Updated: Jun 29
Feeling scared because you don't have work experience? I was in the same boat.
I definitely wondered how would I compete with candidates with so many years of work experience. This thought primarily came because as a fresher I doubted the value that I could add to the batch at an IIM.
This post is for all the freshers to understand what the interviewers expect from them during an interview.
Are freshers at a disadvantage during the interviews?
That's not at all true. If that was the case, the top IIMs wouldn't hire so many freshers. In the 2018-2020 batch, IIM Ahmedabad had 25% freshers. So, they're definitely there to select you.
And, it's not only them, during the IIM placements, some companies also prefer freshers. Keeping in mind the requirements of the recruiters, the interviewers are inclined towards selecting freshers.
What kind of questions are asked to Freshers?
The list of standard questions remains the same for freshers, however, the most amount of emphasis is given on academics and HR questions (HRQs). In fact, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Lucknow are known to be two institutes which are very particular about academics and if you check out the weightage given by different IIMs to question types, you would find it to be true for IIM-A and IIM-L:
How to prepare for these questions?
You should revise your basics for academic preparation. Now, you can't go through all the courses in detail again, but what you can do is to pick 3 favourite subjects and revise them thoroughly. Apart from these, you must check the course list of whichever IIM you're appearing for. For example, this is a list of courses offered at IIM Ahmedabad. If any of your undergrad course is related to these subjects, you must prepare it well.
For HR Questions, there is a 3-step simple process to frame your answers. You can refer to this post for the details. The short summary is to back up each question with incidents from your life. That will make your answer both engaging and genuine. You must also read HR questions asked in the past years.
I'm not saying that other kinds of questions will not be asked. They can definitely be asked, but for freshers, the emphasis is mostly laid on these two types.
How to improve your CV before the interviews?
This is another area of concern for many freshers. Doing an internship or joining a club in the short time you have before IIM interviews is neither feasible nor recommended. Instead, what is manageable is doing some certifications to show an inclination towards a specific field. You can choose as per your field of interest:
How to tackle the why MBA question?
One of the questions that can be asked is - "Why don't you get some work experience before you join an IIM, it will give you more inputs to add during the case discussions?" Well, it's not at all true that freshers can't add value to the case discussions, in fact, they are able to come up with fresh perspectives that are often overlooked by professionals with work-ex.
In case you're asked to justify the direct jump from your undergrad to an MBA, you can mention the specific field you wish to enter into (marketing, finance, HR), show them your inclination (with the help of courses, extra-curricular and internships) and tell them how the offers you have from your college are not relevant to the field you wish to enter into.
Irrelevant work experience will add no value to your profile as well as the contribution you plan on making to the batch. Instead, it will only make getting the shortlists from recruiters at IIMs difficult. Instead, you'd wish to do an MBA so that you can get into the field of your interest.
Don't worry, they are there to select you - just go in with all you've got and prove your merit using the candidature you've built over the past couple of years. To get a perspective on how the interview would look like, you can go through my interview experiences:
Hope it helps! Wish you luck :)