Archive for January, 2017

My XLRI Jamshedpur GD-PI Experience

Posted: January 24, 2017 in Others
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recently I wrote about my interview experience with IIFT. In continuation to that series, (and my worthless attempts to keep the blog alive and kicking), here’s my GD-PI experience at XLRI Jamshedpur. This post is special for two reasons, one that this is one of the longest posts on this blog, and two, I ended up joining XLRI and am sitting in a class as I post this, so there’s a personal connect to it (and a faculty’s constant looks).

XAT 2016 was taken by over 75000 students and was considered by many major b-schools of the country much like the previous years. XAT 2017 has been bigger and better in both magnitude and execution. As the score cards for XAT are out and soon the results will be as well, here’s something to help you gain some insight on how the process is.

About XLRI Jamshepdur:

As the Web says: One of the top 5 Management colleges in the country, Xavier Labour Relations Institute, widely known as XLRI was founded in 1949 by Fr. Quinn Enright s.j. in the Steel City of Jamshedpur. Fr. Enright visualized XLRI to be a partner in the liberation and development journey of the independent India with a vision of “renewing the face of the earth”.

The oldest b-school in the country, XLRI’s HR specialisation is considered to be one of the best not only in India but across Asia as well. XLRI’s business management course is also one of the best in the country and is highly regarded for its academic rigour and quality of education. Not to mention the USP of the institute, the alumni that are everywhere in the industry.


1. Some things here might be influenced by my opinion.
2. You may find some sentences being repeated in other posts, that’s just to make this post relevant as a standalone one.
3. Things may change this year, but the way they take interviews shouldn’t.
4. And lastly, some tense confusion might be there since the actual post was written right after the interview.

So here is my XLRI-BM GD/PI experience.

My profile:

General /Engineer (NIT Jaipur- ECE)/ Male.

XAT score: 99.395

Work ex: 28 Months (I worked for OFSS Pune as a developer)

10/12/UG: 92.6/92.2/6.2

I’m also a published writer and had a start-up back in college.

Date: 13th March Afternoon slot, Mumbai (XIMR).

I reached around 1.15 PM, a few candidates were already there, and the process started at 2, no document verification was done.

GD Topic: Is religion an economic activity? 40 Minutes (We were 8 people).

In the time that we had waited outside, we had discussed how GD at XLRI is different from others and decided not to let it become a fish market. So, one of the guys began with a point for the topic and rest of us added to it. After about 20 minutes we started discussing the points against, which was quite a difficult task. Many of us deviated a lot. This was the time I gave some good points. By the last 10 minutes we were discussing the criteria for the arguments and decided the best arguments in unison. Overall it was done quite well; I do believe my performance could have been better. It was quite a long GD and everybody got a chance to pitch in multiple times.

Interview: (It’s a long one, went for around 30 minutes)

I was the second last guy to be interviewed, yet again; I don’t know what these b-school interviews have against me. There were three people (All Male, in their 40s) in the panel.

Every interview took around 25-30 minutes, started at 3 PM, my turn came at 6.00.

As I went in, I was asked if this was a tiring day, to which I said yes. Out of the three people in the panel, two (P1, P3) had my forms (the questionnaire etc. that we’d filled). The one person in the middle (P2) asked me to hand over my folder. And this happened for the first time in the last 9 years since I gave my first interview that somebody wanted to look at my certificates!

This is how it went on after that.

P1: So Shubham, as I can see in this form, class X 92.6, class XII 92.2, and then MNIT Jaipur, 6.2. How much did you enjoy your life in college?

Only if I had a penny every time I was asked that. I’d started laughing midway when he was asking the question, and the other two panelists too were smiling, knowing that I know the question.

Me: There’s no excuse for that performance, sir. I lost my focus and performed badly.

P1: What made you lose your focus?

Me: Although I’m not blaming my activities for my bad academics, but I had my own startup in college, and I also was too much into writing and published my first book in 2012 and I guess somewhere I had to pay the price with my academics.

(From there on it was all about my book)

P1: Tell me how the MRP of a book is decided. What are the important factors?

(Answered; told in detail about the pricing in the industry)

P1: So how do you explain the prices today, do you think self publishing is better than traditional?

(There were a few more questions in the same topic)


P3: What was your book about?

(Told. I kept smiling throughout, since it was a humor/fiction book and the name is ‘My EX Fell in Love’, one ought to get nervous saying that to such a senior person)

P3: Tell me a three things that you’d tell a new writer who wants to get published.

(I told him about the issues I faced and the mistakes I made. As soon as I mentioned the second point, i.e., define your target customer, he cut me off and asked me about my target customers)

(I told him about their age and other demographic data. He wasn’t convinced and asked me for more. This went on to the extent that I even told him the eating habits of a few of my readers. (I didn’t even have to make anything up; this was actually easy to tell))

(P2 (who was looking at my certificates till now), asked me a few more questions about the book, the publisher etc)

P1: Ok, enough about the book. Tell me about your startup.

(I explained the b-plan and why we’d started it.)

(P1 then asked a few cross questions about the start-up and its domain that I answered)

P2: So how do you think management is going to help you in your career?

(One of the 50 shades of why MBA question)

I answered it, connecting this to my start-up and before I could complete, P1 interrupted: I think you’re only coming to MBA to get a good brand name in your profile, that will make it easier for you to get funding.

Me: Sir as much as I agree that XLRI would be a big addition to my resume, I don’t think NIT Jaipur is a small brand name or the fact that I was a student entrepreneur was not enough to get me funding.

P1: So why didn’t you go full time with your start-up, or writing for that matter?

Me: For writing, it was never the plan. I wrote the book because I wanted to, not because I thought I’d make it a profession. For the start-up, I didn’t have a vision.

(And then I said a few more things like where I lacked and how I plan to learn that in MBA)

P3: So does your family know about your writing?

Me: Of course!

P3: Did they like your book?

Me: My parents did, so did most of my friends. My sister didn’t.

(Everybody laughs)

P3: So how did you take her criticism?

Me: (Told how she disliked my work and gave me a few things to improve which I did, and how she really liked the things I wrote next)

P2: By the things I wrote next, do you mean another book?

Me: Yes sir. (Shouldn’t have said it I guess. Blunder!)

P1: So why didn’t you publish it?

Me: Sir I had to halt the project, I couldn’t think of an ending that’s worth the story I’d written.

P1: So what if you come to XLRI and then think of an ending and end up compromising your studies here?

(This started sort of an argument where all the three panelists tried to tell me that I’m a good writer, that was evident to them from the questionnaire too, and I should not even think of MBA and go to full time writing instead and I kept defending my decision till what seemed like an eternity)

As soon as this ended, all three looked at each other and asked me to go. 20 minutes, and the interview was over! I stood up, and then P3 realized he’d something to ask and asked me to sit again.

(This was followed by some basic questions about publishing and business, and some more grilling on why I am not going for writing full time)

(I was also asked about my performance in GD, to which I said it was average, and I’d rank myself at 4 out of 8. When they asked me who the best was, I named one guy, then I also named one for the worst, which kind of surprised them, but I was pretty confident with my reasons for both)

P2: Can you tell me someone who started writing around the same time as you but managed to make it big?

Me: Nikita Singh. Her first book came around a few months before I started writing and today she’s one of the bestselling authors in the country.

P2: So what does it take to be her?

Me: (I mentioned the need of a network and many other things and how I wrote a story with her)

P2: You have all that don’t you? You’ll probably ditch us in the middle of your studies!

Me: Even if I do, and even if I can make it as big as her, I don’t think I’d be ditching anybody. (Followed by how her work has degraded with time and how I don’t want to be a part of that Engineer turned MBA turned Author clan, and write good books even if I do)

P3: Shubham, look me in the eye and tell me one thing, don’t you think if you manage to get one bestseller in the coming years, you’d leave everything and take up writing? Am I wrong?

Me: No.

P3: (Looks at the other panelists) told you.

Me: I’m sorry sir but by no I meant I’m disagreeing with you. Sorry for not making it clear. I don’t know if what you say can happen or not, but saying that by succeeding in one thing I’ll fail in the other is wrong. I’ve paid the price once in my academics and it’s not happening again. No matter what B-School I go to, I can tell you I’ll be one of the best there, regardless of what I do apart from academics.

This is the time it came to an end. P1 asked me if I have a copy of the book to gift him, I said I wish I’d brought one. To which P1 jokingly said bring a copy to the college if you get selected.

As I stood up to go out, they offered a candy, and then asked to take one more as I took one. And then asked to take another one (Well, more candies for me!)  by this time everybody was laughing, I don’t even know why.

Some FAQs:

  1. Duration: XLRI-BM interviews go on for about 25-30 minutes on an average. I reached the centre at 1.15 and my interview was over at 6.30, I’m assuming the last guy left at 7.
  2. Your certificates matter. Take them.
  3. Make sure you know your questionnaire responses and video inside out.
  4. Be very very clear about your reasoning and opinions. Express yourself.
  5. For all I know, XLRI interviews don’t focus that much on your knowledge of academics or the world around you, it’s more about how much do you know yourself.
  6. Sorry for taking so much time of those who read this, this was probably the longest and the most in depth yet chilled out interview I’ve had, I just had to share this.

The post was originally published on PagalGuy. My other interview experiences can be read here: IIFT, MDI, IIM-Lucknow.

Since I am a student at XLRI, my experience of the campus life can be read in this The Hindu Business line article 🙂

PS: Consider this disclaimer number 2, I am a member of ExLink, the committee that takes care of admissions at XLRI. As much as I’ve tried to remain neutral in this post, this is my personal opinion and does not reflect the committee or institute’s at any point.

Preparing for CAT, XAT, IIFT, NMAT and a thousand other exams is a story of almost every engineer who is either too specific about his targets or is essentially aimless. But that’s a conversation I’d never have on this blog (What else would you expect from an engineer turned writer turned IT employee turned management graduate, sounds too cliched eh?)

So I’ll come right to the point. About a quarter million people appear for CAT and other such exams every year to be marked on a 100 percentile scale in order to join the rat race called admissions. The whole saga of IIMs and other b-school admissions then begins taking them through various processes like GDs, Interviews, WATs (Written ability tests) and what not. Having been through all of this in 2015-16, I believe my experiences could prove to be useful for some people. So here’s my interview experience with IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade).

What is IIFT?

As the wiki says: One of the top 10-15 Management colleges in the country, The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) is an autonomous public business school established in 1963 by the Government of India (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) to help professionalize the country’s foreign trade management and increase exports by developing human resources; generating, analyzing and disseminating data; and conducting research. Its flagship program is the Master of Business Administration in International Business (MBA-IB)

Picture credits:

Picture credits:

1. Some things here might be influenced by my opinion.
2. You may find some sentences being repeated in other posts, that’s just to make this post relevant as a standalone one.
3. Things may change this year, but the way they take interviews shouldn’t.
4. And lastly, some tense confusion might be there since the actual post was written right after the interview.

My IIFT WAT/GD/PI experience.

My profile:

General /Engineer/ Male.

IIFT score:  58.66 (99.55 %ile)

Work ex: 28 Months (I worked for OFSS as a developer)

10/12/UG: 92/92/6.2

I’m also a published writer and had a startup back in college.

Date: 2nd Feb Afternoon slot, Mumbai.

I reached around 1.25 PM. There was no document verification done. The process started at 2.

WAT Topic: Urgent requirement of a public transport infrastructure in India.  20 Minutes.

Basically I wrote about the traffic problems in India and lack of connectivity which indirectly affects the economy. Gave a few examples and ended with some potential solutions. Not sure how good it was, but I’m definitely getting 2 less marks for my handwriting.

GD: Are the companies in India socially responsible.  Everybody speaks one by one for two minutes each, and then the floor is open for 10 minutes to be summarized in the end by 1-3 people.

We were 11 people, I was the last guy. Everybody chipped in a few points, but it got quite repetitive with everybody mentioning how Tata, Infosys and Reliance are using the CSR to do social activities. I mentioned the work by MSMEs and startups, and how CSR shouldn’t be the only parameter. The floor was open for around 10 minutes where everybody contributed. The moderator didn’t really look very impressed with the points. He asked 2 people to summarize, I felt like the 2 summaries didn’t really capture the whole thing so I requested for a chance and summarized it myself.


Once again I was the last guy to be interviewed. The students were divided into three batches. The panel taking the GD wasn’t the one that took the interview.

The interview process started around 3.10 after a short coffee break. As expected, the interviews were quite chilled out with no candidate being grilled too much. They were asking questions on current affairs, academics and the interview form; nothing too deep. Most candidates were free within 10-15 minutes. My turn came at 5.30.

As I entered the room, I was asked to sit down and explain the things I did in the waiting period of two hours. I said I took a walk, had a coffee, asked others a bit about their interview. They asked me if that helped, I said it didn’t. Both the interviewers were quite jolly. They asked me to entertain them, since they are tired after so many interviews.

I told them that I have some experience in Radio Jockeying and I could do a bit for them. They were surprised, and asked me to go ahead. I did something like what we hear on radios, and included them in the things I said, even played a song for them. They started laughing.

Now comes the part where they ask me the question that nobody could ever ignore, WHY THE LOW CGPA!!? (Sorry for the extra loud writing) And I started defending it with my usual answer. But they told me not to defend my cgpa, as the extra-currics are more than making up for it. I still said that I could have done better.

They asked me what I do in OFSS, why I want to go for an MBA and if selected, which field would I choose to go for.  I answered it all. Then I was asked my CAT and XAT score, and on hearing that I have other calls, they asked me what if IIML also selects me. That’s where I probably screwed up, and instead of defending one institute, I started criticizing the IIM admission policy (Even I’m asking myself why). Although the interviewers took that too casually and started discussing what should be the criteria in my opinion, where I supported the way IIFT and XLRI select candidates.

In short, the interview was quite relaxing, with no academic questions or even current affairs/Finance for that matter. It was over in 10 minutes, give or take two. I’m sure the upcoming interviews are going to be very different from this.

Not expecting anything yet. But I guess it was a good start to the season.

Some FAQs:

1. Duration: The whole thing gets over in 2-4 hours, depending on your turn.

2. The IIFT administration is absolutely student friendly, no matter what’s your issue, they’re always supportive.

3. Take a look at things like the IIFT Website, Foreign trade policy of India, Demonetisation and the GDP controversy, might come in handy.

4. Your parents can accompany you, at least in Mumbai and Kolkata there is space for waiting.

5. I’ll update as I remember more.  It was a direct convert to IIFT Delhi, which I ended up not joining owing to some other results.