How To Prepare For Personal Interview Of CAT



Deekshant SahrawatCo-Founder, MBAGuru 


The weightage of Personal Interview performance in the final selection at the Top B-Schools is decisive. Among the Top IIMs, it ranges from around 24% for IIM Calcutta to around 50% for IIM Ahemdabad. IIM Bangalore (30%) and IIM Lucknow (40%) also see it as an immensely important step for the final admission. Infact, for most of the Top B-Schools, the Personal Interview carries the highest weightage among all parameters.


While most other factors or steps in the selection process are impersonal and quantitative and can be seen as either eliminatory (CAT Scores) or historical (past academic performance), the personal interview is as personal and as current as it gets. Right from a campus job to the selection of the head coach of the Indian Cricket Team, the selection process invariably entails the use of Personal Interview as a decisive element. The process shifts from being impersonal and quantitative to something that is very personal and qualitative.


Brought up on a regular diet of exams and scores, and questions with single correct answers achieved through a defined set of steps, most of us don’t relish the openness and lack of structure that personal interviews seem to involve.


However, the hidden structure beneath the interview process is actually fairly simple to crack.


The interview tests two things:

  • Internal Awareness
  • External Awareness


Which one do you guess is more important?

While many students spend countless hours and days working on the latter, because it appears to be vast, tending to infinity, it is the former that is far more crucial. The Personal Interview is called Personal for a reason. It is about YOU! Therefore, the internal awareness is the most crucial aspect to work upon.


The interviewing panel wants to know YOUas a person. They want to hear YOUR story, find YOUR learnings, determine YOUR attitude, see how clear YOU are about YOUR goal and purpose in life, and why do YOU want to pursue MBA!


Not being able to convincingly answer any of these is far worse than not knowing a mathematical formula, theorem or not knowing the President of some country in Africa.

The selection panel already has your CAT/aptitude score, your past academic record, your job detailsamong several other things. They have the numbers. They want to see what lies beneath and beyond that data.


Coming to external awareness, most of what you need to learn about other things also comes from something about YOU.So, to identify areas of external awareness that you need to work upon, you again need to focus inwards – on YOUR story, YOUR favorite subject in college, YOUR city, YOUR hobbies, YOUR goals, YOUR strengths and weaknesses. Most of the external awareness questions will stem from or be triggered by things that you say or write in your answers about yourself. They are very likely to be related to you.


So, get going on developing the internal awareness before you branch out on the relevant external stuff.  Remember, the personal interview is all about everything about YOU – your past, your present and your future – know it, show it, and create it!

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