My interview experience with IIFT

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.

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