When you don’t know an answer during the IIM Personal Interview!

Confused whether to take CAT again or not?

My IIM Bangalore personal interview was a breeze. It was as if I had scripted it. A friendly panel, questions from my comfort areas, a very positive and pleasant interaction. I wasn’t surprised when IIM B made me the final selection offer a few weeks later.

My IIM Calcutta personal interview was a completely different experience. During my IIM C interview, the panel asked me nearly 20 questions around probability and statistics. I answered the first 3-4 of these correctly, to the best of my knowledge.

I had absolutely no idea about the remaining questions that mentioned things I had never even heard of. And haven’t heard of since. The questions came quickly as they do in a rapid fire round and my response was just a tad slower. And it was a standard 4-word reply – “I don’t know, sir”.

I don’t know is a perfectly acceptable answer during interviews, especially for fact based questions, which you either know the answer to or know that you don’t. Instead of trying to fumble or bluff your way through, calm down, pause, try and recollect if possible, and to the extent it is possible – and if you still don’t have a part or whole of the answer, don’t hesitate in saying “I don’t know”. No one knows everything. So, the panel does not expect you to know everything either. The panel knows that. Infact, as teachers, they would want to admit someone who is keen on learning and not someone who knows everything.

Ofcourse it is different, if the question is something like “What is total number of cars in Delhi?”. In such a case, you should try and work your way to estimate the same and should ask permission for attempting the same.

But to questions that you are expected to know or not know, I don’t know would perhaps be the best way out. Also because it is likely to take you to some other area (that may just be more likable) that much quicker.
PS: And yes, I did make it to IIM Calcutta also.

About the author: Deekshant has sleep-walked through several 100 and 99.9 %iles in practically every section of the CAT. That he is a cricket fan and he writes okay is evident from most of his posts. 1000s of our students swear that he can motivate almost anyone to double his/her percentile through very simple yet powerful inputs. And that’s why every MBAGuru student has direct access to him via mail and Telegram. Oddly, he somehow also finds the time to write songs professionally. And yes … almost missed this … he is an alumnus of IIT Delhi & IIM Cal 🙂

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