IIFT Interview Experience – Shinjini Goswami

My interview took place in Ahmedabad. There were three interviewers on my panel. I was the second last on my list.

Interviewer: Hello, good afternoon. I see from your profile that you are a computer engineer. Then why do you want to do an MBA?

Me: My interests lie in coding and data analytics. Since I worked previously on a project for consumer behaviour, I want to use that to further collect and analyse data to gauge reactions to products and marketing strategies. I believe an MBA will help me in this endeavour.

I: Okay. So what do you like to do in your free time?

Me: I like to read and listen to music.

I: What have you read?

Me: I like to read fiction but recently, I have also started to foray into non-fiction by starting to read Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell.

I: That’s good. Can you tell me a little more about this book?

Me: So Outliers is basically an insistence that success is not just about innate ability. It’s combined with a number of key factors such as opportunity, meaningful hard work (10,000 hours to gain mastery), and your cultural legacy. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have. Gladwell brings alive his assertions primarily through the use of individual stories of triumph.

I: So what do you think are the key points of this book?

Me: It starts with the fact of the pattern in birth dates of national ice hockey players in the US. There is a glimmer of talent identified, and then the door to opportunity is opened-up to the person (and not to others). That allows the gifted person the time and access to coaches, equipment etc to develop his/her skills, thus dramatically magnifying the difference between those with opportunity and those without.

Outliers are those people/groups who break the norms.

In looking at lots of different areas, from computing, business through sport, to music there seems to be a magic number of 10,000 – the number of hours ‘masters’ of their chosen area have put in. Also, Where, and the year you were born can influence your luck/opportunity. In the list of the richest people in history, 14/75 are American’s born in the 1860s and 1870s. This was when the industrial revolution was taking off, and the railways were being built across America and Wall Street started up. The same happened in Silicon Valley. All the top IT entrepreneurs were born between 1953 and 1956.

Those born in the 1890’s- to early 1900 were less fortunate than those born after 1913. These people faced the great flu epidemic, the 1st World war, the great depression, and then were still young enough to be recruited into the 2nd world war (assuming one of the previous events hadn’t taken them out!).

Other experiments involve those about involved parenting. Sociologist, Annette Lareau studied 3rd graders in a long term ethnographic study. She concluded that involved parents vs. non-involved parents were the key difference that led to an individual’s success in life. Involved parents talk to their kids more and critically provide more opportunity for them (by taking them to museums, putting them into summer school, helping them with their homework etc). They also develop a sense of ‘entitlement’, so less likely to settle with the first ‘No’.

Meaningful work makes you want to ‘put in the hours’. Sociologist, Louise Farkas studied the family tree of many immigrants and found that their offspring became professionals. She put it down to the fact that it was because of their humble origin, not in spite of it that they did well – i.e. they had been raised in a family where hard work was valued and practised.

I: Okay. Any other interesting book that you have read?

Me: Yes, Sir. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely, as a part of my project on consumer behaviour.

I: Tell me more about it.

Me: The book basically tells us that we are far less rational than we think. How we decide what things are worth to us, what influences the way we experience the world and how we tackle long-term goals are all shockingly irrational, and this book sheds some light on just how incoherent we are, so you can be more reasonable in the future. We’re wired to compare things, and our brains do so in the easiest way possible.

We compare what’s right in front of us, not necessarily what we should think about or look at that might not be around at the time.

I: Okay. So based on this, let me ask you something. What is the difference, from a consumer behaviour point of view, between individual and organisational buying?

Me: Individual buying allows for a lot more biases to creep into the decision because in the end, an individual is not rational. Since buying in large organisations is usually a collective decision, a lot of the bias is reduced if not completely eliminated.

I: Okay. So what phone do you use currently?

Me: A Samsung phone, Sir.

I: Right. Why do you think Samsung phones are so popular these days while Nokia has been almost completely wiped out?

Me: Sir, I think it is mainly because of Nokia’s inability to keep up with the changing times where people were more comfortable with graphic user interfaces and simple icons rather than text-based interfaces and nested menus. Also, their phones had button interfaces but the phones today are touchscreen. So that helps.

I: Ok, thank you, Shinjini.

Me: Thank you, Sir.


You can also watch the re-enactment of this real interview experience here –