IIM Ahmedabad Interview Experience – Aviral Bhatnagar

The interview season is in the air, and while there is no cookie cutter formula to do it right, we are going to do a series on interview experiences of current b-school students.

We hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect and not expect.

Name of interviewee: Aviral Bhatnagar

Venue: The Orchid, Mumbai
Date: 10.02.2014


The IIM Ahmedabad Interview: Season 1

It was a dream, and it still feels like one.

CAT 2013 AggrInterview: | Verbal: 100.00 | Quant: 99.44
Profile: X ICSE 2008 (95.00) | XII Maharashtra Board HSC (Science) 2010 (84.7) | BTech Engineering Physics IIT Bombay 2014 (85.4) | Work-Ex:0

Extra-curricular: National Business Plan Competition winner, Startup core team Member, Institute Literary Arts Secretary with Organisational Color, National Level Quiz winner, International Quiz participant, Case Competition national runner-up.

Panel Members: One young gentleman (P1) and another older gentleman (P2). The young gentleman was on the left and I think he was an alumnus of IIT Bombay (he knew about where the lake was etc.)

Walk in, P2 is at the door and takes me inside. I take my seat, I was quite peaceful, had chit chatted with them a little bit before the PI. I was the first person of my panel (and I think the first person to be interviewed by IIM Ahmedabad)

Episode 1: The one with Pleasantries.

P1: So you seem to have run out of space for the essay on your teacher, do you want to add something else? It looks like you ran out of space
Me: No, I just overshot a bit, I don’t have anything to add.
P1: Are you sure?
Me: Yes.

P1 rummaging through my file. I see he needs help.
Me: Can I take out my certificates.
P1: Please do so
I take out my certificate along with the magazine made by our startup and give it to them.

Episode 2: The WAT SWOT analysis

P2: How do you think you did on them? Do you want to discuss something more, or should we move on?
Me: No sir, I think I wrote decently well enough
P2: Okay, so do you know anything about such problems (with reference to the case) in present day India?
Me: No, I can’t think of any. But I am aware of this one. (Pause, so I continue). There was this issue concerning Vedanta (wasn’t there in the case) trying to get a captive bauxite mine.
P2: So where was this?
Me: It was in Odisha, and the tribals opposed the move. It was given as a verbal confirmation by the government, and Vedanta invested a lot of money in it. But this issue cropped up and the tribals the MoEF opposed it, so it was disallowed.

Episode 3: The one about Home 1.0 and 2.0

P1: Okay, so you’re from IIT Bombay, what is your favourite place?
Me: Lakeside (Powai Lake) and Hillside (Sameer Hill)
P1: Which lake Powai or Vihar?
Me: Powai Lake.
P1: Why not Vihar? You’re in which hostel?
Me: Hostel 4.
P1: So isn’t there a road near Hostel 4 to Vihar Lake (Here is where I guessed he is an alum.)
Me: Yes, but it’s restricted now.

P1: Hmm, so where do you get potable water from in IIT?
Me: There is pipeline that passes by my hostel, I am not sure if it carries potable water from Vihar.
P1: Hmm, so how does Mumbai get potable water? What are the other lakes?
Me: I know of these two and Vasai Lake (which is tiny, couldn’t think of anything else.)
P1: Okay, so you’re from Pune, where does Pune get its water from?
Me : (Damn!) There is water carried by tankers from the Mulshi Dam area.
P1: So what about Khadakvasla?
Me: (Using sense to come up with something which couldn’t be verified) My area gets it from Mulshi, the other area of the city gets it from Khadakvasla. (Which is sort of true!)
P1: Okay, so you stay in Viman Nagar, what are the landmarks there?
Me: Sir, there are a lot of hotels that have come up recently, it’s become like a hotel road. Malls, and the air force base.

Episode 4: The one with the Case

P1: Okay, so you join IIM A and want to get into hospitality, what are the parameters that you will use to judge a restaurant? (Placements case prep FTW!)
Me: (using paper) Footfall. (Was going to add more stuff)
P1: Okay, tell me about hotels.
Me: Sir, occupancy in peak season and off season, the number of professional engagements like this one organised by IIM A (chuckle in the head.)

Episode 5: The one with Physics, Chemistry and a TV

P2: (Interrupts) Okay. So you talk about your chemistry teacher who had an impression on you. Why the change from Physics to Chemistry?
Me: I did both Chemistry and Physics for JEE.
P2: Right, right. But you chose Physics right, what was the reason?
Me: Nowadays Physics has become the node of major understanding of the sciences. Even Chemistry has become more of Physics and more of Chemistry. I was seeing this interview with the Bharat Ratna CNR Rao on Walk the Talk with Shekhar Gupta. Shekhar Gupta enters this lab and says “where are the Bunsen burners?” and CNR Rao says that we now do more of Physics, Quantum Physics and Schrodinger’s equation. So, Chemistry has become more about manipulation of molecules understanding their effects on a quantum level and so on and so forth
P1: Hmm. So I am a layman who thinks Physics and Chemistry are different. Can you give me an example of where they are being used together?
Me: Sir, Semiconductors. We understand the behaviour of the matter using the Physics, Quantum Physics etc. and choose between various elements depending on the properties of the two.
P1: You seem to be forcing physical and chemical properties against each other, aren’t you?
Me: No. Physics is the understanding of the behaviour of the matter while chemistry is the macroscopic manifestation of this behaviour (I have no idea how I came up with this!)

Episode 6: The one with the shot in the dark

P1 and P2 look at each other.
P1: Hmm, okay. So can you give me an example of materials used in Semiconductors?
Me: Silicon, Germanium Arsenic.
P1: So any new elements or materials?
Me: (Thinking) Some variant using Carbon, I can’t exactly recall. Graphene! (Phew!)
P1: Hmm, so can you tell me a semiconductor manufacturing company in India?
Me: (Dafuq!) Texas Instruments?
P1: But don’t they have only an R&D lab in Bangalore?
Me: (No idea if the manufacturing facility is there) I think it is there
P1: A pilot facility of some sort?
Me: Yes I think so (No clue!)
P1: What are the other manufacturing facilities of Texas Instruments?
Me: Sir, the US
P1: What about Taiwan?
Me: (Facepalm) Yes, yes Taiwan also.

Episode 7: The one where you are on a TV Show in a TV Show

P1: So what is this Brain World Cup that you participated in? Is it something like the Olympics? I haven’t heard of it, it should be quite popular, shouldn’t it?
Me: Yes it is. Very popular in Japan, but not telecast worldwide. It is a quiz competition that is held inter-varsity with participants from Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, etc. It was actually televised before the Olympic games in Japan.

Episode 8: The one with Gravitas

P1: Hmm, so where did you do your internship?
Me: Sir I was working on developing an equity portfolio allocator at Gravitas, as a risk analyst intern. Gravitas is a risk management and technological co-sourcing firm.
P1: What was the goal of your internship?
Me: My project leader asked me to develop a tool that was targeted at retail investors. So I had to make a tool that was cost effective. I used global data sources such as Yahoo instead of Bloomberg which is a paid data source. Using this I made a tool with a simple intuitive interface coded in VBA with Excel as a front end.
P1: Okay, so if you had to choose between hedge fund management and this economic policy outlined in the essay, what would you choose?

Episode 9: The one with Strategic Importance

Me: Sir, firstly I have an inclination towards strategy management consulting and I would like to work there and not a hedge fund
P2: (I guess I wasn’t clear enough) What does strategy management consulting have to do with this?
Me: I was saying that I would choose strategy management consulting over the hedge fund and it would be a choice between this and the economic policy. I have got placed at Monitor Deloitte, which is a strategy management consulting firm.

Episode 10: The one with the Masquerading Policy Maker

P1: Okay, so elaborate.
Me: I think the environment is very important to us, and so is this policy. I have a few friends working on Energy policy making, so I have had discussions with them. The environment is something that will influence our lives (realising that I am going too much on the environment thing). Parallely, the economy is also important to drive growth for the country. If we need to progress we need to push our facilities and drive growth for more prosperity.
P1: Hmm, go on
Me: Sir, I think we need to strike a balance between the two through good legislature and policies that are inclusive. (Back to my environment crap) I think when they say they are saving the earth and saving the world, I think it is more about saving humanity. We as a race are the most affected by environmental changes, and not the earth, which has been through great variations. For example, if we see Shanghai, life has become miserable because of the smog. We must progress along with taking care of how the environment is affected. This will only be possible with a strong policy that takes care of various parameters, sustainably.

Episode 11: The one with the Improvized Definition

P2: Okay, so you talked about Strategy Management Consulting. What is it?
Me: Strategy Management Consulting is the process of providing advice to clients to improve efficiency or performance, taking into account various parameters that are important and defined by them
P1 is looking through the startup’s magazine in the meanwhile. He looked quite interested!
P2: Okay, so what is a strategy in simple terms?
Me: Sir, it is the path that you design and follow to reach a certain goal.

Episode 12: The one with Einstein as a Consultant

P2: So what is the application of Engineering Physics to Strategy Management Consulting? You seem to be switching again here?
Me: I actually I learnt a lot. I learnt how to communicate complex ideas in a simple manner. Can I show you an example on paper?
P2: Sure.

Me: Sir, so in General Theory of Relativity we understood how masses behave at high velocities in the presence of an acceleration or gravitational force. Writing the equation of tensors is quite complex. But this idea can be explained in a simpler manner using the space-time fabric and that masses create curvatures in this space-time fabric, just like balls on a table cloth. We can understand how light bends, or objects behave quite easily using this. A black hole is like a hole through the cloth, more massive objects create more curvature.
P2: Hmm, okay. (He nodded his head quite a lot during this)

Episode 13: The one with Drive and Motivation

P2: So in your form you write that you worked where you learnt team spirit and drive and motivation. Can they co-exist? Aren’t they contrarian?
Me: I think team spirit is the framework through which a group of individuals synergize and work to use the power of a multiplying force. Drive and motivation are on an individual level, where each individual is driven or motivated to succeed. A team which has team spirit running through it, along with very driven and motivated individuals in superb.

Episode 14: The one with the elusive Toffee

P1 and P2 look at each other (Bakre ko jaane de?)
P1: So, nice talking to you. Here, have a toffee.
I grasp it say my thank you.
P1: How did you rate the interview?
Me: I think it was good.
P1 and P2 smile: Okay, you can leave.
Me: Should I call the next person in?
P1: No it’s fine.

(Really nice interview. Left me with a great feeling. It was really nice talking to such learned and well aware people!)

Episode 15: The Flashback

Both gentlemen take my courses in Operations and Finance (and I do like the courses too, deja vu) on campus.



About the Author:

aviral bhatnagar

Aviral Bhatnagar went to IIT Bombay and IIM Ahmedabad. He is a self-proclaimed geek, avid reader and a student for life. He made his first excel sheet when he was 8 years old, and he devoured encyclopaedias and atlas as a kid. He is currently working as an investment professional at Guild Capital.