In an MBA entrance exam, getting a good score is just half the battle won; the road ahead gets tougher when you will be pitted against the best candidates in the final stage of selection.
Management aspirants who want to make it to the top B-schools of the country need to understand that cracking the entrance exam with high percentile is just not enough. It is also important to clear the Group Discussion (GD)/Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) rounds conducted by management institutes for final selection. These stages test the candidate’s communication skills, knowledge of various subjects, current affairs, problem-solving skills, leadership qualities and ability to maintain their cool during the most trying situations.
Before aspirants find themselves in one of the prestigious management institutes, they need to ace the GD or WAT and PI. And, here is how they can ace each of these areas.
Group Discussion (GD)
GD is one of the important parts in the selection process and tests the candidate’s general awareness, leadership qualities, listening skills, patience, team spirit and confidence. GD is generally categorized into two parts: topic based and case study based. The former can further be categorised into abstract, controversial, knowledge and opinion based topics; whereas a situation or scenario is left open for discussion in the latter category. To lead in the GD round, candidates should have the following traits.
1. A candidate should necessarily have knowledge of the subject and good communication skills to grab that much needed attention among the equally bright and promising candidates. Being a knowledgeable person with a clear thought process and ability to make logical points put an aspirant in the driver's seat.
2. CAT aspirants should understand that what food is to live, reading is to gain knowledge. Being an avid reader is an added benefit here. As knowledge isn’t gained in a day or week, developing this habit over a period of time will add to a candidate’s knowledge base, vocabulary and understanding of various topics. To be in an excellent frame of mind, last minute studies and preparations for GD are no-go.
3. Candidates should be aware of the topics that have been repeated over the years with little or no changes. Knowing these topics in advance and developing a firm opinion around them will help candidates excel in case a similar topic hits this time again.
4. Those with leadership qualities score higher than their peers. The point to make here is simple – leaders have that little bit extra enabling them to steer the team through the maze of success. True leaders give others opportunity to speak, acknowledge their points with due credit, don’t lose temper, have pleasing personalities and put their points politely even if they disagree.
5. Aspirants need to brush up their knowledge, current affairs and maintain a balance in the tone. Listening to the topic carefully, developing an opinion on it fast, listening to others’ views with due respect, remaining confident, informed, bringing in new ideas and using body language perfectly will help candidates in getting noticed.
Personal Interview (PI)
Once CAT or any other MBA exam is over and the results are announced, candidates have gone halfway through already. However, the most taxing part still lingers. Personal Interview (PI) is the last hurdle on way to IIMs or any other prestigious B-school. To sail through this round, consider the following tips and tricks.
1. Talk about Yourself and Achievements
We all know that most of the interviews commence with interviewers asking the candidates to introduce herself/himself. Always remember, this is the part that lets the interviewers know about the candidate in detail. Consequently, candidates should prefer telling the interviewers more than just the mundane details that are already mentioned in their curriculum vitae. They should talk more about achievements, special recommendations, personal interests, aims and unique qualities. This can impress the interviewers and increase the chances of success in PI.
2. Focus on First Few Minutes
The first few minutes of the PI round will break the ice for students. This is also the time when a candidate gets a chance to lead the interview to the areas where s/he is comfortable. Therefore, aspirants should consider choosing words wisely in the beginning and be ready for the related questions that may follow. So if a candidate mentions travel as his/her hobby, the next question s/he might anticipate is ‘what was the last destination you travelled to and why’.
3. Be Prepared to Answer Questions Related to your Subject
In a PI round, questions related to the candidate’s academics will most certainly be asked. Especially, those who have completed their bachelor’s degree or in the final year/semester can expect at least a couple questions related to their syllabus. Understanding, revising and keeping the fundamentals of the subjects on fingertips will be of great help here.
4. Introspection is a Must
It is highly likely that candidates are asked questions about their career goals, hobbies, strengths, weaknesses, future aspirations, etc. Candidates are advised to introspect before framing the answers to these questions. Most importantly, candidates should be honest about whatever they say.
5. Follow the Basic Etiquette
During the PI round, candidates are advised to follow the basic etiquette like reaching the venue before time, knocking the door and asking for the permission to enter the PI room, greeting the interview panel, dressing formally for the occasion, focussing on the body language and thanking the interview panel before leaving. During the PI round, candidates need to be precise, clear (not too loud or soft) and above all, honest.
Written Ability Test (WAT)
Once candidates clear the MBA entrance exam, another big hurdle that they may face is the Written Ability Test. Most of the IIMs and top B-schools have replaced the GD round with WAT to offer all the candidates a level playing field to exhibit their communication skills without being affected by their personal traits. WAT is a hard nut to crack as it tests the candidate’s written skills, command over language, style, ideation, knowledge of the subject matter, content and above all, time management skill. To ace the exam, candidates should:
1. Know the Subject
The first and the foremost thing that candidates need to score higher in WAT is knowledge of the subject. They need to remain abreast of the current affairs, socio-political milieu and issues of greater concerns to the masses. Knowledge of the subject is imperative to write on a topic and will enable candidates create the right impression.
2. Practice Writing
They say, practice makes a man perfect and the case is no different here. More candidates read the quality material and practice writing, better they express themselves. Considering some of the current affairs, trending topics and writing opinion based articles will do the trick. Repeating this activity more frequently will help candidates get a knack for writing, improve vocabulary and boost the confidence.
3. Focus on Article Flow
Giving an essay a logical flow is what makes the difference. Always use simple, crisp and short sentences. Make sure article contains facts with sentences in a paragraph and paragraphs in the article are interconnected. The crux here is candidates should give their knowledge an impression and thoughts a clarity on the paper.
4. Get Instant Attention
Out of hundreds of candidates writing on the given topic, attracting the examiner’s attention initially is a really big task. Taking altogether a different perspective, adding facts and figures wherever required, keeping the structure organised and presenting the write-up in a way it stands apart is a way to success. As the write-up will reflect a candidate’s personality, s/he needs to give the best shot.
5. Manage Time Efficiently
Managing time while writing the essay is one of the most crucial aspects. Keep the time limit in mind, and plan the flow of the article in a way that it contains all the important details and covers all crucial points. For this, candidates need to invest some time initially to understand the topic. Also, keep some time to revise the written text.