Now that you’re done with your CAT exam, get ready early for the events that lie ahead. Candidates now have about two and a half months to be ready for the next phase of the selection process i.e. Personal Interview Round. You should start by reading publications like The Hindu, Economics Times, etc. every day as a habit to enhance your general awareness and learn about the most recent international news in sports, politics, and the economy. Aside from reading newspapers, you can read editorials, blogs, posts, novels, and pretty much everything else you can get your hands on. Anything that can broaden your horizon of thought, teach you how to think critically and how to analyze a situation with a different lens will be helpful.

Personal interviews are something that many of us dread, but we must realize that the purpose of PIs is not to frighten us, but rather to help the panellists to learn more about us than they already know from our resumes. Our goal should be to stand out, to do that we must consider and identify things that are unique about us and express them skillfully.

Let’s look at the 4 aspects of preparation for the Personal Interview Round.

1. Profile and HRQs

Knowing yourself is the main “funda” of a personal interview. Therefore, prepare your CV thoroughly. You should be well-versed in your strengths, weaknesses, UG courses, work experience, general knowledge, your name’s origin, your favourite sport or pastime in-depth, your hometown in-depth, etc. When writing about your pastime, be cautious and provide details. Never generalize. This will prompt them to have inquiries about that specific area only and not from the other side of the spectrum. Such topics can be the subject of in-depth inquiries. One way to get ready for this set would be to frame stories around each of the significant events that have occurred in your life up till the date of the interview. Use the STAR approach i.e. Situation, Task, Action, and Result, which will assist you in structuring your responses.

2. Academics

In case you are a fresher, get prepared to answer questions from and about your UG course. Especially the practical applications, of the subjects that you have already studied. So, prepare the fundamentals thoroughly. Take out your first-year textbooks, read through all the concepts and take notes if needed, as the panellist may decide to test your knowledge of them.

3. Work Experience

Working professionals are expected to answer questions about the roles and responsibilities they undertook while working. Understand the company you have worked for: the organization’s founding year, CEO, CFO, annual profit, quarterly results, etc. When discussing your work history, make sure to highlight the difficulties you encountered and how your team overcame them. You can employ the STAR method and demonstrate how your presence benefited your company, here as well.

4. General Knowledge

Now general knowledge can be divided into 2 parts: Static GK and Current Affairs. Note that no amount of preparation can help you cover all Static GK, but reading the monthly compendium published by various websites and going over the major dates, facts, and events is a good place to start. It is best to read newspapers for current events. Another method is to follow the daily current affairs updates posted by UPSC preparation websites.

Additionally, a few analytical questions or guesstimates might also be directed at you. It doesn’t matter if your answer to the question is right or not. What matters is, how you approach the situation. These questions will assist the interviewer gauge your capacity for analysis.

Finally, keep in mind that communication is the key. While sitting for the interview, try to maintain some type of structure, and frame your replies in straightforward terms. Don’t haphazardly hop from one point to another. Practice paying close attention to what is being asked and in case something is unclear to you, make sure to ask for clarification.

Kanika Sharma

Kanika Sharma is pursuing her masters from IIM Kashipur and is currently in her first year. She is a trained classical dancer and a baking enthusiast. She is also one of the admission coordinators of IIM Kashipur and an active member of the institute’s Cultural Committee. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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