IIM Interview Preparation: About PI, Strategies, Format, and Purpose

Updated on 4th January 2024 | 1:06 pm | #IIMInterviewPreparation

MBA admissions at top B-schools including the IIMs is a two-phase process. The first phase is the CAT exam and the second is the Personal Interview (PI) & Written Ability Test (WAT)/ Group Discussion (GD).

Candidates aiming for the best MBA programs should focus on strategy, practice, and a well-thought-out plan as a part of their IIM interview preparation.

This stage is where your communication skills, critical thinking, and personality are scrutinized. A stellar performance can significantly enhance your chances of securing a spot in a reputed MBA program at top B-schools including IIMs, XLRI, SPJIMR, etc.

Start your PI Preparation

What is a Personal Interview?

A personal interview is an essential part of the selection process for many business schools when it comes to MBA (Master of Business Administration) admissions. It's an individual, face-to-face interaction between a candidate and a panel of interviewers, typically professors and alumni of the business school. The interview aims to assess the candidate's suitability for the program beyond their academic qualifications. During the in-person interview, the admissions committee evaluates a candidate's communication and interpersonal skills as well as general fit for the MBA program. It allows the committee to go beyond the information presented in the written application, such as the resume, essays, and letters of recommendation.

IIM Interview Preparation: Format

  • Duration: 25-30 minutes
  • Weightage: 10-50% of the overall selection process
  • Stage: Final stage, along with Group Discussion or Written Ability Test
  • Panelists: 2-3 jury members
  • Purpose: Assess your intellect, fit for the program, and potential for success

IIM Interview Preparation: Questions

  • Generic: About your background, motivations, goals, and skills
  • Candidate-specific: Based on your resume, work experience, and academic record
  • Extempore: 5-minute speech on a social topic (in some cases)
  • Written problem: Short problem-solving task (in some cases)
  • Psychometric tests: Personality and aptitude tests (in some cases)

Additional Notes:

  • Personal interviews can be conducted with GD or WAT round.
  • The format and specific questions may vary depending on the B-school.

Purpose of a Personal Interview

In addition to the written application, a personal interview is a comprehensive tool that helps the admissions committee at IIMs and other B-schools determine whether or not a candidate is qualified for the MBA program. It offers a more comprehensive understanding of each applicant than just their professional background and academic accomplishments.

  • Initiating the Discussion

    Begin with a brief introduction or a thought-provoking question to kick-start the discussion. Use phrases like "In my opinion" or "I believe" to express your ideas confidently.

  • Assessing Interpersonal Skills

    The interview allows the admissions committee to evaluate a candidate's interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and overall demeanor.

  • Gathering Additional Information

    While the written application provides a snapshot of a candidate's academic and professional background, the interview offers an opportunity to go deeper. The admissions committee can seek clarification on aspects of the application, explore specific experiences, and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate.

  • Evaluating Fit with the Program

    The interview helps assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the MBA program. Admissions committees are interested in understanding how well a candidate's goals align with the offerings and values of the particular business school.

  • Testing Communication Skills

    The interview process allows the committee to evaluate a candidate's ability to articulate thoughts clearly, express ideas concisely, and respond thoughtfully to questions.

  • Assessing Motivation and Passion

    Through the interview, the admissions committee aims to gauge a candidate's level of motivation for pursuing an MBA and their passion for their chosen career path.

  • Verifying Authenticity

    Interviews provide an opportunity to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the application.

IIM Interview Preparation: Weightage of PI

Following the CAT exam, all older IIMs have their own admissions processes. On the other hand, nine IIMs have established a Common Admission Process (CAP) that makes the selection process common. The scores of PI and WAT rounds along with other factors create a final score based on which the final merit lists are released. The weightage of PI in the final score is given for each IIM:



Weightage of PI


Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A) Ahmedabad



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-B) Bangalore



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-C) Kolkata



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-K) Kozhikode



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-I) Indore



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-L) Lucknow



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-Rai) Raipur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-T) Trichy



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-U) Udaipur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-R) Ranchi



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-S) Shillong



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-Ro) Rohtak



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-Ka) Kashipur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-N) Nagpur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-SB) Sambalpur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-AM) Amritsar



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-SR) Sirmaur



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-BG) Bodh Gaya



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-J) Jammu



Indian Institute of Management (IIM-V) Visakhapatnam


IIM Interview Preparation Strategy

  • Know Your Resume Thoroughly
    Expect questions related to your resume, experiences, and achievements. Be prepared to discuss your academic and professional journey in detail. Emphasize how these experiences have contributed to your decision to pursue an MBA.
  • Research the Institution
    Familiarize yourself with the MBA program and the institution. Interviewers often assess your genuine interest and alignment with their values. Knowing specific details about the program shows dedication and enthusiasm.
  • Practice Common Interview Questions

    Anticipate and rehearse responses to standard interview questions such as "Tell me about yourself," "Why do you want to pursue an MBA?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" This preparation enhances your confidence during the interview.

  • Showcase Problem-Solving Skills

    Many interviews include scenario-based questions to assess your problem-solving abilities. Practice analyzing situations, identifying solutions, and articulating your thought process clearly. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses.

  • Prepare for Behavioral Questions

    Expect questions about your behavior in specific situations. Reflect on instances where you demonstrated leadership, teamwork, or resilience. Craft compelling stories that highlight your skills and values.

  • Stay Updated on Current Affairs

    GDs often touch upon current events. Stay abreast of the latest news, especially in the business and economic domains. This knowledge not only demonstrates your awareness but also positions you as an informed candidate.

  • Practice Mock GDs and Interviews

    Prepare for GD-PI by engaging in mock sessions. This helps you refine your communication skills, manage stress, and receive constructive feedback. Practice with peers or mentors to gain diverse perspectives.

  • Brush Up on Basic Etiquette

    Simple yet often overlooked, basic etiquette can make a significant difference. Maintain eye contact, listen actively, and be respectful towards others' opinions. These subtle gestures contribute to a positive overall impression.

Handling Questions During the PI Round

  • Handling Open-Ended Questions
    Take a moment to organize your thoughts before responding to open-ended questions. Provide specific examples to illustrate your points and showcase the real-world application of your skills.
  • Addressing Strengths and Weaknesses: Discuss your strengths with concrete examples, linking them to the requirements of an MBA program.
    When addressing weaknesses, focus on areas of improvement and steps you've taken to overcome challenges.
  • Navigating Tricky Questions Stay composed when faced with challenging or unexpected questions. If unsure, it's acceptable to take a moment to collect your thoughts before responding.

By incorporating these strategies and practicing responses while preparing for PI, you'll enhance your performance in personal interviews, increasing your chances of making a lasting impression during the MBA admission process.


Crack PI by staying informed, practicing active listening, presenting well-structured thoughts, knowing your resume, researching the institution, practicing common questions, and showcasing problem-solving and behavioral skills.

While a basic understanding is essential, the focus is often on your ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Stay updated on general business trends and be prepared to apply your knowledge to different scenarios.

Nervousness is natural. Practice mindfulness techniques, visualize success, and remember that the interviewers are interested in getting to know you. Take a deep breath, and tackle each question with confidence.

For your IIM interview preparation, go over the most important and commonly aksed questions and formulate logical answers. It is also a good idea to review and process all the details you have provided about your work experience and skills in the resume. Stay updated on all the current events taking place around the world.

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