IIT Bombay! The name is enough to induce an excitement of the highest order in every Indian, no matter when, why or how you hear it. And if there is even the slightest chance of your name being associated with the prestigious institute, you feel much more than just excitement, a feeling that cannot be put in words. I experienced the same when I was shortlisted for the interview process of SJMSOM, IIT Bombay. Was this my opportunity to get into the IIT ecosystem and spend two years there? Was this interview going to fulfill my dream of pursuing an MBA from one of the best colleges in the country? Was this the impetus I needed for my dream career? Well, not surprisingly, the answer to every question was a resounding Yes.
Unlike other B-schools in India, SJMSOM conducts all its interviews on the campus only. A sufficient window is provided to choose the day and time as per your convenience (out of the available four days with three slots each) and accommodation is also provided at a very nominal rate, if needed. I booked myself the morning slot on a Friday. I did not want to miss this opportunity and hence made sure that I immersed myself in the preparation for the interview process.
As I had not opted for the accommodation provided by the college, I had to start early in order to report to the venue on time. I was accompanied by my father and after having a sumptuous breakfast, we left for the campus. We reached the IIT main gate, showed the call letter to the security, and entered the campus. One thing every person notices at this point is the high contrast in the environment inside and outside the campus. It’s like you enter a no pollution, no traffic, cold planet in a matter of seconds. The surrounding greenery enraptures you. The life inside the campus is completely opposite to what it is (or heard of) in Mumbai. Nevertheless, as we drove through the dense cover of trees, we passed through hostels, guest houses, a restaurant, and multiple other buildings to arrive at the awaited venue where the interview process would take place.
The most peculiar and unique thing about the admission process at SJMSOM is that it is completely student-driven (except conducting the interviews, of course) and thus the aspirants feel a bit more relaxed during the process. The interview process was being conducted at the Victor Menezes Convention Centre (VMCC), a four-storey building with commendable architecture and a state of the art infrastructure. We were made comfortable in one of the rooms and the giant screen displayed the list of documents and the order in which they needed to be arranged. In addition, if someone forgot to print the forms or documents, the AdCom (Admissions Committee) took it upon themselves to arrange for the same. This was something that I felt was a good initiative on their part as it took off some of the load from the candidates. Instead of worrying about the documents, they could be relaxed and focus on their WAT and PI. After some time, we were moved to the neighboring room for the WAT. The process was well organized and hustle-free as we were given name tags with a unique number and just had to find the corresponding seat. The instructions were then displayed on the screen before starting the WAT. Fifteen minutes later, my confidence had increased by quite a margin as I felt that I had done quite well at the WAT.
I returned to the initial room with a big smile on my face. We were then informed that snacks had been served in the lobby and we were free to enjoy it! Well, this gesture needed a mention as it was certainly a first among the many interview processes that I had been a part of. As we returned to the room, we were divided into panels of twelve each for the interview process. This is where I noticed the efficiency of the AdCom. Instead of making everyone wait for their turn for the interview, the last six candidates in each panel were informed to get their documents verified and the first six were asked to be ready for the interviews. Simultaneously, animated movies were being played on the screen which eased off the tension and made us mentally ready for the interviews.
Three people from my panel, including me, were called for the interview process by a volunteer who escorted us outside the interview room. As we waited outside, the volunteer politely initiated a conversation with us and asked about our backgrounds. He then informed us about the interview panel, which consisted of a professor from SOM, another from IIT B and an alum of the college. He gave us a few tips on what the interviewers were expecting out of us. Once someone was done with their interview, he also asked them to share their experience with us so that it could help us. He kept the conversation flowing to keep us calm. Soon, it was my turn and I was called in.
I entered the room and greeted the interviewers. The interview began with the usual introduction. Thereafter, it went quite smoothly as the panel was kind enough and did not stress me out. I was asked a varied range of questions. Questions related to my work experience were asked quite a bit. My people management skills were tested and so was my engineering knowledge. I was also asked questions about the current happenings in the country as well as around the globe. Each of the panelists asked questions based on their area of expertise – the alum about my experience in the corporate world, the IIT-B professor about my technical knowledge and the SOM professor about general awareness and my inclination towards management. The interview experience was quite pleasant and I didn’t even realize how the time passed. After my interview was done, I too shared my experience with the candidates waiting outside. I was then on my way to get my documents verified.
On returning, I sat with people from my panel and we discussed about our experiences before I was called for document verification. The volunteers for the verification process were very patient as the candidates, under pressure, tend to make a mess of their documents folder. Each document was diligently verified, the required entries or corrections were made in the spreadsheets and an OK mark was finally made. I asked the coordinators about any more formalities that were pending to which I was told that I was free to leave after completing the feedback form.
The whole process took no more than 2.5 hrs which was the fastest amongst the ones which I had been part of. Also, not just the pace, the overall management, communication and the flow of the interview process is what impressed me the most. The effort put by the AdCom of SJMSOM was clearly visible and honestly, this was a unanimous opinion of most of the candidates. I then wandered around the campus for a bit, after which I left with a hope to come back soon and this time for a longer period!