The KSeeker

In Search of Knowledge…

Interview Tips for an MBA

Posted by Girish Krishnan on June 18, 2006

This post is taken from my notes made on December 9th 2006

McKinsey Partner and former Dean of ISB, Pramath Sinha gave us a talk on the Topic : “Preparing for interviews – Learning from last five years experience at ISB”. He was pretty critical about the amount of preparedness with which ISB-ians have been attending interviews till date and my observations about our batch vindicate his views. The going has been slow when it comes to acquiring general information and having meaningful discussions in the campus. Of course, being a former dean of this school, he took the right to put it in a scolding tone and it felt good!

The first point was the about reading and having a general awareness of businesses in
India. He advised us to read a business newspaper everyday, 2 biz mags every week and to watch CNBC-18/NDTV profit so that we are able to build a perspective of our own by the time we face interviews. Though it seems pretty trivial stuff to say, i cannot understate the importance of doing this.   

 Second came preparing for the standard set of questions which we would face in any interview. e.g. What do you want to do in life? Why do you want to join my organization? How does joining my organization help you achieve your goal in life? The answers to these questions, according to Pramath, needed to be written down so that they get reinforced in us. It helps to have realistic dreams and everyone would be able to come up with something if they spend adequate time thinking through. Most importantly, we need to develop a point of view about life in general and this needs to reflect in our thoughts, deeds, answers etc. We could extrapolate more questions which could be asked for interviews – the basic intention of all of these remain the same: understanding the person who is getting interviewed!

A few important things which need to be kept in mind while answering these questions:

  • Dont answer any questions without answering why? You need to have a reason for everything, should be able to prove it.
  • Structure is very important – Try to give 3 reasons for everything and have an example for each one of the reasons.
  • Memorizing the logic is probably the better thing to do than to memorize the words themselves. This applies while preparing answers to these questions.
  • Give yourself time before answering – dont be in a hurry. Pause, think and try to analyse what exactly is the interviewer aiming to get out of the question. Understand the reason why he is asking you that question. More often than not, we give spontaneous answers and then realize that we could have added more to the answer and made it better in structure.

Things to be noted while backing up your resume:

  • What did i do in those roles in my previous employment? What are my learnings from my achievements?   Try to tie the achievements/learnings to your strengths, weaknesses etc- Show consistency
  • Interviewers look for the fundamental level of capability and skills in people which are universal.This can be classified into three categories
    • Understand, Analyse and solve problems
    • Ability to work with others – looks for evidence – Checks if you are a guy with edges and are a difficult person to work with.
    • Can you actually get things done? The biggest challenge for a company is to get people who can execute well – from day one, without creating problems for others. – You could try to communicate your fit for this by showing that you took responsibility of a project from Start to end and led it to closure, delivering based on expectations (or more) on time with quality at low cost etc

Thus it helps to keep these points in mind while preparing oneself for interviews. On a more focussed note, you could probably take upto two sectors other than what you were doing before coming to ISB and start concentrating on those. Read stuff relevant to these sectors. The interviewer always wants to enter into a conversation, so that he gets to know you better.Getting information from the press/other media and supplementing this with what you learnt in class is the ideal situation you would like to be in.

Stress interviews are meant to find out how you would react if you are in a hole. You need to show that despite of being in a corner, you could get out of it. Knowing that it is a stress interview is the first step, the second is to acknowledge. If you goof up, admit that you hashed up!

Remember that the interviewer is looking to spot the raw capabilities that you are bringing to the table. Think of what all abilities you have now and what you could bring to the table later.

Dont worry about the past or the future. Face the interview as if you are interviewing your wife (or they are interviewing for a wife 🙂 )..Do people ask for grades when they are searching for a wife?


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