How to prepare for the GDPI and WAT of various B-Schools in India ?
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Deepak Mehta is a man out of time. He wanted to be born a few decades earlier, before the advent of the computer, when times were simpler and people were more content. Unfortunately, he wasn't. So, to compete in today's time, he has equipped himself with 2 degrees - one each from BITS Pilani and IIM Ahmedabad. He cracked CAT with a 100 percentile score. In his spare time, he likes to write on random website on random topics and for random people.
The key to interview prep is to be honest and to be prepared to handle a variety of questions from various spheres. Almost all questions can be broadly grouped into the below categories.
- Mathematics and logic
This is an extension to the written examination. You certainly wouldn't be asked questions pertaining to Stochastic Calculus or higher order differential equations. But the interviewers certainly expect you to have a basic logical inclination towards problem understanding and solving. Most of the time, they will not be interested in you giving them the final answer; rather they would expect and appreciate a systematic answer detailing your approach and methodology.
- Heard on the Street: Quantitative Questions from Wall Street Job Interviews: Timothy Falcon (A wonderful book that includes generic quant/logic questions as well as questions pertaining to Finance interviews. Referred by almost all MBA junta to prepare for their finance interviews
- Books by Shakuntala Devi, the world renowned Math prodigy are also really good: Puzzles to Puzzle You: Devi Shakuntala, Mathability: Awaken the Math Genius in Your Child, Figuring the Joy of Numbers:
- Related to your undergrad stream/work-ex
There will be a whole bunch of questions pertaining to your core courses at undergrad (in case of freshers) and/or work-ex. Remember to be thorough with at least 2-3 subjects of your choice. I remember that TIME had a "briefcase" of generic questions pertaining to the major disciplines like EEE, CompSci, Mechanical, Civil, Chemical etc. Ask your coaching center to provide you similar resources.
- Questions based on your application
Every word written on your application should be familiar to you. I remember being asked about the books I have read, their plots, my view on the story etc. If you have mentioned that you can solve a Rubik's cube in less than 2 minutes, expect them to ask you about your technique, the logic behind it, the different techniques other people use, and in extreme cases, to solve one at the moment.
- General Awareness/Current Affairs
Be thorough with the most important news of the year. Read through the last 2-3 months newspapers and around 6 months worth of magazines like TIME and Competition Success Review. Have an opinion and an analysis ready. For example, the setting up of 10 new IITs is being hotly debated right now. If the same is brought up during the interview, you would be expected to provide a stance on it (good or bad?) and also to provide your rationale and/or a honest, logical deconstruction of the same.
- Soft/HR questions
There are generally the most dreaded questions as there is no right answer.
Questions like "Tell me something about yourself", "Why MBA?", "Why < insert specialization of your choice?" fall under this category.
They will generally be covered during your interview prep. Be honest. Completely honest. While that might not always work in your favor, it increases the chances of the interviewer seeing that you are making up things and for you to more confidently approach the question.
Some ways to tackle the "Why MBA" question.
- Better clarity of thought and understanding of business
- Getting the requisite exposure, networking, knowledge of people, systems and process for starting up something of your own
- Higher salary
- Old job sucks
- Old boss sucks
- Sense of adventure
- Out of boredom
- Final option in decision by elimination
Tackling the "Tell me something about yourself" googly
Remember to keep it short, crisp, interesting and chronological. Start off with your background, your education, work experience etc. Move on to softer aspects like hobbies and interests. Talk about the company you started, or the app you developed, or the NGO you run or volunteer at. Tell them about things that excite you. Touch upon slightly upon your aspirations.
Do not make it an elevator pitch. Do not be in a hurry to say everything. Make constant eye-contact. See if they are interested. Smile. Do not bring in your political, religious or philosophical affiliations. That is dangerous territory. Do not take it as an opportunity to "sell" yourself. Make it a conversation, an ice-breaker and give them fodder to drive the interview.
- Small talk
Small talk is sometime used by the interviewers to judge your interpersonal skills or to make you feel at ease.
B. GD Prep
A GD is similar to the WAT round as it requires certain level of knowledge, preparation and being updated on current affairs.
Shiksha.com has listed a lot of such topics that were asked during the past years.
The strategy for GD is also similar with the following exceptions:
For a GD, ensure that you think about both sides of the debate because if you are late to the party and everyone has taken up one side of the argument, you will find that most of your points have been taken. Even if not, taking up an opposite stand will help you stand out a little from the crowd.
- Speak at least 3 times during the GD - to maintain visibility
- Each time, have something substantial to say
- Either try and start the discussion or try and wrap it up at the end.
- Do not hesitate to agree with the previous speaker. However, in doing so ensure that you add something to his/her argument.
- Do not be an asshole; even if everyone else is being one. Maintain your calm. Try and bring the situation under control.
- Never shout. Ever.
C. WAT Prep
The weightage to WAT for different institutes is as follows:
- IIMA - Undisclosed (overall 70% to WAT+PI)
- IIMB - Undisclosed
- IIMC - 10%
- IIML - 10%
- IIMK - 15% (along with GD)
Thus it is an important component that can make or break your chances of being selected.
The time limit for writing essays would vary from mere 10 mins to around 30 mins. The key is to ensure that you complete your essay within the stipulated time period. There would be no extra marks for handwriting (provided that it is legible). You need to have some concrete ideas, arguments, opinions and need to augment them with facts. There needs to be at least some basic structure to the entire piece. The topic are mostly on current affairs or standard debates.
If the topic needs you to take a stand, take one in the first 10 seconds. The topics are usually such that you can defend either side with ample amount of data, facts, figures and logical arguments. Remember that you are not there to prove the other point wrong, but to prove why yours could be right. If for example, the topic is, "Should marijuana be legalized?", you can start by:
- Saying YES or NO. Let us assume you said YES.
- Why do you say so - free market, freedom of choice, marijuana is not the same as other drugs which are addictive or harmful, no documented death due to marijuana overdose, use in medical procedures
- How higher taxes are more effective than bans - less Dead Weight Losses etc
- What would be the benefits of legalizing - new revenue source for government, curbs the prevalent black market for drugs, police resources dedicated to enforce the ban can be mobilized elsewhere etc.
Have a good closing argument or summary. Clearly state what your stand is.
- Mathematics and logic