How to tackle GD - PI - WAT rounds at top Business Schools

  • Content & PR team - MBAtious

    PlaceTeam is a startup by three IIM Calcutta alumni from Batch of 2013, namely, Rahul Kishore Singh, Varun K Choudhary and Gaurav Kejriwal. They were part of the placement team at IIM Calcutta and have broken several records. They had calls from IIM A, B, C, L, I, other IIMs, XLRI, FMS, IIFT, SPJAIN, NITIE, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, etc.

    Group Discussions, Written Ability Tests and Personal Interviews have become common words for most students in the country and yeah, these words haunts most of them. But why do they haunt us? Are these tests harder than the written exams? Can we master them? Let’s find out.

    Let’s start with Group Discussions.

    What is a Group Discussion?

    We all know that! But have we wondered why Group Discussions are actually in place as a test before finally selecting us for MBA/PGDM? What do they want to test in a GD which cannot be checked in a Personal Interview? Let’s think from their point of view. Professors look for a certain amount of maturity, knowledge, and most importantly, inter-personal skills. How do we talk to other people in a formal setting! Do we respect others’ opinion or not! A Group Discussion is more or less a round where you just need to avoid a few mistakes and present yourself as a matured individual, who talks to others professionally and respects others’ opinion. I won’t bore you with actual dos and don’ts, you already know them.

    We should always remember that the most important point of inter-personal skills is listening skills. We should listen to every point in a discussion. But yeah, at times, we are unable to focus and we can’t help it. Sometimes we are nervous, sometimes we are thinking about our next call, sometimes we are thinking about a girl/guy we saw on the way! So what? We can pretend to listen, right? Just look at the speaker’s eye and nod your head, and the judges get convinced that you are listening. We have been following this from our school days, and yeah, we are the best in that. HA HA HA. But yeah, we should try and listen to all the points, what if we are asked to summarize.

    Definitely, knowledge is one thing which we need to develop. So one should definitely read about all the major topics around the world in last 7-8 months. Once, we are good with the content, it helps our confidence as well. Now, a very important thing that we should keep in mind, when you make an opinion in a discussion, it can easily be challenged or argued by others. But once, you support your opinion with a fact, it is hard for anyone to argue, because facts are facts, no one can argue facts. That’s where content comes into place.

    Now, enough of group discussion, let’s take the next step towards Written Ability Test.

    WAT came into picture only few years back. Why? What do they test, which a Group Discussion cannot? Our knowledge, our thought process. In a Group Discussion, if we do not know about a particular topic, we can hear from others and then we can say a couple of lines, but in WAT, we can seek no such help. Either we know about a topic, or we don’t. So, yeah, content, statistics is a huge requirement here as compared to GD. Now, while speaking during a GD, we can articulate a point in whichever way we want. At times, it is not the best way, we realize that after we have said. At times, we miss out the flow of conversation and make a point which should have been made in the first 2 minutes. But can we make that mistake in a WAT? Frankly, No. Our thought process comes into picture here. Therefore, it is always suggested to take a minute and structure our thoughts and the article in a few bullet points and then start writing.

    We should try and write a couple of points from various points of view, then evaluate, and come to a conclusion. Yeah, conclusion is important. Remember, we used to write essays in school. It’s been so long, right? We used to start with an Introduction, then there was a Body and finally, a Conclusion. WAT is similar. Just stick with the basics. Conclusion helps the reader understand our final thoughts and our stand on a particular topic. Even if we are unable to write 300 words (if the questions said “not more than 300 words”), it is completely fine. We can write 250 words too, no one is going to check the number of words, not even going to count number of words in a line and multiple it by the number of lines. HA HA HA. Yeah, we all do that.

    Now, let’s move to the last part of the selection process, i.e. Personal Interviews.

    The most important part of the selection process. Even if one does great in GD/WAT and performs badly in an interview, then it is a straight NO. We are most afraid of a Personal Interview? Have we wondered why? The professors are going to ask the questions only related to us, right? Who knows ourselves better than us? Then, why do we fear? Mostly, it is because of fear of failure. If we just put a constant effort of avoiding that fear, we are good. In an interview, we just need to show the professors a student which they want to see in their class. We just need to create that image of ourselves. Can we do that? Of course. We have been doing that for years. We have a different image in front of our parents, another in front of our teachers and completely different in front of our relatives. We show our true selves only to our good friends. We need to do the same in front of those professors. We should know about ourselves completely, tell them only good stuff about us, just like a salesman with a product. It is just that we are the salesman as well as the product.

    Introduction is the most important part of any interview. The 30-40 second pitch about us leads the entire interview. We should avoid saying anything that we are uncomfortable with, or that can backfire on us in any way. For example, we read newspapers, but we do not know today’s headlines and not even yesterday’s. Yeah it has happened. Frankly, interview is the simplest test, but we just need to create that image and we should keep our tongue and emotions in control.

    Hope the above helps you in some or the other way. MBA preparation is always fun, but the 2 years of B-school is incomparable to anything. All the very best people! May you get what you really want.

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