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Expert Suggestions on Preparation for Computer Based CAT-09

"Encounters Of The Third Kind!!!"

- by Anuj Arora *

When Spielberg uncle made this movie long back, I guess he would've never guessed that his movie would be a great inspiration for these famous management institutes in India called IIMs!!!

Surprisingly, I got a call from three of these coveted institutes - A, B & C, and even more surprisingly, got selected in one of them, usually called the toughest of them all and best of them - IIM-A!!! Now don't ask me how I made it, because even I'm trying my best to get the elusive answer.

Let me relive those moments of glory... Sorry I got lost in those moments!!! But I'm back & kicking. So we were called for GDPI for IIM-A in IIFT. Great building but not as great as of IIM-A. So there were loads of students called for GDPI, ratio is usually 1:8. Let's not discuss stats for now because they only discourage you!! To my expectations, I found a lot of fellow engineer "bhailog" from variety of institutes including the IITs. Why can't these geeks settle for something less than IIMs??? So now we should proceed to the GD first!!

A group of eight students are called for GDs in various rooms to be courted by different panels simultaneously. (I mean mass-slaughter!!!) In IIM-A, there is always a case study given to be discussed. The group is usually seated around a table, which can be of L or U or straight-line type of shape!! It helps if you are seated in the center because then you can have others' attention easily, otherwise it helps if you can raise your decibel level, but it shouldn't sound like shouting. Try to have a "cultured" GD - that's what my institute people told me.

So to my disdain, I got a corner-seat (the seating arrangement is pre-set by institute people.) We were given five minutes to gather our thoughts on a piece of paper and then after a command of "START" by the panelist, the mayhem began!!! There are a lot of things seen in a GD. Such as who initiates the GD, but initiating doesn't guarantee better points. The grasp of the topic, communication skill (try not saying Hindi words in between), the quality of points raised, being a good listener (it helps a lot because a no of times, students say wrong facts or otherwise and you can capitalize on it by saying with sugar coated voice: - " My friend! I would differ with you on this statement because� "!!! But don't cut other's points just for the sake of it. Take control of your body movements as well, like moving both hands while talking sometimes gives an impression that you are dusting a blackboard!!

Sometimes you can be asked to give "summary" or "personnel views" about the topic. There is difference between the two, and please be precise. You don't have to recite the whole "ramayan."

Usually, the panel present in the GD would be there in interview. So they know how you have performed, so try being nice, but assertive and forceful.

The main thing is that in a GD, it's not the quantity of time spoken that counts but the quality of what you've spoken.

In the GD, there can be a variety of topics, i.e., based on latest happenings, for example - "Iraq war", conceptual kind, for example - "If you don't manage the time, then time will manage you." Or totally abstract, for example - "Who needs education???" Or "Yesterday's gone, tomorrow hasn't come, and we've got today." These are previously given topics in IIMs!! So to prepare for these, what you need is "knowledge". You can't prepare in the last one month. So prepare slow & steady. If you don't have the habit of reading newspapers and magazines regularly, develop it. Reading CSR would also help. If you read INDIA TODAY, then have a reason for why not OUTLOOK or FRONTLINE. This habit would be helpful for both GD and PI.

Now moving to next stage of the slaughter, i.e., interview!!! I was the first to be called in my group, so obviously considered myself as "Guinea pig" for the whole group, but as there was no choice, "I was ready to rock and roll!!" The panel size is usually 2-3, but as I told you earlier, don't let facts effect you!! Another important thing is "don't loose your smile, no matter what." Even if you don't answer four questions in a row but can confidently answer the fifth one, you are in the race.

So talking about my interview, they started off straight with academics (all my preparation for the introduction thing went waste.) They asked me which subjects I had and started off!! About academics, the important thing is that you can't prepare for everything, especially engineers (being myself one, obviously I'll be biased and sympathetic), prepare at least 2-3 subjects, they may ask you your favourite subject and then say, "That's not my favourite subject, tell some other subject." So if you've prepared just one, you are gone. So better have a backup.

Coming back to my interview for non-engineers, the questions may sound out of the world, but notice that to which level they expect you to know. It's mainly how strong your basics are and if you are able to put them in practical situations. So I mentioned MICROPROCESSOR as one of the subjects. The questioning went as follows: -

1) Anuj, what is a microprocessor?

Anuj) $&%^$^%&%*&(*&%&^%&%^$^$^*

2) What is the difference between a processor and microprocessor?

Anuj) @#^%#^%$#^&*%*&*&&#$%&@(*^

3) How do you fabricate this microprocessor?

Anuj) Sir, we use PLANAR TECHNOLOGY!!!

4) What do you do in this technology?

Anuj) Sir, we use a SIO2 layer.

5) From where do you get this layer?

Anuj) We've electro-graded silicon &#$&#Y^&^%$#^$^%^$#^$^

6) From where do you get this electro-graded silicon?

Anuj) We've metal graded silicon & $#$#&$#&&^$#^$^#$&#$^%

7) From where do you get this metal graded silicon?

Anuj) We've silicon & %*$%$#&$#$#&$#&

8) From where do we get this silicon?

Anuj) %&&&%%%##$&#$#%$#&$#$

9) What next?

Anuj) We have epitaxial layer & $&^&^&%&%%$#&$#$

10) Anuj, while using all these layers, in what form are they?

Anuj) They are in molten form and then they ^*&^%&^%$#&$#$%$#

11) While in molten form, are they like iron sheets or what?

(Now I had had enough and was pissed off, but naturally smiling on the outside!!!)

Anuj) Sir, in book it's given till only this level!!!

UFFFFFFFFF!!! As you would've noticed, they see that to what level you can tolerate the third degree torture. When you answer a question, expect some more coming. What the panel does is that they see to what extent you can answer, because sooner or later, they will make you say, "SIR, I DON'T KNOW!!!" The latter the better. No superficial knowledge. Deep knowledge.

Same way it goes for hobbies!!! Let me tell you that when you mention hobbies, have thorough knowledge about it, otherwise you are gone. Do extra research, which will stand you out from others.

A lot of people say music. Now that's very vague! Be specific! For example, I said YANNI!!! Now I had his life history mugged up, his past, his music style, and name of albums, largest-selling album, and why I like his music. Prepare well for hobbies, because take my word, it'll be dissected.

Important thing in interview is EYE CONTACT!!! Hey, I don't mean eve-teasing. Look confident. The other thing is "never contradict yourself." Once you've taken a stand, be strong and face the wind, but stay put.

Another important thing - whenever they say, "TAKE ANOTHER GUESS!!!" it's a booby-trap, don't fall in it. If you are not sure, don't fluke. But unfortunately, I made this mistake. FLUKING IN IIM-A INTERVIEW??? Yes readers, I consider myself lucky that I made it, because to cover-up, I had to fluke another four times. Actually I was asked Mount Everest's height. By bad luck, I had no clue!! First answer was 10,000 feet. Was asked to take another guess. (Booby-trap!!! Don't fall for it!!!) I took another guess, and after that there were three more questions regarding that. Now both panelists and I knew I was trapped. But I was in a gladiator mood. I defied all reasoning and logic, and answered with confidence and smile. I didn't back out. I knew that only way out of this mess is that pretend that nothing has happened and stay cool. Although I would highly recommend that you don't make this mistake, and if pressure gets you, and you make the mistake, DON'T PANICK!!! Face the music, but stay cool. This is what they see that if you make a mistake, how do you handle it? Do you've the guts to back up your wrong statement? Because not every time, you'll know the answer. Also I couldn't answer a couple of questions. Don't let it ruin the rest of the interview.

Other thing is not to let panelists' expressions make you feel let down, because they will try to discourage with occasional sneer and odd comment. Just smile and ignore. No matter how bad is the comment, "BE BESHARAM YAAR!!!"

So I think, enough for now, and best of luck to all for the written and GDs and PIs!!! If you want to give any comments on the article you are most welcome, and you think of anything else, it would be helpful?


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