CAT 2018: Tips on how to prepare for your GDPI
CAT 2018 result was declared on January 5, 2019, with the exam being conducted across 142 test centres on November 25, 2018. Every year one of the IIMs conceptualises the examination pattern and this year, IIM Calcutta conducted the exam with as many as two lakh aspirants appearing for the entrance.
Every MBA aspirant wants to bell the cat and hence knows the importance of GDPI in order to crack and get into their desired college. There are hardly few weeks left for colleges to start with their GDPI processes on the basis of the MBA scores of students. After those tedious months and those sleepless nights, you have finally managed to score well in the CAT exam and are looking forward to the next level now. But all the hard work falls flat if one fails to figure out the success to crack the GDPI session.
A lot of students who even score well in their CAT exam, are unfortunately not able to make it to their desired college list because of not being able to perform well in the group discussion or personal interview. Hence, it is important to keep few pointers in mind while you are preparing yourself for the GDPI round.
Consider your MBA entrance exam score
You have seen your percentile and are quite aware about which colleges can you aim for now. Do a little research on the background by talking to your seniors, alumni of the college, or your professors about what the various things to be kept in mind are, while preparing for this year’s GD-PI process. Also, don’t be disheartened if you haven’t scored as you expected, because there will still be many reputed colleges who will consider selecting you on the basis of your GD-PI performance. Hence, look at the brighter picture and prepare for the future ahead.
Why is a group discussion important?
There are various reasons why group discussion is an important part in the selection process. To start with, group discussion shows how confident you are when you are amongst ten other strangers in a room and how well can you articulate your points when you are sitting amongst them. GD will reveal your managerial skills, communication skills, analytical skills and your ability to communicate under pressure.
First 5 minutes of the GD decide how you want to position yourself. Key things to keep in mind while you are preparing for the GD are:
1.Be apt and crisp with your pointers:
Students often make this mistake of talking continuously in a GD, not realising that the moderators judge them on the basis of how many valid points they have made in the entire process of blabbering for so long. You will get extra points if whatever you say, is agreed by the team members at a majority level. Hence, in order to be clear in your mind, make it a point to write down your notes in the starting two minutes which is given to you before starting a GD.
2. Make your presence felt:
In order to improve your skills, all you need to do is observe, practice and participate. Start practicing your discussion skills in informal groups and sessions and you can also ask others for their feedback. The moderator can even select you for the next round if you are a good team player. If you are the one controlling the dynamics of the team, without being aggressive, it shows the true quality of a leader and the moderator would be interested to see this part in every person.
3. Know about the current affairs and be prepared for the abstract topics as well:
For the GD as well as the PI, one needs to prepare on current affairs, topics of national importance and General Awareness. A future manager should be well-informed about the issues of the day and should have logical and mature opinions about the same. Hence, read the latest cover stories of magazines and newspapers to keep yourself abreast with the major issues facing your city, state, country and the world. You can be expected to talk about abstract topics too. Hence, know that there is no right or wrong here. All you need to do is, be sure and confident about what you are talking.
4. Always respect your peers in a GD:
The most important thing for a moderator is to understand the personality of an individual. Being rude or arrogant is not the key to success in any GD. Hence, let the other person talk and then put your point across. Also, the way your hand moves or eyes flutter, speaks a lot about you. During the GD, make sure you are calm and composed.
5. State facts and statistics, to earn the brownie point:
Who wouldn’t appreciate you if you know a little extra than your peers? Quoting statistics and facts will help better your chances in the GD process and the audience will appreciate in case you are able to do so.
Preparing for the interview
An interview checks your personality, which is one of the main drivers to becoming a manager. When it comes to personal interview, there are some common questions that one needs to be prepared with. One should give at least 2 to 3 mock interviews before each interview process in front of seniors or experienced people, in order to understand and assess their preparation. After each mock interview, assess yourself and find out your improvement areas.
Some of the most common questions which need to be answered tactfully are:
- Tell us something about yourself
- Why do you want to join our college?
- Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Previous work experience
- Tell us about your family background
- Why do you want to do an MBA?
- Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
In all of these questions, there are no right answers. One needs to just be confident with the response you give. Some pointers to keep in mind while giving an interview are:
1. Be modest with what you say: The panel of interviewers have extensive work-experience, hence, be modest and truthful with whatever you say. If there is anything that you don’t know, tell them honestly and say you will read about this. You should know your resume thoroughly and should be able to have a 2-minute conversation about everything that you have included in your resume.
2. Be prepared with case studies, examples and brand concepts: Most brands have a story to tell. Be it Tata Nano, Maggi, or any other reputed brand, you should be aware about their SWOT analysis and what better could they have done to become a more successful brand.
3. Know about your academics and field: This is the most important thing. One tends to forget about their academics but it is very important to know your basics well. Hence, revise well before any interview. You can use business frameworks (SWOT, Porter’s Five forces, etc.) or mind mapping to support your analysis and answers, as long as it makes sense.
4. Body language and attire: Your body language should be confident, but not over confident. Make sure you dress appropriately for the interview.
5. Be assertive and take responsibility of the interview: An interview is like any other conversation but with a much experienced person. You should try to divert the conversation to the points you think are saleable and you are more likely to know. Make the interviewer more inclined and interested in topics which you think are your strong points.
6. Most important, BE CALM! The most important thing to keep in mind is calmness. Stay calm and have a small smile on your smile. A pleasant face can never be ignored. Lastly, all the best for your upcoming GDPI.
(Author Dr Sayalee Gankar is Dean, Faculty of Management (PG) at MIT World Peace University. Views expressed here are personal)