Many B-school aspirants think that taking the CAT is the most important and difficult part of their B-school admission process. It comes as a rude shock to them when they come to know that the following rounds of Group Discussion and CAT Interview are even more crucial.
Many a time, a poor performance in the interview can ruin your chances of getting into a top B-school even if you have a stellar CAT score. While the pool of candidates gets reduced, the competition gets tougher as now you would be competing with the best of the best for that coveted seat. The interview stage requires special preparation just like CAT and can make or break your candidature.
So what do the interviewers look for while interviewing a candidate? Is it the confidence? Or is it the knowledge? Or clarity of thought? Is it something else?
Fret not. If you wanted to know how to face a CAT interview, we have got you covered.
Here are some tips that would be useful for you in a CAT interview:
Be prepared with the most commonly asked questions
You should know the answers of the most commonly asked MBA interview questions thoroughly. Some of these questions are “Tell me something about yourself”, “Why MBA”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses”, “Why this particular institute”, “What are your short and long-term career goals”, “Why MBA now after engineering” etc. You shall be asked lots of questions about your core field of study and work experience, if any. Make a list of such questions and prepare their answers well. It is almost a sin to not be able to answer these. These can also help drive the interview in the direction you want.
Ooze confidence, be calm and maintain a positive body language
Confidence is very important for an MBA interview. It helps you answer better and gives the interviewer a glimpse into your personality. Everyone would want a confident, self-sure person to be a future manager.
Being calm helps in tackling the curveballs thrown at you better. You will be asked all sorts of questions from all possible subjects. You cannot possibly know everything. Staying calm helps you think better and react better on the spot, another trait most interviewers would want to see in you as a future manager. Many institutes have stress interviews to test this trait in particular.
A positive and attentive body language works wonders for anyone. Many times, interviewers want to find out your way or method of approaching a problem rather than the solution.
Introspect and learn about yourself
Even the interviewers know that not everyone can know everything. But what every person must know is himself/herself. It is unforgivable if you cannot answer questions about yourself convincingly and yet so many aspirants fail to do this exact thing. A lot of the questions in the interview will revolve around you, what you have accomplished, your interests and your opinions on certain topics. Introspection is the key here. Introspecting about your life and future goals will give you a lot of clarity for answering such questions.
Be honest, polite and concise
The interviewers on the panel would be quite experienced and would have, most likely, interviewed hundreds, if not thousands, like you. With such experience, they can easily spot a liar. It is of paramount importance to be honest. Bluffing will make sure you get debarred even before you can blink. If you do not know an answer, own up and admit that you do not know it. There is no point concocting an answer for the sake of it.
Politeness gives a positive impression about you. No one likes haughty, arrogant people. Being polite lets people know that you are a good human being and know how to respect others.
Everyone is hard-pressed for time. Thus, most interviewers prefer concise, to-the-point answers over mere circumlocution.
Identify your strengths and drive the interview towards them
Questions in an MBA interview can be on any topic under the sun, from Norse Mythology to Nuclear Physics to Punk Rock.
Your interview will work in your favour if you can convince the interviewers that you are a confident and knowledgeable person. That will happen if the questions revolve around your areas of strength. That is why the answer to “Tell me about yourself” becomes so important. It is generally the first question that is asked in an MBA interview. How you answer it leads to what the next few questions would be. It is the perfect opportunity to drive the interview to areas you are comfortable in.
Know your CV thoroughly
Interviewers tend to pick up questions from what you have written in your CV. So do not bluff and write stuff that you have not done. Once they start digging deeper, you might get caught and that reflects very badly on you. You should be able to justify your CV details properly and be prepared with the questions that might arise out of those points.
Last but not the least, be well-groomed. You do not have to wear designer suits to impress the interviewers. Having a clean shaven look or nicely-trimmed beard, being neat and clean, wearing clean, well-fitting and ironed clothes and polished shoes go a long way in creating a good impression in the interviewers’ mind. You should dress for the occasion and you should consider this as one of the most important occasions of your life. Thus you would want to be dressed in a way that helps you in looking presentable and being taken seriously.
The Personal Interview Round is definitely very crucial. But it should not be approached with fear or anxiety. You should treat it like a conversation where the interview panel is trying to know you as a person and if you are the right fit for their institute. Staying calm and focused can help you steer even the choppiest of waters. With the right planning, preparation and execution, you can do exceedingly well and get yourself in the hallowed portals of your dream institute. All the best!
The above tips have been shared by a CAT-qualified MDI Gurgaon student (2015-17 batch).