6 tips for cracking the IIM interviews: Notes from IIM Bangalore alumnus

 | March 23,2011 04:25 pm IST

It has been twelve years since I sat nervously in front of the IIM interview panel desperately trying to convince them on why I was worthy of being allowed into the hallowed institute. I made a decent case apparently and was let in.

Now twelve years later, having sat on both sides of the table (as an interviewee as well as interviewer), I have a very different perspective from the one I had then.

I have made a list of some interview tips for youngsters looking to get into the institute of their dreams. These tips are based on learning not from the interviews I gave 12 years ago but rather from the interviews I took recently for those vying for a seat at IIM Bangalore. As I realized, the perspective from the other side of the interview table is very different and not entirely as I expected.

1- Interviewers are bored Dazzle them. Interviewing candidates is a tough job. It is an involved process and takes a lot out of both the interviewer and the candidate. This is an important learning for any candidate. While this is likely to be your first and only interview for the day, the interviewer has likely already sat through many of them and is much more likely to be tired and/or distracted. Now what can you, as an interviewee, do with this knowledge? It is very important for the candidate to be smiling, vibrant and full of life and excitement. You need to be completely charged up and your drive and passion should shine out clearly, forcing the interviewer to come out of the mental coma induced by dozens of insipid, uninspiring interviews.

2- Be different, differently. Each candidate is required to fill out an application form that includes an essay about themselves as well as references from employers or professors. It is quite an experience to go through a bunch of these forms in one go (as interviewers are required to). The forms of the candidates are horribly alike, churning out the same kind of useless, clichéd information with an extremely liberal use of MS-word thesaurus. The forms end up reading the same and fail to make a personal connection with the reader. To read a more detailed analysis on the cliché that is SOP writing, visit my blog

3- Expect the expected. There are some questions that everyone will tell you to prepare for. “Tell us about yourself”, “Why MBA” etc. When an interviewer is interviewing scores of candidates every day, sooner or later, they run out of beautiful, incisive questions. They then resort to these commonly asked questions. So prepare these questions thoroughly. Also, these are actually good questions to assess a candidate. Answers to these questions can surely make or break your interview.

4- Catch your interviewer panel’s pattern. Many interviewers tend to fall into patterns. For example, they will ask one particular question to almost every candidate. Or they will try to be aggressive with, say, every second candidate. Try to identify these patterns by talking to those who interview before you and prepare your responses accordingly.

5- An argument can be entertaining. Taking interviews is a dreary, monotonous task. Your interviewers are very likely to be bored by the time they interview you. If you entertain them, they will like you. If you can be humorous in your interview, nothing like it. Humor is one of the best signs for intelligence. But not everyone can be witty under such pressure. A good argument can also be entertaining. Do not be afraid to take a different stand from the panel. But be cautious. Enter into an argument only if you can defend your stance. And always remember, the purpose of the argument is not to win, but to entertain.

6- Good hand writing is back. In the age of blackberries and laptops, no one really writes anything by hand. If you are a professional, you may have even lost the habit of writing neatly and legibly. This needs to changes. Many institutes now ask you to hand write an essay instead of a group discussion. It is important to have a legible hand writing to make a good impression here.

In summary, remember that interviewers are human too. They have their own likes and dislikes. They could fall into patterns that could give you helpful clues in predicting what’s to come. They also tend to get bored at times. And so they like something that is different. Have the courage to be different and you will be rewarded.






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Executive MBA on 03/28/11 at 12:51 pm

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Kaylin on 04/23/11 at 07:57 pm

You've hit the ball out the park! Inrcedbile!