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'Overall consistency in your performance really counts'


...says, Wales DSouza, First Year, MBA student at XLRI Jamshedpur. In conversation with Kalyani Majumdar, Wales shares his insightful suggestions for MBA aspirants and his learning at XLRI so far.



Was doing an MBA always on your mind?
After completing my graduation in Mechanical Engineering from Don Bosco Institute of Technology, I started working with Jacobs Engineering as a Design Engineer.  I worked with them for almost two years. So, right after engineering, I was already evaluating my next career path. I was not sure whether to pursue M Tech or an MBA.  I think my work experience helped me to decide on that aspect. My work profile enabled me to interact with many professionals from the tech-based companies and these also included sales managers, regional managers and also design engineers.  I soon realised that MBA would help me to achieve my long term goals. That is why I decided to go for it. So, apart from CAT I also took XAT and that gave me the interview for XLRI. Now, I am pursuing my MBA in Human Resource Management from XLRI Jamshedpur.

Tell us about your XAT experience?
I was working and simultaneously preparing for CAT and XAT. Here I must add that since I was working on multiple projects it required me to time my activities really well and that is something that taught me time management. In a way it helped me during taking tests, wherein time management becomes an important factor. Initially, I followed a preparation strategy of solving questions at home. Since I was working, so I could not attend classes on weekdays, but I ensured that I attended the weekend classes. The IMS booklets really helped. At that stage of my preparation I had not started to give mock tests, yet.  During the weekdays I would come home and practise on the questions and I would brush up on the concepts. So, after that when I started giving mocks and used the analysis provided by IMS SIMCATs, I was able to identify where all I lacked. I was able to identify, the areas that I knew I could improve upon. So, the mock tests really helped me to focus on the areas that I was not good at. I got through XAT.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
A strength that really helped me particularly in my preparation for the tests is that I stayed determined all the time. Setbacks don’t deter me!  So, I always design an objective approach of doing things so even after giving CAT I stayed focussed and I continued working on preparing for XAT. One of my weaknesses would be that my reading speed is not very good.  As an engineer I never really spent much time reading long form articles and so on. But then I started reading newspapers on a regular basis. So, when I was travelling I would read articles. This is how I increased my reading speed and turned one of my weaknesses into strength.  So, this skill addition again helped me in my XAT.

How did mock tests help you in your test preparations?
Sitting for mock tests definitely helped me, as one of the key aspects of these tests is the mental preparation as well as physically preparing for CAT and XAT. Sitting for long hours going through that rigour, requires a lot of practise, you just cannot do it in one go. Sitting for mocks, highlighted what are the key challenges that CAT or XAT could be presenting on the day of the tests, and how I can strategise my approach and dynamically improve my test strategies. Also, mock tests really helped me to identify the set of questions that I am wasting my time on, and also it gave me an understanding of my strengths in terms of the questions that I could quickly finish and the sections that I have a higher level of accuracy in answering.  So, all that helped me to design my test-taking strategy. 

How did you approach the XAT on D-Day?
On the D-day for XAT I tried to stay calm I did not really stress myself. I did not treat it like the actual test day. I just treated it like one of my mock tests. I went with a calm mind to the test centre, and solved whatever I could. I did not waste my time on the questions that I couldn’t solve and the results fortunately turned out good for me.

How was your GD and PI experience at XLRI?
People with work experience usually should know about some of the common terms that are associated with HR, for instance, gratuity, probation and its terms and policies, and so on. So, while gauging the interest level of the candidate in HR, the interviewers often focus on these questions, during the interview session. HR is a broad subject; however, the students are usually familiar with these basic terminologies. During my interview it was more like a debate, wherein I was holding my ground and the interviewer was trying to make his point. In the end they seemed pretty convinced with the solutions that I gave. In my interview I mentioned from my own experience of working in an organisation, that how HR played a role in making things more convenient for the employee.  Thus, they want to see how you would use HR to add value to a company. My GD topic was, ‘is automation killing jobs?’ So, the interviewer wanted to see if the candidates can bring out a balanced argument for this topic. And, it went very smoothly for me. You have to be practical in your approach and bring in relevant points. They do look at your communication skills and how you behave. So, at XLRI, they see if someone is overly aggressive and is not letting others to express their views then they have a lesser chance of getting selected. Reading newspapers definitely helped me in my GD as I was able to come up with points very clearly. Overall it was a good experience.

What are the important points one must remember before going for a PI?
So, while going for a personal interview it is important you should remain calm and confident. Always, remember that, one wrong answer does not really deter your chances and one good answer does not increase your chances. It is the overall consistency in your performance that really counts. They look at your overall competence. You just need to be true to yourself. Know your facts and try to maintain fluency while you speak, and stay humble. It goes a long way.

What are the important points that one must remember while preparing for CAT or XAT?
Anyone who is preparing for CAT or XAT, must continue to work hard and taking feedback is very important and whatever feedbacks you are getting try to take one feedback at a time and try to utilise it in your next mock test, and try to make the improvements in that front. Even if your mock test scores are not good don’t be disappointed by that, keep working and eventually things will turn up good. Don’t lay your eggs in one basket. My CAT results were not exceptional, but my XAT was really good. So, try to give multiple tests since the syllabus is more or less the same and just stay focussed. Keep giving mock GDs and PIs. IMS had put us through a lot of GDs. There were many PIs that they had scheduled for us as well. So, I would suggest that if you treat the actual GD and PI as mock then it will help you to remain calm and help you to perform well in your actual GD and PI rounds.

What according to you are some of the benefits of studying at XLRI, Jamshedpur?
I am very happy that I got selected at XLRI and that too in HR, as it is their flagship programme and that is why I decided to go for it. The best benefit of studying at XLRI is the connection that students have with each other. The juniors and seniors bond very well. Students have a lot of support from their seniors and their alumni. This will always be a strong point for this campus. Regarding the campus life it is a very unique experience.
Everyday you get to do something new. Everyday it’s a new experience. People help each other out and that is something that I really cherish over here. Being at XLRI has helped me to develop business acumen and how to look at problems from different perspectives. Apart from that there are exams every alternate days and that really helps you to stay on your toes and remain focussed and gets you out of your comfort zone. That is something I feel has helped me a lot in my personal growth.