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Top IIM Personal Interview Questions and How to Answer Them - CAT PDF Download

While doing well on the CAT Exam is important, it is not the only factor in achieving your goal of getting into a business school in India.
The next stage of the admission process, including the personal interview, group discussion, and written assessment test (WAT), is also crucial for securing a spot at a prestigious college such as an Indian Institute of Management (IIMs). It is essential to excel in these stages in order to increase your chances of being accepted.

Top IIM Personal Interview Questions and How to Answer Them - CAT

Personal interview questions for MBA admissions can range from questions about your current job, to questions about your goals and aspirations, to questions about how you handle difficult situations. Knowing what to expect and how to answer each question will give you the confidence to ace your MBA admissions interview.
There are three broad buckets into which all the questions that would be asked in a Personal Interview can be put into.

  1. HR Questions
  2. Questions on Academics and Work Experience
  3. General Knowledge

1. HR Questions:

The questions like, “Why MBA?”, “Tell me about yourself”, “Why would you prefer this campus over another?” etc. fall under this bracket.

This category of questions is often overlooked with the mindset that they can be winged. Not really. These are questions where you can prove to the interview panel you are worthy of a place in the B-school.

2. Questions on Academics and Work Experience

Irrespective of what you studied and your level of interest in the course of your study, you should be able to answer a few of the questions on academics during the Personal Interview. This is especially true for freshers and those candidates with a year or two of work experience.

Your work experience matters more than anything else, unless you are a final year student. 

3. General Knowledge (GK)

This bucket can be divided into two categories – static general knowledge and current affairs.

  • Static GK:

This is where the facts as permanent as "The Sun rises in the east" are covered. Everything from the history of your hometown to your college, school and state of residence falls under this bracket. Also vital are facts about Civics and Politics.

While it is easy to fall into the abyss of trivia, do not do that. Concentrate on building some knowledge beyond mere numbers.

  • Current Affairs

Questions about the recent happenings is the key area on which a few questions are sure to be asked in the Personal Interview round. Ajay Barua, who scored 99.22 percentile in CAT Exam and is a student of FMS Delhi was asked questions about Questions on Covid Vaccinations update, American Senate etc.

By preparing ahead of time, you can ensure that you answer each question thoughtfully and authentically.

EduRev has compiled a list of the  Top 10  Interview Questions and provided expert guidance on how to effectively respond to them. This will give you valuable insight on how to prepare for and succeed in your interview.

IIM Personal Interview Questions and Answers: 10 Key Facts

  1. Please note that the IIM MBA Interview Questions and Answers round may have a duration of 8 to 30 minutes
  2. Time duration of IIM Interview Questions and Answers depends upon how interesting you are during the PI process
  3. IIM Personal Interview Questions and Answers (PI) round is awarded highest weightage in the range of 30 to 50 percent in final selection
  4. Your IIM Interview Questions and Answers test you on your one to one communication skill along with your attitude, interest in surrounding events and way of presentation
  5. Any bluff during your IIM Personal Interview Questions and Answers session can throw you out of the selection fray
  6. The session of IIM Interview Questions and Answers for freshers could be different from that of candidates with work experience of more than one year or so in terms of type of Personal Interview Questions and Answers for MBA and the length of PI round as much depth in answers is expected from the candidates with work experience
  7. Usually there are 2 to 3 panelists in the IIM Interview Questions and Answers round
  8. MBA Personal Interview Questions asked in IIM Personal Interview Questions and Answers round are based on variety of topics ranging from your personal profile, family, native place, courses you have studied, environment around, current affairs. Anything under the Sun could be the topic in the interview session.
  9. The MBA Personal Interview Questions can be both generic or specific
  10. Personal Interview Questions for MBA admission are more or less simple and broad, how you answer them is very important.

Top 10 IIM Personal Interview Questions

Here are a few of the past MBA Personal Interview Questions asked in IIM MBA Personal Interview round and are the 10 top Questions to prepare for Personal Interview.

Question 1: Why MBA?

This is a common question that often appears in MBA personal interviews as part of the admission process.

  • It is important to ask and answer questions like this correctly during an MBA interview because it demonstrates the significance of the MBA to you and your career plans. 
  • The interviewers want to understand why you have chosen their school and how the program aligns with your goals and interests. 
  • The key to success in this process is to be honest and genuine in your responses

Question 2: Tell me about Yourself?

This is another very popular question that frequently appears in MBA Personal Interview Questions.

  • The thing about your “Tell me about yourself” is that every word you utter can and will be used against you in the conversation to follow. And you can expect this question in 99% of your interviews too.
  • Every answer must have two things – Coherence and Sentiment. 
  • Coherence can be attained through logical structuring, chronology, and keeping things in a flow. 
  • The sentiment, on the other hand, is the real winner. It is what adds the human dimension to your 30-40 second monologue, which may be as well be a dry summary of your CV! 
  • Every person has something interesting in their life that can become a potential bait for future questions in their answers. 
  • This is what you want to say to pique your interviewer’s interest and you wish that they would ask you more about it. 

Question 3: What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

This question has to be dealt with a degree of caution, care and diligence. There are certain things to keep in mind, specifically for answering this question during your Personal Interview.

1. Do not be cute.

When you are asked what your strengths and weaknesses are during the Personal Interview, do not say things like, “My strength is that I do not have any weakness. And my weakness is that I do not have any strength.” To put it mildly, that is just pure nonsense.

2. Backup your strengths with examples

When you cite a quality or trait as your strength, you must be able to justify and substantiate the same with facts, numbers and some crucial live event. You cannot simple say, “I am a team player” and then have nothing to follow it up with.

3. This is not a confession.

You are not a siner. And this is not a confession. You are in a Personal Interview. If there is a trait that you feel is your strength, say that with a rationale to justify the same. If you have a weakness, it should be a negative that you are working on. Again, mention this as a matter of fact and provide evidences to suggest that you have been working on remedying the weakness(es).

 Question 4: Current Affairs & Your Opinion on them

  • With lot of changes happening at the national and international level, your updated knowledge on current affairs and what do you think about them.
  • This is the key area on which a few questions you are sure to face in IIM Personal Interview  round. 
  • Nikita Agarwal, who scored 99.22 percentile in CAT 2019 and is a student of MDI Gurgaon was asked questions like Chandrayan-2, Cryptocurrency, Bullet trains.

There is a broad structure that you can and must follow to ace the questions on current affairs.

1. Facts – Get them right

When you are being questioned on an issue – say, the US elections – you must get the facts right first. This is uber-crucial. You should definitely know information that is non-negotiable. 

For example, in the case of US elections, things like who is the current president, how many presidents have been there before, what are the parties that contest, how does polling work, what is the upper house and lower house, and some more along these lines should be known to you.

Without this, you should not, must not and cannot jump straight to your opinions (unless your opinion is asked for as a question in the first place).

2. Take a stance if needed

Some candidates fear taking sides in a Personal Interview. If it comes to a point where you have to take a stance, do not refrain from doing it. Taking sides is not a problem in itself, as long as you are able to substantiate with proper facts, numbers and rationale.

But if you take sides and come off as someone who does not know the reason behind the stance, it might backfire entirely. Weigh the upsides and downsides of taking sides and decide on what would work for you.

3. Facts followed by opinions

Once you have got the hard facts about a particular topic in place, move on to opinion pieces. Again, there is an important factor to be noted here. When you read opinionated articles, make sure to consider both sides of the argument. Do not restrict yourself to knowing only one side of any issue.

4. The tree structure

Just like a tree starts with the root and stem, and then goes on to branch out, your preparation on a particular topic should start with the basic facts and go further and further. Add more and more questions relevant to that topic to add depth to your knowledge.

You can check out the courses offered by EduRev for CAT Preparation to help you get into top IIMs.

Question 5: Why this B-school?

This is one of the top MBA Personal Interview Questions for Admission. 

  • If you are appearing in IIM Personal Interview round, it is one of the top Questions to prepare for Personal Interview. 
  • If you don’t give a crisp and clear answer, you will leave a bad impression.
  • There can be deriving questions after this like "What if you don't get selected in an elite B-School? Do you have any back-up plan?"
  • In this question, the interviewer is trying to know your interest, if you really want to do an MBA  (and not just get into  a fancy college), your resilience and your vision for life. 
  • While this is a very subjective question here are some common answers to it - 
    • I will join tier 2  b-school and try again next year. 
    • MBA is a degree. Sure, elite colleges are great at what they teach and good for making business connections. But, if I study and work hard, I can thrive anywhere. 
  • Remember, there are no right or wrong answers to this. Just speak honestly and be confident about it.

Question 6: Which Specialization and Why?

Some B-schools want their students to be clear about their career choice post MBA. 

  • They also want you to be clear about which specialization that you will select in 2nd year and why. 
  • Many of you already know what you want to apply for. You might want to talk about that stream you want to apply for. 
  • Be sure to do a little research and identify why it makes sense to you, as that will be your answer to the question ‘why’. 
  • In case, you are not sure of what stream to opt then just say the truth. You can just say ‘I am not sure, I would like to explore my options during my studies’. And, don’t worry about it! The chances of the interviewer grilling you on this are minuscule. 
  • To ace this question, you need to prove that you are aware of the domain-specific concepts!

Question 7: If not MBA, then what?

  • There is a high chance you will be asked this question. 
  • Your evaluators want to know your plan B. 
  • And having a plan is not necessarily a wrong thing. 
  • Yes, you are passionate about doing an MBA but it is also reasonable and logical to have another plan in case your dream has not come true.  

Given the impact, this is naturally one of the popular MBA Personal Interview Questions. 

  • Don’t expect simple fact-based questions – one candidate was asked to share his “stance on the conspiracy theory of Covid’s origin.” 
  • Another candidate was asked to explain “Hidden Markov Model and R0 model for Covid-19” in IIM Bangalore personal interview.

Question 9: Past Academic Questions

  • Your academic profile is an important source of top Questions asked in Personal Interview round of MBA admissions. 
  • Nikhilesh N, who scored 98.44 percentile in CAT 2020, was asked questions like UG specialization, how the UG background is related to Business Analytics and the key areas of academic interest in IIM Bangalore Personal Interview round

Question 10: Previous Work Experience Questions

If you have short or long work experience, it will be the most important area constituting top MBA Personal Interview Questions for Admission. 

  • Shuktisindhu Mondal who scored 93.26 percentile in CAT 2019 and is an IIM Ahmedabad student, has a work experience of 41 months. He faced many questions regarding the nature of his work and shares, “Questions that I faced were based on my work experience and current affairs.”
  • Talk about your positive trait. (the real ones)
  • Quote your official performance review. (if you have one)
  • Since the question is open-ended, it’s a great opportunity for you to mention something good about you, something you didn’t get the chance to speak about yet.
  • Share an office story (involving your boss, manager, senior, etc) with takeaway.
  • Keep it simple. Just say 2 or more positive traits of yours with examples each. 

With EduRev, you can access a variety of resources to help you get ready, including video lectures and practice tests. So why wait? Start preparing now and get ready to ace the exam with EduRev Infinity.

Other Frequently Asked Questions in IIM Personal Interviews

1. Questions Related to Your City/State

Interviewers want to know if you have empathy for your roots. So there are also some of the important MBA Personal Interview Questions based on your native place

  • One of the questions that was asked in an interview of  IIM Bangalore was "What policies have been implemented in your state for its betterment?"

2. Questions on Extra Curricular Activities

  • If you are a sports person, a model or an achiever in some other area, the IIM MBA Interview Questions will be focused on them too.
  • Tanishq Diddee, a national medalist in swimming, a triathlon and marathon participant who scored 99.70 percentile in CAT 2019 and converted IIM Ahmedabad  was asked about how a business model can be made around swimming?, How will India capture the POK? Why Kenyan runners are good at marathon?

3. What is the meaning of Your name?

  • When your interviewer asks this question, he/she is trying to understand how self-aware you are. 
  • They are testing your level of intellectual curiosity, especially when it comes to investigating the origin of one's own name. 
  • So, do your research and be ready with an answer.

4. If you want to become an entrepreneur in future, MBA is not essential for someone who wants to start his own firm. Then why waste time and money?

While it is true that an MBA degree may not always be necessary and it is possible to be successful as an entrepreneur without one, there are still certain benefits to obtaining an MBA. If you are asked by your interviewer why you think an MBA would be useful for you, you could mention the following points: 

  • MBA is a great starting point for understanding business.
  • MBA can also help you with networking and making connections. 
  • Another good thing about a b-school is learning things through internships, competitions and projects. 
  • Apart from classroom learning, a business bubble environment helps you apply whatever you learn and want, in stints or simulations.  

The  most wacky question that was asked in IIM Interview was

Panellist: Spell the word Cow in thirteen letters.

Candidate: Well, Caaaaouuuuuuu?

Panellist (while laughing): It’s See O Double You.

Preparation Tips for IIM Personal Interview

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) interview is known to be challenging, as it is used to select the best candidates for one of India's top MBA programs. To help you prepare for this important interview, here are some expert tips:

Before the Interview:

  1. Take part in mock interview sessions to boost your confidence and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Stay up-to-date on current events, both nationally and globally.

During the Interview:

  1. Be honest and genuine in your responses. Do not try to deceive the panel.
  2. If the panel tries to throw you off or confuse you, stay calm and stick to your basic knowledge. Maintain a positive demeanor and do not show signs of nervousness.
  3. Do not pretend to know something that you do not. If you are unsure about a complex concept, it is better to admit it than to try to bluff your way through an explanation.
  4. When asked puzzle-type or estimation questions, focus on the approach rather than the final answer. The panel is more interested in your problem-solving skills.

You can refer to the CAT Interview Preparation Guide provided by EduRev. This guide may include information on the types of questions that are typically asked in the CAT interview, tips on how to answer them effectively, and guidance on how to prepare for the interview overall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Top IIM Interview Questions

What is PI in CAT?

PI stands for "personal interview." It is a stage of the admission process for the Common Admission Test (CAT), which is a competitive entrance examination for admission to business schools in India.
After candidates have taken the CAT Exam and their scores have been evaluated, they may be invited to participate in a personal interview with a panel of experts.
The personal interview is used to assess the candidates' communication skills, personality, motivation, and potential fit with the business school. It is an important factor in the overall selection process for admission to an MBA program.

You can refer to the CAT Interview Preparation Guide provided by EduRev. This guide may include information on the types of questions that are typically asked in the CAT interview, tips on how to answer them effectively, and guidance on how to prepare for the interview overall.

Is interview for IIM difficult?

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are highly selective business schools in India, and the interview process is an important part of their admission process. It is not uncommon for applicants to find the IIM interview to be challenging. The panel of interviewers may ask a wide range of questions that test the candidates' knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills, and the pressure of the interview situation can be intense. However, with preparation and practice, it is possible to successfully navigate the IIM interview process and increase your chances of being accepted.

How long is an IIM interview?

The length of an Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) interview can vary depending on the specific IIM and the individual interview panel. However, it is not uncommon for IIM interviews to last around 20 minutes. 

It is important to be prepared for the possibility of a longer interview, as the panel may ask a variety of questions and may want to explore certain topics in more depth. 

How many interview rounds are there in IIM?

Getting admission in any of the IIMs involves a two-stage process mentioned below. Only those candidates who satisfy the IIM cutoff are called for the PI round. The PI structure, duration and type of questions may be different depending on the nature of the PI round.

Are IIM interviews online?

The majority of the IIMs have dropped their GD and WAT round and like last year will be conducting only PI round online.
IIM will begin the Common Admission Process (CAP) registration process soon.

Do all IIM have interviews?

Aspiring management students, who wish to make their way to the coveted Indian Institute of Management (IIM) have to undergo through personal interviews after they overcome the herculean task of clearing the Common Admission Test ( CAT) 

Can I wear saree for IIM interview?

IIMs don't generally specify a dress code for interviewees. However, it does state a broad guidelines for its MBA students, as in encouraging formal dress-up. So, if you are going for an IIM interview, it is expected that you wear formals.

You can refer to Dress Code for MBA Interview  article prepared by EduRev.

In which month IIM interview is conducted?

IIMs conduct WAT-GD and PI rounds between February and April 2024. Candidates selected for these rounds are notified via email regarding the schedule. The final selection list is released in May.

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