IIM Calcutta Interview Experience – 2018
Indian Habitat Center, Lodhi Road, New Delhi
19th February 2018
UG-7.04(As per CAT Application), Engineering Physics-IIT Guwahati
Before I begin, let me just add that this was the most important interview for me, personally. I have always had a thing for IIM-C since I started preparing for CAT. I don’t know why, but I never dreamed of making it to IIM-A, but Joka. And after the, which would be a miracle if I convert it, I really felt the pressure today(in A, I was much more calm). So it was a do or die for me, in a way-this being my only other call among the Holy Trinity. Amazingly, I got the same sequence number and was interviewed in the same room as was in A. :v
In 300 words(25 minutes) we were asked to present our views on the following topic: “The possession of nuclear weapons today is seen as a deterrent to war. While some say that it can prove to be dangerous to the world. What is your opinion?”
Did fairly well, commencing with how nuclear weapons came into place from WW2, the emergence of new nuclear powers during/post Cold War, present situation on USA-North Korea, and supporting the former point using Indo-China Doklam issue. I deliberately put these points in the essay so that questions would be asked, but the interview was to be something else entirely.
3 panellists (2 gentlemen and 1 lady), P1(50s, cut to the chase-r), P2(60s, the listener) and L(late 40s, the psychologist-read and you’ll know). They had such a calm and pallor on their faces! Their disposition was extremely comforting. In such an interview you are never anxious about the results because they make you feel good about yourself(Or maybe it was just with me :p).
P1 opens the door, asks me to come in. I enter, stand by the seat, greet ma’am first and then Sirs. Asked to sit down.
P1: Please put your file over here and the extra-curriculars above the file for me to verify.(I knew that the panel is verifying the certificates, so I intentionally kept my blog articles on the top so that he does end up reading those and could later bring it up during interview).
L: Eshan, you have 5 sentences to tell us about yourself. You may take your time, but only 5, not 6. *comforting smile on her face*
Me(after thinking for 20–30 seconds): 1. Born and brought up in the historic city of Jhansi. 2. A highly emotional person but I tend to channel it. 3. Writing is the way to do so, reading being another hobby. 4. Parents have made me who I am today. 5. Pursuing my major in EP from IIT-G. *I answered these quite long, not making pauses for full stops but as commas, trying to connect sentence so that I can pitch in a lot even with 5 * 😀
L(smiling): You told us almost everything about yourself there. Good job. So what do you write about? And why particularly that?
Me: Ma’am, I don’t write to put my feelings into words. I write to make sense of what I feel through words. This helps me in ascertaining my emotions, on how to handle myself and….
Discussion on how I started writing ensued. It was a healthy one where I was able to get across everything in a narrative right from joining college to losing direction to finding my way back and the integral role writing played in it. *Don’t remember verbatim so briefing this*
L: Have you taken any tests? *this was in the context of my personality*
Me: Yes ma’am. I’m IFSJ according to the Myers’ Briggs test.
L: Oh, so how does that work? Is it correct as per you? *Answered*
L: What is ‘J’ here? How does being a ‘J’ hold you back? *Answered*
L: Just like ‘I’ has ‘E’, what is the corresponding analogue of ‘J’?
Me: I can’t recall, ma’am.
L: When did you take this test?
Me: In my second year.
L: 2 years ago?
L(smiling again): Then it’s alright.
L: So tell me one aspect of your personality which you think holds you back and you are working on. *answered*
*A few more questions from L about my family, their occupation, if I’m the only child that I’m so emotional and all*
P2: So have you done any courses on Statistics in Engineering Physics, which btw sounds quite an exotic course!
Me: No, Sir. We are taught the basics while we approach the results but no dedicated course.
P1: How come? You must have!
Me: No Sir, really. You can have a look at my transcript.
P1(nods): Yeah. Okay. But you do know the basics, right?
Me: Yes, Sir.
P2: Okay can you draw a normal distribution curve? Draw a n(0,1).
Me: Sir, can you please elaborate on what this term denotes.
P2: Yeah, so 0 is the mean and 1 is the other parameter. What is it btw?
Me: Sir, standard deviation. *P2 nods* *I draw it*
P2: So what is the mean? *answered* Median, why? *answered* Mode, why? *answered*
P1: So where does this touch the x-axis? *answered*
P1: Would you happen to know about distribution functions or density functions?
Me: *making a ‘never heard of it’ face*
P1: Okay, let’s skip it. Can you write the formula for Standard deviation?
P1: It’s okay. You know enough not having done a course.
P2: So what do you read about? What exactly in fiction? Give me 2 books.
Me: Everyday-David Levithan, Catcher in the Rye-JD Salinger. *P2’s eyes light up as he hears it. I was expecting at least one of them to have read it, it being such a famous one after all*
P2: So have you read any other book by Salinger?
Me: No, Sir.
P2: Any of his book you might be knowing about?
Me(realising where this is going): No, Sir, I’m more of a person who tends to explore the different flavours that authors give rather than just reading more and more of one author.
P2: Okay. So who was the protagonist in CITR?
Me: Sir, Holden Caulfield. *P2 looks convinced*
P1: So have you been placed yet? *answered*
P2: Which city? *answered*
P1: So what’s the profile? What would be your duties? *Answered*
P1: So why don’t you join the job and come back a year or two later in order to really know whether consulting is right for you or not? You would have more clarity. *answered why MBA and why now with an elaborately structured heuristic*
L: So Eshan you’ve mentioned here you intend to go into Strategy Consulting? What’s strategy? *answered*
L: Where was this first used? *Sorry ma’am, I’m not aware of this*
L: No worries. So what’s the difference between strategy and tactics? *brought a smile to my face-reminded me of A’s interview: same room, similar question on compassion and empathy*
Me: *answered as to how tactics is unethical and has more of a negative connotation*
L: So give me examples of political parties practising strategy and tactics.
Me: Ma’am both have to be BJP. They practice tactics by knowing what their opponent’s weaknesses are and make the most of it by divulging them. Their strategy is to tell people what they want to hear and showing them the dreamy pictures, by employing their tactics. *I don’t know how this just popped up*
L: So you intend to say that BJP has unethical practices involved?
Me: Ma’am which party doesn’t. And yes, they do.
L: What if I tell you that a strategy consultant needs a Statistics course and 2 years of work-ex? *answered*
P1: So how does Physics fit into all this?
Me: The analytical skills and the problem-solving.
P1: Something else?
Me: *extra-curriculars, teamwork*
P1: Besides the old rhetoric.
Me: It doesn’t. It’s a switch from EP to MBA. *Didn’t hesitate to admit it outright rather than digging the hole myself as in A*
P1: What was your rank in JEE? *answered* So were you getting any other branches? *answered* So this was your choice or your parents’? *Mine*
P1: So is tactics always in a negative connotation?
L: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.
Me: You’ve got me thinking, too.
P1: Okay, this is food for thought for you now. Thank you, Eshan. You may leave now.
Me: Thank you, Sirs, Ma’am. *all smiles* *No toffees offered!*
*skipped most of the answers as they are quite personal and just a discussion, there were a few more questions which skip my mind as of now*
Overall it was a good discussion. They were simply analysing whether you are a fit for them or not. They didn’t want to grill or humiliate you. Through your interests and aspirations, they judged a lot. I left with a heartfelt smile on my face because at least I didn’t screw up my dream interview. 🙂
What I think I did differently, and better, learning from A’s experience was that I didn’t hesitate to say, “May I think for a moment” and they approved readily. I thought the line I was about to say and then said it, so as not to say something wrong. The second good thing I did was that I put my blog articles on the top. So P1 read them. After I left, he must’ve pitched in his reviews. Third good pint is the fact that when they were apprehensive about me joining immediately rather than a year or two from now, I laid down the entire plan in front of them. I put the questions to myself(which interviewers usually ask) and answered them myself. This didn’t leave them with any cross-question. Dropping hints about my interests helped a lot!