Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview Experience - 3

This time I was interviewing for an institute in Western India. As is customary with every interview, there was a hint of nervousness in me. Moreover this being an early morning affair I felt a little disadvantaged, I being a nocturnal creature. With the reporting time at 8:45 I reached there at 7:30. A couple of people had arrived even before me.

The process started a couple of minutes late with the arrival of a prof who announced the list for a panel. I was on that list but I was the last guy interviewing with that panel. Generally the notion is that the last guy interviewing with a panel gets the least time and attention. So I was a little disappointed. Anyways, we were all taken upstairs and asked to wait till the rooms were setup. This particular institute asked the candidates to write a small essay in about 10 minutes. People had noted that this was the most stressing thing with most people unable to complete the write-up. But I could not believe my luck, when I saw a prof roaming with the topic in hand and showing it off coolly. Apparently, he was holding his stack of papers with the bottomside up and the topic was there for all to see. Now the only thing was that this could be a trap. Still I had to start thinking in case this indeed was the topic.

Soon we were called in and asked to put in our papers in order. Then the essay topic was put up. It was the same as I had seen earlier - "Democracy is the best form of governance". I was also excited with the topic because a couple of days earlier I had a discussion with ashkd on this same blog about democracy. So starting with Abraham Lincoln's quote, I discussed the positives and negatives of democracy. Finally I ended with opining in favour of democracy and with a couple of suggestions to make it better. I felt it was an ok writeup which would just serve the purpose.

Now it was a long wait for me. I was feeling bored outside with others trying to get into the interview mode or trying to read up more and more for the interview. After about 45 minutes Kunal (one of the dudes from IITK), the first guy on our panel was through with his interview. And then Ruchi (again from IIT K) also came in. She had her interview in afternoon. So we all decided to go to Barista. I think now that it was the wisest decision possible. Helped me calm my nerves given that I am a cold coffee guzzler. And I was back in time with the person slated before me just waiting for his turn to walk in.

Soon it was my turn to go in. I straightened my suit and got ready with the folder in hand. I walked in and was shown the seat. There were 2 panelists - let us call them P1 and P2. They had my forms in their hands.

P1: So what do you beside academics?
Me: Talk about reading contemporary fiction - Chetan Bhagat, Bhaduri, Raheja et al.

P1: Why? What do you like?
Me: Blah blah.

P1: Have you read all of Chetan Bhagat?
Me: Yeah.

P1: Which do you like the most and why?
Me: Five point someone. Some more blah blah.

P1: (Looking at the form) What is this BQC? Bournvita Quiz Contest?
Me: Yes. Went on to the Quarter Finals on TV and then lost out.

P1: So you interested in quizzing?
Me: Was. Now in college I am more into programming and organizing festivals. Talk about Techkriti marketing.

P2: What did you do with all that money?
Me: Blah Blah.

P2: You won this GD contest. Was it a national level thing? How many teams?
Me: Some more blah blah.

P1: Ok you have your interests in technology and have all the experience. Then why MBA?
Me: Blah blah - I serve the old wine in a new bottle.

P2: What is your degree in M.Tech.?
Me: Computer Science and Engineering

P2: No specialization? In Madras they have B.Tech. in Civil Engg and M.Tech. in some specialized area.
Me: Some blah blah.

P2: Ok do you have some industrial training as well?
Me: Yeah. Talk about Microsoft internship.

P2: What exactly did you do there?
Me: Some blah about setup and stuff.

P2: So you actually went there?
Me: Yeah.

P2: How many interns in all?
Me: On this project just one. Overall 11 people from India.

Then some more discussion about the work that I did follows.

P2: Though it is trivial. Still tell me about the optimization conditions in a single variable function.
Me: (Trying to be smart) Talk about point of inflection and 2nd diff being zero. I draw some curves and try to explain. Some discussion follows.

P2 is in deep thought now.

P2: Ok. Draw the graph of x to the power 4.
Me: (Doing the math and trying to draw the graph.)

P2: Do the math later and draw the graph first.
Me: (Draw it)

P2: Now does your condition not fail? Why?
Me: Yes. In this case we need to go to the third derivative and so on.

P1: (jumping in) I am not a technical guy but please tell me the slope of the graph at the points that I have marked.
(Hands over a piece of paper to me with a simple graph and 5 - 6 points marked on it)
Me: Tells him the slope and the points of non-differentiability.

P1: (to P2) Anything else?
P2: No.

P1: Do you have any venture ideas?
Me: Not really. Then I talk about my thesis work and its potential as a venture idea.

P1: How many venture ideas come out of Mtech research? Why?
Me: Blah.. blah..

P1: Ok. Thanks. Pick up 2 toffees for the long wait.
Me: (Pick up toffees and walk out)

After the interview I decide to hang around for a while and after 5 minutes P2 walks out. I walk towards him and he starts talking.

P2: You had an AIR of 124.
Me: Yes. 126.

P2: Why did you take five year programme at Kanpur?
Me: Four year thing was over before that. And some more blah.

P2: Ohh. How many seats in Kanpur? When did it close?
Me: Some blah.

P2: So Kanpur is nationally the first choice then?
Me: Yes.

Me: Ask him about his profile.
While he is answering Abhiraj, THE dude from IIT K, comes from behind - "Interview ho gaya?" (Interview over?)

Me: (Nodding) Yeah.
Then Abhiraj realizes the situation and backs off a little.

P2: So you guys together?
Me: Yeah. We are from Kanpur so waiting for each other.

P2: Ok.
Me: Thanks.

And finally the whole interaction with the panel is over. Overall a decent experience. Was able to talk about a lot of stuff that I would have liked the interview board to know.

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