IIM Ahmedabad Interview Experience | Shweta Arora, PGP20

Updated: May 28

An account of my IIM Ahmedabad Interview Experience as a non-engineer, 99.09 percentiler. I got an admit to the PGP 2018-2020 batch of IIM Ahmedabad after CAT'17, which was my first attempt. I've shared all the interview questions asked in my IIM Ahmedabad Interview along with their responses below:

24th Feb, 2018, 1:00 PM India Habitat Centre, Delhi

After document verification, we were taken to the interview room for the AWT. There were two panelists, P1 and P2 (both male), they gave the instructions and we began writing. The question was (non-verbatim) -

“IITians are offered subsidy for their education and it is taxpayers’ money. They end up taking management jobs and hence it is a wasteful expenditure on them. Write the claim of the author, whether you agree or not and why?”

Please note that there’s no correct answer to such questions. So, it’s hard to say how I performed, but I explained my stand and gave logical reasons to back it.

After the AWT, we were asked to wait in the hall for our turn. I was the 7th person (out of 8) to be interviewed in my panel. When the 6th person came out, he looked shocked. I asked him how it went and he said, “They’re grilling”.

My turn came at 4:00 PM.

P2 came out and announced my name. I followed him to the interview room, which was very spacious, so I had a long walk inside, smiling at P1.

I greeted them and they asked me to have a seat.

P2 - So, Shweta, why don’t you introduce yourself first?

S - (I had a folder of documents with me along with 2 CVs prepared) Sure Sir. While I do that, would you like to have a look at my CV?

(P1 and P2 together) P2 - Sure! P1 - No, we have your form. (they looked at each other and P2 said, it’s okay, start with your intro)

S - (I said something semi-prepared) where I was born and brought up, how I helped my maternal uncle with his general store sales as a child, which lead to my interest in studying customer behavior.. (interrupted

P2 - I’m sorry, how old were you then?

S - about 11, Sir.

P2 - (surprised) And how did you help?

S - (smiling) It was very primitive, I loved to come up with promotional offers, which attracted customers and since he’s a retailer, there’s a lot of competition in the market. So, I helped during the festive seasons. (P1 smiling for a reason I find out later)

P2 - (nodding) Okay, go on.

S - then I talked about my choice of commerce, extra-curricular participation in school and how B Com (H) as a subject has given me a holistic view of business.

P2 - How has B Com (H) given you a holistic view?

S - explained how the curriculum introduces all functions of a business - finance, accounting, HR, marketing, etc. and how my internships have offered the opportunity to experience them all.

P2 - (nodding) Go on.

S - talked about my interest in marketing and advertising, how it started, the extent to which I like it.. (was flowing with emotions and ended up saying) Sir, you must have gone through my form, it might have seemed that I want to pursue finance, but that’s not the case. I want to learn more about marketing.

P2 - (some cross-questioning on marketing)

S - (answered all the questions with enthusiasm, real life examples and a smile on my face as if I’m living a dream)

[Now, the grilling part begins. P1 takes over]

P1 - So, you mentioned that your maternal uncle is a retailer and faces competition, what kind of a market does he operate in, in context of economics?

S - (thinking) umm, Perfect Competition.

P1 - (in a calm voice looking at my form) Would you like to change this answer?

S - (confused) Sir, given the options I have, monopoly, oligopoly, it fits the best.

P1 - (still looking at my form) And, Kirori Mal College didn’t teach you about monopolistic competition?

S - (facepalm!) Sorry Sir, I forgot to mention it. But, I still think it is PC.

P1 - (looking at my mark sheet) You studied economics in your first semester, right? Is first semester so old a story that you don’t remember economics?

S - (ouch, it hurt) No Sir, I remember the concepts. Explained what Perfect Competition is. What Monopolistic Competition is. Their differences and how in this case, PC fits better.

P1 - (not convinced) Then, how did you attract more customers? Didn’t you offer discounts?

S - explained how goods are sold at MRP in that market and the promotional schemes didn’t involve any reduction in the price of the goods.

P1 - Leave it, do you read newspaper? Or are you just interested in the soft news about marketing and sales offers?

S - (feeling insulted) I read newspaper, Sir.

P1 - Have you read that the method of calculating national income in India has changed recently?

S - (in utter surprise, what!?) Sorry, Sir. I haven’t read about it. (Later found out that he was referring to some news in between 2012–15)

P1 - Why are you ignorant about it? Does your marketing not account for the national income?

S - (my marketing!?) No Sir, it’s not like that. In fact, the marketing industry.. (interrupted)

P1 - What? Industry? Is Marketing an Industry?

S - Shared the stats of Advertising Industry and explained how advertising is a subset of marketing and hence it should be an industry.

P1 - You know there are 3 sectors in India?

S - Yes, Sir. Primary, Secondary & Tertiary.

P1 - So, where does your marketing fall?

S - Sir, since it’s a service industry, I think it should contribute through the tertiary sector. But, in the form of the manufacturing companies’ marketing department, it also contributes indirectly through the secondary sector..

P1 - (laughing) You’re so confused!

(P1 looks at P2)

P2 - Sir, now, you’re confusing me too.

(they laugh and I smile)

S - Sir, to further add to this confusion, I think it also contributes through the primary sector, like we have the FABM program at IIM-A, which provides marketing assistance to agriculturists.. (interrupted)

P1 - “Arey yaar, finally btao na”. (What’s your final say?)

S - (smiling) Sir, I’d like to conclude by saying that as an industry (he smiles), it contributes through the tertiary sector, but also contributes indirectly through the other two sectors.

P1 - (not in a mood to spare my economics) How is national income calculated in India?

S - Stated the methods.

P1 - Explain the product method.

S - explained.

P1 - What is GVA?

S - told.

P1 - How to go from GVA to National Income?

S - explained the 3 factors - NFIFA, NIT, Depreciation.

P1 - So, you mean GVA + these 3 = National Income? What have you studied?

S - (Arey yaar!) No, Sir. I meant an addition or subtraction of these depending on whether we wish to calculate domestic income or national income. Explained how the conversions of GDP to NDP, GDP to GNP and MP to FC take place.

P1 - (gave me the first satisfied nod, dear lord, how I craved for it!) How is FC calculated in the primary sector?

S - (nooooo!) I don’t know, Sir. But I can try. I try to explain it using the A2, C2 methods which were in news related to the Budget.

P1 - (annoyed) Are you trying to tell me the budget?

S - (scared) No, Sir. I was trying to connect the dots.

P1 - Just so that you know, in C2, it’s not imputed rent.

S - (another facepalm!) Oh, Sir, can you please share what it is?

P1 - explains C1, C2, C3 and says, let it be. It is not relevant to this interview.

(P1 looks at P2) (P2 gives a nod)

P2 - (smiling) That’d be it, Shweta. Please have a candy.

(My head was cluttered with thoughts at this moment. How can it get over on such a note? Half of the time I was being grilled. No, this can’t be A. It was the most important call. Please, don’t do this to me. Marketing and Economics, that’s it? No hobbies, GK, extra-curricular?)

I looked at the candies, picked up one and thanked them. On my way out, I just asked them with a smile on my face, “Sir, should I send the next person in?” They both smiled and told me that there’s no need.

After coming out, I met the 8th person, told him holding my tears that they might grill him. Asked him to stay confident. He smiled and thanked me.

I went outside and called my father. In a ‘I-am-about-to-cry’ voice, I told him, “It was the worst interview of my life. I won’t get in.”

He listened to the whole experience and told me, “Don’t worry, you will.”

Verdict - Converted.

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