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After months of preparation for CAT, XAT, JMET, SNAP and for other written examination its time of the year when you are gearing yourself for group discussions & interviews.
If you have ‘butterflies in your stomach' as soon as you heard the very word ‘interview' and think about the personal interview questions, it is high time that you overcome your phobia.
We have broadly Classified this into:

=> Tips for Personal Interview
=> 15 Commandments of success

=> First steps on how to approach an interview?
=> Some common questions and tips to answer it.
=> 3 Mistakes MBA aspirants make
=> Conclusion

To guide you throughout the process we at will shed light on important topics like interview preparation, interview etiquettes, tips on how to impress for success in an interview, examples of top b-school  personal interview, major reasons for rejection in an interview, things you should not do at an interview, ten things that an interviewer looks in you and so on.

Tips for Personal Interview
Review your application; the interviewer is likely to ask specific questions about it.
Be ready to provide examples and specifics and to elaborate on info on your resume and application.
Be open and honest.
Ask questions, since the interview is as much an opportunity for you to learn about the school as for the school to learn about you.
Follow proper business decorum.
Watch your non verbal clues, such as eye contact, posture, and fidgeting.
Be courteous to the administrative staff, since how you treat them can have an impact (positive or negative).

15 Commandments of Success

Even after months of preparation, some candidates do not perform well inside the interview room. The trick is to follow a few commandments mentioned below & practice them during mock interview sessions diligently.  You are sure to crack the personal interview.

1. Listen carefully.  Wait a second or two before you answer. And don’t dive into the answer!
2. Speak clearly.
3. Speak on the point. An over-talkative or verbose person is disliked and misjudged instantly, so keep it short.
4. If you don’t know an answer, be honest.  Never exaggerate.
5. Never boast about your achievements.
6. Don’t get into an argument with the interviewer on any topic.
7. Be polite.
8. Project enthusiasm.
9. Be cheerful.
10. Maintain perfect eye contact with all panel members.
11. Avoid using slang.
12. Avoid frequent use of words and phrases like, ‘I mean’; ‘You know’; ‘I know’; ‘Well’; ‘As such’; ‘Fine’; ‘Basically’, etc.
13. When questions are asked in English, reply in English only. Do not use Hindi or any other languages. Avoid using Hindi words like matlab, ki, maine, etc.
14. Feel free to ask questions if necessary.
15. Last but not the least, be natural.

First steps on how to approach an Interview?

Do your homework
Prepare your answers well and if possible get it reviewed by an experienced person from the same field.

Don't Waste Time
Don't waste time discussing things that are already indicated on your application. You can elaborate if the topic illustrates something about your character and preparedness for the b-school experience, but do not be  redundant.

Some common questions and tips to answer it.

Q.  Tell me some thing about yourself.
This is how most interviews begin and this is one question you cannot afford to be unprepared for.
It’s open ended.Remember that the first impression you create is very important. When asked to say "something about yourself", most candidates just blurt out their schooling, college, marks and qualifications.All this  is already there in the application. Why tell the interviewer something he/she already knows. Ideally, you would want to use this opportunity to show how you are different from the thousands of other applicants, not to  blend in to the crowd.To frame a good answer it is always helpful to know what is it that the interviewer wants to know about you.

Include your strengths and achievements, hobbies.

This is the question from where YOU can direct the panel and urge them to ask the questions from your specific interest.

Q. Why do you want to join this institute?
This is one question you should answer honestly and pragmatically. Ideally you should choose an institute based on certain criteria. Such as Ranking/ placements, Courses offered, Fee, Location

Do some reasearch, ask from your seniors. An informed analysis of the institute can convince the interviewer that you are sincerely interested.

Q. Which other institutes have you applied to?
This is a question that is very much linked to the previous question. For example, if you say that you had chosen IRMA because you have a flair for Rural Marketing and while answering this question you don't mention  the name of other institutes known to offer quality course in Rural Marketing you are in trouble. So these two questions are to be prepared simultaneously avoiding conflicts in answers.

Q. How will you add value to this institute if you make it through?
This is an opportunity to showcase your strengths but remember it is essential that your strengths should be supported by related achievements.Give a real life example to convince the panel.
Your background and circumstances can also be your strengths and can be used as equally important points in supporting your answer.
Remember, an achievement doesn't necessarily mean a prize. It can also be your successfully coming out of a crisis situation or you managing to run a small project with your friends.

Q. What do you consider your greatest weakness?
CAUTION: This is not an opportunity to pour out your darkest secrets. This is a question that is best played down. For example, if you are overweight, you may mention -- "I have been trying to shed weight for the last  few years but couldn't do it still." The answer should be framed so that it does not reflect badly on your career thus far, or your future career.

Another way of answering would be a smart statement: "I have never allowed failure to drag me down. I just got up, took my lesson and picked my way forward." Here it would help to have a certain experience picked  out.      

Most career books tell you to select a strength and present it as a weakness. Such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work.” Wrong. First of all, using a strength and presenting it as a weakness is  deceiving. Second, it misses the point of the question.

You should select a weakness that you have been actively working to overcome. For example: “I have had trouble in the past with planning and prioritization. However, I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started  using a pocket planner . . .” then show them your planner and how you are using it.
Talk about a true weakness and show what you are doing to overcome it.

Q. Why have you chosen this career?
This is an area where a mature and realistic answer is expected. People choose their career based on several reasons, such as:

What is your aptitude?
What kind of a social, professional and personal environment do you desire?
What is your background and achievements?
What motivates you?
What activities do you enjoy?

Q. What is the last book you read?
Many experts would tell you that you should know the ins and out of the books and everything about the author and his writing style. If you know these facts, it can't hurt, but if you are not the kind of a person who  would research the background and other facts about books, but read for fun, it is okay to mention it. The only thing is that your answer should be natural, convincing and rational.

For example, if the interviewer asks you for more detail about the author you may just reply.

"I'm sorry but I haven't read much about the author. But I liked this book because..."

Q. How will your contribute to this campus if we select you?
This is a question that directly relates to your strengths and aspiration. Take this as an opportunity to showcase the various qualities that you possess which may benefit the college, academically, culturally or in any  other way.

Q.  Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
This is not when you start throwing in fancy designations. Instead, concentrate on the kind of roles people in those designations are expected to play. If the question specifically asks for your professional goals then  stick to it, otherwise it is a good idea to balance it with your personal goals.       

Q. Who is your role model?
Your role model can be anyone a public figure or even someone from your family. It is a good idea to know a lot about the person you would make your role model. It is important to focus on the qualities that inspire  you and how you try to inculcate those qualities in yourself. It is always important to tell why s/he is different from her/his peers.

Q.If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change?
Focus on a key turning point in your life or missed opportunity. Yet also tie it forward to what you are doing to still seek to make that change.
      For example: “Although I’m overall very happy with where I’m at in my life, the one aspect I likely would have changed would be focusing earlier on my chosen career. I had a great internship this past year and look  forward to more experience in the field. I simply wish I would have focused here earlier.
For example, I learned on my recent internship…” …then provide examples.
      Stay focused on positive direction in your life and back it up with examples.

Q. Do your have any questions for me?
"No" would be a bad answer. It is good to have a few questions that relate to the academic and cultural environment of the institution. This will show your enthusiasm.

3 Mistakes MBA aspirants make!

1. Blaming your College/School Professor for low scores: You are always 100% responsible for your grades. If you have low scores then don’t ever state that your teacher did not clarify the subject or rushed the topic.  Do you think studies at IIM’s or any MBA institutes are designed to be studied in an easy relaxed spoon fed manner? Wrong the MBA curriculum is a real test of your abilities to stay awake and perform at your best. If  you blame your teachers - you are out.

2. Blaming ill health: What are you LOSER NO 1? If exam days give you bad health, how will you be able to achieve corporate profit targets? Unless you are actually physically handicapped you cannot be expected to  fall ill under mysterious circumstances whenever pressure builds around you. Even if you were truly sick - try to come out with some other reason for your lack of extra curricular activities or low scores.

3. State hobbies just for the heck of it: OK so you enjoy cricket. Do you know the technical details of the game? How many members are there in the BCCI governing council? The IIM professors do not appreciate  mere couch potatoes. Hobbies are not merely for adding spice to your CV. State only 2 hobbies and try to learn everything there is to that hobby.

The MBA Personal Interview is actually tougher than job interviews. In job interviews they actually need manpower so they don’t ask tough questions. Here you are being SHORTLISTED against equally capable  competitors so they are trying to find means to NOT SELECT you. So be careful with your replies.


Self Awareness
1. How would you describe yourself ?
2. Tell me about yourself ?
3. How do you think a friend or professor who knows you would describe you?
4. What motivates you to put forth your best effort ?
5. How do you determine or evaluate success ?
6. What academic subjects did you like best ? Least ?
7. What led you to choose the career for which you are preparing ?
8. What personal characteristics are necessary for succeeding in the career that you are interested in ?
9. What is your philosophy of life ?
10. Why have you switched career fields ?

Weaknesses / Negatives
1. What major problems have you encountered and how have you dealt with them ?
2. What have you learnt form your mistakes ?
3. What do you consider to be your greatest weakness ?
4. Did you ever have problems with your supervisor ?

Skills / Abilities / Qualifications
1. What do you consider to be your greatest strength ?
2. Are you creative ? Give an example.
3. What qualifications do you have that makes you think you will be successful ?
4. In what way do you think you can make a contribution to society?
5. Why should we take you ?
6. What are your own special abilities ?
7.Why should we take you over another candidate ?
8. What is your managing style ?
9. Why do you want to join this institute ?
10. What do you know about our institute ?

1. What is your attitude towards working hard ?
2. What part does your family play in your life ?
3. What are the most important rewards you expect in your career ?
4. What is more important to you : money offered, or the type of job ?
5. Do you enjoy independent research ?
6. In what kind of a work environment are you most comfortable ?
7. How would you describe the ideal job for you ?
8. What two or three things are most important to you in your job ?
9. Do you prefer working with others or all by yourself ?
10. How do you like to work ?
11. Under what conditions do you work best ?
12. What is the highest form of praise ?

1. In what part-time or summer job have you been most interested ?
2. Tell me about your experience.
3. What jobs have you held ?
4. How did your previous employer treat you ?
5. What have you learnt from some of the jobs that you have held ?
6. What jobs have you enjoyed most ? Least ? Why ?
7. What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work ?
8. Describe your current job.
9. What did you like least about your last job ?
10. What did you like most about your last job ?

Goals / Objectives
1. What are your short-term and long-term goals and objectives ?
2. What specific goals other than those related to your occupation have you chosen for yourself for the next 10 years ?
3. What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now ?
4. What do you really want to do in life ?
5. How do you plan to achieve your career goals ?

1. How has your education prepared you for a career ?
2. Describe your most rewarding college experience.
3. Why did you select your college or university ?
4. If you could, would you plan your academic study differently ?
5. Do you think grades are a good indication of your academic achievement ?
6. What have you learnt from participation in extracurricular activities ?
7. Do you have plans for continuing your studies ?
8. Why did you pick your programme ?
9. What courses did you like best and why ?
10. What courses did you like least and why ?
11. How has your college experience prepared you for this job ?
12. How did you pick your dissertation ?
13. Describe your dissertation process.

1. What do you expect to earn in 5 years ?
2. What did you earn in your last job ?

1. What are your outside interests ?
2. What do you do with your free time ?
3. What are your hobbies ?
4. What types of books do you read ?
5. How interested are you in sports ?
6. How did you spend your vacations in school ?

1. What qualities should a successful manager possess ?
2. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and a subordinate.
3. What 3 accomplishments have given you the greatest satisfaction ?
4. If you were taking a graduate for this institute, what qualities would you look for ?
5. What can I do for you ?
6. Tell me a story.
7. Define cooperation.

Stress Questions
1. What causes you to lose your temper ?
2. How often have you been absent from school, work or training ?
3. Have you ever had trouble with other people on the job ?
4. Can you take instructions without getting upset ?
5. Don't you feel you are a little to old/young for this job ?
6. How does your family like you being away on business trips ?
7. With your background, we believe that you are overqualified to join this institute.
8. You haven't had sufficient experience in this field.
9. Our experience with women on this job has not been good.
10. What would irritate you most if I as a manager did it ?

Influencing Others
1. Tell me about the time you were most persuasive in overcoming resistance to your ideas or point of view.
2. Tell me about the last time someone made an unreasonable request of you.
3. Describe the most disappointing and frustrating experience in gaining the support of others for an idea or proposal.

Interpersonal Skills
1. Describe a situation where it was most important for you to display tact and diplomacy.
2. Tell me about the last time you had a clash or disagreement with someone at school/college/workplace.
3. Tell me about a time when you felt most frustrated and disappointed at a person with whom you had worked.

Personal Adaptability
1. Tell me about the last time you were criticized by a supervisor or a professor.
2. Tell me about the time when you felt most pressured or stressed at work/ school/internship.
3. Tell me about the time when you felt most frustrated at your school/workplace.
4. In what aspects of your work/internship do you have the most confidence in your abilities.

Communication Skills
1. Tell me about the time when you felt best about your ability to draw out or solicit information from another person.
2. Tell me about the time when you had to work your hardest in order to fully understand what another person was saying to you.
3. Describe the last time when someone at school/work misunderstood what you were trying to communicate.

1. Tell me about the most long term, sustained extra hours of effort that you put into your work/college/internship.
2. Describe a time when you felt most frustrated or discouraged in reaching your goals or objectives.
3. What do you feel has been your most significant work/school/internship related achievement within the past year or so ?
4. Describe the last time you did something well which went beyond the expectations in your work/internship.

Administrative Skills
1. Tell me how you go about organizing your work and scheduling your own time.
2. What do you do to ensure that your goals and objectives are met in a timely way ?
3. Describe the most extensive planning that you have ever done.

Problem Solving and Decision Making
1.Tell me about the most difficult problem that you faced in your work/school/internship ?
2.Tell me about the last time you made a decision that backfired.
3.Tell me about the time when you regretted most not getting advice before you went ahead ?

Conflict Management Skills
1. Tell me about the last significant crisis situation that you faced in your work.
2. Tell me about a time when you were most persuasive in overcoming resistance to your ideas.
3. Tell me about the time when you had a disagreement with someone at work.

In a nutshell, an interview just analyses how balanced and rational you are. So, just be yourself! Preparing yourself for the questions listed above will give you the confidence to handle even unexpected questions. You  should ideally write down your answer to these questions (but please don't try to mug up answers you think would be 'ideal') and practice giving interviews along these lines with a friend.

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