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CAT Interview Preparation Guide Notes - CAT

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Clearing the CAT exam is just the beginning. Cracking CAT with a high percentile doesn’t guarantee admission to your preferred IIMs. Candidates who have cleared the exam required cut off marks will be called for Written Ability Test(WAT) or Group Discussions(GD) and Personal Interview(PI) process. The Personal Interview is the final frontier in most B-Schools’ admission process.

The interview is used to assess the candidate’s clarity of thought, future goals and suitability with the B-school.

Remember, the interview panel is there to select you, not reject you.

Here are some of the Dos and Don'ts you should take a look at before you go for the interview:


➤ Bluff or lie to the interviewer

  • Don’t think that the people sitting there in the panel would acknowledge everything in the CV blindly. They are smart, and that’s why they are there.

➤ Be concise

  • Try to start a conversation and carve out a story in the form of your previous experiences. Try to begin speaking about your strengths and weaknesses with relevant examples from your past achievements or failures.

➤ Keep Contradicting

  • Never try to contradict what you had said earlier in the group discussion.

➤ Tell anything good or bad about any other institute

  • Be very diplomatic in answering these kinds of questions.


➤ Your Homework

  • You are going to face questions like “Why do you seek admission to our Institute?” “What are your plans?” “What are your long-term goals?” etc. Be prepared to answer them well. So, prepare yourself beforehand with all the important and common MBA interview questions to be able to tackle the interview. Some of them are given at the end of this document.

➤ Carve a good plan for why you want to do an MBA

  • Why MBA? is the question you would surely face in the interviews.

➤ Study your CV

  • Try to go in-depth about the skills and work experience you have listed in your CV. Always be prepared to get direct questions from the panel regarding your previous work experience and projects.

Despite months of preparation, no one can predict the questions one has to face in the personal interview of CAT. Personal interviews usually test a candidate's interpersonal and communication skills.

Few things should be kept in mind before the Personal Interview for B-Schools. They are as follows

➤ Documents

  • Bring the correct documents to the interview.
  • Copies of resume, grade sheet(11th, 12th and graduation), ID proof and Recommendation letters(if any)

➤ Attractive CV

  • The CV should be informative, attractive and easy to read.
  • Be well-versed with the contents of the CV.
  • Should be able to answer questions, if asked outside the CV

➤ Be Well Groomed

  • Important to know what to wear to an interview and be well-groomed
  • Body language should be appropriate
  • Have a positive attitude

➤ Presence Of Mind

  • Give the correct answer at the right time.
  • Amaze the panel with spontaneity, make the ambience lighter, give out-of-the-box answers
  • Be assertive and attentive.

➤ Be Prepared

  • Have well thought out answers to questions such as “Tell me about yourself?”
  • Be prepared with your strategies to tackle the panellist.

➤ Follow Your Instincts

  • Always believe in yourself.
  • Go with your instincts if the answer to the question asked is partially known.

➤ Be Textbook Ready

  • Be well versed with academics(freshers) and work experience(working professionals)
  • Be prepared with current issues in business-economy, taxation and foreign competition.

➤ Communication Skills

  • Speaking and listening skills are often tested.
  • Understand the question well and provide a precise answer
  • Do not bluff; use appropriate language.
  • Walk into the interview with newfound confidence.
  • Don’t fidget, think positively, make eye contact with the panel but don’t stare.
  • Be calm, cool and collected.

➤ Self-Awareness

  • Be up-to-date with all the latest happenings across the world(current affairs)
  • Read newspaper and business-related magazines daily.

The personal interviews are basically designed for two types of candidates – ones with work experience and ones with no work experience.

Candidates with work experience

The most commonly asked questions for candidates with work experience consists of topics related to

  • Job description and responsibilities
  • Work environment and your relationship with your managers and peers.
  • Accomplishments, hardships you faced at the workplace.
  • Career progression plans- both short term and long term goals.
  • Corroborate instances of creativity, leadership, where you took the bull by the horns and fraternisation.
  • Target industry/ company and current industry & its competitors

If you are working in a nutshell, make sure that you are thorough with your profile, your competitors and the history of the company.

Candidates with little or no work experience

Since there are very few instances where you would have demonstrated your managerial skills, other wider ranges of topics could be asked.

  • Questions about your undergraduate subjects. Be extremely thorough with your UG discipline courses. IIMs interview panel would grill you on elementary statistics, number theory basics, fundamentals of trigonometry, geometry.
  • The unavoidable question is – ‘Why MBA, Why not get some work experience?’
  • Questions on Current Affairs/ General Awareness: your perspectives, how to improve/modify the scenario.
  • Questions on hobbies/extracurricular activities, if you have stated any. Unless you have an avid knowledge about your hobbies, DO NOT mention them. If you say watching movies is your hobby, you should be comfortable talking about movie genres, famous directors, movie styles, and cinema’s impact on social culture.

Here are some Top MBA Interview Questions which are likely to be asked in your interview as well

Q. Tell us something about yourself
This is the most popular question and almost always the first question in an interview. A great answer to this question will play a massive role in the outcome of your interview. Try to be brief but always mention essential and relevant details. Be sure to include these aspects of your life:

  • Your educational and professional history
  • Your family
  • Your interests and hobbies

It’d be even better if you could mention something in your interest that connects you to management.

Q. Why do you want to do an MBA?
You need to show that you are doing an MBA for the right reasons. Do not indicate that you were here just because you want higher salaries and respect from society. There are other easier ways for that. Show that you are really interested in solving problems and working on projects as a team. Tell them how would be a valuable asset to any company. Show them that you like the MBA for the impact and authority you can have. Businesses are the livelihood for so many employees.
They also have an impact on the surrounding community. For example, a steel or thermal power plant employs so many thousands of people in the surrounding areas. Their family gets income, and as a result, they can afford a better lifestyle and basic facilities like healthcare and education.
Do not appear like you are doing an MBA without any plan or just because someone told you that you should. Show that you understand management’s role in the business and general world. Show how will it add value to your career.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question is asked by the interviewers to know whether you see yourself in the role of a manager. They want to see if you are ambitious enough and have a plan. Having a plan shows that you understand an MBA’s role in your career. Your answer should be ambitious but also realistic. It should be detailed enough about what you will do and how you plan to do it.

Q. Why should we select you?
Your primary purpose while answering this question is to show how you fit in the criteria of a student profile they look for. Tell them your qualities like you are a hardworking, ambitious person who is a team player and can work in stressful situations.

Q. Questions about your past
This is an excellent time to tell them about your past college life or work life, your achievements, your challenges and how you overcame them. Here you can be descriptive. Tell them how you made a decision that attracted you to an MBA. If you have work experience, you should show complete knowledge about your position, company, and market.

Q. Your strength/weakness (SWOT Analysis)
This is an important one. The answer to this question will show the interviewers how seld-aware and alert you are about yourself and your actions. You must have heard about the SWOT analysis. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You can structure your answer in this way.
First, tell them your strengths by telling them about an incident that made you conclude that you have that particular strength. Examples include being hardworking, analytical, time management, communication or the ability to work under pressure. Accompany it with incidents that demonstrate the strength. About weaknesses, make sure you don’t say any weakness that goes against or contradicts one of your strengths. If you said you are hardworking, you are not supposed to say that you also suffer from procrastination.
Try not to use any tactics to trick the interviewers because it can be easily detected. Be true. If you are telling a weakness, make sure you explain how you deal with it.

Q. Why do you want to join this particular school?
Here the interviewer panel will test your knowledge about the particular school you are being interviewed for. They will want to see if you know anything about the college beyond its ranking and placement. Read about the college’s history, its alumni, what it does differently. Your answer should demonstrate that you know much more than a regular candidate. You can talk to previous students and research on the internet about the college to know more about the various programs and activities in the college.

Q. Questions from GD
There is a possibility that some questions related to your GD topic may be asked again. This will show whether you just got lucky or you were really deserving of passing the GD stage. Your knowledge levels and presentation skills must be consistent with your GD session. Do not change your perspective, or it may look like you just said whatever you said just to pass the stage, and whatever you said does not reflect your personal views.

Q. Do you have any questions for us?
It’s always better to ask a question in return. This shows that you were attentive in the interview and listening intently. Some good questions to ask would be related to the institute’s program, their ideal candidate, etc. Try not to ask questions about placement and salaries. This will show you are in it just for the money.
These are a few questions you can prepare for. These have a high possibility of being asked. However, you may be asked any question based on your answers. Just answer confidently and be a professional. The interview may take anywhere between 15-30 minutes.
The personal interview is the last bridge between the candidates and the B-schools; hence it is the most crucial selection process. Preparing for GD/PI sessions is an excellent time to reflect and introspect on one’s career goals and reasons why one is opting for a management career. Often various tricky questions are also asked. So, the candidates are required to get acquainted with various logical questions for the interview to enhance their confidence level and face any unusual questions.

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