For the latter, it is good practice to populate it with the work you have done during your first year of the program. I included my involvement with a few clubs that I was part of, a start-up fest that I had organized with 30+ participation, details of my summer internship and the work done there, and a couple of other academic and industry projects I had undertaken as part of a few courses.
13. Is there any technique you used to remain calm before and during the interview?
For me, it is music. Don’t read anything before the interview, don’t talk to anyone. Close you eyes, plug in your headphones, and allow music to calm your nerves. However, this is something where everyone is different; so figure out what works for you.
14. How big a differentiator is work experience?
Not really. People seem to have this misconception that freshers are a huge disadvantage compared to experienced folks. But that is definitely not the case.
I think there were 30–40% freshers during my time at IIMA. However, there have been reports that all IIMs plan to tweak the application rating and selection criteria to favor experienced professional over fresh graduates. But that does not mean that anyone would be discriminated against in an interview; just that the final rating would have a much higher weightage for work-ex.
15. How has your Quora journey been?
To sum it up in one word, “fantastic”. I am still, on a daily basis, amazed by the response and adulation that I receive from people. And that is what keeps me going.
I remember starting contributing sometime in 2012. Quora was quite small, and quite niche back then. Its presence in India was almost non-existent. Then came the big Indian influx. I think it took me more time to reach 5,000 followers than it did to reach the next 50,000. That is probably what you could call a “first-mover advantage”. During the time I have spent here, I have grown and matured. It’s wonderful to interact with so many people, with such diverse backgrounds, all of them with their own stories and wonderfully unique experiences.
I am not much of a social person, but I have personally met around 200 Quorans till date. I have been to 2 major meetups, and a few smaller get-togethers. I am friends (and I do not use that term loosely) with a dozen or so of them. 4–5 of us even went to Goa a couple of months back - all perfect strangers, save for this one common interest.
So yes, it has been completely worth it. :)
16. What is your reading speed? How did you get there?
By various estimates my reading speed is ~500 wpm. However, that was not always the case (obviously!). The success mantra for effectively increasing your reading speed (without compromising on the comprehension) is (like it is for everything else), is practice.
I read for around 4 hours every day - split across Quora, Reddit, Pocket, newspapers, blogs, work related stuff, and books. That essentially comes to around 120k words a day, or an average 250–300 page novel.
While 4 hours every day might sound too much (after all, who has such luxury anymore?), it really isn’t all that difficult. The key here is to utilize your downtime’ productively. Keeping a book on yourself most of the time, reading on your phone while commuting, catching up on the news during coffee breaks etc.
For beginners, I would also recommend using Spritz for some time to channelize your initial efforts.
17. What are the strict dont's you would recommend in both GD and PIs? What does one do if he did not fare well in a GD and is heading into an interview?
Dos and Donts have already been covered in #4. Also, as mentioned in #6, your interview panel has no idea how your GD or WAT or CAT paper went. So, just forget about everything and approach the interview as an independent, unrelated event.
18. What is the one thing you would like to share with our students?
I think it is extremely difficult to just condense everything into one point. However, here is something I penned down earlier that addresses the question.
(Tomorrow: Deepak Mehta's Tips for Pre-MBA Students)