5 Steps to crack IIM Interviews

Cracking the IIMs

by Nehanjali Srinivasan, IIM Indore

Got a call from your dream B-School? What next?

The personal interview is undoubtedly the most important step in the selection process.

Students with decent GD/WAT and not-so-great CAT scores can still convert their call by an exceptional performance in the interview round.

Aspirants have to keep in mind that it is almost impossible to outsmart the interviewers. PI rounds of most IIMs are conducted by professors who have maybe met thousands of such aspirants over the years. All they look for is clarity of thought and the learning attitude.

These 5 crucial steps can help you crack the interview.

#1 – Connect the dots

Two most tricky questions asked in most B-School interviews are “What are your long-term goals?” and “Why MBA?”

The interviewer is asking the question just to ensure an MBA is what you want. But irrespective of how convincing your answer is, expect counter questioning. An aspirant with work experience would be asked why not continue in the same domain and a fresher might be asked, “Why not an MS?” “Why not a core job?” “Why don’t you work a year and then do an MBA?”

The best way to answer this question is by connecting small incidents of your life and making a story that sells. Introspect and pick those dots carefully. Maybe your family business made you interested in business? Or you topping a course in Business Management made you feel MBA is what suits you? Is your role model Indra Nooyi? Or you feel you possess skills to be a successful manager? Connect these dots and you will be able to make it through all the HR questions really easily.

#2 – Be a master of your trade and not a jack of all trades!

In my IIM Indore interview, I was asked who’s the President of some XYZ country. I replied saying I don’t follow world politics and the interview went on. So, it’s okay if you don’t know something which is not linked to your profile. But if you are claiming to be an engineer, you have to know every bit of it. So be thorough and confident about what’s on your resume like work experience, internships, projects etc., and also prepare 2-3 favourite subjects in your majors.

#3 – Be aware

Aspiring managers need to know what’s happening around them! You cannot miss out on the major happenings in business (at least in the Indian context, if not global) and their applications in your specific domain. For example, if you are currently working for an IT company, you are expected to know about GST and also understand its implications on the IT industry.

#4 – Handle the stress

Brace yourselves for 30-40 mins of intense stress. The interviewer is intentionally stressing you and might start counter questioning every answer you say or ask a totally irrelevant question. This is for the plain reason that life at IIMs are stressful and the panel wants to ensure you are capable of handling it. During my IIM Kozhikode interview, I was asked random questions like what will happen if you leave a balloon in a refrigerator? What will happen if you throw the Himalayas into the Indian Ocean? Would you prefer a love marriage or an arranged marriage? My strategy was to stay composed and answer logically. (Witty and humorous answers may also work).

Psstt!! Don’t forget to smile during the interviews 🙂

#5 – Humble yourself

Please keep in mind that the interviewers are experienced faculty at prestigious IIMs. If the interviewer says you are wrong, there’s a high chance that you are actually wrong. Hence, don’t defend yourself to a point where you might feel you won the argument but you actually end up getting rejected in the selection process. Attitude matters, after all, these interviewers are choosing students for their coming batches!

All the best!

Nehanjali Srinivasan, IIM Indore


Nehanjali Srinivasan is a student at Indian Institute of Management Indore.

To speak to Nehanjali or another MBA Mentor for advice/mock interview, click here.

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