Students’ Experiences with IIM-A / IIM-B / IIM-C PanelsCATKing
This is my IIM Ahmedabad Interview this year.
Profile : X- 94.6 , XII – 80.8 , B.Tech (Delhi College of Engineering) – 73.52, CAT percentile : 99.90, work ex : nil
Academic writing test : case study on freedom of expression . should there be limits or not.
2 profs. Lets call them P1 and P2.
Both middle aged
Duration : around 15 min
So, it went like :
P1: Tell me something about yourself.
Me : Born and brought up in Delhi. Final year of graduation. NSS Volunteer – social involvement. Learning Bharatnatym for seven years. Talked about my two internships – Delhi Metro and gas power plant.
(Could have said more about fests and other stuff)
P1 : Ok . so which turbine is used in this power plant?
Me: combined cycle. Two gas and one steam.
P1: what are the capacities?
P1: what is the heat ratio?
Me: I don’t know. (Never heard the term. I think it is related to mechanical)
P1: cost of generation of electricity?
Me: The bill charges 5 rs per unit. So must be around 3-4 rs per unit.
(Could have talked about transmission and distribution losses and that every plant has a different cost depending on many complex factors.)
P1: which turbine is more efficient? Gas or steam
Me: don’t know exactly but In case of gas turbine, the process is faster due to instant combustion. So, probably gas turbine.
P2: So, why did u choose Bharatnatyam Dance and not any other
Me : sir, initially it was closest to my home that why. But then I really liked it and enjoy it a lot. It is really vibrant. That why
P2: Tell me the difference between Freedom of expression , speech and opinion.
Me: Freedom of speech is a subset of expression. It refers to only verbal expression. Expression is a broader term and can be through variety of means like cartoons, dance, paintings. Opinions are thoughts , they may or may not be expressed.
P2: you have not taken a clear stand. If you have to take a clear stand- should there be limits on freedom of expression or not?
Me: no. there should not be limits. But people must be made aware that they should use their rights responsibly.
P2: so, the French gov. didn’t do that? That’s why Charlie hebdo happened.?
Me: we as a society learn from our mistakes. And I think this message is clear now.
P1: But French gov. did nothing new in this direction.
Me: But many important people including the Pope have criticized the misuse of freedom of expression to offend a community.
P2: So, you are from Delhi. Do u think Delhi should be given full statehood.
Me: no. it is not practical because Delhi is very small geographically and will not be financially sustainable if made a state. Moreover, lot of central government machinery is in Delhi like the MPs and foreign dignitaries visiting. Hence, Centre must have the power to control them.
There are two main reasons why Delhi people want statehood. One is law and order i.e the Delhi police is not answerable to Delhi CM. and land issue – state gov. needs permission from center on land usage. DDA is not under state gov.
I think there are better ways to resolve these. Regarding police, one department of police can be made to report to CM. and regarding land- more representation of state in DDA and already some steps have been taken in this direction.
P2: So, is kejriwal mad. Making it an issue.
Me: no sir. There are issues. But full statehood is not practical. A better and middle path solution with devolution of more power to Delhi state would be better.
P1: But, there is even a country which is smaller than Delhi. Which one?
me : Vatican city
P1: how does that work?
Me: It is extremely dependent on its neighbors.
P2: what do u think about CCTV cameras being installed.
Me: I think it is a good step. But it is the second part towards ensuring a safe city. It will help in catching criminals. But we can not always wait for crimes to happen to catch a criminal. It needs to be supplemented with more awareness and gender sensitization and similar moves should be emphasized.
(Could have also talked about terrorists and related activities)
P1 : So, what kind of books do you read
Me: it keeps on changing. But recently I have been reading social books about life of people. For instance, the last book I read was
PRINCESS: THE LIFE BEHIND THE VEIL IN SAUDI ARABIA. BY JEAN SASSON.
It is about a girl who is of the Al-Saud’s family and talks about her life as a woman in Saudi Arabia.
And before that
NOTHING TO ENVY: ORDINARY LIVES IN NORTH KOREA BY BARBARA DEMICK
It explores the life of common people of North Korea under the dictator during the 1980s and the subsequent famine of 1990s. it is a compilation of interviews of refugees from north Korea by a journalist.
P2: what is Saudi Arabia doing about oil?
Me: It has refused to cut down oil production and because of this, oil prices have fallen
P2: what is the problem in opec?
Me: Saudi Arabia is a rich country with abundant oil and low cost of production. So it can afford to sell at a low price for long. Other countries can’t.
P2: should OPEC break ?
Me: No. their strength lies in staying together because then they can monopolize the market.
P2: why do u think Saudi Arabia is not cutting down production?
Me: told about the shale gas. If oil prices remain low, then exploration of shale gas in unviable and world would continue to depend on oil as an energy resource.
P2: any other reason
Me: market share
If Saudi Arabia cuts down production, it will loose out the market share to other countries like Russia.
P2: How is Russia’s economy dependent on oil?
Me : oil forms a huge percentage of Russia’s GDP and export. And due to the low price, it is suffering a lot.
P2: could this be the reason why USA is asking Saudi Arabia to not cut production?
Me: yes. specially because of the Ukraine – Russia conflict. A lot of other sanctions have also been imposed on Russia.
P1 : so, since you have read about North Korea, tell me something about the Korean war.
Me: the communist powers mainly USSR were supporting North korea whereas USA was supporting South Korea.
Me : 1970s.. I think
Me: I am not sure sir. Sorry
P2: who is the dictator now?
Me: KIM JONG UN since 2011 after the death of his father. 94-2011 was KIM JONG IL.
P2: so what are the firsts about MOM
Me : three firsts-
1. First time in maiden attempt
2. First time in least cost
3. First Asian country
And overall it is a very good step
1. Firstly, this allied tech can be used in a lot of Page on places.eg. Communication
2. Then, PSLV is ISROs expertise, and we get a lot of international assignments for the same. It is great.
3. It inspires young kids to take up science
Hence, it is a great achievement for the country
P2: what is the full form?
Me : mars orbital mission
P2: think of some first related to that
Me : (thinking aloud) earths orbit to mars orbit. But that would be done by every rocket. So, I don’t know
P1 : okay thankyou. Take something. Take all three.( there were three things)
Me : thankyou sir, this one is fine ( picked a toffee and went )
VERDICT : CONVERTED!!
Also converted C, L, K, S 😉
That is it. Hope it helps 🙂
All the best to everyone.
My conclusion : IIMs look for positive people who show willingness to learn and basic ability to comprehend any situation. It is not necessary to be a master of everything- stellar academics and extracurriculars to get through. (though Grades do matter a lot!). You just have to show the interviewer your ability to think.
CAT 14: 99.89 percentile.
Before I start with Interview experience, let me introduce myself.
I am computer engineer (2014 passout), got 99.89 percentile in CAT. I took CAT for the second time(In first one I scored 99.32 percentile) I am interested in chess, coding, puzzles and Essays.
My Written Assessment was on Hughes’ death due to bouncers, whether bouncers should be banned in cricket or not.
Two Faculties of IIM Ahmedabad. P1 and P2. Both Male aged around 45-50 years.
P1: Good morning! Have a seat. Can you please introduce yourself.
Me: I told them about my school, college, my hobbies and achievements. (The moment I said that I am interested in Logic Puzzles, P2 started writing something down in paper)
P1: So you are comp. engineer. What subjects did you study during BTech.
Me: I told them six subjects. They needed more names. I had one subject in mind but didn’t want them to go into it. But with their forcing of more names, I added this name with two other subjects and presented the list. And they picked up the one I didn’t want them to pick. Data Mining and Warehouse. P1 asked some questions on it, which I was able to answer apprehensively. As my father is in LIC, he asked me about the ways in which data mining can be useful in an insurance company. I answered.
Till then, P2 was ready with a smile on the face and a weapon in his hands.
He handed me that paper. Which had this written on it.
P2: So what is wrong with it? As everything written was logical but with a very big mistake in it. Since 2 can’t be equal to 1.
This is logical fallacy. I was able to draw his attention to the mistake present in this puzzle. And he was happy. He told me to ask one of my favorite puzzles. I asked this:
There are two ways in which one way is leading to the destination. You don’t know which one. There are two persons present there: Of whom, one always speaks truth and one always lies. You have to ask one and same question to both of us and have to determine the right way towards your destination. What question will that be and what will they answer?
They couldn’t answer it (or didn’t want to) and asked me to explain the solution. When I explained the answer, they seemed happy. I guessed that if I don’t goof up a big time, I may fulfil my long standing dream of getting into IIMA.
P1: So you play chess. Answer these questions as fast as possible.
He had tablet in front of him. He asked me 15 questions on chess from it which included some like: what is FIDE rating, how is it defined, Against whom Anand lost recently, Anand’s rating, Carlsen’s rating, my chosen first move, E4-C6 is called what, Fool’s mate, Queen’s gambit… I answered all questions correctly. (After all, passion says something.)
P2: any recent news which we may not be aware of.
As my Written assessment was on Phil Hughes. The day before interview, another incident happened. Daniel HUGHES was hit by bouncer in nearly same way and his neck part got swollen and got unconscious. I told them about this incident.
P1: So, you have won two state level essay competitions. Are you interested in essay writings.? Which essay you wrote recently.
Me: my conversation with God.
P2: Tell three things that you want to ask God, if s/he exists.
Me: I will first ask him to prove his existence to all people around the world. Because, people around here are taking him for granted. And, are getting advantages out of the blind faith some people are putting in. Second, I will want him to give me courage to fulfil my dreams. I want to build a business empire which can create enough employment opportunities and in the end, I want to be active in social awareness.
Third, as Amish Tripathi has written in his books SHIVA TRILOGY, in the end , ultimate good turns itself into ultimate evil. This was what happened in the case of Somras.(read the books for better knowledge about this). So, I want him to create another parameter apart from money, for which people can aspire. Because, right now though money is good but it has started to turn itself into evil. Like people have started killing one another for the sake of money. Which will lead money to the ultimate evil and world will end while fighting for and against it. So, we can have another parameter so that people change their focus and money stays good for a longer duration.
I know the answer is lengthy. But the experience was of lifetime. And, I CONVERTED the call and now I am going to study in one of the most reputed B-schools. IIM AHMEDABAD.
Here’s my IIM A interview in a nutshell:
Class X: 96.4%
Class XII: 96.6%
Undergrad: IIT Bombay
CGPA (in IITB): 9.27 (out of 10)
CAT Percentile: 99.95 (CAT 2012)
Work-ex: 0 (fresh graduate)
Other things of note:
I enjoy public speaking and creative writing. Dabble in stand-up comedy and football journalism.
Two profs- both of whom I have gotten to know quite well now.
P1: “So Abhishek.. good day so far?”
Me: “More or less, though I think the next 20 minutes might have something to say”
*both chuckle meekly*
*I chuckle meekly*
P2: “Football blogger who has written for ESPN? You think you’re a football expert eh?”
Me: “Everything except playing the actual game sir”
P2: “You don’t play?”
Me: “I do as long as the word “play” has an extremely broad definition”
*both chuckle again*
*this time I don’t chuckle* *mixing things up*
P1: “So you don’t play?”
Me: “No sir. I write. I’m a vicarious exploiter of the joy of the beautiful game”
P2: “Where are Swansea City in the Premier League Table?”
Me (slightly stunned): “Umm.. 8th?”
P2: “Umm? You’re not sure?”
Me: “8th. Definitely 8th”
P2: “Definitely 8th?”
P2: “6th.. here see”
*shows me laptop*
Me: “I’d like to go back to talking about how well I play the game if that’s alright?”
P1: “Abhishek why do you want to do management? You have excellent grades- just do research no?”
Me: “I can’t be a football presenter if I do research”
P1: “Football presenter? That’s your life goal?”
Me: “Yes sir”
P2: “But we don’t produce sports presenters. We produce managers”
Me: “I have no doubt. But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t be a football presenter by doing research”
P1: “Tell me about Biosynth (Project I worked for in IITB)”
Me: *insert gyan about Biosynth*
*some more questioning about that*
*some more answers* (it got technical here hence glossing over details)
P2: “Abhishek I love math. I’m going to give you a math problem. If the volume of a cylinder is fixed, derive the radius and height that will maximize the surface area”
Me: *do the problem*
*make calculation mistake* (realized later)
*prof doesn’t notice or care about answer* (phew!)
P1: “Okay. Thanks Abhishek. Have a toffee”
Me: “Thank you for your time”
*takes an abnormally large amount of time to pick the toffee*
P1: “We have other candidates Abhishek”
*we all laugh*
- IIM Bangalore, 16th March ’16, New Kenilworth Hotel, Kolkata
Two panelists: P1 and P2.
First 15 minutes:
P1 asked lots of questions on Physics, which I answered. We then had a brief discussion on Bengali food and books. Everything was perfect till this point.
Last 5 minutes:
P2: So why do you want to leave all your science-y stuff and come here to learn how to sell toothpaste?
Me: I don’t plan to go into marketing, sir. I want to gain a basic knowledge of the various aspects of running a business. I want to build my own company, and once it’s set up, I would like to handle some of the technical aspects.
P2: What sort of company?
Me: *described my idea and plan of action in detail*
P2: You seem to have everything figured out. What do you need an MBA for? Go ahead and build your startup right now.
Me: Sir, at the moment I don’t have a deep enough understanding of how businesses and markets work. I think an MBA will teach me the basics… *interrupted*
P2: Do you think we teach entrepreneurship here?
Me: Not exactly, sir, but the course content is very relevant to someone who wants to start a business. IIMB also has the NSR cell that helps entrepreneurs… *interrupted*
P2: Name some of the startups in India.
Me: Flipkart, Paytm, Ola Cabs… *interrupted*
P2: Do you know anything about the founders of these companies?
Me: I know their names sir. Sachin Bansal founded… *interrupted*
P2: How many of them have MBAs?
Me: None of them do, I think. They are all engineers.
P2: Do you think they had sufficient knowledge about how to run businesses?
Me: I’m not sure sir… they might have got other people to handle the business while they tackled the coding part.
P2: Exactly. They handled the “technical” part.
P1: We’re done. Have a nice day.
- It seemed from P2’s expressions that he wanted me to counter him and was disappointed when I couldn’t.
- I didn’t have enough presence of mind to evade the obvious trap. The panelist probably knew I would name companies like Flipkart, Paytm, etc. I should’ve named companies founded by IIM grads instead, like Quikr and Naukri dot com.
- Just wanting to be an entrepreneur isn’t a good enough reason to do an MBA. We must also be aware of how our MBA will help the startup. On a normal day, I can list many reasons why an entrepreneur with an MBA might be more successful, but somehow I didn’t think of mentioning these during the interview. Maybe the pressure got to me.
- When I said I want to handle technical aspects, I might have given a wrong impression. I should’ve clarified that I’m interested in subjects like Operations and Supply Chain, which I am hoping to learn in an MBA program.
- This interview was a good learning experience. The subsequent interviews went along the same lines and I was able to hold my ground.
Amidst a normal work schedule that my body and mind had got used to in the past two years, working as a Member Technical in D. E. Shaw India, I decided to move on in the direction of pursuing my dream for higher education. In the foresight, back then, I would have almost 3 years work experience by the time I start my endeavor. Thus, I decided to attempt Common Admission Test 2014.
I had thought, accompanied a decent education profile of percentages in nineties in Class X, Class XII and Undergraduate studies, an extremely high CAT score will guarantee me a call for interview in the reputed IIMs. I started with my efforts in the direction to succeed in the CAT.
Little had I known that my efforts will fall short in the crucial exam, getting me a meagre CAT percentile of 94.44. That was shocking and devastating. But the true surprise came when I still got a call from IIM, Bangalore. More about this prep story later, now moving onto the experience.
Here comes the day, March 17th 2015. Time: 9 a.m. Location : IIM, Bangalore – my first ever rendezvous with the beautiful city. Around 27 candidates divided into three interview panels.
After the Written Ability Test (will share the experience separately), it was the time for the interview. From the background where I got the call, I was thinking “I’ve got nothing to lose. If anything, I might as well be the last candidate on the list whom they decided to call for interview. It feels good to be here sitting inside the campus, while outside, there goes on such a huge business going on to get people into these walls. This is a privilege. I am fortunate. And privileges are not some things to be worried about, privileges must be enjoyed. Hell yeah!”
Interview panel: P1 – Dr. Charan Singh, P2 – Dr. Jishnu Hazra P3 – IIMB Alumni
Here you go.
As soon as I enter the room, even before sitting in my chair, they ask me about a topic that I had mentioned in my Statement of Purpose related to my job.
P1 : You have mentioned “Difference in view points of trader vs risk manager”, can you elaborate on this?
Me : Sir, this is a presentation that I had given to my team that talks about how the views differ between a trader and a Risk Manager in the world of investment banking and trading. Generically, a trader wants to maximize the profit and returns, thus he is willing to take more and more risk. The job of a Risk Manager is to monitor various exposures and focus on reducing the risk involved. So in some way it’s a tussle between a trader and a Risk Manager, more like a tussle between an optimist and a pessimist.
P1 : But a trader also has to worry about the risk, he may stand to make huge losses if he takes unnecessary risk. Why do you think he will be reckless?
Me : Sir, it’s not about him being reckless but when you see from the perspective of loss that a trader can incur, at most, he’ll be fired but for the firm, that loss can be much more damaging. Thus that’s the exact reason that they have a Risk Manager to monitor various exposures.
P1: But each trader has a capital allocated to him so even if he wants, he cannot wipe out the entire firm’s capital, so why do you think that is even a possibility?
Me: Sir, I agree that there is a specific capital with which a trader is allowed to play with but in reality, in the world of hedge funds, the capital number that you see is the leveraged capital. Thus because of leverage, there exists a possibility that the loss can wipe out much more capital than what has been allocated. Also, I won’t say a trader can wipe out the capital of the entire firm but he can most certainly bring the particular group down. And that is significant damage to the firm. Generally there will be trades that a trader wants to perform and Risk Manager will take a call, depending on various exposures, as to whether to allow that or not.
P1: So you can call Risk Manager as an umbrella trader or a trader who can moderate other traders depending on his view.
Me: Yes, sir. I could say that.
P1: I see that you have mentioned “Idea Generation Workshop” in your SOP. What is an Idea Generation Workshop?
Me: This was an initiative taken by a professor the college to promote innovation in day to day student life. I used to be a coordinator along with him.
P2: How do you promote innovation in day to day life? What was the agenda?
Me: It was a full day workshop where there would be inspirational stories and videos. Some real life stories like how Chik shampoo founder shook the Asia wing of Hindustan Lever Limited and how Goonj the NGO helps people with clothing etc. The basic fundamental that innovation can be taught and can be learned if you have the right attitude. At the end, students would be asked to come up with proposals to some day to day problems that they face.
This program was even conducted for the faculty in the institute. Stories of innovation at grass root level have been really inspiring.
P1: Do you think you are creative?
Me: Yes, I think so. I wouldn’t say I am the most creative person in the world but yes.
P3: (Nodding) That’s fine. Do you think a trader should be creative?
Me: I think a trader has to be creative, Sir. As you know, in some places, a trader is called a gambler. To be able to beat the competition, trader has to come up with innovative combination of certain instruments to maximize the returns. Also, a trader must trust his intuition while making certain decisions that might be highly risky.
P3: Who are the people that have inspired you? Who are your idols?
Me: Raghuram Rajan, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and in sports, Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
P3: Have you read any non-fiction books or biographies that have inspired you?
Me: (I haven’t mentioned passionate reading as my hobby anywhere.) Sir, I do not get time to read biographies as such but I read up various articles about any innovative thinking and these people that I have mentioned above. Let’s say Raghu Ram Rajan, he is like a superman in his career. The stories like how he had talked about fat tails in the real estate markets before the Global Meltdown, but that paper was not well received in the world. How he’s worked towards taking measures that have helped Indian economy recover from where it was when he took control.
P1: Tell us what is regular day like.
Me: It’s generally a mix of work, exercise and recreational activities. Regular work and a fixed duration of fitness exercise in the evening daily.
P1: (Interrupting) So, as per your schedule you have time. It’s just that you choose not to spend it on reading books.
Me: Sir, I agree that I have time and it’s the priorities according to which I distribute it on a given day. Given the sitting nature of my job, I have come to understand the importance of staying fit. Historically, I haven’t always enjoyed good health, that’s why the daily fitness regime has helped me in keeping me fit and full of energy that can then be used for work. Looking 10 years into the future, I feel staying fit is absolutely necessary to keep myself motivated. So far as reading is concerned, I devote my daily time in reading various articles on the Internet.
P3: I think that’s reasonable.
P2: You mentioned Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Why not Gavaskar? Gavaskar was a great player considering the quality of bowling attack and conditions back then. He is even greater player than Dhoni.
Me: Sir, I agree that Gavaskar is a legendary player and not to demean him in anyway, I have been a fan of the way MS Dhoni acts as a leader.
P2: (Cutting me in midway) Everyone talks about a person when he is successful. That’s no big deal. People talk about Dhoni because he has been successful, why would that matter?
Me: Sir, I have been a Dhoni fan even in times when he faced massive defeats overseas. It’s his qualities that I really appreciate.
P3: (Interrupting) Which of his qualities interest you?
Me: Sir, his most important quality of staying calm under pressure scenarios. Also the fact of treating victories and defeats equally, developing a process, backing the youngsters in their bad patch…
P1: (Snapping me) Anyone has a good patch and a bad patch. I have a good patch today, tomorrow I will have a bad patch. That applies to anyone.
Me: Sir, he’s supported his young players through their bad patches and given them confidence. As a leader that is very important. Also, even after a defeat, he would talk about the positives from that contest.
P1: That’s the job of a captain, isn’t it? Ganguly will say that after the match, Dravid will. What’s the big deal about it?
Me: Sir, I agree any captain will say that after a match. It’s just that I respect Dhoni because he has acted in that direction. There was a time when we got Ifran Pathan, RP Singh, Laxmipathy Balaji, they shone in their good patches, rocked the international scenario, but when their bad patch hit, we no more see them anywhere. Dhoni supported his players and they are now giving results. The youngsters in the current team have won 6 out of 6 world cup matches on foreign soil.
P1: What is your view on failure? We see your academic profile and it seems you have been a topper throughout and you don’t seem to have experienced any sort of failure. You talked about Raghu Ram Rajan, he was a topper in his life and your academic profile looks kind of similar.
Me: Sir, an academic record doesn’t always show the kind of failures that I have experienced, it has just highlighted my achievements.
P3: What is one failure that you want to quote from your life? Also can you tell us your learnings from that?
Me: An incident of failure that comes to my mind is after the X exam for National Talent Search Examination. After clearing the state level examination, and then the national level examination, I couldn’t make it through the interview. Maybe because of my discrepancies of comfort level with the language or any other lack of knowledge. I come from a small town and almost everyone knows you once you achieve something, and telling the truth, there are many who assume that you are going to be successful always and others somewhere want you to fail. I was a kid who wanted to go for 100/100 and always thought that if you put efforts, you will always get results. The biggest learning for me at that age was that, the result is not in your hands. You might put all your efforts and yet might fall short. There are so many different variables in operation. You should be ready to accept failure. Sometimes, it is good to be detached from the race, and give your best. If you give your best and you deserve it, you will get it. Unnecessary burden of expectations hampers your performance. I have carried that learning all along my life.
P1: What if you don’t make it through to IIMB today? As you said, people will be knowing that you are appearing for this interview and there is that pressure and everything. What will be your reaction if you fail to make it to IIMB?
Me: Sir, I agree IIMB is a great institute and I really want to study here but, I am sorry, if you don’t select me, it won’t mean the end of the world for me. It won’t mean I am incompetent. It is just that I have a different skill-set and your requirements are different and I don’t fit in those. I will try again next year. But it won’t be like I will keep trying blindly, if I feel that IIMB is not my cup of tea, I will evaluate my options and choose what suits me best.
P1: Let’s say if you don’t get IIMB and you get IIM, Trichy. What will you do?
Me: Sir, frankly speaking I don’t have a call from IIM, Trichy.
P1: That’s fine. Let’s assume hypothetically if you had a call from IIM, Trichy and you converted there but not in IIMB, what would you do?
Me: Sir, with the kind of opportunity cost I am putting in, and the place where I am right now, to reach the next level, IIMB is the right place for me. The excellent peer group and the distinguished faculty at the institute, makes it distinctive. I might not be able to derive the same value from IIM, Trichy. Also, I don’t want to come across as a person who wants to do MBA for the sake of it. In the hypothetical scenario, I will evaluate my options and probably might not accept the offer by IIM, Trichy.
P2: Do yo have any questions for us?
Me: What are the recommended finance courses offered at the institute as electives?
P2: You will get enough choices to choose from ‘if’ you get into the institute. There is a lot of variety available.
Me: Thank you so much, Sir.
On April 15, 2015, after waiting eagerly for the results through the times of uncertainty when I oscillated between hope and probability of getting rejected due to CAT score, I got the result as General Merit List W/L 20. This triggered a period of 23 days full of incremented hope, with the knowledge that there still existed a probability of not getting through. But I guess, that period was marked more by relief than anxiety. I had more reasons to be hopeful than ever. Definitely more than the reasons I had on December 27th when CAT results were announced.
Finally, on May 8th, I got the email saying “Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been offered admission…” and it felt really special.
More than the interview experience, this is an experience of hope and taking a leap of faith in life.
Interview of IIM Bangalore – PGP 2015-2017
Let me give you a brief introduction of myself for a better perspective- Hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan.
90+ percentages in 10th,12th.
B.Tech in computer science from IIIT-H with an average cgpa, good background of participation in and organization of cultural events.
~3 years of work-ex as a network consulting engineer.
First attempt at CAT.
Calls from IIM B,L,I,K and new IIMs.
IIM Bangalore’s interview was my 7th and last interview of this season (gave SP Jain, XLRI and other IIM interviews before that – the ‘B’est was left for the last I guess! ) and I carried forward the previous interview experiences to this one.
Date – 19th March ; Time – 2 pm ; Venue – IIM Bangalore
I reached the venue at 1 pm. We were assigned panels and made to sit in a queue in front of the interview rooms. After a brief verification of our documents/proofs, we were called in panel-wise for WAT(Written Ability Test).
WAT topic – Safety of women in India can only be brought about by a change in the societal mindset.
We were given a rough sheet attached to the answer sheet and 30 minutes time limit to complete the task. It was advised to use 10 minutes to create a rough outline and 20 minutes to write the essay/note. I created a section wise rough draft (intro, major issues, root cause, measures that can help, conclusion) and completed writing the essay well before 30 minutes were over. Both rough and the answer sheet were collected for evaluation.
After the WAT we waited for our turns to be called in for the PI. Some of the candidates were keenly observing how long each person’s interview was lasting for (somehow it is a common belief the longer you last, the more chances you have). After 4 candidates before me, there came my turn to go in.
Panel members : 2 male Professors (P1, P2), 1 male alumnus (P3)
P1 : *smiling* Hi Nikhil, go ahead and tell us about yourself.
Me : *well rehearsed reply* Talked about my school education highlighting academic achievements. Moving onto B.Tech with more emphasis on participation in co-curricular activities and then highlighting the 3 years of work-ex in one of the leading network equipments and services company. Mentioned some of the clients that I handled and being a part of the recruitment team as well.
P1 : *scrolling on his laptop* So, I see you’ve a pretty decent job and you seem to be performing good as well, why do you wish to pursue this course?
Me : (this was nothing but a why MBA question. There is no right or wrong answer for it. Best way is to convince yourself with a good reason first and explain the same to the panel) Told them how I am a person who likes to work in teams and how the nexus between technology and business strategy excites me. Having a good technical know-how and corporate exposure, I wish to make a larger impact on business and this seems to be the perfect time and place to get equipped with the required skills. *replied to this answer while addressing each panel member so that it convinces all of them*
P1 : You mentioned business strategy. What do you think is the business strategy of your current employer?
Me : *thanks to the regular interactions with the leadership team I had a good idea of this* Mentioned how the company has a kind of monopoly in the networking products and how aggressively it tries to maintain that. Market developments are closely monitored and any new prospective technology is adopted by R & D or by acquiring smaller companies/start-ups.
P1 : *excited by the mention of acquisitions & start-ups* Any recent start-up acquisitions by the company?
Me : Told them 2 recent acquisitions and one major acquisition in the past.
P1 : Why do you think they were acquired?
Me : Told how the company wanted to enter into a new domain of services (Data centers , Cloud) and the acquisitions provide a well prepared base for a bigger company to easily flourish into.
P1 : Do you think after an acquisition the smaller company is able to develop as freely as it was developing earlier?
Me : Replied how it is a trade-off for the smaller company to gain from the bigger company’s resources but at the same time restrict it’s own growth towards the goals of the company acquiring it. Many a times smaller company prefer not getting acquired as they can develop into something bigger. Also added that if I would have been running the start-up, I would have not preferred getting acquired because the fact that the bigger company is acquiring proves that my company has some potential.
*P1 looked quite impressed with my replies*
P1 looked at P2 and so the turn went on to P2.
P2 : *looking very grim* How much knowledge you have about the position of your company in the market and it’s performance? Do you follow it?
Me : Replied with the recent quarterly performances. ( couldn’t recall the exact numbers). Mentioned stock values and explained about recent downfall and how we went back up.
P1 :*chipping in* What is the revenue and net income?
Me : Replied correctly.
P2 : Tell about any 2 major current economic crisis.
Me : Mentioned the fluctuations in global oil prices and the Euro -zone crisis.
P2 : What exactly is happening in the Euro-zone and do you see it affecting Indian economy?
Me : *had read a lot about it so replied patiently and in full detail*
Told how countries like Greece have lead to a total breakdown of the euro-zone. Mentioned some amends which can be made to deal with it. Also, told how in the longer run it can affect not only India but other economies as well.
P2 : Do you know about the PIIGS (pronounced as pigs!) nations?
Me : *hearing it as pigs I smiled, was like where did this come from*
Told them no, I have no idea.
P2 looks at P3 ( the alumnus who was silent all along).
P3 : Do you read business related texts?
Me : Not much. I read about the ongoing trends but not so much of business literature as such.
P1, P2 & P3 share a glance and then P1 says : ok Nikhil, that will be all. All the best. I thanked them and made my way out.
I come out and the guy who was up next says “Bhai, tum to wapis aane ka naam hi le rahe the. You were there for like 35-40 minutes.” I didn’t realize how time passed away as I was involved in the conversation really well. Also, I later realized that it was me who did most of the talking and explaining to the very few questions posed to me by the panel.
Overall, the interview was focused on my work-ex, knowledge about my employer company and my take on the current business strategies. The panelists were very calm, thorough professionals and gave a lot of opportunity to speak. It was more of a conversation than an interview.
Verdict – Converted ! \m/
Takeaways : Be thorough with what you are mentioning in the interview. Panelists pick on things you utter which they find intriguing or relevant. ( that is why it is generally said – YOU drive your interview). Display honesty and maturity in answering any opinion related questions. Take it as a conversation and not as a viva.
Hope this helps. All the best to all the IIM aspirants. 🙂
SUDARSHAN SINGH CHAUHAN
I have skipped on WAT and GD, I pretty much sucked at both of them. For overly curious, the topic for both of them was in short “TV serials show stereotype women, should they change. Discuss”
So, coming to interview, I was 4th in my panel
Date: 12th March 2012
Time: 4:22 PM
.5 cause of all the current affairs I heard they were asking and some statistics questions like variance and some other stuff which I just don’t get. Also, there was no lady in my panel, damn!!
2 points thanks to IIM L interview, that’s it. I had no mock GD or mock interview.
There were 3 people in the panel:
Alumni (A): Young looking person probably in late 30s, looks cool and calm. He is seated on extreme left.
Professor 1 (P1): Probably in 60s, looks serious, doesn’t look like the guy who would return you a smile. He is sitting in the middle.
Professor 2 (P2): Late 50s, he smiles, looks like a person who is happy with his life. He is on the right.
Me (M): All my thoughts are in italic, just to make clear, what I am saying and what I am thinking.
M: Good Afternoon Sir
P1: Good afternoon, please take the seat.
There is a huge table between us, I have my folder in my hands, I look for a chance to pass it to them, but no one looks very much interested, they are looking at some documents or something else. I just keep it with me and sit down.
P1: What are you doing right now?
M: Sir, I am at 4th year IT-BHU, Ceramic Engineer. (Wasn’t clear enough)
M: I am currently in my 4th year at IT-BHU, doing Ceramic Engineering, though I am working as a Game Designer right now.
A: Game designing, such as games for EA Sports, Lan Gaming?
I have this cool smile on my face all this time, don’t know why but I guess it’s the word ‘Game’ that bring it to my face
M: Sir, I started my company in 2nd year Bright Ants with the aim to develop social games for all platforms starting with Facebook.
A: What are your views about LAN Gaming, EA Sports etc.
M: There is a difference between traditional games and online games, social games.
A: Online Games, so you mean games from Zynga?
M: Yes sir, I worked as a game designer in Zynga recently in December and January for 2 months. They had come to campus for recruitment of engineering profile, but during the interview it changed direction and I ended up as a game designer. As, they had never hired a fresher as a game designer so I was asked for an internship. I talked with my HOD and he gave me permission for some time.
A: So, what are your views about it?
M: Sir, Social gaming is here to stay, it’s not a bubble waiting to burst. Zynga few years back was considered nothing as compared to EA Sports which was 5 Billion dollar company. Recently, in December when Zynga IPO was launched it was valued at 10 Billion and since then the share price has increased from 10 USD to 14.65 USD.
A: So, you’re wasting your talent by doing an MBA.
I knew it was coming sooner or later, here comes the most important question, Why MBA?
M: Sir, as an MBA, I would learn a lot, it will help me learn and evolve as an individual.
A: I honestly can’t find one reason for you to do an MBA.
M: Sir, I have not done an MBA, so I don’t know about the course structure and what I am going to learn, but there would be a lot to learn not just from my teachers but also from my peers.
P3 looks quite happy, he has been happy throughout, maybe he just likes my face.
A: You’re not getting my point, there is no point for you to do a MBA, just run your company, you’re good at it, why become manager?
M: Sir, as an MBA, I would learn to better manage myself, my company, my team.
He looks somewhat satisfied, looks towards other professor. There is a silence for sometime. I intervene.
M: Also, 10 years down the line, I would like to take my family business to new heights.
I knew the conversation was going nowhere, and I did not want to come to Current Affairs or tech questions, my only bet was to take it towards Tourism industry, though I had not done anything for it, nor was I prepared but it still seemed a safe call. I knew at least why MBA would end now!!
3 sec pause, I was exploring the uncharted territory now, waiting for them to ask “What Business?”
P1: What business?
M: Hotel Business. We have 4 properties, 2 running, and 2 under development. We have recently tied up with Royal Orchid in Jodhpur. I assume they know the name Royal Orchid.
P1: Tourism is a risky business. Is there guaranteed income and revenue?
M: No sir, it depends on various factors, like for example in Rajasthan, it is dependent largely on international tourists. So, in case of a global epidemic like anthrax in early 2000, it was a big hit on industry. Also, if there are any terrorist threats in the country it affects directly to industry.
I was not paying attention to grammar, nor am I very good at it. So, you’re expected to see more mistakes in one paragraph then probably in a whole essay. That’s the way it works for me, I just keep saying something that makes my ideas or views clear enough.
P1: Isn’t it over crowded already?
M: Actually not, In India there is actually a need to increase the number of budget rooms. The global ratio of a luxury room to budget room is 1:7 where as in India it is only 1:1. So, we have a lot of scope for development here.
P1: Do you know how many are business or travel?
M: Sir, I don’t know the exact numbers, but it actually depends what place we are looking at, like in metro cities Delhi, Bangalore, business travelers are high, and in Rajasthan, Varanasi tourists are more.
My confidence was kind of sky rocketing at this moment, I knew I was timing it middle of bat.
P1: What is the future of this sector?
He looks serious all the time, I wonder if he’s ever going to smile. May be he just had a bad lunch.
M: Sir, it is a service based business, I personally feel it’s got huge untapped potential that we need to utilize. For example, when I was in Germany(I had to put it somewhere about my internship) last year, I used to travel a lot around Europe on weekends. So, they have so much developed their any small historical building, they will project it as a must see.
I was super excited this time, making all sorts of weird hand signs and facial expressions, kind of like telling a story.
As soon as you arrive at any station, they obviously have exceptional transportation system. But, they would give you these very good, creative pamphlets, brochure of their city, especially made for youth. Where as in India, even the great Chouhan Fort of Ajmer is degrading (the best word that came to my mind, I know I suck at vocabulary and everything related to English). We need a lot of efforts from government, individuals to promote Terrorism, O! I mean Tourism (I am laughing and so are they) definitely not terrorism.
A: you want to promote terrorism?
M: Laughing, literally No I am fine with tourism, no terrorism.
P1: Hmmm, but don’t you think it’s over exploitation, I mean when more people will go, it becomes damaged. So, in order to protect it, you need to stop tourism.
It sounded absurd, and I was confident that I could tackle this illogical conclusion.
M: Sir, I understand what you’re trying to say, for example, you reach on the top of Sand dunes in Jaisalmer, and you see coke bottles, wafer packets lying around, you won’t like it. You might like it the first time, but you won’t like to recommend it for next time. It becomes a onetime experience, I won’t be recommending it to my friends.
P1: So, you’re getting my point, you need to stop tourists to make it clean.
M: Sir, I personally believe everyone should take a break and travel around, relax a bit and enjoy their life.
I don’t know why I said those words; it was totally out of context. He shows a disappointed look.
P1: What I mean is you’re damaging the environment.
M: Sir, government is not doing adequate efforts. So, now it becomes the duty of the businessman to make sure they keep it clean, because their business is dependent on it.
I knew I was beating around the bush, how could I be trapped in such an illogical inference. I was losing some vital confidence here, but I knew I had to hold ground anyhow.
P1: You know even Mount Everest it getting dirty, the beautiful Ajanta and Ellora caves are not even close to what they were 10 years before. He gets a bit loud trying to prove his point.
M: Sir, I agree to with you on the problem , and If you are saying such a case in Ajanta and Ellora caves then it must be true, but your suggestion of stopping tourism will affect a lot of people who are dependent on it. Again I am talking non sense here, but whatever I am doing I make sure I at least look confident.
P1: That is not the issue, see tourism is like Petroleum, it’s a depletable resource, more you use it, it will not be available for future generations, like you use petrol, so it will end one day.
I have a real broad smile on my face.
M: Sir to me that sort of solution is not a solution, but rather not attempting the problem, you’re trying to run away from the problem, I am sure there is a better solution which is more efficient, we need to look at alternatives for effective usage.
I have no clue what I am saying, but I am saying it clear and I am sure Tourism is not Petroleum, so I would get some points soon.
P1: What is effective usage? Caves are dying!!
A flash of bright light, I got an idea. I am way more confident now. So, I start speaking a bit more affirmative, while making all sorts of weird hand signs and expressions
M: Sir, take the example of Eiffel Tower. You don’t let 1,000 people go top, you have to stand in a queue, wait for your turn, you have to preserve it. When people come down then the next group is allowed to go top, if they are done for the day, then nobody can go. They have different levels and charge differently according to each level. You don’t rush people in. I am saying the same thing again and again, yeah!! I got a point this time.
So, in our case if we cannot manage 1,000 people inside the case, we need to limit them. If we don’t have enough resources or man power to manage a large group, we keep it to a limit to make sure it’s not damaged any further due to overcrowding. This way we presever the scenic beauties for our future generations, make sure our natural resources don’t vanish and people enjoy tourism to it’s maximum potential
I knew I had nailed it here this time.
P1 and P2: And how would you distribute the tickets, first come first serve or auction based, because according to Supreme Court auction is the best form of distributing a resource which has supply and demand. See, there is demand for it and supply, so there should be auction?
I have a smile as usual, though I wonder where did this come from, weren’t we discussing Tourism and Petroleum.
M: I don’t think so, then you’re limiting the experience to the rich, everybody has equal right to travel, enjoy the beauty, have fun, so auction can’t be the method.
P2: You’re talking about experience, so a poor person who eats at Dhaba( mind you, lot of people eat at dhaba and they are not poor, but I decided to skip this one with him) should just go to the 5-star hotel and claim to have equal rights to that experience of a lunch at 5-star, you can’t limit him from that according to your logic.
Now I am smiling so wide, I have a look like “are you kidding me?”
M: Sir, when you are using a natural resource or something that belongs to everyone like Sand Dunes, or Caves, you cannot sell it on a higher price cause it belongs to everyone, but when I talk about a 5-star experience that’s what I have made, I have every right to sell it at whatever price I want. I am not forcing anybody to come and pay me for it, everyone is free to either use it or not use it, but because it belongs to me I have every right to charge whatever I want.
P3 nods his head and smiles, P2 has his looks.
P2: But, whatever you do, whenever there is a demand and there is a supply there would be black marketing and people would be willingly selling their places at higher prices. See, there are some temples which are free to visit, but they have long queues where you have to wait for hours or even days maybe, but if you’re willing to pay a luxury fee you can get entrance easily. So, whatever you do it will always happen.
I was wondering if they would get on the ethical question of if it’s right or wrong, because that would be a real tough nut to crack, but they did not ask it.
M: Sir, I agree with whatever you have said, I would like to point out a recent example about which I was reading recently. In Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary there used to be bookings online for travel visits. So, travel agents used to book online early and then sell their seats later on an exorbant prices. So, what they have done now is you need to have an ID proof for using your ticket later on. I think the same can be done in all cases where we want to protect the place from Black marketing. Anybody who wants to use it must bring in his ID-proof at the time of visiting. I think this will largely solve the problems.
I was happy nobody questioned the ethics of visiting temples by paying prices, relieved.
They all looked pretty satisfied now.
A: So, I am done sir.
P1: I am done too.
P2: But, you cannot let him have such a free ride, you have to put him under the grill.
3-5 Sec Pause
I am smiling, over confident look as usual. Kind of like “Bring it On”. I was wondering should I express Poker interest right now.
Right then, the thunder struck
A: Alright, so “What is Integration?”
I hear it the first time but he wasn’t clear. So I ask again hoping it’s not the ‘I’ word.
A: “What’s integration?”
M: Sir, integration is basically Summation of values over a period. I have this look like, yeah, cool, it’s this thing. Though it was pretty clear I was not in my comfort zone.
A: So, you know what’s integration right, you know it’s ‘dx’ and over the area under the curve basically.
M: Yes, I know.
A: So, can you please integrate “X^2 +2” from 0-2 without integrating but using summation.
M: I can take 10-20 seconds.
I take the paper with a pencil, start cribbing something on the paper, wondering why the hell I had to stuck up with integration, why would it come back to haunt me in my interview. Why do you always have to pay for your bad deeds? After, thinking about these thoughts for some time.
M: Sir, I am a bit confused, So I can’t actually integrate
He laughs off
A: Obviously, integrating directly is going to be very easy.
Take another 15 seconds wondering, the curve would go up. At 0 value is 2, at 1 value is 3 and at 2 value is 5. Can I approximate this thing somehow?
M: Sir, actually I am not able to focus right now on the question
A: He smiles, Why?
M: I don’t know, maybe it’s the interview pressure or something else, but my mind is not able to solve this one right now.
A: What exactly is going through your mind?
M: It’s just blank right now. Otherwise, I would have solved this one easily. Sir, I can give you an approximate answer.
A: Can you give an exact answer?
Only if I would have done something productive at that time, maybe only drawing the curve I would have solved this one, but, alas I had to wonder about Integration and its love with me.
A: Ok, what is differentiation?
M: Differentiation is basically rate-of-change-of..value.. of …curve. It is slope of curve.
Making sure I extend each vowel to it’s maximum limits, I answered in that tone.
A: Ok, So, can you differentiate Mod X Cube?
I start writing something on my paper. After 5 seconds.
A: Ok, can you differentiate Mod X?
I again start writing something. After 3 seconds
A: Do you know what Mod X is?
I start smiling loud, draw Mod X graph point it towards him
M: Yeah this one I know. Show it to him, with a way too big a smile in the lost cause.
He is also smiling.
A: So, can you differentiate it?
M: No, sir we cannot differentiate it because it has 2 values at 0.
I know it’s a noob answer, but, that is how my calculus is, I don’t get limits, and that sign of integration itself creeps me out. Why is that the case with me? It is a totally different story, completely beyond the scope of this interview.
A: How It has 2 values?
M: Sir, as on the positive side value is +1 and on the negative side value is -1. So, we cannot have a fixed value at 0, so we cannot differentiate it. Totally, non engineer style answer continues.
A: Don’t use the graph to explain, explain in terms of logic. Ok, tell me what can you differentiate?
M: Sir, we need the graph to be continuous to be differentiable (Seriously shows my lack of knowledge in the field, don’t think I was in pressure, it’s just that I don’t know even basic calculus).
A: And what is continuous?
This answer is going to be awesome.
M: Sir, continuous is that which we can differentiate.
I have a wide smile on my face, he laughs.
A: Don’t make a loop and even that is incorrect.
P1: You see that Mod X graph is continuous or not?
M: It is continuous.
M: Yes, so not necessarily continuous graphs can be differentiable, they should not have a sudden change in their slope.
P1: Listen, it’s like this, the limit RHS value is not equal to Limit LHS value, so we cannot have a single value.
I keep nodding my head heavily while saying yes sir, yes sir.
P1: You can also look at the graph and tell it.
M: Sir, I was explaining it from Graph, but he (I look at A) told me to explain without
graph. I wanted to say this only that the slope is not continuous.
M: Actually, sir I have been completely out of touch of integration from last 4 years, otherwise I used to be very good at this before.
I have a familiar smile on my face.
A, P1, P2: Thank you.
M: Thank you.
I stand to leave and notice that the folder was with me only the whole time. Damn, why did I not pass it in the beginning? I wonder if I should pass it now. Anyways, it’s already too late. I walk slowly towards the door, pause for .5 sec in between and then just go through it wondering Did I screw it up bad? What do you guys think? Let me know.
I missed out on a lot of things, few of the game design documents in my folder, one research report, my intern at IIM A, my independent applications, some cool projects. Pretty sure if I had passed that folder things would have been different. But, all’s well that ends. Can’t say ‘ends well’ here
Time: 4:50 PM
UPDATE: 11th April 2012
IIM Calcutta Interview: The Blood Bath
Profile: B. Tech. , Final Year, Electronics and Communication, Delhi Technological University (DCE).
10th/12th/Grad: 89%, 88.8%, 63%, CAT: 99.84 Percentile
There are three panelists, all males. Professor of Economics to my left (Econ), younger professor in front (Prof), alumnus to my right (Alum). I’m the second last to go in.
Alum: So why is there an extra N in your name?
Me: <Told> * He starts smiling*.
Prof: So did your life change?
Me: My life has been good lately, so I have no reason to complain. *All smile*
Prof: *Looks at my form* Everything is fine, why 63% in college? (Damn)
Me: Sir, only initially the scores were low, then they rose.
Prof: Yes, but why? (I try to underplay and move on. He pushes a lot)
Me: I was a topper throughout school, but there was resentment coz of missing a seat of a decent course at IIT by a small margin, so I neglected acads. Later I realised my mistake, scores have been rising consistently, scored 78% in the latest sem.
Alum: Missed kya, you mean rank nahi aayi? What did you get at IIT?
Me: Metallurgy at IIT Roorkee.
Alum: So Delhi Technological University… Admission was through rank or board exams. I tell AIEEE. He asks rank, I tell.
Alum: Which calls do you have?
Me: C, L, I, K
Alum: So Calcutta is your best shot.
Me: Yes, sir.
Alum: Okay tell me, will the normal curve touch the x axis?
Me: In the graphs we see, it does. May I use the notepad.
Alum: You’ll make the graph touch now. What’s the point.
Me: Sir I’m writing the equation. *I write the equation* It has to tend to infinity, so it’ll never exactly be zero, so no. Alum nods.
Econ: What is the standard form of Normal curve?
Me: Sir, N(0,1). Both nod.
Prof: *Stares at me deeply as if he can see through my soul* So, Why MBA?
Me: I want to have a venture of my own down the line. Given my experience from my internships, I would want to get into the social sector. So immediately after education, I want to get into business consulting to gain insight into the industries, gain exposure on solving problems, blah.. *Prof literally rolls his eyes*.
Alum: Why not invest now? You’ll invest Rs 10, make it 100. Turn 100 into 1000. That’s what an entrepreneur does.
Me: Sir, chances of failure are much higher without proper education and experience.
Alum: But you’ll lose only 10 Rs.
Me: Sir, there is an added cost of time and effort. And I still feel that I’ll be better off with proper education.
Prof: What are the qualities an entrepreneur must have?
Me: I start listing, he writes them down as I speak. First and foremost, Resourcefulness. Leadership. Creative thinking. Specialisation in a field. *Alum cuts me*
Alum: What is leadership?
Me: (After thinking): Sir, leadership is the art of extracting the best out of people based on their potential, and helping them align with their goals.
Alum: If you get an on-campus opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship from DTU, will you take it?
Me: Definitely not sir. I want to gain experience first.
Alum: That’s talking like an employee, not a leader.
Me: I wouldn’t want to take a hasty decision without equipping myself with the required skills. *Nods.*
Alum: Give an example of specialisation helping an entrepreneur.
Me: After thinking 5 secs. I briefly cite the example of Elon Musk, his specialization in physics, his education, his work on electric cars and space tech.
Prof: Give me an example where someone created something after creative thinking.
Me : <I begin to give the examples of Uber and Zomato, Deepinder Goyal being a strategy consultant.>
Prof cuts in: Tangible item batao. You are also from transport business (father’s business in form), you know these are aggregators.
Me: <I give the example of wearable tech for women security by a startup of our college.>
Prof: What if I hug the girl and the device gets pressed?
Me: Sir, the device needs to be pressed twice in quick succession. So that’s highly unlikely.
Prof: Haan still, I hug her and it gets pressed twice?
Me: There wasn’t any solution yet while I was working with them. Later it must have been solved. Probably the distress signal can be cancelled by the app to prevent hoax calls. That’s a viable solution. *Alum nods*
Alum: Is there any tech which revolutionised the electronics industry?
Me: Sir, transistor. When in 1920s they were developed, *Prof cuts, says don’t tell stories*
Me: Sir, it is coz of transistors that we have such high computational capacity in our devices today.
Alum: I think it’s the bulb. It doubled your day. Without that, transistor would never have been made.
Me: Sir, transistor could have been developed… during the day also?… 😛 (Both smile) Transistor would have come up later, but it would have.
Alum: Bulb made people develop and use electrical energy. Without it, electricity wouldn’t have been used. *Some more discussion follows*
Me: That is true. In that case, I agree, sir.
Prof : *Goes through my form thoroughly. Visibly annoyed at college marks*: Everything else is fine. Tell me why acads are low. This is an indication that you’ll not do well at Calcutta.
Me: Sir, I agree that I went wrong. In the first half, they were low. Later I picked up and put in efforts. Scores have risen.
Prof: Show me your marksheets.
No. That is the only thing I’ve dreaded for a month. A part of me dies as I hand over the folder. Prof takes out every single marksheet from the folder and scans.*
Prof: What happened in 3rd sem. What is all this? What, 42%..?! …46% in 4th..?!
<I quickly tell that it’s 60% in both now, coz I cleared the backlogs, embarrassed at myself as I say it.>
Me: Sir I genuinely didn’t think these subjects would help me. I didn’t see a future in them, so I didn’t study. I did realise my mistake later. I retook the exams, studied over and above the academics, made my base strong.
*Alum Asks the subjects with backlogs. Probability and Stats is one. Econ says you won’t survive C without maths. I say my maths is strong. Full marks in 10,12th. Had a backlog in Probability n Stats, so studied again. Plus studied stats for 6 months alag se from edx and Coursera.*
Alum: So your base is strong in PSP now that you’ve studied. Shall I ask questions, will you be able to answer?
Me: I nod, yes sir, I should be able to.
*By now, I realize the interview is tanked, there is no coming back. I have to say yes, that I’ll be able to answer.*
Econ: *Asks 2-3 basics. I answer correctly* What’s volatility?
Me: I don’t know sir.
Econ: But you’ve studied stats. Wasn’t this there?
Me: No sir, I’ve never studied volatility.
Econ: But you’ve heard stock market volatility. (I insist I don’t know. He pushes further.)
Me: If you’ll allow me to make an educated guess, it could mean the tendency of the stock to deviate from the mean.
Alum: Does the stock market have a mean?
Me: Yes sir, it should have, mean reversion is a method used in algorithmic trading.
Prof cuts: Isn’t deviation from mean standard deviation. So how is it different?
Me: I talk about SD. Then say I’m sorry I don’t know about volatility, though they should be related.
Prof: So for you, volatility and standard deviation are the same.
Econ: Then how is stock market index calculated in Sensex?
Me *recalling what I had read. I checked this specifically, but forgot*:
Sir, I think it’s based on indices of top 30 companies. They are dynamic in nature. Etc etc. (I know I went wrong somewhere, waiting for them to point it out.)
*More discussion follows*
Prof: That’s comparing apples and oranges. You can’t do that.
Alum: Are you guessing or do you know it?
Me: I’m guessing sir. I don’t know about stock markets. (Shit. Sounds like the last nail in the coffin.)
*I feel like a chimp, may I leave? Can we start this all over again, is there a reset button? I thought I was better than this.*
Prof: So what are your hobbies?
I’m glad they didn’t end the interview. They’re asking more, must mean something. Or they’re just getting sadistic pleasure. I’m clueless.
Me: Playing chess and watching movies.
Alum: So in chess, (I’m hoping he’ll ask a game related technical question). Why is a rook called a rook? King is king, queen is queen, why is rook a rook. (Fuck this shit now)
Me: *Giving an I-don’t-know, I’m-thinking-deeply look*
Alum: There must be a reason.
Me: Sir, it should have to do with the king’s army, considering rest of the pieces. Alum nods. I know that the 8 pawns have professions farmer, doctor etc.
Econ, Prof smile: Oh, we didn’t know that! Interesting!
Alum: So why is there a bishop in the army?
Me: Sir, historically priests and religious people have had influence over kings and queens. They have been the right hands of the royalty.
Alum: Do you know anything about European history?
Me: Yes sir, the church was powerful. (Thinking chess should be older, and it originated in India, not Europe. But the form we play today was developed in Iran or Europe, not India. I keep shut)
Alum: And they engaged in wars.
Me: Yes sir, the crusades. *Nods*
Prof: What type of movies do you like?
Me: Sir, almost all genres.
Prof: Which movie won the most oscars?
Me: Titanic ….
Prof cuts: How many?
Me: It’s either 9 or 11. [it’s 11]
Prof: Is it the only movie to have won that many…9 or 11?
Me: There’s another one. Either Ben Hur or Casablanca [There are 3- Titanic, Ben Hur and LOTR, 11 each]
Alum: What’s the oldest movie you’ve watched?
Me: 12 Angry men, 1957.
Alum: Have you watched Mughal-e-Azam.?
Me: Yes sir, as a kid I did. (Almost immediately regretting saying that)
Alum: When was that released?
Me: I think early 1940s.
Me: I think so, but not sure. [It’s 1960]
Alum: Isn’t that your oldest movie then?
Me: Smiling. Oh, yes sir. He smiles back.
Econ: Wasn’t it in colour?
Me: Initially it was black and white with one song coloured. Later it was released in full colour.
Alum: Where did you do your industrial training?
Me: I talk about my internship at CIIE, the business incubation centre of IIM-A.
3-4 questions follow. They keep a straight face, don’t seem impressed.
*At this point I simply want to leave. I pray they don’t end the interview here. If they ask more, means I’m going right somewhere, I got something going for me. I don’t know what, but something*
Econ: Gives a math question while other 2 talk. Sum of N terms without formula.
Me: Sir it was a method famously developed by Gauss when he was a child, write series in reverse and add. *I write it and show. Econ cuts, okay okay fine.*
Prof: Can you add N^2 series.? I take 2 mins. Prof joins back in. Econ tells I solved the first one.
Prof: Have you read it before (Sum of N)?
Me: Yes sir.
Prof: On PagalGuy?
Me: No sir, long ago I read it generally.
I’m still stuck on N^2, trying to solve it using cubic series . Econ says it’s ok, leave it.
Econ writes fibonacci series, asks me what series is it its significance.
Me: Fibonacci series sir. (You’re mocking me now?)
Econ: What is its significance?
Me: *I recall the spiral photo made with the series…. Of a girl splashing water with her hair in that fibonacci spiral*
Sir, it makes a graph like this. I draw. It’s a logo also that I saw. [Dept of Stats and Data Sciences at UT Austin used it somewhere.]
Econ: Yes, right. What is it called, some significance?
Me: *I think and think and it hits me* Is it ….the Golden ratio?
Prof: Leave it. We asked this yesterday too. You’ve asked someone.
*What the actual fuck. You got to be kidding me. I prepared a year for this interview, and it has come down to this? I somehow manage to put up a helpless smile.*
Prof: I think we’re done. Do you have any questions for us?
Me: Sir, I’d just like to say one thing. I know my college acads are low and I’ve faced the brunt for that. I’ve had to work extremely hard in the last 2 years to make up for it. I made a mistake once, so I know not to make it again. I’m not going to squander an opportunity again and I’ve learnt that.
Prof *Much more calm tone now*: See, we’re here to select people, not reject them. It’s all relative. You’ll not get a 3rd sem again at IIM. You can’t make a comeback. But we believe life gives a second chance…..I nod.
Alum: Do you have any questions for us?
Me: No thank you sir, nothing as such.
We exchange pleasantries.
Prof: You’ve been smiling all through. Take a toffee.
I thank and take.
Prof: Uhhh, take another one!
Feels like he’s absolutely pitying me by now. I smile and say it’s okay.
Prof: Arre..Take It.
I take another, thank them and leave.
Let me give a brief introduction about my profile,
99.86% in CAT 2015, B.Tech. ICT 2013 passout from DAIICT, had around 32 months work experience teaching quantitative aptitude, average 10th, 12th and grad scores. This is for IIM-Calcutta
Panel had 3 interviewers (let us call them P1, P2 and P3, P1 was in fiftees, P2, P3 were in thirtees probably).
P1: So, Shreyansh, you are an academician, where do you work?
Me: Answered, told that I teach quant at a CAT coaching institute (interrupted)
P1: So cracking CAT must have been easy for you?
Me: Not exactly sir, Quant was easy as I teach this subject but there are other aspects of CAT examination which weigh 66% in the examination. I had to really work hard to prepare for verbal ability and logical reasoning.
P1: So, what have you learnt in Verbal, vocabulary?
Me: No sir, (felt sad saying this), although I have read word power.
P2: So, mostly reading novels and books?
Me: YES. ( I said yes and stopped, there was a 10 sec pause after this, after the interview, I realized this was my chance to talk about all the novels that I had read and planned to talk about, but what did I answer? “Yes” :facepalm:)
P3: Okay Shreyansh, since you are a maths teacher, we are going to ask you some tough mathematics questions, as compared to other candidates, but we will start with easy ones and later increase the level gradually.
Me: Smiled, nodded.
P3: Prove that sum of first N natural numbers is…. whatever it adds up to be.
Me: Took notepad given by him, proved by the principle of mathematical induction, spoke all the stuff while I was writing, handed the notepad back to P3. (P3 looked satisfied.)
P1: (while going through my transcript) You have scored excellent grade in cryptography, do you know what RSA encryption is, and write an equation for the same?
P1: Whats the principle of RSA encyption based upon?
Me: It makes an assumption that product of large number is tough to factorize again.
P1: You are missing a very important aspect, it is product of large primenumbers.
Me: (Amazed by P1’s interest in the subject, ) yes, sir, it is prime numbers. There is an RSA challenge being held every year to find out the complexity of the problem and improvise the method.
P1: What’s RSA full form?
Me: S stands for Shamir, R for Ron, it has been a long time, not able to remember exactly
P1: Its Ron Rivest-Shamir-Adleman
Me: Yes sir.
P2: Okay another maths question for you, a and b are odd numbers, a>b. By what largest number, a^2-b^2 will surely be divisible by?
Me: worked it out in head, told its 8.
P2: Please explain how you reached to 8? (I hadn’t written anything till then)
Me: Wrote detailed explanation, assumed a= 2n1 – 1 and b =2n2-1 and proceeded. Explained correctly.
P3: Answer is correct but you are quite slow for being a mathematics faculty!
Me: Smiling, sir I got the answer very quickly, but to prove it is 8, proper steps need to be carried out.
P2: Do you follow world news?
P2: Whats Syria refugee crisis?
Me: Answered. (Partially correct)
P2: What is your opinion on Patel Agitation? (As I am working in Ahmedabad)
Me: They are asking for reservation, but Patels are a rich community in parts of Gujarat… (inturrupted)
P2: Everyone says the same, reservation should not be there.
P1: How is Anandiben Patel’s work?
Me: Answered (inturrupted again)
P3: Okay this is the last question for you, as you said you have improved on logical reasoning, show us your reasoning skills. (Drew a problem statement on a piece of paper, something related to constructions of flyovers and different styles of flyovers) There are two styles of flyovers I have drawn, analyze and mention pros n cons of both.
Me: Stared at the diagrams for 1 minute, explained.
P3: Correct, exactly because of this, one is constructed mostly in Mumbai, other in Bangalore.
P1, P2, P3: Okay Shreyansh, we are done.
Me: Smiling, thank you sir.
Verdict: CONVERTED 😀
I didn’t have calls from IIM A/B/I/S/SPJ even after the percentile due to past academic performance, but managed to convert my best call IIM-C. The interviewers were nice, I smiled throughout the interview except the cryptography RSA questions part and hence sailed through. Right after the interview, I remembered all the things I could have said, 2 different proofs I could have shown for the proof asked, books and novels I could have told about that I read, but in the end, it all works out for the best. Right, when I thought I was out of the game, even though I didn’t know, I was completely in the game. #JokarForLife
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