Saturday, January 26, 2008

Preparation for GD/PI - Tips (2)

This post was supposed to be out about two weeks back but the extremely hectic and busy schedule forced me to postpone it to this date.

Step 3: Content
So after you are thorough with Steps 1 and 2(as described in first post of this series), you are almost ready for the personals part of the interview and now need to focus on building content for the talks.

At this point, I would like you to think over it for a moment - What is it that you "must" know? What is it that you "should" know? and What is it that you "may/may not" know to talk sensible in a discussion or an interview?

Clearly there are no defined rules for preparing for content. Nobody knows what is it that you will be asked in an interview so the scope of topics is unbounded and limitless. If we can classify the topics in above three categories, we can save sometime by not doing things which are less important. We can prioritise must dos over should dos.

Again the classification also has no defined rules. Only a general set of guidelines. For an example, there are a few things that are more likely to be asked in an interview like your work experience, some recent happenings in the related industry, some theory related to what you have done etc. Similarly topics from your UG which may not be directly related to your field of work or topics from your desired field of specialisation may be asked and then you have topics which are remotely related to you or are highly technical to the field of your UG etc., which are not very likely to be asked. Based on my experience and observations, I can prescribe you an order of readings, which I strongly suggest you to change to adopt to your particular case. I suggest you follow 3-1-4-5-6-2 or 3-1-4-5-2-6 (where 1=Newspaper, 2=Magazine, 3= Work-ex related, 4=Academics, 5=Interview experiences, 6=PG articles)

1. Read Newspapers properly
Spend atleast 2 hours daily to those 20 odd yellow pages. I can tell you those will come really handy in GDs and PIs. You may go through Economic Times or Business Standard for this purpose. Business Line and Financial Express would be a bit too much for new readers so you may avoid those at this stage. Business page of TOI is good as well but not sufficient at all. Do not waste much time on Sports page. You may like to refer to editorials to gain new perspectives on the topics of discussion, which may be useful for Group Discussions but otherwise the knowledge gain there is very limited.
Note that this is a daily activity and above given order for this activity is just to represent its importance.

2. Magazines
Scan through a few magazines of your choice(General/Business) to get an idea of what's going around in the world. Dont spend too much time on magazines. The purpose is to be aware of national/global happenings.

3. Work Experience
Arguably one of the most important component of your Personal Interview. Since you are already doing the job, I'll assume you know how to do it but for the purpose of interview, you are expected to know the theory behind those things as well. Also, in case of large teams working on a project, you can't get away by saying that others in my team were looking up this issue and I was not involved(unless very domain specific issues are there). Now since you are aspiring to be a management student, you must have been thinking about the practical applications and new innovative uses of the project you are doing. If not then start thinking as you are expected to be knowing that if you are genuinely motivated to get into B-school.

4. Academics
If I say, preparing academics is a nightmare for people in jobs, it would not be an overstatement. It must be noted down that preparing academics well is must for a fresher(a person with no prior work experience) and the importance of knowing academics well goes down with the number of years of experience. Although it must not be taken as a sacrosanct statement for there have been instances where candidates with 6-7 years of experience had their interviews totally based on their academic courses.
While preparing for academics you may like to prepare well for 1-2 interesting(*interesting in managerial language is generally interpreted as something of practical use and yet not very popular in people) courses and the courses related to your field of experience. To take an example, a person with IT experience in 'development' should know the concepts of structured programming and object oriented programming well. You know which courses can be related to your field of work, so give high importance to those. In that sense, acads and work experience are not mutually exclusive.
Another very important point to note over here is that interviewer's perception of your field of work may not exactly match the actual work you do. To save your face in such cases, it would be good if you can get some basic understanding of fields of those possible wrong interpretations. To give an example, I worked as mobile solutions developer but during many interviews, interviewer interpreted mobile solutions as embedded programming. They are different.

Basically, in academics the target is to do certain related courses well and a basic understanding of a lot of courses.
A special tip for people with B.Tech./B.E. in communications or related field(Electronics/Electricals/ICT) - Prepare well for course on Radio Frequency and Radio waves. You will find a lot of interviewers obsessed with obsessed with RF,AM/FM etc.

5. Read previous year Interview experiences
A lot of people write their interview experience on their personal blog and PagalGuy. Go through those to discover all that I have written. [:-)]

6. Read articles on PG
In case you still have sometime left, just go through articles on PG. They generally have some articles on recent world happenings to make candidates more acquainted to the topics and intricacies involved. This might help in Group Discussions/Personal Interviews.

Step 4: Practice
The Last and very important step is to practice.
Any speech, no matter how short or long, without modulations is boring and ineffective. Relate it to listening to a song or a movie. A speech with proper modulations engages audience and force them to listen to you. It is not the decibel level that gets you a chance in Group Discussion, it is the modulation level. If you speak flat then rest assured, somebody will cut it off in between and others will support him/her. Make it interesting for others to listen to and you will emerge as a leader of the group. Similarly, in an interview, it is equally important to keep the interviewer interested in you and your talk.

I'll try to put on another post in this series, covering Do(s) and Dont(s) for GD/PI. Keep checking Abhi's space.


Sang Elixir said...

Hi Abhi.
Thanks for this nice inputs on the GD/PI....I have applied for an X-MBA which will be my second MBA...I have undergone this process once..ten years back..but now when I have to undergo this again I am feeling lost. Your post did give some direction...thanks...I am open to suggestions and further input. Thanks a lot.

AbhiTaneja said...

For some more Gyaan, do visit the following links on official IIM Calcutta student website:

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