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In the hot seat

Honesty and composure will go a long way in acing the PI round

education Updated: Mar 24, 2010 09:13 IST

Many top MBA institutes have started holding the group discussion (GD) and personal interview (PI) rounds. While some institutes are not conducting a GD, PIs will be held in all MBA institutes. This article lays down some important, last-minute guidelines for this crucial round.

Frequently asked questions
Get prepared for some common questions, such as “Tell us about yourself?”; “Why MBA?”; “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years from now?” Apart from these, you can expect questions about your educational and professional background, and some specific queries.

If you have worked somewhere for more than six months, you can expect questions on that experience. You can also expect questions, mostly basic-level ones, from your graduation subjects.

Answers to MBA and career-related questions, such as ‘Why an MBA?’, or ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?’, will depend on how well you understand and have planned for your professional and personal life.

While answering questions about yourself, you should focus on your strengths. Be honest about your personality traits. Ensure that the picture that you are presenting is consistent and genuine. The best way to manage this is to be honest with your self.

Look before you leap
As a matter of etiquette, you should wait for the question to finish before you start answering. You might miss out an important point in the question if you rush in. While listening and answering, maintain reasonable eye contact with the interviewers.You should take a two-to-three second pause before you start answering.

If you do not know the answer to a particular question, it is better to admit ignorance in a polite manner. Remember, it is not possible to know everything.

Look at it this way: if it is a basic question, it is expected that you would know the answer. Otherwise, the question has been posed to test your reaction to stressful situations. In such cases, you should maintain your cool and politely say that you don’t know the answer.

If you are not sure, you can say, “I am not sure but I think...”. It is not a very good idea to speculate, even if you do so confidently. If you think you do need to guess, you should prefix “I guess” to your answer.

In case you do not understand a particular question, you should politely ask the interviewer to repeat it or say, “I am sorry but I did not fully understand your question.”

The body talks
Your body language plays an important part during the PI. You should not appear to be too submissive or too aggressive. You should ideally not slouch or be restless. Sit straight and keep your hands in control. Avoid over-gesticulation.

Last and final advice: Always think before you speak.

Topper speak
Laxmi Agarwal, scored 99.23 percentile in CAT 2008. Part of the IIM Indore (2009-11) batch

How did you prepare for the group discussion (GD) and personal interview (PI) rounds?
For the GD and PI rounds it is essential that you practise with your friends or colleagues. You can also take advice from any experienced person who can provide guidance about what to do and what not to do under certain circumstances.

What would be your advice for MBA aspirants on GD and PI?
For the GD round, it is very, very important to be aware of developments taking place around you. Have a sound knowledge of socio-political and economic affairs. Read the newspaper regularly and also refer to magazines on current affairs, such as BusinessWeek, The Economist etc. For the PI round, be calm and composed. Be true to whatever you are saying. Don’t bluff in front of the panel.