How I cracked IIFT ? Unlocking the secrets…

Centre: IIFT Kolkata, 1st slot 9:30 am.
Date: 03/02/2014
Written Score: 56.73
Cutoff: 48.xx

Background:
10th: 91% ICSE
12th: 84% ICSE
Grad: 80.7% (B.Tech Computer Science & Engineering)
Work-ex: 36 Months (Infosys Limited)

The first call of the season and IIFT it was. After a forgettable CAT result, IIFT was the one top notch college which I badly needed to convert. Though I had a good written score (60%) to bank upon, still there was a sense of anxiety and nervousness as IIFT was one of the earliest gd/pi to attend and a conversion ratio of about 1:5 wasn’t easy after all. I had prepared hard for this ever since I had filled up and posted that 3 page long IIFT CV form. There were three rounds of evaluation: Essay Writing (10%), Group Discussion (10%) and a Personal Interview (18%).
You must be wondering about the left 2%. Well that was for gender diversity 🙂
So here it goes:

Essay Writing:

We were given an A4 size paper to be written on both sides. Time allotted was 20 minutes and the topic was something like “In India, tax rule reforms are needed to encourage savings.” There was not much time to think. I gathered whatever I could about this in the first five minutes and then started writing. I had to take care of the word limit as well which was around 400 – 500 words. I was pretty satisfied with what I wrote at the end.

Suggestion:

Focus on the content and clarity of thought. Your understanding of the topic and points relevant to the topic is what is required and judged. Be concise and do support your inferences and conclusions with reasoning and facts if possible.
The answer sheets were collected and we were quickly divided in 3 groups with 10 applicants in each group for the Group Discussion.

Group Discussion:

Average Duration: 40 minutes
Number of panelists: 2

The topic was “Good sportsmen make Good administrators“. We were asked to speak on the topic for about two minutes and then there was an open house discussion. Various points and perspectives for and against the topic were discussed and it was the most long GD I had had in my life. People talked about Sachin’s captaincy, Sehwag’s casual approach, Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan, Football coaches etc. After about 15 minutes all the points were exhausted and then people started talking about anything and everything under the sun related to sportsmen. The moderator took a note of it and asked us to conclude. I had chipped in on 3-4 occasions but still I felt I lacked proper content and could have done better. I was not satisfied.

Suggestion:

Jot down all the bullet points which comes to your mind on the piece of paper given. Introduce the topic well and give your understanding in the 2 minutes allotted. Do not speak out all the points you have in mind in those 2 minutes. There will be ample time after that and everyone will get his/her chance. Act judiciously. Keep your solid points for the open house discussion. Identify the keywords, give examples and make good use of PESTLE analysis if the topic demands it. If you do not have prior knowledge of the topic, do not panic. You can always gather points from others and build upon them. Three strong entries with relevant points and examples can get you through.

Personal Interview:

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Then came the moment which was the most important in deciding the fate. The PI started immediately after the GD and there was hardly any time to relax. There were three panelist, two gentlemen (M1 and M2) and a lady (F1).
M1: So Mayank, tell me something about yourself.
Me: Answered in about a minute and a half with confidence.
M1: Okay, good. So when and why did you decide to go for an MBA?
Me: Answered. They had a smile on their face, I don’t know why: P
M2: What do you like about IIFT in general?
Me: Answered.
Then M2 started asking me about the academic achievements which I had mentioned in the form. I explained all of them well. Meanwhile the lady (F1) was just observing.
M1: Tell me something about your work in Infosys. Why do you want to leave the company?
Me: Answered.
M1: You have written xyz in your career goals in the next 5 and 15 years. Please elaborate on it one after another. What is your understanding of the word “brand”? Why is brand important for you?
Me: Answered quite convincingly
M1: Name 3 brands which you use in your daily life.
Me: Answered.
M1: You have mention Mr. Narayana Murthy as your business role model. What do you know about him? How many times have you interacted with him, talked to him or met him? Do you think he is a brand in himself?
Me: Answered. He kept on smiling and didn’t look much convinced on the brand part.
M2: Where do you live in Jamshedpur?
Me: Answered.
M2: Which road, Quarter No?
Me: Answered. It was as if he had resided there and was quite familiar with the locality and even the school I had studied in.
M2: How is Tata Motors doing nowadays? What does TELCO stand for? Why was the name changed? Do you think this change of name has any impact on the brand value?
Me: My father was a Tata Motor’s employee. I answered whatever I knew. He did not look very happy at the answer to the brand aspect question.
M1: Who are your other role models? Name one outside India.
Me: Answered instantly.

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Finally F1 came into picture. She asked me about the strengths and weaknesses I had mentioned. I justified both with proper facts and examples.
F1: What kind of movies/talk shows do you like? Name the last one you watched and the lesson learnt from it. (Had mentioned it as something which I like to do in my leisure time)
Me: Elaborated and answered well.
F1: You have mentioned about equality among men and women in the society. Have you witnessed any such situation of differential treatment in the society or family? What has been your role in that?
Me: Explained in detail. She looked pretty satisfied.
I had mentioned certain certifications and behavioral courses done in Infosys in the Other Info section of the form. She asked me in detail about those courses and what I had learnt from them. She even asked whether I had applied the learning in real life or not.

The last question came from M1:
M1: Mayank, you have won a Tug Of War competition in school. You have been through tough situations in life. You have worked in a corporate for 3 years. Do you think LIFE in corporates in real sense is a Tug of War?
Me: Answered to the best of my understanding.
I was happy and contended with the PI process on the whole.

Suggestion:
It was a twenty minute interview. I would suggest the applicants to be thorough with their CV forms and have back up answers and explanations for everything they have written on it. The answers to few questions like Why MBA, Why IIFT or Why IB are but obvious. Please do proper homework on these and know about the college, the streams offered, and the trade aspect well in advance. Do not argue, be gentle and polite. Remember you are there for a seat in a top B School and should not do or say anything unwanted or controversial which may cost u the offer. Be diplomatic on answers which should be answered that way.

Most important: Believe in yourself. Remember, it is a selection process and not a rejection one.

Verdict: Converted after 1st waiting list, Joined IIFT MBA IB (2014-2016)

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How I cracked IIFT ? Unlocking the secrets…

by Kumar Mayank time to read: 6 min
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