Armed with the maximum possible percentile score of 100 that could be awarded to the best candidate in CAT 2015, Pranjal Agarwal a final year student of mechanical engineering at BITS Pilani was shortlisted for PI round by IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta for admission to flagship PGP 2016-18 batch. However Pranjal has clearly defined his goal to prefer IIM Ahmedabad to any other IIM.
Pranjal has already gone through the WAT and PI round at all the 3 top rated IIMs. He is only 22 years old and comes from a modest family of relatively small town Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. He scored sectional percentile of 88.25 (99.89 percentile) in VARC; 96 (100 percentile) in DILR and 93.81 (100 percentile) in Quant. With the scaled score of 278.06 he scored 100 percentile in CAT 2015.
Pranjal stays in Gurgaon and since it was difficult to travel back and forth from Gurgaon and Mumbai frequently, he only went for Personal interviews for IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta. Pranjal also had not applied to any other institutes or given any other entrance exams for MBA except CAT 2015.
Strategy adopted for PI Round
Assured of getting shortlisted by all the top rated IIMs, Pranjal started preparing for PI-WAT process systematically. Sharing with MBAUniverse.com Pranjal outlined his strategy how he prepared for the PI round “I plan to keep it simple and just let the panel know about my personality and my life goals. I am also revising the concepts I studied in Mechanical Engineering at BITS and am also reading up articles on newspapers and magazines to stay in touch with current affairs. I also practise mock interviews with my friends to brush up my communication skills.”
IIM Ahmedabad: Stress PI called for confidence
Pranjal had to attend the WAT and PI round for IIM Ahmedabad in Mumbai on February 7, 2016. Since IIM Ahmedabad is his first choice, he had to take the bull by the horns.
Pranjal was allotted afternoon slot for WAT and PI which was scheduled for 2 PM for IIM Ahmedabad. He preferred to wear formals and also advises the candidates to prefer a suit. Reporting time was 1 PM. WAT began at 2 PM and was over at 2:30PM. The WAT topic was ‘Charities spend frivolously and we should not donate to them. Discuss’. During the 30 minutes Pranjal was supposed to write a well worded and coherent essay. The emphasis word was to ‘Discuss the topic’ and not to examine or critically analyse it. He preferred to write on WAT topic discussing on the core aspects and refraining from getting biased.
PI Round: confidence is the key
The personal interview round at IIM Ahmedabad began at 2.30 PM. There were around 40-50 candidates at that time slot on February 7, 2016. The candidates were divided among 6 panels. Each interview lasted for around 15-20 minutes and everyone was called in a specific order. In view of Pranjal it is good to reach half an hour before the start of WAT round, although IIM Ahmedabad advises you to report 1 hour earlier.
The personal interview round of Pranjal at IIM Ahmedabad lasted for 15 minutes. There were 2 panelists who grilled Pranjal. He was supposed to remain calm, composed and confident as it was stress interview.
Sharing about the Personal Interview Pranjal says ‘The interview was mainly a stress interview at IIM Ahmedabad.’ He further describes “I was asked about my placement, one of my courses in Mechanical Engineering and my hobbies (football, they asked about Indian Football Team and Asian Football). The main thing to show that you are confident about what you know is that it's okay to accept if you don't know something, although you should study about things related to you, such as recent events near where you're from, where you live, your college, your hobbies, etc.”
IIM Bangalore: Calm PI with focus on communication skill
The WAT and PI round for IIM Bangalore of Pranjal was scheduled to be held in the afternoon on February 17, 2016 at Mumbai. The scheduled time was 2 PM and Pranjal was supposed to report at 1 PM.
There were around 30 candidates and 3 panels. 2 candidates from his panel had not reported by 2PM, so there was a waiting period of around 5 minutes and then the process started.
WAT began at 2 PM and took half an hour. 10 minutes were assigned to brain storming followed by 20 minutes of writing on the topic ‘Government is too ambitious in its bid for projects like bullet trains and smart cities whereas we still lack basic infrastructure & transport for many.’ Pranjal suggests the aspirants to reach half an hour before WAT starts as you can get your documents checked by then.
Interview began after the WAT round was over. Personal interview lasted around 15 minutes. The interview was calm as against the stress interview at IIM Ahmedabad.
Pranjal was asked questions from his SOP, where I mentioned I was interested in the Manufacturing Industry. They asked why I specifically wanted that industry. Then the panelists went on to ask about the Make In India policy. Pranjal explained it to them.
Then the panelists asked Pranjal why a fresher was eligible to get an MBA. Pranjal explained that, too to the panelist who appeared satisfied with the response.
Next question was about Gurgaon, where Pranjal is staying. The panelists asked Pranjal to state a major problem there and provide a solution for it. Pranjal mentioned pollution and traffic and suggested using an integrated public transport system so that a commuter doesn't have to buy metro/bus/train tickets separately.
Interview lasted for 15 minutes and remained calm throughout. There were 3 panelists at IIM Bangalore PI round. The panelists were keenly interested to test the speaking skills, your research about the institute and everything in your domain.
IIM Calcutta: All round knowledge needed
Pranjal was to appear in WAT & PI round of IIM Calcutta on February 23, 2016 in Mumbai at 8 AM. He was required to report at the PI venue at 7 AM. However Pranjal reached around 7:30AM. There were 35 candidates waiting and there were 3 interview panels.
WAT at IIM Calcutta began at 9 am and finished at 9:30. WAT topic allotted to Pranjal was ‘Urban air pollution is a menacing problem. Discuss its Causes, Effects and Solutions’. The time allotted to write on the WAT topic was 20 minutes.
Personal Interview for IIM Calcutta was more like a conversation. It lasted for 15 minutes and there were 3 panelists during the PI round. There was discussion on the hobbies, life and on some basic GK apart from some Technical questions.
Interview was simple, panel was quite cool. The questions started with BITS and how people have time to pursue their hobbies a lot at the institute.
The panelists asked Pranjal about his hobbies to which he replied that he enjoyed solving mental ability and mathematics problems. Pranjal also solved a problem in front of the panelists while explaining his thinking.
Another question was on family background and the panelists talked about it in detail.
Next questions they asked Pranjal was to provide a solution for the chaos of law and order in UP which exists due to corruption of policemen and many complaints are not acted upon. Pranjal talked about making the reporting transparent so people and senior officers can get access to FIRs filed and check upon the action taken by making the system computerized. Panel discussed on that for a few minutes.
Then Pranjal was asked some GK questions, like who was Home Minister, CM of J&K, PM of UK among others.
Then the panelists asked some core questions from engineering, about gears and IC Engines.
Tips for IIM aspirants
In view of Pranjal, it is good to reach the venue about half an hour before the process starts, irrespective of when reporting is scheduled. He further advises to make sure that you wear formals and bring all your required documents.
The reporting process only consists of showing supporting documents, like ID proof, 10/12 mark sheets and transcripts/work ex proofs. Candidates are allowed to do that even after the interview.
Pranjal further advises the aspirants that since the Personal Interview round holds the most weightage for admission in almost all IIMs, so it is important that you prepare for it well and study about your background and topics in your domain.
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