From an MBA aspirant to an XLRI admit, here is how he did it — Nilanjan Dutta, XLRI Jamshedpur

Hi, this is Nilanjan Dutta, an XLRI (BM) 2014 pass-out, presently working as a Business Consultant with an IT Firm in Kolkata. I am also a freelance CAT/XAT mentor with IMS Kolkata, in the QA-DI-LR-DM space, and I am also into conducting GD-PI sessions and Mock Interviews for several institutes.

How was your XAT experience?

I cracked XAT in my first attempt itself in 2012. Incidentally that was the first year that Decision Making was introduced as a completely standalone section in XAT. I took at least one XAT Mock every week in the lead-up to XAT, to ensure that I was doing well as far as Time Management between sections is concerned. XAT is all about choosing those topics which you’re good at and you believe you can get the best Return on Time. For instance, in VA-RC section, for instance, I focused on attempting more in the non-RC part, as they offer a better Return on Time, and I was more confident at it.

Why MBA and why XLRI?

Personally speaking an MBA course from a Top B-School does is makes you land amongst a peer group of intelligent and diversely talented pool. This helps you improve a lot as a person, appreciate the importance of Team Work, Group Assignments, Prioritizing things ahead of strict deadlines. Also the most important thing about a B-School is the networking opportunity it provides, especially with your Senior, Junior batches and the strong alumni base of the college. This plays a more pivotal part in our future work life, compared to Finance/Marketing/Operations or HR learnings. Lastly, an MBA from a Top 15 B-School surely brands you for life. Today, I can acclaim that I am an XLRI alumni, and I am proud of it.

Interview experiences

The XLRI interview process was pretty similar to that of the other IIMs and other Top B-Schools. One good thing about XLRI GD-PI process is that they are more interested in you as a person, your goals and aspirations in life, and how an MBA will help you achieve your short and long term goals. Being a fresher, I focused my interview on my diverse extra-curricular achievements, which ranged from being a National-level debater, to being a part of a Top 30 student start-up in India, to being a lead actor, sports enthusiast, Fest organizer and puzzle-solving enthusiast. I mostly drove my interview around my learnings from each of these extra-curricular pursuits, and how I feel an MBA learning would help hone my skills and give wings to my entrepreneurial dreams in the long run.

Overall Interview Preparation Strategy

The key advice for the Interview process would be to drive the Interview discussion, as per your comfort areas, as much as possible. That would It is very important to be able to strike a chord between what you have done in the past, how an MBA will help hone your skills, and how your future aspirations maybe achieved by leveraging your past learnings and the opportunity that your B-School provided to you. It is also very important that you refrain from belittling your current education degree course or current job, because it is likely that post-MBA too companies in the same sector will be preferring you ahead of others. Also, try and sound enthusiastic and interesting during your interview, remember it’s your Big Day, and the panelists have to deal with ten-twelve consecutive interviews at a stretch which can get tiring for them, and hence all the more important that you stand out from the rest.

What next after CAT until results are out?

If your appearing for SNAP/XAT do prepare very well for these exams. Especially SNAP tests you a lot on LR and GK, while XAT has this unique section called Decision Making, which are of paramount importance. In XAT Decision Making, always stick to the most objective based ethical solution. If a particular solution is more ethical, but slightly less practical, it’s always preferred you go with the former, as far as DM and Interviews are concerned.

For those not appearing for any other exams, do make sure you utilize this time to build your profile, improve on your communication skills, introspect more on why you want to do an MBA and polish your Current Affairs, ahead of the GD-PI season.