Useful tips to ace the Personal Interview (PI)
With the interview season starting in full swing soon, there will be a lot of nervousness especially among the first-time interviewees. To allay a few of the fears and make you sound a bit more professional and organised in your personal interview, here are some helpful tips by SHASHANK PRABHU, Chief Mentor and Test Prep expert with IMS Learning Resources, that will help you stand apart in the crowd and face the interview with confidence.
- The elevator pitch: A good place to begin would be by listing down things that you would like to talk about when you are meeting someone for the first time. These are the three or four things that you would want to talk about in the ‘About yourself’ section during the personal interview. The next step would be to lose irrelevant details, come straight to the point and build a 45 second pitch covering all these accomplishments. The next best thing would be to build examples and stories that support these and weave these into your answers.
- Think hard about the dreaded Why MBA question: It is not very difficult to answer this question if you are convinced about your decision to go for an MBA in the first place. A good flow would be to talk about the first time it dawned on you that you would make a good manager followed by things you did in an informal manner to build certain skills. The final part should ideally talk about what you feel are the opportunities that you would have once you are done with your MBA program. Instead of building a generic answer, try to bring more Is into the answer.
- Short term vs. long term goals: When it comes to your short-term goals, you have to be specific in terms of sector, function and role (something like an FMCG-marketing-area sales manager). Look at the Linkedin profiles of graduates who have around 5 years of work experience in your preferred sector and you should be able to get some cues. Networking with people and talking to them to understand the exact roles and responsibilities will help you sound smarter in your interview. As far as long-term goals go, they should be connected to your short-term goals but should involve an improvement not only in terms of designation but also in terms of impact. A good idea would be to ask yourself what would you do as the CEO of your organisation and pick cues from there in terms of your work style and responsibilities.
- Be careful while dropping the E-bomb: A lot of candidates talk about entrepreneurship as a long-term goal. That invites questions involving the idea, funding (if required), cost/revenue drivers, break-even point, scalability, opportunity cost of going for an MBA instead and so on. If you do not have an idea about these things, best not to bring it into the discussion.
- Know basic economics, finance terms and social indicators: As a business manager/entrepreneur, it’s important to be comfortable with the language in which you will be taught. This includes knowledge of the concepts and statistics of GDP, Sector-wise contribution, Inflation, Growth rate, HDI, Per capita income, Corruption index, Quality of life measures, Socio-economic classification and so on. Also, it is imperative to know social indicators like birth rate and death rate, infant and maternal mortality rates, unemployment, sex ratio, doctors per 100 population and so on. These will help you back your opinions with facts and not with opinions.
- Build a resume: While it is not mandatory to carry a resume to the interview and considering that quite a few colleges ask the candidates to fill up a profile form, it certainly helps highlight your strengths and experiences right at the start of the interview.
- Stay organised, think STEEPLES: When it comes to expressing your opinion on current affairs, you have to be specific and you have to be structured. It’s a good idea to talk about topics by looking at examples from Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political, Legal, Entertainment and Sports. Try to compartmentalise your knowledge into these segments so that it’s easier to recall.
- Be mentally prepared to deal with uncertainty: The worst nightmare of any MBA aspirant is a stress interview when it comes to these processes. The objective of this kind of an interview is to see how you react to something that you are not prepared to deal with. So, if you start getting a barrage of questions that are unrelated to each other, calm yourself down and answer thoughtfully. Take some time to think about the question and then answer. Don’t get all sweaty and worked up and do not try to escape the situation by being aggressive or casual.
The whole point of inviting candidates for the interview process is to check how serious an aspirant is, and that includes visualising common scenarios and preempting questions pertaining to life and career in general. The beauty of it is you should be prepared but not show that you are rehearsed. Be natural throughout and use your body language, voice modulation well. It’s going to be a test of your CV, content and communication so, introspection helps big time. All the best!