This is one of the frequently asked questions. I have seen many aspirants worrying about the gap in their interviews. They often ask me what they should do about it. So, I thought of sharing my thoughts about it.
Many aspirants feel that they can cover up their gap by doing some certifications or working with some NGOs. I think this is not a thumb rule. While these pursuits can be helpful, they are not always beneficial.
So, coming to the main point, I think that there is no direct answer to this question as this question is subjective. The answer to this depends on the individual and his circumstances.
Asking the following question might help you decide if you should go for any certifications.
“Do I have enough time for juggling my CAT preparation and certification/NGO work?”
A short story:
Let me share one instance with you to explain why I want you to consider the above question.
One aspirant messaged me yesterday and asked if he should do some certification to cover up his gap. I asked him how his CAT preparation is going.
He replied, “I am done with the 70% syllabus and taking mocks. In mocks, I am scoring around 80-90 marks.” Mind you, this is August, and he has neither completed his syllabus nor scoring 95+ percentile in mocks.”
I asked him if his certification would be of any use if he does not get an interview call. The answer was an obvious no.
That’s what my point is. You will have to worry about covering up your gap only if you get an interview call from any b-school. And for that, you need a good percentile first.
I conveyed him the same and asked him to focus only on CAT preparation at the moment.
Having said that, I am not saying that you should not do these certifications and the likes to cover up the gap, but you should not do it at the cost of your CAT preparation. Do this when you have enough time left for the CAT exam, and your preparation is on a smooth path.
Make a note of the following point.
“CAT percentile can compensate for the gap in your resume, but nothing is of any use if you don’t have enough percentile on your CAT scorecard to get a call from the b-school.”
Now, you may ask, then
How should I justify the gap?
As said above, it is subjective, but I can give you a framework that you can apply to come up with one answer to this question.
That framework called CARL. It is context, action, result, learning.
You can use it to justify a gap year in an IIM interview.
- Context: Why did you take a drop?
- Action: What did you do in the drop year?
- Result: What have you earned out of the drop year?
- Learning: What has been your learning from this experience?
Let me elucidate this.
I reached out to one of my colleagues who made it to IIM Trichy after dedicating a few years to UPSC preparation. I asked him two questions. Those questions along with his answers to them are mentioned below.
How did you justify your gap in the CAP interview?
“You don’t justify the gap. You accept that there is a gap. Over the years, many UPSC aspirants have taken the MBA path. They are there in both old and new. In fact, in old you will find more. All had gaps. So interviewers know that. UPSC aspirant means there will be a gap.”
What were the questions regarding your UPSC preparation?
- “What subjects did I take?
- Till what level did I reach in the exam?
- What did not work?
- Why MBA after UPSC?
More detailed discussion on ongoing topics as it is presumed that UPSC aspirant is far more aware than any other B.Tech or the MBA candidate, so they like to have discussions sometimes. I worked for the UPSC industry so they asked me within that too. Besides, sometimes they push/grill candidates to go back to UPSC and try once more instead of going for an MBA. So, you got to justify your decision with conviction.”
From his answers, I can feel the following things.
- Context: He had taken a drop for UPSC preparation. It is acceptable (in my opinion).
- Action: He had prepared for CIVIL services exam
- Result: He gained a lot of knowledge that he leveraged during his interview.
- Learnings: Whatever you do, you should know about it. You should be able to justify your gap with conviction.
I hope you found this answer useful. So, don’t fret too much about the gap now. Focus on your CAT preparation and bag a scintillating percentile. Once the CAT result is announced, you get around one month to prepare for the WAT PI round. During this period, you can introspect. You can also join WAT PI preparation classes to get help from experienced professionals to find answers to all the questions related to WAT PI.
All the best!