The WAT-GD-PI season is on for the 2016-17 B-School Admission cycle – and I have been extremely busy for the last few weeks conducting the Pre-Achievers WAT-GD-PI sessions, which culminated with the National Achievers Workshop conducted in Mumbai on 6th and 7th February 2016. This workshop was simultaneously conducted in 3 other locations (Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata) as well and is scheduled to be conducted this week-end in Delhi and Hyderabad. 1000+ Call-getters from Premier B-Schools attended these workshops and I am sure they will agree that they are now a step closer to achieve their B-School dream. While the training continues as quite a few top B-Schools are yet to come out with their second stage shortlist – I have been sent e-mails by a whole lot of students asking to share my views on what a call-getter must do to ensure that the WAT-GD-PI calls are converted into Final Admits. So read on, if you are a call-getter and I hope that I am able to add some value to your preparation.
The 5 P’s to convert your WAT-GD-PI call to a FINAL ADMIT
You currently have WAT-PI calls from 1 or more of the IIMs and other top Indian B-Schools- but if you do not have the right strategy for how you are going to convert these calls, then you are at the risk of losing out on your big opportunity. I know of individuals in the past who had just 1 IIM call and they ended up converting the same while there have been tragic cases of individuals with calls from all IIMs but not even converting one of them. So, what is the difference – I would attribute this primarily to lack of a strategic approach to clearing this stage. I normally advise all call-getters to adopt the 5 P’s approach to cracking the WAT-GD-PI rounds of the selection process. Let me now elaborate on the 5 Ps.
As they say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”. You need to plan your actions leading to the WAT-GD-PI date for any particular institutes. To have the right plan, you need to understand what generally happens in the WAT-GD-PI rounds of the institute(s) where you have secured calls from. Do your research on the type of topics that are usually assessed in the WAT/GD rounds of the particular institute – are the topics factual in nature, or based on controversies, are they abstract or do you need to analyse a case study. Also, understand the nature of questions asked at the interviews over the past few years- is there a pattern to it. Now, make a list of action points that you need to work on to ace the WAT/GDs as well as the Personal Interviews. These action points need to be specific and measurable. For example, I will read up at least 10 articles on “Make in India” by end of today, OR I will write the answers to the 5 standard PI questions by 5 PM tomorrow OR I will take 2 mock interviews in the next 7 days OR I will write an essay on 1 topic every day and get it assessed by my faculty. Decide the time duration that you will devote daily to your WAT-GD-PI prep and also freeze your daily time-schedule accordingly. The plan that you create must be practical and realistic.
You need to execute what you have planned – the preparation needs to be focussed, efficient and effective.
- Read newspaper and magazine articles to build your knowledge on current affair topics that have an economic, political or a social significance at a national or global level
- Go through the websites of the B-Schools where you have received calls from- you need to know where you are headed and what are they looking for in their prospective students
- Brush up on your academic subjects (at least a few of them , if not all) – especially if you are still a student or have little or no work experience. Also, go through your academic projects – just in case you are required to elaborate on them.
- If you are a working professional, do your research on facts and figures pertaining to your project, your company, your industry. You also need to be aware of recent happenings in the field that you are associated with.
- Write, Write, Write : Make as many notes as possible for all the above points and more – like what are the stories that you would like to bring up during the course of your interviews. Writing brings a lot of clarity to your thought process – generally one realises what they want to say exactly to the interview panel only after they have revised their drafted answers/stories at least 3 or 4 times.
Do not undermine the importance of practicing – attend mock GDs, mock WAT sessions and mock Interviews. One of the biggest mistakes aspirants commit is to not have enough practice before the D-Day. You must understand that it’s OK to commit mistakes in a mock rather than in the actual interview. Mocks or Simulated Interviews/GDs act as a mirror wherein you get to know your level of preparation, identify the gaps where you need to work on and decide next steps of action. For WAT, write essays on the expected topics for this year – get them corrected by a faculty and learn how you could structure it better or have better content.
It is easy to get disheartened when you see people around you performing better in a GD or an interview. Some people give up when they see that they have a mountain to climb. The key to success is your perseverance at this stage. Whatever be your level of preparation, however hard the task may look like, you need to keep pushing yourself hard to achieve the goals you have set yourself. You may achieve only 80% of your goals at the end but who knows – that may just be sufficient to take you across the line. Remember, “you have a chance to win the race, only if you run the race”.
Last but not the least, you need to PERFORM on D-Day. It is OK to be nervous and anxious – but not to an extent that it hampers your performance in the interview or Group Discussion. You need to stay calm and composed through the process. Reach the venue on time, carry all the mandated documents/forms/certificates. Dress appropriately and for the occasion – you need to look comfortable and presentable in whatever you wear.
Do not seek inputs from people who have just finished an interview – this will only add to your anxiety. Treat the interview as a friendly conversation wherein your objective is to market yourself in the best possible way.
Do not give up if the interview does not start well – keep looking for opportunities wherein you get to say what you want to say.
Do not give up even if you are not comfortable with the topic of the WAT – write something that is coherent and logical and who knows you may wriggle out a few points out of nowhere.
All in all, give it your best shot and your best might just be sufficient to seal the deal.