Name: Vishal Kumar
Current Institution: IIM Ahmedabad
Interviews Cleared: IIM A,B,K,L,XLRI(BM)
Interviews Attended: IIM A,B,K,L,XLRI(BM)
Educational Background: B.Tech (Mechanical)
Work Experience: 1.5 yrs in Power Plant operations and 1 yr in Project Management in a PSU
Interview Type: Unstructured
Interview Experience – IIM B
This was my 2nd interview after IIM L. The process included an essay and PI. (No GD)
There were around 20 – 25 candidates divided into 4 groups of 5 to 6. My group had 6 members.
Topic – Environment pollution and Industrial development – How can business sustain in changing times with focus on environment?
Initially 5 mins were provided to go through the topic and form rough notes. We were strictly advised not to start writing the main essay during this time. After 5 mins, we were asked to start working on main essay part.
The duration was 25 mins (or 30 mins…don’t remember exactly!).
In my view, the time provided was sufficient to write a well-crafted short essay. What matters is the depth of content and coherence of ideas. So the way one organizes the essay becomes important. (Follow the basics- Introduction, main content in 2-3 para, conclusion linking on all the concepts)
I wrote a decent one (in my opinion!) highlighting the past, various conventions, current practices etc. Don’t write only facts, your point of view is most important.
The interview started right after the essay. As I was last in the panel, I had to wait 1.5 – 2 hrs (approx.). As per others feedback, it seemed the profs were very chilled out.
Finally my turn came and I was called.
Panel – 3 Profs
Prof 1 (P1) – Senior prof
Prof 2 (P2) – Middle aged gentlemen (dressed in formals)
Prof 3 (P3) – Another senior prof
And last but not the least ME.
As I went in, they were all busy reading my SOP (which i submitted during the process earlier). The mistake I did that I wrote the SOP in my own handwriting and scanned and send( Everyone else used MS Word for it!!).
P2: Good Morning. Have a seat.
Me: Good Morning sirs.
P1: So Vishal, Tell me one thing. Who told u to write SOP in your own handwriting when all candidates have used modern generation computers? Your handwriting is pathetic and still.
Me: (I was shocked by this! I never expected an interviewer to greet me like this. Pathetic handwriting – in fact they all were struggling to read the scanned version of my SOP on their laptops) (Silence for 20 seconds)
P1: What happened?
Me: Sir, The ideas flow in a coherent manner when I use my pen and it’s not the same when I sit in front of computers. I am more comfortable with being an old fashioned writer than a blogger.(What an answer- I said to myself!!!).
All three looked at each other and were shocked by my response. They expected an apology but today it was my day. They were very impressed.
P2: Ok good. So ideas flows better…is it? (Still in shock!!)
Me: Yes Sir, it certainly happens with me.
P1: So what do you think about your handwriting?
Me: (not again plz…) Sir, I know that it is not good but I try to write as legibly as possible.
P3: Good to know someone believes in old things and we are not alone (All of us start laughing).
P1: Tell me about yourself. Be brief.
Me: I told the standard answer focusing on my work experience and hobbies.
P1: So u work in PSU. What is your role in your company?
Me: I told about project management and the kind of stuff I do regularly. I told the importance of my job in organizational context and how it helps other department to do things in a better manner.
P1: You manage a 700 crores project (reading my profile in his laptop). How can they give such a huge responsibility to you?
Me: I am the project coordinator. I coordinate the departments such that the process remains smooth. I am working under my boss who is AGM. He actually manages the whole project.
P1: So u assists him?
Me: Yes. I also do many things alone and seek his help if it is required or else mandatory. He always guides me and shows how to go about it. I represent my company in project meetings with customer and other stakeholders in many locations. Thus I am equally responsible for the project as my boss.
P3: Where do you see your company in 10 yrs time?
Me: Told about bright future prospects of power sector and stressed the fact that our PSU is the backbone of power generation of India. So it will grow big…blah..blah.
P3: Oh c’mon. Don’t lie to us. We know the reality. You people are not efficient and the Chinese and other foreign players are stealing your share. Do u really think your org will sustain these forces?
Me: Yes Sir. Why not? We are not inefficient…n went on to explain in detail.
P1: okay So If u become the MD of this PSU, what 3 changes will u do to strengthen the org?
Me: Told about workforce engagement, infrastructure investment and R&D changes.
P1 and P2 grilled me sometime more on these changes till they became satisfied with my answer.
P2: Why our power infra is so abysmal?
Me: (I knew this question was coming…) gave a well-rehearsed answer.
P2: So how can u improve it? Again some major steps that u will take?
Me: Told T&D losses and other stuff…
P3: Ok Vishal, why did u leave your previous company?
Me: (thank god! They left power Q’s) Told standard answer – to learn new things and blah…blah.
P3: So you are not loyal. You only work for money and tags. Is that it?
Me: Defended hard…they were just checking my view.
P3: (After some more questions) what were the main differences between the two? Which job was difficult and why?
Me: I explained the cultural differences- Flexible, organized etc. Sir, the second one is more difficult even though first one was more technical and required utmost attention.
P3: Why does u think so?
Me: Sir, in my opinion, manpower management is the toughest job in an org and that was I did in 2nd company. I coordinated among many units and departments to ensure the smooth process flow. Every day I met hundreds of people and it was really difficult to get the job done from them. Whereas in 1st company, I did my own work and was only responsible for it. It’s much easier to do the job yourself than getting it done through someone else.
That was it. Last question on work.
P1: (chipped in suddenly) what else in your life? What you do after office hours? Fb or movies or…
Me: Sir, I jog and play every day after coming back from office. I love basketball.
P1: Hmmm…basketball. So your organisation has sports complex?
Me: Yes sir and it is well maintained.
P1: So what is your hobby?
Me: I love watching F1 races. Big fan of F1 races and Michael Schumacher.
P1 looked to P2 and P3.
P1: I don’t know about F1 and neither my colleagues seem to know about it. Any other hobby. Do you read books?
Me: Yes Sir.
P1: Last 5 books which u have read.
Me: Sir, The Fountainhead , Anna Karenina, Siddhartha..n…
P1: Hmmm…Fountainhead, That’s one of my fav books. So u believe in Ayn Rand philosophy?
Me: Yes and no.
P1: What does that mean?
Me: Sir, I agree with her in some ways and disagree her point of view in others. Explained a lot about Ayn Rand philosophy (Finally my preparation was working!!!)
P1: (Finally impressed) It’s nice that u don’t follow people blindly. I respect your view point.
Me: (on top of the world!!) thank you sir.
P2 was sitting idle and joined in after a long hiatus.
P2: Okay Vishal, one last question before we leave you. We all can see that you are very enthusiastic, passionate and responsible person. We all liked the way you spoke. The kind of maturity shown is also good.
Me: (Now this is a dream…I am loving it!!) Thank you sir.
P2: Tell me 2 things. Is there any weakness in you? Have u made a decision in your life for which u later regretted?
Me: ( Suddenly why this??) Sir, every individual has some or other weakness. In fact, you already know my weakness- my Handwriting. ( A wry smile)
P2: (Smiles) No not that, some other weakness.
Me: I told a weakness which I discovered in my 1st company. Narrated the context and related my weakness. At the end, I told that I am working on it and hope to get away with it in future.
P2: and regrets?
Me: No sir, no regrets. No regrets in life. Whatever I did, it was my choice. I lived my life my own way and I really have no regrets in life. In fact I feel blessed about the way I was bought up and life has been very kind to me.
P2: okay Vishal, That’s it. It was nice to talk to you. Thank you.
Me: Thank You sirs. It’s an honor to be interviewed by all of u. I am really blessed. Thank you once again.
Smart Tip: The biggest and most important- KNOW Yourself. You should be absolutely clear about who you are, what you want to do etc? Prepare soft questions first.( Goals, vision, how can u contribute to IIM etc.
If you are a work-ex guy, read about your company and the related sector. Be ready to explain your role and its importance. IIM B gives a lot of importance to work experience, so don’t mess up. For freshers, be clear about yourself and your future life.
But whatever be the situation, Keep Smiling. You should always look comfortable. The interviewer will try to stress you but maintain enthusiasm and don’t get bogged down by pressure.
All the best!!