“What Interview Panels want”: My IIM Calcutta Experience

IIM Calcutta Experience

by Aman Bedi

To start preparing for an interview at one of the Top IIMs/FMS/XLRI/MDI and colleges of that ilk, one has to initially appreciate what all can be asked in such an interview. Generally, after the entrances, we tend to relax a bit with preparation. But interviews are no easy day at the races. I am sharing my IIM Calcutta Interview Experience just to make you realize just how broadly the panelists could end up testing you.


Excerpts from my Personal Interview for IIM Calcutta. I don’t remember the panelists so I will refer to them broadly as P. I am referring to myself as A.

Background – IT Engineer from MIT Manipal with 10th/12th/Grad being 94/6/89.5/64.7. Post this I had 11 months of work experience in Deloitte as an Ethical Hacker.

P: Aman, in my experience, being an IIM Calcutta pass out almost 40 yrs ago, I see that people with a min of 2-3 years of work experience can add a lot more value. So I would like you to have 3-5 years’ work experience and come back here. Why do MBA now?

A: Sir, the strategic roles I am looking to take up need a further compliment to my engineering education.

P: We understand that, but why not work more for a couple of years and then do this? That way it would be easier.

A: (Fair enough question) Sir, I agree that I am facing a steep learning curve but to be honest, getting this percentile is an opportunity and I would like to maximize what I have with me. There is always additional pressure in postponing tasks.

(All three panelists laugh. One says a bird in hand is better than two in the bush and tells me he appreciates my honesty.)

P: Do you remember factorization? (Yes) Solve a question.

A: Got the first factor. (Was under immense pressure with all 3 of them looking at me) Told them the easiest way to get the rest would be to divide.

P: That isn’t the way we were looking for. Anyway, (seeing my English awards) why didn’t you take English honors after the 12th? Have you ever been advised to do so?

A: Yes, my English teacher advised me for the same. I used to write really good short stories (my forte) which she used to appreciate a lot.

P: Then why go through all this and come to engineering? Isn’t that what the rest of the world is doing?

A: Sir, 2 reasons. First, the scope in English honors is smaller and thus to shine, one has to be really talented. I am more of a work in development. Secondly, seeing Amish Tripathi (IIM C) and Chetan Bhagat (IIM A) going big guns after a B-School education, I would call this my effort at a course correction.

P: Tell me about the TCP/IP model?

A: Sir, let me relate it to OSI model. Tell all layers of the OSI model. Relate it to TCP/IP.

P: What is this outreach program you were involved in?

A: Told them about teaching less privileged children. The program started by my mother at home. Started with this while I was young. Continued by joining a similar program in Deloitte (work life).

P: Do you read any newspaper? (Yes) What were some of the news today?

A: Indigo IPO likely to happen.
Black money bill and considerations.
Further speculations on Ranaghat nun case.

(Discussed black money bill in short)

P: Aman, what do you think is the most significant accomplishment of your life?

A: Talked about an essay I wrote about my brother back when I was young. The topic was “star of my life”. At that age, everyone wrote about their favorite toys or gadgets. I wrote about my brother. Apart from being chosen for a national competition, it made my parents and teachers really give me credit for my maturity.

P: Have you heard of EQ? (Yes, Emotional Quotient but don’t know exactly the criterion for measuring it) Do you think you are emotionally mature? (Yes) Great, we think you are too.

P: You have said you like reading about Greek/Roman mythology? Can you tell me the months and the Roman gods they are associated with?

A: (Clueless) But I can tell you about the planets and the Gods they are related with. (Given go ahead) Told all the planets and associated Gods.

P: But you told me the names of Greek gods. I asked for Roman Gods.

A: Sir, they are all related. Told them the history of Battle of Troy and how the survivors of Troy escaped to Italy. Due to death of the Troy culture, they adopted Greek Gods, albeit their more aggressive stances. Thus, Zeus became Jupiter and at the same time more aggressive and war-like, the way the Trojans wished they were against the Greeks.
Also talked about how the Trojan War affected Greek and Roman architecture.

P: (nodding)

A: (seizing the opportunity) In fact sir, I think even our very own Hindu mythology is highly linked with this. Talked about basic linkages (trio of Gods, Devas/Olympians vs Titans/Asuras etc.) Talked about parallels between Achilles and Bheeshma/Krishna. 

P: Interesting. What I am intrigued by, is do you pursue all this knowledge even now?

A: Yes sir. In fact recently read a book called Palace of Illusions which had Draupadi’s Point of View of the Mahabharat. Described the book, key stratas of Draupadi, Kunti and Karna.

P: Good Aman. Thank you, we are done.

P: One last question. Which calls do you have?

A: Ahmedabad, Kozhikode, FMS, Indore, Shillong and MDI.

P: You may go. Thank you. 

A: Have a great day sir.

Verdict – I was waitlisted after this interview and eventually missed by a couple of seats. This could probably be due to the Maths emphasis in IIM Calcutta. No regrets though as I was very happy getting into FMS.

This interview though is indicative of the level of preparation required to crack your dream college. The term “know your CV” is never more relevant than in a B-School Interview.

Aman Bedi


Aman Bedi is currently a student of Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi.

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

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