MBA Testimonial: How XLRI student, Abhishek Panda cracked the GDPI round

Abhishek Panda, a first-year MBA student at XLRI, Jamshedpur and a recommended candidate for the Aditya Birla Scholarship speaks to PaGaLGuY about his GDPI experience.

“I was shortlisted for both the Business Management (BM) and Human Resources Management (HRM) courses. I will talk about the BM experience which I am currently pursuing at XLRI. As a prerequisite to the interview, we were required to prepare a video Statement of Purpose (SoP) and fill up a questionnaire which asked about events that shaped us, made us reassess ourselves, issues where we often find ourselves disagreeing vehemently with others, those ideas / solutions, which though outstanding, were not accepted by others, events where we went beyond what was conventional / expected of us, and what had been the most frustrating / demotivating experience of our lives. The questionnaire and video had to be uploaded. This is then discussed after the Group Discussion (GD).

Video: My video compared the greatness of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras in tennis, and on whether or not comparison across eras should be done. It was fact heavy and included opinions of tennis experts and former players. I utilised the full two minutes. It is important to stay calm throughout the video and not appear as if speaking from memory. It took me 44 iterations to get a near perfect video.

Group Discussion

I was lucky enough to get a central position in the GD and I chose not to be the first speaker as I believe it’s a ‘double-edged sword’. Some usual pointers to tackle a GD

1. Always helps if you summarise a roundabout discussion and re-introduce a new point. The summary kills the points that are being discussed repeatedly and a reintroduction ensures that the new point is taken forward by the other members and you end up getting brownie points.

2. A point should usually have a short introduction, the problem, followed by a plan of action. This helps the moderator identify a candidate who is not just concerned about identifying the problems but also takes an initiative to solve it. It is best if one does not take a lot of floor time and keeps the points crisp as people tend to lose interest if one beats about the bush.

3. It is best to supplement arguments with examples. An argument without example could lead to a communication gap

4. Lastly, if one has been asked to summarise the GD then one should not re-introduce new points. It helps if one has noted the points mentioned by others and maps it correctly.

Opinions: I personally felt that I had done well. The participants were left in the GD room and the members were called in as per the order of their GD seating arrangement. I was fourth in line for the BM group interview. My panel members felt that I had led a major part in the GD. After the interview, candidates usually come back and give feedback about the panel members (4 in total, all faculty members: 1 bad cop, 1 good cop and 2 neutral cops) and regarding the questions asked. The general feedback about the whole process was that the questions were based on the questionnaire and guesstimates.

Interview: I entered the room, wished the panel and took a seat (already offered to me). I noticed that the faculty (Interviewer 1) to the left had a stern face, Interviewer 2 was rather neutral, Interviewer 3 was playing with a string with both the hands and interviewer 4 kept smiling. I kept my composure throughout the interview and never lost my smile. Interviewer 1 broke the ice by asking for an introduction. I gave a standard 4-line introduction that revolved around my work-ex, graduation and hobbies. However, those questions were based out of the questionnaire I had submitted.

They asked me about the Ola and Uber wars and how Uber tweaked its payment model in India to make itself compliant with the system, the work I did at Ola and specifically about the cultural differences between the brands. Interviewer 1 often masked facts with false news to test the candidate’s knowledge about the subject. I was asked in-depth questions about everything that I had mentioned in my questionnaire. I supplemented my answers with examples and that earned me a few brownie points. The interview lasted for about 20 minutes.