IIM Admission 2023: “Be Genuine, Show Eagerness & Be Receptive” Says Pratyush Adhikary Who Made His Way to IIM Ahmedabad

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Shruti Garg
Senior Executive
Updated on Apr 27, 2023 15:45 IST

Pratyush Adhikary who bagged 99.93 percentile in CAT 2022 has made his way to IIM Ahmedabad PGP batch 2023-25. In his interview with Shiksha, he shares three keys to success and important tips to crack the interview rounds of IIM Ahmedabad. Read this complete interview to know the questions asked in PI and AWT rounds.

Pratyush Adhikary

Pratyush Adhikary

IIM Ahmedabad Admission 2023- After a long, hard journey, Pratyush Adhikary has reached his destination: IIM Ahmedabad. He completed his B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from VIT Vellore in 2022 and currently works as an Associate at ZS in the Business Consulting vertical. His percentile in CAT 2022 earned him to be a part of IIM Ahmedabad’s and IIM Calcutta’s selection process. According to Pratyush, remaining composed during the process was the key to his success. In his exclusive interview with Shiksha, know how he cracked the IIM Ahmedabad interview and gain valuable insights for preparing for the selection rounds of IIM Ahmedabad.

CAT Score:

  • VARC: 99.98 percentile
  • DILR: 95.11 percentile
  • QA: 99.57 percentile
  • Overall: 99.93 percentile

Shiksha: Hi, please tell us about yourself.

Pratyush: Hi everyone, I am Pratyush Adhikary. I work as an Associate at ZS in their Business Consulting vertical. Prior to this, I did my BTech in Electrical Engineering from VIT Vellore and graduated in 2022. I will be joining IIM Ahmedabad as part of their PGP 2023-25 Batch.

Shiksha: Was IIM Ahmedabad your first choice? Why?

Pratyush: Interesting you ask me this. While preparing for my interviews I was actually very confused as to what would be my preference in case I converted to some of my desired colleges (yup I do daydream a lot). Out of the holy trinity, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, and IIM Calcutta, I had interview calls from two of them- IIM A and IIM C. I did not get an IIM B’s call. IIM B’s shortlist formula places a lot of weight on work experience so I assume that was how I missed out on that call.

For the longest time, I was slightly more inclined to IIM Calcutta as its image of being a Quant heavy place fit well with my work experience in Quantitative Market Research.

However, I finally chose IIM A as I saw firsthand during my time at ZS- how different the academic perspective of things is when compared to how they are applied in the real world, and IIM A’s case-based methodology would appeal more in such a setup. Also, the teaching method there, I felt would fit in well with how I approach and brainstorm problems during my work in Consulting.

Lastly (and perhaps the strongest reason), I really was blown away by my IIM A interview. I hadn’t expected something like that. The interview was unpredictable, and weird, yet fun and engaging. I really enjoyed answering, or trying my best to answer, all the sharp-edged questions. The interviewers made me think several layers deep and asked questions which at first made me think- “Where did this even come from?” . The interview process experience really won me over.

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

Pratyush: IIM Ahmedabad conducts an AWT (Analytical Writing Test) which is slightly different from the WAT conducted by other IIMs. My AWT was a long passage about an employee who suffers from anxiety due to layoffs around her.

I wrote about my inferences, for example, when she rants that it is the same across the industry, I wrote probably she works in an industry that is undergoing such a thing. When she talked about how her department sees cuts every now and then, I wrote about how I thought she should cross-skill because clearly, her role is one which is affected first in times of recession. Likewise, there were other arguments used to pressure test claims and assumptions put forth in the passage. We also had to tell our view if the conclusion based on these assumptions were right in the first place. If we believed there was a need for more information or clarity at some point in the passage we had to mention that.

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

Pratyush:  My Ahmedabad PI was perhaps the one I enjoyed the most. Right from the moment I walked in, it was unlike any other interview. There were no introductions, one of the Professors (who later I got to know teaches Quantitative Methods and Probability & Statistics) straight away picked up what I had written in my Personal Interview Form to the question- “Reflecting on your work experience, describe something you would’ve done differently” and hence, the quizzing began.

The next 10-15 mins were a deep dive into my work, cross-questioning every bit. We delved into the kind of projects I’ve executed, the kind of clients I’ve worked with, challenges, successes, etc. He also asked me to explain in detail the theory behind the market research approach I work with. He seemed really interested so it didn’t feel like grilling but after coming out I realized the questions were intended to get me nervous or put me in a spot.

Once this was done, the next part was totally unexpected. The second panelist had been visibly disinterested (turning in her chair, yawning, reading my AWT write-up) so far. She asked me my opinion on the various metro projects coming up across the country. My first reaction in my head was- “honestly, where did this come from?”. I tried to explain my POV to the best of my abilities- drawing a parallel with the effect of free bus rides for women initiated by various State Governments, a potential uptick in labor force participation, safety, etc. The key to my argument was that treating metro projects from a purely financial lens wasn’t right. She kept counter-questioning, trying to find loopholes in my arguments.

Then she tried putting me on a spot by taking something I had said out of context, I quickly apologized for “not being more clear” and stuck to my POV.

The next set of questions was about why the labor force participation rate of women had gone down in the last few years. To be honest, I had no idea that it had!

While answering I made it clear- I had not investigated this phenomenon but with what she had told me I came up with my hypothesis would be. I would say, my experience from consulting and answering ad-hoc questions from clients came in handy while tackling these questions.

In the last leg of the interview, she asked me about the books I read and asked me to pitch to her the last book I read. That was a bit of fun. Finally, I got her to smile in the subsequent discussion where we discussed the book, the effect of failure in our lives, and how being careless is different from taking failure in a stride.

The most unexpected part was that my interview ended in just 20 mins. While some people were coming out after 40 minutes of the interview, here I was, after my 20 minutes. I didn’t know how to take it- was it too bad to last or too good that I didn’t need any more grilling? Some people had given interviews which were 40 mins long and here I was, out in just 20 mins.

Also Read:

Shiksha: Can You please Transcript your PI.


Interview for: IIM Ahmedabad Admission PGP batch 2023-25

Location: ITC Welcomhotel, Bengaluru

Panel members: 2 panelists- 1M (Prof of Quantitative Methods), 1F (Prof of Organisational Behaviour)

Duration of the interview: Lasted for around 20 mins, so a lot shorter than I expected. (Please note that there were a lot of counter questions and most of it was in a conversational format so it is difficult to record everything in a transcript.)

(While I was walking in) "So Pratyush, a long day? We started in the afternoon and now its evening. " (I was the last in my panel) I smiled.

Panelist: You work at ZS?

Ans: I agreed.

Panelist: You've written if you were to start your journey again you would like to get a better understanding of the client problem before working on it, why can't you do it now?

Ans: Explained how my project seniors are able to draw insights from their understanding of finance, supply chain, competitor analysis etc and come up with better recommendations for clients.

Panelist: Could you explain with respect to a project?

Ans: Answered with respect to a challenging project I had worked on recently. There were counter questions on the same.

Panelist: Do you think an MBA gives you in-depth domain knowledge?

Ans: (Knew this was a trap) Quickly said- an MBA introduces you to the basics of every functional area of a business. It is a general degree so you’re knowing just enough to help you make sound business decisions. For example- you’re not concerned about how a financial statement is made or the laws governing them, but instead, you learn to analyse them to make smarter business decisions.

Panelist: What methodologies do you use at work?

Ans: Fairly technical conversation followed. I talked in some detail about conjoint market research and demand estimation. The conversation revolved around some topics from econometrics, probability distributions, etc. Cross questions again came up every now and then.

Panelist: How do you get these market shares?

Ans: Explained how everything I had told until then came together to give us market share estimates. And how we rationalized these using additional probes to give final recommendations and insights.

Panelist: How to design these conjoint research cards?

Ans: Again, this a fairly technical question, explained in detail the mathematical assumptions and requirements of such a design. Finally talked about the practical side of it too- how survey respondents see them, what we try to gauge using this technique.

Panelist: Why will the respondent want to fill this? What incentive does he have?

Ans: Explained how my team works almost exclusively with the pharmaceutical and biomedical sector, so a lot of these Doctors and Healthcare Professionals participating are really interested in knowing the future trends in their therapy area. Also mentioned there is a handsome honorarium attached to it.

Panelist: How do you know that what you're doing is correct?

Ans: (In my head- interesting question, he clearly knows where to grill), I talked about how our methodology incorporates adjustments we make to survey responses to keep us accurate and how there is a constant tracking process to keep these adjustment ratios accurate. 

The best part was it felt he was genuinely interested in everything, even though his cross-questioning made it clear that he knew most of it at the back of his hand. But for most parts it felt as if rather than being interviewed, I was teaching him.

[Over to second panel (female) (she kept doing weird stuff while I was speaking- yawning, turning in her chair, etc)]

Panelist: Pratyush, a lot of metro projects are coming up in tier-1 and 2 cities, I think these are coming up in vanity. What do you think?

 Ans. Ma'am I'm sorry I am not sure what vanity means. (I smiled)

[She smiled and explained what she meant. I asked them for a few seconds to think and explained to the best of my abilities why I disagree with her statement. Drew insights from how various state Governments giving free rides to women had helped increase economic activity and labor participation rate of women. In this case, it would help both men and women.]

[Cross questions came up on this. At one instant she took something out of context and came up strongly- “do you think women are lethargic?” I quickly said- “I didn’t mean this, apologies for not being more clear” and explained my point of view again.]

Panelist: Why has the labor participation rate of women fallen in the last few years?

Ans. I had not investigated this but my hypothesis would be COVID hitting the informal sector the worst where the majority of women are employed and also social media proliferation leading to the amplification of news of crimes against women.

Panelist: What has social stigma got to do with this? I would assume increasing education rates should at least keep labor force participation constant.

Ans. We are a largely rural country where social stigmas are difficult to detach from. Most rural households prefer their women to work only for certain hours a day which too not too far away from home which leads to them seeking employment in the informal sector. Agreed while the metro won't solve all the problems but to an extent it would solve some of them- making it easier and safer for them to commute which would lead to better outcomes in a few years.

Panelist: What do you do in your free time?

Ans. I read and watch sports.

Panelist: Which is the last book that you read?

Ans. I’d read- “A Century Is Not Enough” which is Saurav Ganguly’s autobiography.

Panelist: I have not read his (Saurav Ganguly) autobiography. If you were to ask me to read this book, how would you do it?

Ans. Asked for a few seconds and then asked- 'Ma'am does failure affect you?', she agreed. Then I told how his life has been a saga of failures beyond his control. More details on some episodes from the book. (By this time she was smiling).

Panelist: Don't you think failure affects everyone?

Ans. Certain batchmates of mine were unaffected

Panelist: Don't you think they were careless?

Ans. Sometimes that led them to perform better by being unaffected, but also admitted not having a good answer to this

Panelist: Do you like chocolates?

Ans. I love them

Panelist: Take one or two chocolates or as many as you want. You can go.

Ans. At this point I seriously thought- that’s it? No questions on mathematics (some of my other interviews had been math-heavy because of my quant background), and the entire interview lasted for half the length some of the other ones did.


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

Pratyush: Like I mentioned, I was expecting a much longer interview. In fact, I was so taken aback when the interviewer asked me to take a couple of chocolates that were kept and leave. My first reaction was- seriously? That’s it?

On reflecting, I could not find any red flags in my interview per se. I sent my transcript to those who had helped me prepare (my mentors at GradSquare whose personalized interview prep program I had taken, and also my allotted mentor by the IIM A mentorship cell), and everyone said this looked like a stress interview. But I actually didn't feel that way. I had been calm throughout the interview and didn’t really feel stressed. It felt like a conversation that was slightly on the "politely argumentative" side.

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

Pratyush: There were a few traps in the first leg of the interview as you'll see in my interview transcript. But the real trick questions came in the second half. I had a senior professor of IIM A, who constantly disagreed with whatever I said. Questions thrown on metro projects, and falling women's participation rate in the economy were not even remotely related to my background.  I had to remain calm while making sure I answer coherently and at the same time listen to her POV and be receptive in case she makes good points.

When I was asked to pitch the last book I read, I asked if failure affected her and she agreed. I went ahead to talk about how that book (Saurav Ganguly’s autobiography) could help us learn how to deal with failure. She cut me short the moment I got a grip on my answer. The next follow-up was- 'isn’t everyone affected by failure?' I tried to reason how some people particularly from my engineering days weren’t too caught up with instances of failure. To this her question was- 'aren't they just careless people?' I gave my POV- attaching oneself with failure often leads to being burdened with pressure while sometimes not letting it affect you makes you perform better. But I also smiled and admitted that I didn’t have a good answer to that question. At first, I was unsure how I handled that, but everyone I shared my transcript with told me it was the right thing to do. Politely admit if you aren’t sure of something.

For most of my answers, she seemed disinterested and tried to distract me through her actions- turning, yawning, etc. After coming out I got to know everyone in the panel had a similar experience with her visible disinterest. It looked like a setup to once again test our nerves.

Shiksha: How much credit will you give to your academics and professional experience for IIM Ahmedabad selection?

Pratyush: A lot. My professional experience drove the entire first half of my interview. The interviewer seemed genuinely interested in the kind of work I do. I talked in depth about various market research projects I’d done- brand messaging studies, and conjoint and demand estimation studies. Later on, it turned into a small teaching session of sorts wherein he handed me a piece of paper and a pen and I walked him through the mathematical foundations of conjoint market research and demand estimation studies. In the second half too, I was able to keep my calm and explain my points just because of my experience dealing with stakeholders during my projects.

As for academics, my engineering background helped me have the mathematical foundation to clearly explain my work.

Shiksha: Any tips for future aspirants?

Be genuine. Your interviewers have been taking interviews for a very long time and they can easily catch hold if you bluff. Most of the interview is just about staying calm. Do not get aggressive, and do not get agitated if they counter-question or take a stand against you, it's designed that way. Know thoroughly whatever you’re saying. Most of the time they’ll randomly pick up and grill on whatever you mention, in the topics you least expected they would. So read and prepare thoroughly- whether it is something related to your work, your undergraduate, or your interests (I’d read in depth about cricket and electoral politics, two of my interests).

Someone had told me, interviewers look for students whom they think they’ll enjoy teaching. So be genuine, show eagerness to learn- do not brag and if they suggest something, be receptive.

Shiksha: What is your future plan?

Pratyush: At the moment I’m just excited to be on campus. I am from the COVID batch of graduates wherein a good part of my undergraduate was at a time when colleges were physically closed. So I just want to make the best of my 2 years ahead.

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

Avi Shrivastava

XLRI, Jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Sujit Kumar

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Yash Kaviya

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

Siddharth Lilani

XLRI Jamshedpur

Click here to read the full interview

Saara Mehta

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Eshwar Naik

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Ankan Biswas

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Aditya Singh

IIM Ahmedabad

Click here to read the full interview

Read More:

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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


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