Updated: Jul 15
In the next couple of posts, Jayant Singhal, an incoming MBA student of IIM Lucknow, will be sharing his IIM interview experiences with us. Through these posts, he wishes to ensure that the upcoming batches have a repository of interview questions, especially the ones from the Economics background.
Jayant is an Economics (Hons) Graduate from Hansraj College, University of Delhi. Having been actively involved with various NGOs and start-ups, he has also gotten a bit of consulting and finance exposure. His fascination towards consulting, public policy, economics and entrepreneurship aided him well to pull out the interviews in his favour, especially, the one with IIM L (his abode for upcoming two years).
In Jayant's Words:
IIM Lucknow Interview Experience:
B.A. Economics (H) graduate from Hansraj College, University of Delhi.
Work Experience: Few months with a management consulting firm
Date: March 7th, 2020
Slot: 12:30 PM
Venue: IIM Lucknow, Noida Campus
WAT (later cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic) -
Something on the lines of "Should political parties focus on national security or the welfare of its regional concentration?”
Prologue: This was my last 'offline' interview for the season. And, this experience has been the most special one for me.
Since my slot was scheduled at 12:30 in the afternoon, I had to travel for almost 2 hours from Gurgaon to reach the Noida Campus on time. On reaching the campus, I came to know that I was the last one in my panel (out of 10 candidates) to be interviewed.
After all the document verification process and WAT round, my turn for PI came around 6:00 PM in the evening. Till then, I was literally exhausted. I was also feeling hungry and quite demotivated at the same time thinking being the last one, will I be able to pull off the interview in my favour? What if they might have already decided which candidates to select finally?
With all these thoughts hovering over my mind, I entered the room.
There were two professors. One was male (M) and the other was female (F). M was a senior professor and F was quite young (probably in her late twenties). I'll refer myself as J here.
I greeted them (in a heavy voice) and they asked me to have a seat.
F - Please hand over all your marksheets for 10th, 12th and graduation.
M - Please give your CAT score card and personal data form also.
J - (browsing through my folder) Sure Sir, Sure ma'am.
F - (after going through my 10th & 12th marksheets) You have scored quite high throughout your school life, were you the topper of your school?
J - No ma'am, I had 2nd rank in my school as well as in my district after 12th boards.
M - (after going through my personal data form) Oh, you are from Hansraj Economics! You have quite great profile. How was your college life? Why don't you start with your introduction then?
(After this point, the whole interview shaped itself. I was given a full fledged chance to pull off the interview in my favour.)
J - (trying to remember my rehearsed answer) Started explaining where was I born and brought up, why I chose commerce after 10th and then switched to economics. (Since they were listening carefully and kept on nodding), I continued with my college exposure, talked about my PORs, internships, hobbies (was running out of words now, but they kept listening)
So, then I carefully modified my introduction to why I want to pursue an MBA and what are my career goals.
I explained how I got an opportunity to work on HouseItt (our very own startup) from scratch and there I realised, how an MBA shall make all the difference.
J - Sir, whenever we used to pitch our idea to any prospective investors, they used to see us as mere undergrad students toying with some business ideas out of rational comprehension. Then, I once attended a fireside chat with a B-School alumnus and realised how we have been lacking in terms of the maturity. Maturity in the sense of networking, team formulation, brand name etcetera.
Then explained, how I want to get more conceptual clarity and learn about different business functions, elaborating how my internships and work experience with a consulting firm on a front-end basis has helped me explore different streams and realise my potential (there was no interruption, I was able to complete my answer).
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F - So, you want to pursue entrepreneurship?
J - Ma'am, I have always been fascinated by the concepts of entrepreneurship and consulting. Entrepreneurship could be my long run approach, but as quoted before, I would like to learn more. I can't really commit how my career will shape itself after MBA, but I definitely see myself as an industry leader years down the line. An MBA will rightfully help me bridge the gap in the most efficient manner between where I am currently, to where I want to go.
F - (nodding) I can feel there's a spark in your eyes and in your answers. You seem very firm & confident about yourself , you have performed well in academics as well. (Signalling M)
M - Jayant, you have scored 10/10 in Maths each semester. Can we assume Maths as your favourite subject then?
J - Sir, though I have been performing well in Mathematics, but I love Microeconomics the most.
F - Sure, Microeconomics then. You have heard of Monopoly, right? Please tell me what is price discrimination and how many degrees of price discrimination are there? Explain each degree with a real life example.
J - (thinking that I remember first and third degree well, but couldn't remember second degree. So, I started with explaining the third degree how different prices are charged from different consumers based on varied factors. Gave examples for discrimination on the basis of geography (a laptop purchased from Croma in Kamla Nagar to the one purchased from Nehru Market, Delhi).
J - (cursing myself for not being able to remember the second degree yet) Then I explained the first degree price discrimination citing all examples which could be there for the perfect degree case.
J - (Bingo, after putting a bit of stress on my memory) Sir, last but not the least, the second degree is when different prices are charged for different quantities consumed. Explained the concepts of amusement park charging a fixed fee for entry and then subsequent prices for each ride.
M - Great Jayant, you have learnt these concepts quite well in your undergrad. Suppose now I am offering scholarships to students each year on the basis of their academic marks in IIM Lucknow, what degree of price discrimination am I practicing? There is a fixed scholarship based on the fixed brackets GPA obtained.
J - (taking few secs to think) Sir, that is not the first degree since there are fixed bracket ranges, hence, you are not soaking the entire consumer surplus for each individual.
M - Okay, so second or third?
J - Sir, I am not sure about it.
M - It's okay, try thinking logically, you are almost there.
J - I think since you are not discounting it in between a range, the fixed brackets are allotted on the basis of marks groups, so it could be third degree price discrimination, just like movie theatres practicing on the basis of age groups. Discounted prices for children or aged persons and another set of prices for the rest of the people.
M - Now, do you even think that it's a form of price discrimination at all? Are you sure that the concept of price discrimination could be even applied to such scholarships scenario?
J - (thinking for a while) Sir, I feel there is discrimination clearly and since you are exercising your monopoly power in the institute, you are creating a market failure there by not letting everyone fetch the scholarship through random lottery or any other free market system. Monopoly always creates market failure and price discrimination in such cases. So, yes, it's there according to me.
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M - (after looking at F) Fair enough!
M - Jayant, do you have any questions for us?
J - (hadn't really prepared one) Sir, what kind of qualities do you look for? While selecting a candidate?
M - (with a big smile) I expect better questions from your side, this one you can get clarified from your mentor. Ask something else!
J - (hesitantly) Sir, the question of scholarships we just discussed, could you please help me reach the final answer?
M - (after taking a pause for few secs) For this answer, I will be better able to clear it after your term -1 classes. Just meet me then after the same :)
(I was just awestruck after what he said, couldn't really swallow the same at that moment thinking what does this really mean!? Is he saying that I am in?)
F - Thank you Jayant, nice talking to you.
J - (with a pleasant look) Thank you very much ma'am, thank you Sir.
Epilogue: Joining L this year, the interview experience was indeed a different one, there were no interruptions, the interviewers were listening all my answers carefully, I really enjoyed the whole conversation. In the end, all the patience and wait paid-off well. Just being honest with whatever I had to say made all the difference in my case, that's what I feel.
So, this was Jayant's first interview experience on the blog i.e. of IIM Lucknow, where he is going to cherish the next two years of his life :) Thank you so much, Jayant, for sharing your experience with us. In the next few days, I shall add more links below when Jayant shares his other interview experiences:
Till then, you can explore these two categories pertaining to IIM Interviews: