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How to crack top MBA Interviews in India (like IIM ABC)?

Learn how to crack top MBA interviews in India from my interview experiences, and the interview experiences of 2000+ mentees.

Overview

I converted interviews from IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta. It’s NOT because I was brilliant or the best interviewee, it’s because of a CAREFUL interview strategy. I’ve helped over 2000 candidates in their admissions to top schools using this strategy, mindset and guideline, and it works every time.

In this article, you will learn all about the critical questions in top interviews, prep secrets and avoidable mistakes, and come one step closer to your MBA dreams!

Your Interview Mindset

Remember one thing – If you’re in the interview, you’ve already done that hard part.

The odds are in your favour!

I would worry and worry and worry about my interview results, till I figured out this mathematical truth.

Here’s an illustration to help you understand what I mean:

Top B-Schools like the IIMs have two filters – The shortlisting filter and the interviewing filter.

Shortlisting filter:

300,000 CAT applicants

1500 shortlisted applicants

Success Rate: 0.5%

Interviewing filter:

1500 shortlisted applicants

400 selected applicants (+100-200 waitlist movements)

Success Rate: 35%

You have to believe in yourself in interviews! Because you are SO close.

Success is not guaranteed in any interview – Many folks can’t make it through the interview. But, you have to believe in yourself.

No profile deficiency will stop you – I’ve seen so many of my mentees who have average profiles, with career gaps or low grades, who manage to crack the top B-Schools.

Your goal in the interview is to present yourself professionally, while highlighting your skills and profile.

When you answer a question, share a fact about yourself, but also share a highlight.

Here are some examaples:

Fact: ‘I studied at XYZ college’.

Highlight: ‘I topped 2 subjects, and maintained a perfect GPA in 1 subject’.

Fact: ‘I worked at ABC company’.

Highlight: ‘I was promoted within 1 year, and received high ratings’.

If you skip your highlights, there will be no way interviewers will know how amazing you are!

Even if you have any problems in your profile, keep the focus on the highlights. Never bring up problematic areas of your profile yourself, and steer away from sticky issues. Also, don’t show any defensiveness or anger – Red flags can completely ruin your interview.

Top Interview Questions

90% of interview questions are completely predictable! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the ‘unpredictable questions’ and completely forget about the actual majority of predictable questions.

I’ve analysed thousands of interviews, apart from my own successful IIMABC interview, and here are the 3 big themes that are followed by predictable questions:

  1. Profile-based questions: Your profile is the most interesting thing in the interview, so naturally you will get many questions around YOU. The preparation here is to create answers that fit with your story and inspire confidence in your candidature. Here are some top questions you should prep for:
    1. Tell us about yourself
    2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    3. What are your long term goals?
    4. Why do you want to do an MBA?
  2. TMAT questions: TMAT stands for ‘Tell me about a time..’. You will be asked to talk about your past experiences and demonstrate your skills through stories. These are essentially deep-dives into your resume, where the questions were your achievements are questioned, scrutinised and judged. The key is to indicate that your achievements are legitimate learning experiences, and to prepare data-backed instances explaining your achievements. Here are some examples:
    1. What did you learn from your experience in your favourite extracurricular?
    2. What was your role in your previous organisation?
    3. How did you handle conflict in your positions of leadership?
    4. What were the toughest decisions you made?
    5. Are you a team player? Give us an example of this.
  3. Knowledge-based questions: Any questions regarding your field of education and work experience. The questions will try to glean how much subject matter expertise you have, in the areas where you have significant exposure. You could also be asked about current affairs/ While you don’t have to memorize a quiz book, it’s essential to indicate your knowledge of basic issues around you. Examples of questions include:
    1. What’s your favourite subject? Explain xx concept from this subject
    2. Solve this equation/draw this curve/explain a concept
    3. Walk us through into your project/venture
    4. Who is the MP/MLA from your city?
    5. What is your view on <example> politician or party?
    6. Misc questions on local knowledge/history about your state, city and locality.

Predicting questions can really help you customise your prep – I had predicted I would be asked about Mumbai Architecture given I’ve been a Mumbaikar. In my IIMA interview, I was asked a question on the Gateway of India, and my prep came to my rescue!

Answers for predictable questions should be flawless and customised for the B-School. Make copious notes for each question – You don’t need a word-for-word script, but your notes will help de-clutter your mind.

Top Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Often, interviews are not about the ‘best’ candidate. There are enough seats for anyone!

Many candidates make crucial mistakes, and that takes them out of the race. Even if you don’t deliver perfect answers, if you can avoid big mistakes, you will massively improve your chances at the admission. Here are the top mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not answering the question asked : You would have prepared for important questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘Why MBA’. But you DON’T need to cover all your content in your first question. Focus only on answering what’s asked, and don’t try to pitch your candidature. Pay attention to the detail of the question e.g., If asked ‘Why are you planning an MBA now?’, then don’t narrate the usual ‘Why MBA’ answer. Customise.
  2. Assuming perfect memory: You’ve submitted applications, essays, scores, resumes and what not. They have access to your life story. BUT, do not assume they actually remember everything about you! Interview panels meet hundreds of candidates each season, so all the details become blurry. Don’t edit out your profile highlights from your answers because you’ve already mentioned it somewhere. Provide context for your achievements.
  3. Being transactional: Your answers should not reflect your greed or selfishness. Obviously, your MBA will lead to career opportunities and growth. But frequently using ‘money’, ‘compensation’, ‘promotions’, and other such words in your answers might make it seem like you don’t care about the program, the learnings and the people.
  4. Covering up mistakes: Everyone has profile pitfalls, gaps and personal flaws. You might get asked questions about it in an interview. BUT, if you’re too focused on covering up the mistake, you will anticipate that question before it arrives. Do not use precious time in your intro/overall interview to cover mistakes. Don’t stress.
  5. Forgetting about body language: Your face, your smile and your body language is visible to the interviewers the entire time, so FOCUS on that! A slight smile, good posture and subtle lean-in can work wonders in making your look confident and engaged. For a virtual interview, you should also focus on your video camera, microphone, background and lighting too!

Final Thoughts

No profile is ‘perfect’. Your 12th score might be low, or your work-ex might be average. You might have a career break. But REMEMBER – If you’ve got the call, then you have what it takes. They knew about your ‘flaws’ and still want to talk to you. So it’s your duty to emphasize everything that makes you a good candidate.

Ultimately, strategic prep and confidence will get you through!

I hope my prep strategy has helped you!

If you’re looking for more personalised prep to create perfect answers for all interviews questions and practice interviews with me, then you can find me on a 1:1 session here.

You can also book a mock interview session with me here.

If you’re starting your MBA journey and want to make some career decisions, then we can connect over here.

See the Mentoresult impact for yourself in the experiences of top B-School candidates below:

Wish you all the best! Find me here.

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About the Author

Ruchi Aggarwal

Ruchi is the founder of Mentoresult. She was a management consultant at McKinsey & Co, has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has scored a 99.99%ile in CAT and a 770 in GMAT.

Through Mentoresult, she mentored over 2000 candidates in reaching their career goals. Her success stories can be found across top jobs (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Google, Amazon), top global MBA admissions (Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Yale) and top Indian MBA (IIM A, IIM B, IIM C, ISB).  

She’s a prolific writer, with over 10 million views and 50,000+ followers on LinkedIn. You can find her on a 1:1 session here.

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