Business Schools – How to Handle Group Discussion and Interviews

Most what I am writing below is the process followed in the Indian Business Schools. If a candidate had done well in the Common Admission Test(CAT) you can expect that you will be called for a group discussion and interview. This is necessary for the schools to make sure of the identity of the candidate, his communication skills his attitude, group behavior, his disposition when faced with face to face challenges and the strength foundation he has laid in his undergrad subjects.In the schools overseas since it is not possible to adopt this method they use an essay to let the candidate explain why he thinks that business administration is right for him. It is a good question to ask and it will most probably be asked in all interviews or essays.The number of candidates admitted in the schools over seas is very large and could be in the range 700-1000 in each school. In India, the Indian School of Business Hyderabad which has a fifteen month program for mostly experienced candidates has close to 500 candidates admitted each year. Indian Institutes of Management vary in the number they admit. The IIMs at Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore have been admitting close 240-300 per year and the IIML, IIMI and IIMK admit 180 per year. IIM Gauhati the most recent one added has been admitting 60. All existing IIMs put together the total admitted will be in the range of 1500. If the HR ministry suggests an increase this might go up by another 360-400. There are reservations for backward and schedule classes at IIMs which account for nearly 15-20 percent all put together. The total number of candidates that appear for CAT each year is in the order of 150,000 to 180,000. Thus the acceptance rate is extremely low compared to other places Which means having done you CAT well enough to be among some 4000-5000 candidates called is an achievement and you should prepare well to perform well in the interview and group discussions as well.A candidate may be called for Interview in more than one IIM and not getting an Interview call from one IIM does not mean there will be no call from others as the cut off s and the critical could be little different. The older the IIMs may be more difficult to get admitted.The group discussions are generally a small case or an issue given. You are given time to read in the discussion room and you will be asked to start the discussion. You may be asked to write a summary of the discussion at the end.For interview you must have good stock of general knowledge which can cover a wide range including politics, social issues, business news, events, sports, music, and so on. You must be thorough in the subjects you have studied at undergraduate level, at least be hundred percent sure in one or two subjects and mention that when you are asked about your favorite subject. Be quite ready with the subjects where you scored high in undergrad studies. The depth of the questioning here can be very high.Similarly be sure to be familiar with details of hobbies you have written about or you plan to mention. If music is your interest, just saying music is your interest is not enough. You must know some details and the names and biographies of famous musiciansFollowing are some points to rememberDo not panic that you did not get a call and your friend got it.
Appear for interview at all IIMs that send you a call if you get a call from more than one IIM
Make sure that there is no overlap. If there is any clash of dates get it changed. Request for change of center is also possible.
Be sure to follow all instructions given while filling the forms and also take the originals of all your academic documents including file on extra curricular activities.
Make sure you know the venue of interview and if required go there one day before and see the location.
Be there early enough so that you don’t miss anything. They start the group discussion and interviews punctually.Be dressed properly. Very casual and informal attire may not work in your favor.Calling candidates in may be in random order, so it is better not to wander off from the venue.Group DiscussionFollow the instructions of the faculty in the room carefully.
Read the discussion case or issue given and note the key points. Identify the main problems and think of some recommendation you can make
Try to work out an agreement within the group so that everyone gets a chance and no one ends up screaming. Do not simply remain quite. If you are not being given a chance to talk insist and talk.
Maintain a cool and calm attitude. Do not get irritated or angry and do not insult anyone.
Narrate you points in a sequence. Plan how many times you need to intervene to mention all.
Smile and be firm and clear but do not disagree with others. Appreciate their view and give a reasonable hearing to the others.InterviewWalk in with confidence and greet with a smile and salutation.
Answer the questions clearly. Be prepared to explain any anomalies in the academic performance.
Be honest and when you are no familiar admit that.
Do not get into arguments but you can disagree.
Remember to thank the panelIf you are working or worked be prepared to talk about the jobs, reasons for leaving, skills you acquired, your industry and the trends. Your reporting relationship and situations you have handles and the contributions you made.