Clearing the interview is the last step towards getting an admit into IIM Calcutta (IIMC), PGPEX program. While it may seem that you are (almost) there, make no mistake that this is the most difficult stage of the process. This is because (a) the bar is really high as only the best get shortlisted and (b) there is a high chance of elimination at this stage as only 1 of 5 candidates get the offer of admission to IIMC PGPEX.

So, how does one approach IIMC PGPEX interviews? What kind of preparation is required? What are the frequently asked questions? This blog attempts to address all such queries that often cross the mind of applicants who get invites for the IIMC PGPEX interview.

An interview round should always be considered as a round of acceptance, not a round of rejection. The purpose of an interview round is for the panel to judge the authenticity of your application, asses how presentable your personality is and evaluate your communication skills. Contrary to popular belief, IIMC PGPEX interviews usually do not go beyond a pre-determined scope. They are usually balanced with moderate stress and friendliness and a mix of technical and behavioural questions. The interview usually lasts 30 minutes but may go up to 45 minutes in case he panel is unable to decide on their rating / recommendation. Your profile, your ambitions and relevant world affairs will constitute a major part of your interview. In the given time constraint, there are only a limited number of questions that a panel will ask you on these grounds.

Some of the common questions in the IIMC interview can be:
– Introduce yourself
– Tell us 3 things about you not mentioned in your resume
– What is your greatest weakness and your greatest strength?
– What are your hobbies?
– What are your career goals?
– What are your greatest achievements?
– What has been your biggest failure? What did you learn from it?
– Why did you do engineering (or commerce or economics – as applicable)?

Going ahead, this blog will be structured into 5 areas around which most of the interview questions revolve.

1. Tell us something about yourself

Consider this as an opportunity to tell the interviewers something about yourself that the they don’t already know from your application. Remember, the interview panel will have access to a snapshot of your profile for their perusal. Do not waste this opportunity by simply reiterating facts about yourself that they would already be aware of. An introduction should ideally include your full name, a brief background about your family, your educational & professional profile, and your hobbies. This will be a starting point for the interview, with the initial few questions being sourced from your response.

2. Why do you want to do an MBA / PGPEX from IIMC?

An interview panel seeks a compelling reason for your decision to pursue an MBA. The offerings of the PGPEX program from IIMC should align with your career requirements. Preparing a response to this question will require you to sit back and think about the possible reasons behind your decision to apply to IIMC PGPEX. One effective tip is to research about the various learning resources available at IIMC. The sources of inspiration for this question can easily be traced back to your Essay / SOP questions. You should make a conscious effort to draw a link between what you prepare as a response to this question and what you have mentioned in your Essay answer. An inconsistency between what the interviewers hear and read will certainly make them question the authenticity of your responses.

3. Be thorough with your CV

IIMC lays significant emphasis on an applicant’s profile. This includes your academic history, your professional work experiences and your extra-curricular activities. Being thorough with every line in your CV, being able to defend any quantitative impact of your decision and being able to walk the interviewers through your job responsibilities is important to establish credibility of what you have mentioned in your CV. For e.g. if you mention Football as being your hobby, you will be expected to know some well-known players, football teams, recent tournaments and their results etc. Kindly note that faltering on this segment can prove to be a deal breaker as the interviewer will have every reason to doubt whatever you have mentioned in your Essays or CV if you cannot back it up.

4. Career Objectives

An interview panel will always be interested in knowing your ambitions. They would expect you to communicate your medium-term and long-term career goals in a succinct manner. The career progression envisaged by you should experience a natural and reasonable flow with an MBA acting as a necessary tool to help you tread that career journey. Try and be specific with the industries or job roles that interest you. It is imperative to conduct prior research about the firms visiting campus, the kind of job roles offered during placements etc. Mentioning these roles, and highlighting your strategy at IIMC to secure a shortlist from such companies will bode well with the interview panel

5. Have an Opinion

Business world today is more interlinked than it ever has. US elections, trade wars, other geo-political developments and their repercussions on businesses across the world. Therefore, it is important for a management student to be aware of such developments and have a point of view on these matters. You will not be judged on the merit of your argument or the nature of your stance, unless it is ridiculously unreasonable, but having an opinion is always better than not having one. Therefore, stay abreast with recent economic and business developments. There is a high chance one of those developments will feature during your interview.
Overall, just be yourself and do not try to fake it. Its ok if you don’t know something and accepting it would fetch you more points for attitude / honesty than for a fake answer.
While getting that interview call seems like you are almost there, it’s not that simple. As mentioned before, 4 out of 5 people, who make it to the interviews, do NOT make it to IIMC. Hence, it is extremely important for one to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. While you may there is a lot of gyaan on what to do, here are the top 5 mistakes that should be avoided in your interview:
Lacking structure and consistency: Structure is very important, be it written communication, or oral communication. It is important to not just jump from one point to another. There has to be a flow to it that must make sense. Also, deviating from what is written in your application, or from what you have said earlier in the interview is a big turn off. Consistency is what an interviewer looks for.
Falling into the interviewer’s trap: This is true for any interview, whether its IIMC or any other B-school. One of two things can happen, you can either lead the interviewer into asking you questions you want to be asked, or follow his trail and let him ask the questions he desires. Your next question almost always depends on the answer to your previous question.
Repetition: Throughout your interview, the interviewer wants to get to know as much about you as possible and how you would add value to their community. While maintaining coherence, try to cover as many different aspects about yourself as you can, rather than repeating the same points over and over again for various different questions.

Not adding a personal touch: The biggest advantage of a Face-Face interview is that you can actually show your passion for what you want to do through your body language. While in 2020, it may be online, you must still showcase your energy and enthusiasm about the school. While talking to the interviewer, try to make it a conversation rather than a question-answer session and show different aspects to you personality along with your professional achievements and goals.

Not asking a question at the end: One of the most common mistakes that candidates make is that they don’t ask any questions at the end or they ask an irrelevant question. An interviewer almost always asks if the candidate has any questions. Always ask a question! This shows curiosity and interest, and if the right question is asked, it adds brownie points.
Avoiding these mistakes give you an edge over the other candidates who make these mistakes! Just be yourself and don’t fake it to impress the panel. They will always know!

The author is Co-Founder, Strategy4GMAT. Views are personal.

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