also contributed in steering the interview in the desired directions. The results were out in the evening and I was very glad to see my name on the selection list.

I hope my experience is helpful to the candidates who are to face their interviews soon.

Contributed By : Sanjit Das, Class of 2005, IBS Hyderabad

How to prepare for GD/PIs?

gd and piI 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’.

mba graduatesAfter 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

“Sharing My Experience And Tips on the Selection Process at IBS”

Himanshu ChowdaryIn this topic, I will share my experience with all of you on the Selection Process that I went through at IBS India.

I joined the IBS Hyderabad in the year 2003 and let me share that the selection process at IBS is very fair but at the same time is equally challenging on the competitive front..

Before I share my experience on the selection process, let me give you a fair idea on how the whole IBS Selection Process starts and finish!

As per the Selection Procedure of IBSAT, the candidates would be selected for the final admission at the IBS Business School and ICFAI University campuses through the IBSAT exam scores, Group Discussion (GD) and Personal Interview (PI).

The IBSAT exam is conducted for selection of students for admissions into management courses at IBS across its campuses. The IBSAT Selection Procedure will be conducted in IBS Hyderabad campus in the month of February. The procedure candidates have to follow is given in the table below

Group Discussion and Personal Interview

In this topic I will jot down the four most important points based on my experience that will helps you sail through the Selection Process at IBS.

Timing: Timing is very important aspect as far the SP concerns…You need to reach the venue well before the given time and register yourself at the Registration Counter. I have seen many students reaching late to the venue or getting the registration late due to some or the other reasons which in turn leads to the utter confusion for them and most of the students felt nervous and broke down before the most important SP. It‘s not correct if any student start feeling nervous or remains in hurry. You need to stay cool and should not lose control of the things due to the bad time management.

Choosing the Appropriate Centre: While filling the forms I encountered a very critical question that ask you about your most preferential centres…Since I was from New Delhi and at that point of time IBS Hyderabad was the most sought after learning centre, so I choose IBS Hyderabad as my first choice and Gurgaon as second, Jaipur and Dehradun as third and fourth…Most of the students available at that point of time were filling Hyderabad as their first choice of learning centre..While I would not say that in today’s time the students will not put Hyderabad as the first choice but the times have change and all the 9 IBS Learning centres are providing world class education and amenities and state of the art infrastructure.

You need to provide your list of the most preferential learning centres in your feedback form and you will be asked to provide 4-5 choices of learning centres…Before providing your list of the centres, I will advise each one of you to kindly visit the nearby IBS Centre and talk to the staff and students and take help from the seniors in order to choose your preference for the learning centres.

Group Discussion: GD at IBSI was reached the given venue at 8am on the given day and my turn for GD came at around 6pm this is because of the large number of the students available at that day and the IBS Staff was taking each and every step to make feel that we are not left behind like this..I was very impressed with the arrangement and facility provided to the students and to their parents…The GD was consists of 8-10 members per group and the supervisors who were available were very knowledgeable and were very supportive…Our group was given a topic and were provided 5 Minutes of time to think for some points on the given topic of the GD. You need to be well prepared for the Group Discussion held during the SP at IBS. I will provide you some of the tips to handle the GD in a much better way…

  • Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not.
  • Don’t start speaking until you have clearly understood and analyzed the subject.
  • Work out various strategies to help you make an entry: initiate the discussion or agree with someone else’s point and then move onto express your views.
  • Opening the discussion is not the only way of gaining attention and recognition. If you do not give valuable insights during the discussion, all your efforts of initiating the discussion will be in vain.
  • Your body language says a lot about you – your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.
  • Always be polite: Try to avoid using extreme phrases like: `I strongly object’ or `I disagree’. Instead try phrases like: `I would like to share my views on…’ or `One difference between your point and mine…’
  • Brush up on your leadership skills; motivate the other members of the team to speak and listen to their views.
  • If you have a group of like-minded friends, you can have a mock group discussion where you can learn from each other through giving and receiving feedback.

Apart from the above points, the panel will also judge team members for their alertness and presence of mind, problem-solving abilities, ability to work as a team without alienating certain members, and creativity.
Don’t be disheartened if you did not do well in your first group discussion. The best possible preparation for a group discussion is to learn from your past mistakes…

Personal Interview:  personal interview at IBSPI is the last step at your SP at IBS, there are no set timing for PI and a normal PI could take any time between 10 mins to 30 mins, PI is your last chance for getting the selection done at your favourite IBS Centre… You need to be very well prepared for your PI…The panel for the PI are truly the best among the lot and no one can take chance with this step of the SP…I was interviewed for almost 15 mins and the panel asked me the questions related to my Engineering subjects, the project done during the Engg, current affairs, Indian Politics and questions from various other subjects which I learned during my Engg course. You need to be hands on your graduate courses and read thoroughly about the projects done during the graduate course…do not leave any chance to Impress the panel with your sense of Humour and the communication skills…the PI Panel would not like to see you giving answers’ like you mugged them but present yourself in a very confident way!!

I will provide you some of the tips to handle the PI in a much better way…

What does it test?

So what does the personal interview process aim to test? According to Dr JK Mitra, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, “Personal Interview process might begin with the ‘views’ expressed during the ‘extempore round’ (part of process at FMS Delhi) or through a free-wheeling discussion around one’s bio-data given in the application form.”

Goal Clarity:
Why do want to do an MBA? How does it fit into your career goals? What do you wish to do after your MBA?…These are some hard questions that you will have to answer almost invariably in all Interviews. These questions search the ‘inner motivations’ of a candidate, and there are no ‘right answers’. The only way to answer these questions is to introspect: what excites and motivates you; what makes you perform your best; what would you really like to do in your life, and how do you genuinely see an MBA helping. Tough questions, but answering them honestly is critical for your success!

Domain Knowledge:
Given that a good MBA is a demanding programme, B-schools would like to know how you will be able to cope up with the academics and the extra-curricular 24 x 7 demands of your new campus. They are also keen to assess how you have utilized the earlier learning opportunities.

Be prepared to discuss different specialty areas in business and their responsibilities. Interviewers will also expect you to discuss current issues in business, including the economy, taxation, foreign competition, the role of technology and ethical challenges in the field.

Interestingly, it is not just about knowledge and answering the questions but also ‘leading’ the interview panel. Anything you say opens the doors to new lines of questioning and discussion, so make sure you know where you are leading the interview.

Communication Skills:
Your speaking and listening skills become very important than the oft tested reading and writing skills. As simple as it may sound, good communication strategy is quite simple. Listen to the question keenly to understand it well, and then offer a precise answer. If you don’t know the answer, no bluffing the panel please! The experts are too experienced to notice this and can get switched off.

Prep Strategy:
To be honest, it is not possible to ‘prepare’ for an interview in a few weeks. Planning for an interview should ideally be a process that should begin as soon as you make up your mind to pursue management education. However, you should use the few weeks and months before the interview to revisit and update your knowledge base, and crystallize your reasoning and thinking process on your career and life goals.

All the Best!!

GD Ref :

PI Ref :

Contributed by Himanshu Chaudhary ( Class of 2003-05IBS HYDERABAD )

IBS Entrance Selection Process – A personal experience

unnamedI have procrastinated on this article for a few weeks now.

The thing is I don’t believe there was an Aha! Moment where I knew I had made it – impressed everyone and earned my ticket to IBS. The day was surreal. The memories still echo in my mind, which mostly recalls my time there as filled with immense anxiety and joy.

It would not be possible for me to write about the second half of the IBS Entrance Selection Process (i.e. post the written exam) without going into some finer details. This may result in my inadvertently missing out on some larger issues (Apologies for this). Those you may have, in all probability, already covered.

I reached Hyderabad a day before ‘The’ day.

If you, an IBS aspirant, have the time during your visit, you may find it a nice idea to go check out the Dontanapalli Campus. Even if it isn’t your desired location, you may learn something invaluable while connecting with potential seniors and teachers there.

We thought it a nice idea too but unfortunately Google Maps wasn’t such a big thing in those days. The jungle highway routes can get a little confusing you know. And the language barrier didn’t stop the locals from giving us wrong directions. We saw them twice before we knew we’d been had. We spent three hours getting lost.

It was frustrating not getting to see my future (I hoped!) home and school, being so close.  It would be a few months more till I did.

The next day, I reached the venue a little late. This though not advisable, did not hamper my chances, I think. I missed attending the Orientation, which is actually intended for the Parent/Guardian.

Smell of Dosa and coffee permeated the air. Hungry parents munched gracefully trying to gather whatever local lingo they could from the caterers. Anxious students gagged at each smell.

A word here- It would be difficult but do try to force some food down. Given that the day is long, an empty stomach will only slow you down. Anticipation anxiety as it is can cause a lot of uncomfortable physical symptoms like Headaches and Acidity. Why not have a go at the native fare so generously provided by the host and line up the nervous stomach?

Clutching a handful of ‘Current Events’ memo-notes, I proceeded to mingle with my designated group.

There would be a Presentation and an Interview that day for each of us.

I was prepared for the former. The latter I had very little experience in.

You know what helped me relax? Each one of my supposed rivals!

Good vibes. Positivity. Motivation.

Sometimes you just need people to believe in youwithout even knowing you.

My presentation went smoothly and within the prescribed time limit.  It was an ‘Argument against Capital Punishment.’ We brought our own projector-friendly slides of our presentations. As part of the audience, I enjoyed my group members varying and interesting productions, occasionally asking an unoffending question or two regarding the topics.

There was a waiting period before the interview where the students mingled with each other, read newspapers and listened to the radio to pick up on as much news as they could.

Some of us would go on to study at our preferred location, and some to our less favored choice, while some would simply move on to make their future elsewhere.

And yes. People faint in the sordid Hyderabad heat.

Be prepared.  It will be hot. Carry your own bottle if you don’t want to blackout.

Whispers of how other interviews were going floated down to us- the anxiously waiting students.

MBA Graduates

I managed to note a few tips down based on the incidents of victories and failures.

Assume comfort and confidence-

The interviewers are not there to see you squirm but won ‘t deny themselves the pleasure if you show any discomfort. You can create a stress-free zone for yourself by doing a basic breathing exercise before you enter the Interview room. Take a deep breath (inhaling for four seconds), hold it for seven seconds and exhale through your mouth, releasing the breath for eight seconds. This is the ‘4-7-8 Breathing technique’ that helps calm the nerves.


You may not feel like it but a genuine smile from you will almost certainly get reciprocated by the interviewers, release endorphins and create a pleasant feel-good ambience.

Be respectful-

Attitude and bad Attitude are two very separate things. Stand your ground but don’t be disrespectful. Listen to what they have to say. Let them finish.

Be humble and honest in your delivery-

You do not need to be a Know-it-all to impress your worthiness upon them. Let them see your personality without resorting to pompousness. On the other hand, if you don’t know an answer, do not opt for pretense.

Don’t go on and on-

Make sure you take pauses while speaking so that you don’t sound out of breath. Speak knowledgeably. Also have an approximate ending prepared before you answer a question. If you go on and on, you are bound to trail off somewhere and appear disorganized.

Be ready for follow-up questions-

After the first few obvious questions, the interviewers will try and gauge your strengths and weaknesses. They will try to get an idea of who you are, who you think you are and who they see you becoming. The questions are likely to come from your previous answers. Word your answers carefully so that the follow-up questions don’t stump you.

During the interview you basically need to show your merit without seeming obscenely self-important. The interviewers are having a tiring day too. Do nothing to aggravate it. Keep the conversation light and knowledgeable.

Everyone did his or her best. And then we waited. It was quite a long wait.

If I remember correctly, we got our verdicts around ten in the night.

I was in. I had my choice of campus. I was ecstatic!

And so were thousands of others.

For a while there, the mobile networks got jammed from the crazy amount of outgoing calls that the candidates placed.

A memorable day for sure.

–All the best to aspiring IBSiians! —

Contributed by Ankita Verma, IBS Hyderabad, Class of 2009