Considered to be the most premier business school in the country, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are educational institutions offering postgraduate, doctoral and executive programmes in business administration in 20 locations across the country.
IIMs, which function under the Union Ministry of Education, have also been declared as institutes of national importance by the Indian government.
With prominent recruiters at their placement drives offering annual packages between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh per annum, it’s no surprise that there’s much discourse around what it takes to crack an IIM interview, among the over 2 lakh MBA aspirants who take the Common Admission Test (CAT) every year. The institutions are broadly classified into three generations and offer seats to over 5,000 students on an annual basis.
Here’s what five Quora users had to say about their IIM-interview experiences.
When a quip saved the day
Pricing and analytics manager at Dell, Puneet Srivastava shared his friend’s unconventional experience during her interview with IIM-Calcutta. The woman, whom Puneet referred to as being “exceptionally talented”, was apparently asked to leave the room by one of her personal interviewers (PIs), even before the interview began, because he didn’t “like her face”.
According to Puneet, his friend was quick to respond and said, “Sir, with all due respect, if you can explain to me how my average looks would prevent me from being a good manager, I would happily walk out of the room.”
The woman was immediately asked to take a seat and interviewed for hardly 10 minutes on generic subjects. Post her selection, the professor apologised to her and said the panel selected her the minute they heard her witty retort, claims Puneet.
Although some Quora users have expressed skepticism over the legitimacy of the incident, Puneet’s response is one of the most viewed answers to this question, at over 2.58 lakh views, and has more than 16,000 upvotes.
‘Discussed Satyajit Ray’s films in Bangalore, showed fingers in Ahmedabad’
“Got burned in Kozhikode, panelists debated among themselves in Lucknow, philosophised on the meaning of my name in Calcutta, discussed Satyajit Ray‘s films in Bangalore, and showed the panellists fingers in Ahmedabad,” wrote Sambit Debnath, an operations manager at Amazon, who ultimately got selected at all five branches of the management institute.
Walking into his interview for IIM-Kozhikode with negligible preparation, Nihar was unable to adequately answer questions based on current affairs in the southern states. While his expertise in Bengali theatre and cinema helped him ace his interviews for IIM-Calcutta and IIM-Bangalore, quoting Voltaire’s poignant words on defending the right to speech helped him win over his IIM-Lucknow PIs.
Even as Sambit’s interview for IIM-Ahmedabad began on a rocky note, he managed to impress his PIs when they asked him to prove that he’s a guitarist, sans the instrument. Pointing to his calloused fingers, he explained that they were an authentic marking of a person who plays the string instrument on a regular basis.
Hit and miss
Pune-based engineer Swapnil Anirudha Wayal admittedly walked into his interview for IIM-Kozhikode with mediocre grades. Owing to his personal interest in athletics, his male PI tested him on his knowledge of sportspersons holding world records and other significant titles.
Swapni, however, credited his “brutal rejection” to not seeing through the trick questions posed by his female PI. When asked to pick the “correct” choice of three statements on flying penguins, he impulsively chose the grammatically correct one, not realising that all 18 species of the big bird were flightless. The woman then asked him, “What makes the road broad?”
He wrote, “I left the interview centre and caught a local for Thane… Suddenly, it crossed my mind that adding the prefix ‘b’ makes the road broad. It was a trick question. In order to divert my attention (which she successfully did), she had asked me if I was aware of current affairs (right before).”
‘Is it really an IIM interview?’
Deputy Manager (Marketing & Sales Strategy) at Ambuja Cements, Nihar Ranjan Khillar’s interview with IIM-Kozhikode was nothing short of amusing, if not slightly bewildering. Not only did the panellists ask him if he believed in God, they also questioned if he’d ever been in love.
The PIs, Nihar claims, also asked him if he’d hit his future wife. After insisting that the statistics pointing to domestic violence growing at a rate of 160 per cent pointed at the affirmative, they laughed when he made a joke instead. Nihar was also quizzed on famous personalities from Odisha, his home state, and even asked to sing a ‘chaalu’ Odia song!
Nihar added that what worked for him might not work for all candidates. “The trick is to be confident and be honest. The biggest mistake we make is considering it as an ‘interview’; it is just a normal interaction. Don’t overburden yourself, stay cool and calm and you will surely make it,” he wrote.
‘Moral of the story…’
Besides technical questions on finance in her interview with IIM-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-based Arushi Jamar was asked what she knew about Sukhdev Thapar, the freedom fighter after whom her undergraduate college in Delhi University is named, and the full form of ‘RK Puram’, the branch of Delhi Public School where she studied.
During a discussion on her hobbies, the interviewing panel asked Arushi to summarise the plot of Dan Brown’s Inferno, after she mentioned the book is one of her favourite pieces of fictional literature. She was also asked to draw a parallel between the book’s primary theme of curbing overpopulation and the Indian government’s mass sterilisation programme during the 1970s.
“Moral of the story: Know everything about every word written on your form, even if it is the address of your school! And if you don’t know the answer to any question, try to answer something related to it, just to convey to the panelist that there is at least something you know,” the investment banker wrote.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)