“Academics and Professional Experience Played a Crucial Role” Says Kislaya Who Made His Way to IIM A and B

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Shruti Garg
Senior Executive
Updated on Apr 30, 2023 18:03 IST

Kislaya who bagged 99.48 percentile in CAT 2022 has made his way to IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore. In his interview with Shiksha, he shares factors that led to success and tips to crack the interview rounds of IIMs. Read this complete interview to know the questions asked in PI, WAT, and AWT rounds.

Kislaya- IIM Ahmedabad and Bangalore

Kislaya- IIM Ahmedabad and Bangalore

Kislaya is a prime example of how the best view truly does come after the hardest climb. He has managed to secure a seat in both prestigious institutes IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore. His academic background is indeed impressive, having graduated in Mechanical Engineering from BIT Sindri, Dhanbad and having a good academic record in class 10th and 12th. This solid foundation has undoubtedly contributed to his success. With 4.5 years of professional experience under his belt, Kislaya has honed his skills and developed a deep understanding of the industry. This experience has undoubtedly given him a unique perspective that has helped him stand out from the crowd. In his exclusive interview with Shiksha, Kislaya elaborates on his experience with the Written Ability Test (WAT), Analytical Writing Test (AWT), and Personal Interview (PI) at both IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore. His insights provide valuable information for MBA aspirants who are preparing CAT 2023. Read full interview here.

Shiksha: Hi, please tell us about yourself.

Kislaya: I am a GEM with a decent academic background. I scored 10 CGPA in class 10th and secured 93.8% in class 12th. I completed my Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from BIT Sindri, Dhanbad, with a CGPA of 8.39. I have over 4.5 years of work experience in Sales & Marketing and Operations. I also appeared for the CAT exam and scored a percentile of 99.48%

Shiksha: What will be your first choice IIM A or IIM B? And why?

Kislaya: I have always viewed IIM Ahmedabad and Bangalore as one of the top contenders for pursuing my management studies, especially as a CAT aspirant. It is tough to go wrong with either of these, considering these are the best Business Schools of India. If I weigh things professionally, my profile is better suited for B (more WorkEx and Background), yet my soft corner for Ahmedabad is making me opt for the same. It is like my heart throbs for Ahmedabad but my mind says Bangalore. I will go where my heart leads this time. I have lived in Bangalore before. The X factor of Bangalore occupies a lower priority in my bucket list and so I am more inclined towards the vibe of Ahmedabad.

Shiksha: Was IIM Ahmedabad your first choice? Why?

Kislaya: I have always viewed IIM Ahmedabad as one of the top contenders for pursuing my management studies, especially as a CAT aspirant. One of the reasons for this is the institute's unique approach to selecting students, which results in a diverse academic cohort. As someone with a passion for music, I am excited at the prospect of interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. In addition to the academic diversity, the institute's strong brand value, modern campus, and extensive use of case studies in teaching further solidified my decision to choose IIM Ahmedabad as my ideal destination for pursuing my management studies. The institute's emphasis on case-based learning and practical experience offers students opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in real-world situations, which is essential for building effective business acumen.

Shiksha: What was your WAT topic at IIM Bangalore and how did you present your argument?

Kislaya: WAT topic: Freedom of Expression is not a one-way street - a statement much debated these days, on social media in particular. Is FOE absolute or should it be subjected to regulation. Discuss.

Taking a methodical approach is a great way to approach writing tasks such as writing ability tests (WATs). Rather than taking an extreme stance on a topic (since this is not an extempore), it is often helpful to present a balanced argument that acknowledges both sides of the issue. It is possible to demonstrate the limitations of an absolute approach to FOE by providing examples of harmful speech, such as hate speech or speech that incites violence. At the same time, it is important to recognise that excessive regulation of FOE can stifle dissenting views and infringe on individual rights. By presenting a nuanced argument that acknowledges the complexities of the topic, one can demonstrate their critical thinking skills and ability to consider multiple perspectives.

Shiksha: What was your AWT topic at IIM Ahmedabad and how did you present your argument?

Kislaya: AWT case: Drawing a parallel with the American economy, a sex worker in Africa may opt to work for a capitalist employer who pays an average wage instead of being exploited for similar earnings.

My AWT topic presented a situation-based problem, and it was designed to assess the flow of ideas. I presented some initial points on the topic and expanded on them in detail. Since the topic was subjective and could be viewed from different angles, I approached it by being moderate and presenting both sides of the argument. I listed the positives and negatives of each perspective to provide a well-rounded and balanced view of the topic. This approach ensured that I covered all aspects of the issue and presented a comprehensive analysis that could be viewed objectively.

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Shiksha: How was your PI experience? Tell us about your high points or low points during the interview.

Kislaya: At IIM Ahmedabad: During my PI, the interview began with a brief introduction of myself. I started with a greeting and then a typical 'Tell me about yourself'. I shared my personal and professional background. However, intentionally I left a cliffhanger in my hobbies section, where I mentioned my interest in music production and photography. This is where I got the panelist's attention. I had a good conversational discussion about music.

At IIM Bangalore: Unlike the usual PI scenes, there was no TMAY this time, as I was the tail-ender in my panel and the Panelists were bored by now. This experience was more stressful, and frustrating and I found it to be the most challenging of all of my interviews. In fact, I would say that my IIM Bangalore PI was the most difficult interview experience I have had so far. The only comfortable part I would say was the way they conversed mixing English and Hindi.

Shiksha: Can You please Transcript your PI.


IIM Ahmedabad Interview

Two Panelists P1(M, somewhat old) and P2 (M, middle aged).

P1: "So, Kislaya, what kind of music do you make?"
Ans: "Sir, EDM, Electronic Dance Music."

P1: "How do you do it?"

Ans: "Sir, there is a genre of software called DAW, a digital audio workstation, that essentially serves as a blank canvas. There are many of these in the market right now, such as Ableton, Logic ProX, Cubase, StudioOne, and the one I use, FL Studio. So, this DAW allows me to do my songwriting and arrangement. Later comes the mixing part that involves setting zones for sounds of different frequencies in the spectrum. The bass needs to stay in the lows, the vocals and instruments in the mids, and the drum overheads and leads in the highs. That is creatively filling out the whole Human Audible Spectrum."

P1: "Ohh that is very interesting. How would you compare it with music production from two decades ago?"

Ans: "Sir, first of all, the software has become more advanced and accessible. Other than that the hardware that we have now also has a very detailed response to an input, hence reducing out the noise floor in recordings unlike back in the day. But most of all, the thing that has changed majorly is the way music is distributed today."

P1: "Why is that different?"

Ans: "Earlier, people bought CDs and DVDs of their favorite artists, but now streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music dominate the playground. And additionally, trending music on Instagram reels result in big hits."

P1: "Fair enough."

He told me about an artist of his time and mentioned that EDM has been around since the 1980s. I was quick to sprinkle it up with my insights into the history of disco music.

P1: “Kislaya, do you think current music is impactful compared to what was played back in our times?”

Ans: “Sir, the era of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar was very different since the number of artists who released tracks were less, just how engineers back in the day were relevant but now almost every household has an engineer.”

P1: “Can you name a few artists and their tracks who have remained relevant even after a decade or so?”

Ans: I don't particularly follow Bollywood music, and I mostly listen to artists from abroad, but regarding relevance, I would name Martin Garrix and his track Animals which is still the anthem of many music festivals opening ceremonies even after a decade. Other than that OG tracks from Skrillex, and Linkin Park, all have remained relevant.”
P1: “Cool cool! You are a Mechanical Engineer, right?"

Ans: "Yes, sir."

P1: "How did you get into music production?"

Ans: "I used to be a part of my college rock band. We did live gigs and stuff, but eventually, the band broke apart due to everyone having their individual goals in life. I wanted to keep that music alive in me, I got into production as an individual artist, so that I could reduce my dependency on others for my music passion."

P1: “Do you know IIM A has intense academic requirements and your music production will take a hit?”

Ans: “Sir, I am somewhat aware of it and I am looking forward to balancing studies with music."

P1: "Now to academics?”

Ans: "Sure, sir."

P1: "Tell me, what is knocking in an engine?"

I described and added that TEL was added in engines to reduce knocking by increasing its Octane Number.

P1: "What is Octane number?"

Told in detail. Some cross-questioning, which I was not sure of, so I honestly told him that I was not aware of that.

P1: "Kislaya, have you heard about carburetors?"

Ans: "Sir, I have.”

P1: "Why did they become obsolete?”

Told him about the inefficiencies in air-fuel mixing, newer MPFI technology, and that the emissions from carburetor-based engines did not meet the standards hence, were discontinued.

P1: "Okay, that is great. Do you like Math, Kislaya?"

Ans: "Sir, absolutely."

P1: "Which topic?"

Ans: "Everything in it, sir. Maybe a little less recollection of Calculus now, but the rest will be fine."

P1: "One basic question of differentiation?”

I somewhat got nervous here, but then I maintained my calm and kept smiling in an affirmative manner.

P1 continues, "When is a function differentiable?"

Ans: "When the function exists in that limit."

P1: "And?"

Ans: (spontaneously remembered): "And, it should be continuous. The graph should not jump anywhere; it should stay smooth."

P1 (smiles): Okay tell me your favorite math topics?"

Ans: "Sir, probability and PnC."

P1: "Can you define probability?"

K: "The chance of…”

P1 interrupts: "Without using the word chance!”

Ans: (nervously): “Ummm… Probability is the ratio of the number of favorable outcomes to the total number of outcomes."

P1 (laughs): "Can the probability of obtaining heads in a coin toss be 0.65?"

Ans: "I toss a coin 100 times and 65 times it is a head because I made one side biased."

P1 (smiles): "That will be it from me.”

Off to P2 now.

P2 seemed in the mood of grilling.

P2: "So, you said your hobby is music production and photography?”

Ans: : "Yes, sir."

P2: "Can you tell me about a strategy that Radiohead used that was revolutionary?"

I didn't know it and honestly confessed that I have never followed Radiohead in my binge-play.

P2: "If there are 27 people in a room, how many handshakes will be there?"

Ans: "Described with a formula of combination and explained logically why it is divided by two when viewed from the perspective of permutation.”

P2: “Tell me some recent news that you have been following.”

I talked about Adani-Hindenburg, with some follow-up questions.

P2: "Okay, that would be it.”

P1: “Take a toffee.”

I thanked them and before leaving, I told P1 about my upcoming track release since he was interested in my music, and that added another personal touch to my whole PI.


IIM Bangalore Interview

Two Panelists P1 and P2 (both M, middle aged).

P1: “Kislaya?"

Ans: “Yes Sir."

P1: “Where are you from"

Ans: "Sir, Ranchi, Dhoni’s place.

P1: “Did you reach Kolkata last night?”

K: "Sir, I have been here for the last 4 days for my other interviews.”

P1: “Enjoying your time here?”

Ans: “Yes sir, a bit, mostly it is hectic because of traveling, as Ranchi is a small place and the time you travel one way is equivalent to reaching the end of Ranchi city"

P1: “Okay Kislaya, so what are your viewpoints on reducing India’s Traffic and Pollution?”

Ans: “Sir, first of all, the central government should be more inclined towards promoting EVs, so that it becomes more reachable to the common public. As of now, the base EV cars are priced north of 8 Lakhs, and India is a very price-sensitive country. For the EVs to reach our common household, the technology needs to get cheaper.”

Talked about some financial budget orientations toward promoting EVs and news about new Lithium reserves in Kashmir that would eventually help.

P1: “For the Pollution part cool, but what about the traffic jam?”

Ans: “Sir, sadly my answer for that would depend on the local government's initiatives, because people like us who are more habituated towards traveling in privately owned vehicles, would never take buses that ply here in Kolkata, just because of how dirty they are. So to make public transport more attractive, hygiene is necessary like the CNG buses in Delhi, they are so clean and comfortable.”

P1: “Great.”

P2: “So Kislaya, you have around 5 Years of WorkEx?”

Ans: "Yes, sir.”
Till now it was going comfortably, but the panelist too suddenly changed gears to Hold Your Horses

P2: “So what do you do?”

Described my work profile, for my current company.

P2: “ So where are your efforts, since everything is done by machine, what is your role?”

Convinced him more.

P2: “No no, I am not satisfied.”

He almost made me feel stupid about what I have been doing at my office. Initially while waiting in the room for my PI when all of us greeted him, he seemed very friendly, and then it struck me that this is just a stress test, and his firing was just superficial. I gained control of my nerves and tried to be comfortable again. The grilling continued.

P2: “You are already a manager, why MBA?”

This is where I grabbed my opportunity to stand out told him about my music and photography interests, and hoped to bounce back the interview process.

P2: “Okay, but the kind of music your produce is something I don't listen to, so who exactly is your audience? ”

Ans: “Sir. The way music is consumed today is very different from what it used to be, anything that trends on Instagram reels is a hit, so there is no specific audience as of now.”

The grilling started again.

P2: “But I don’t listen to music on Instagram, If I hear a song over the reel, I swipe it up and don't prefer to listen to that song ever again. You tell me what is your target audience, Don't beat around the bush, tell me what age group do you want your music to reach.”

Ans: “Sir, Music is not exactly defined by age, it is more defined by the type, the genre, like you must be listening to rock music, someone in your age group would have their preferences in Bollywood or pop music. But yes if I have to say something on this, I target my age group who are most enthusiastic consumers of Electronic Music as they are the rage in parties and festivals.”

P1: “I don’t listen to rock music.”

I did not fall for the grilling this time, and just smiled and passed it on.

P1: “So Kislaya, you also do photography, right?”

Ans: “Yes Sir, I shoot portraits and products.”

P1 (more grilling): “ You click pictures through expensive cameras and I click through my smartphone, I cannot differentiate the quality, My phone takes equal quality photos, so where does your part come in?”

Ans: “Sir, there are certain limitations to a smartphone camera and in the way professional photography is done, the sensor size plays a major part and is limited by smartphone size. Bigger sensors mean more light and better pictures, so if at all one wants to find a difference in quality with an untrained eye, nighttime photos and videos are the best places to look out for. And professional movie shoots will always find their niche in investing in bigger cinema-grade cameras.”

P2: “Have you seen Fursat posters?”

Ans: “Yes sir, it has been shot on the latest iPhone 14 Pro, and that is a testament to how good software has gotten in the new smartphone.”

P1: “So do you think these smartphones will replace your huge cameras?”

Ans: “Maybe in the future, but for now, the hardware limitations overpower the benefits of software, and the rate at which we are progressing, it is possible. Taking into account the present scenario, there is still scope for improvement, and till then professional cameras will stay.”

P1: “That will be it Kislaya from our side.”

I thanked them and said I would like to clarify something about my work ex that the process is automated but also requires the involvement of managing things alongside, to which they replied that the talk we just had before was for the sake of discussion, which implied that my guess of their formulated grilling was just a way to check my stability at handling pressure.

Shikha: At what point of time during the interview you thought you’ve made it?

Kislaya: IIM Ahmedabad Interview: During my PI, I approached every question like a case-study and incorporated real-life examples whenever possible to add depth and creativity. This allowed me to showcase my experience in a unique way. Honestly, one can never know how the panel has assessed that individual’s capacity. Although my interview was cool, I always kept my fingers crossed as it was a big deal to be in IIM A's PI.

IIM Bangalore Interview: Responding to challenging situations from the panel with a calm smile and composed answers made me feel like I was making progress in the right direction.

Shiksha: Was there a trick question in PI? How did you handle it?

Kislaya: IIM Ahmedabad Interview: There were tricky questions thrown in every now and then in my PI as I mentioned in my transcript, the Panel does not want you to know every bit of detail in the world, they want to see how you react to a situation that lies outside of your comfort zone. The key is to stay calm, candid, and natural.

IIM Bangalore Interview: The whole PI was just an intimidating environment to assess how I handled the pressure and my reactions to difficult situations. The interviewers asked aggressive or confrontational questions, criticised my responses, and created other types of stressors, such as silence or prolonged pauses. The purpose of a stress interview is to see how one handles pressure, and adversity, to evaluate their ability to remain composed, confident, and professional under difficult circumstances.

Shiksha: How much credit will you give to your academics and professional experience for IIM Ahmedabad selection?
Kislaya: My academic background and professional experience played a crucial role in my selection. My strong academics gave me a solid foundation, while my professional experience provided me with practical insights into how these concepts are applied in real-world settings. Additionally, my extracurricular activities, such as music production, helped me stand out and showcase my unique perspective. IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore are the top-tier colleges that regards work quality and gives platform to guys like me with 4.5 years of experience.

Shiksha: Any tips for future aspirants?

Kislaya: There is just one tip for both stages of MBA preparation, pre-CAT, and post-CAT: stay calm at all times. Every aspirant has almost the same level of knowledge, what makes you a good pick is how you manage stress (in the 2 hours of CAT and in the 20-25 minutes of a PI), and that is what differentiates you from the crowd.

Shiksha: What is your future plan?

Kislaya: Let's see, for now, I am taking baby steps and looking forward to spending my best two years at IIM A, as they say. Some of my near future plans include working with an organisation that can help me gain insights into entrepreneurial skills and leadership roles, specifically C-Suite. Eventually, I plan to open a music label and academy to hone and provide a platform for budding music producers.

Read More Interview Experiences

The table below mentions the links for more interview experiences for MBA Admissions 2023:

Name of Candidate

College Name

Link for Interview Experience

Aditya Singh

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Bharat Karena

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Yash Kaviya

XLRI, Jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Pratyush Adhikary

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Avi Shrivastava

XLRI, Jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Sujit Kumar

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Siddharth Lilani

XLRI jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Saurabh Wani

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Lavisha Taneja

XLRI, Jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Kushagra Dash

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Eshwar Naik 

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Saara Mehta

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview


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About the Author
Shruti Garg
Senior Executive

Shruti is a graduate in Education and Literature. She is a passionate writer. As her name suggests she is a good listener, a binge-watcher and a great foodie. She loves playing badminton and doing meditation in her ... Read Full Bio




Yash Kshatriya

4 months ago

Can I share my interview experience I've converted IIM B, IIMC and FMS

Reply to Yash Kshatriya

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