IIM Calcutta Interview Experience – Utkarsh Goklani


Dadar Catering College, Mumbai (23rd Feb, 2016)

Profile: Xth: 93.4%; XIIth: 91%; Grad: 8.36; Work experience of 34 months at Credit Suisse, Powai; CAT: 99.62

WAT topic (30 minutes): Allowing limited usage of performance-enhancing drugs in sports – pros and cons.

PI Duration: 15–20 minutes

Prologue: One of the panellists, an old professor with monk-like calmness, had met me in the washroom around an hour before my interview. He had a sore throat that day, so was repeatedly using the washroom to gargle. During one of his continual visits, he saw me adjusting my tie with utmost sincerity. He gave a small chuckle and told me quite nicely before leaving – “Don’t worry, we won’t judge you on this.”

Before my interview, the same panellist had come out and informed us that since they had taken more time with the previous candidates (I was 5th in my panel), they would be conducting relatively shorter interviews from then on. They requested us to not read too much into the interview length and be rest assured that they are judging us properly. Also, since all of us candidates outside were having a lot of fun and had created quite a ruckus, he asked us to keep it down (“ you know, it’s still an interview” while giving me an accusing look)

Name is announced, the file is picked up, tie is straightened and the door is opened.

There were 3 professors: P1 (seemed like in his late 50s), P2 (lady professor, probably in early 40s) and the smiling P3 (probably in his 60s)

P3 looks at the other two and tells them about how I had spent a good 5 minutes adjusting my tie, while I try not to laugh.

P1: So Utkarsh, tell us, why have you dressed so formally? (I had a blazer on. For the record, everyone in my panel was suited up.)

I (smiling): Sir, it’s an interview, so better to be dressed formally.

P1 (calmly): Yes, but shirt and trousers would have been enough. Do you think that these things (looking at my tie and blazer) help you gain an advantage in the interview?

I: *What?!* No sir, not at all, but it’s better to be a bit overdressed. If I had felt a bit out of the place, I could have removed my blazer before coming in.

P1: Ok, let’s move on. So, tell us something about yourself.

I: Talked about my work experience in brief at Credit Suisse, touched upon my interests in Football, Economics, and Quizzing, in that order. I was talking about one of my work-related projects when I was stopped in between.

P2: So, in the creation of this index, why did you use the z-score methodology?

I: Talked about the easy usage and comparability across metrics and easier comparison between disparate types of data. Compared it to the percentile rank methodology.

P2 (seemed unconvinced): Ok, leave it. Tell us one major distinguishing factor between India and China which is leading to India growing faster than China? Remember only one, we don’t have time.

I: Talked about the investment-led model of China versus the consumption-led model of India. Talked about the fact that China has many ghost towns which had earlier added to the growth but are now lying waste in absence of people’s inclination to move there.

P2 looks at P3, who is still smiling.

P3: So Utkarsh, what are your other interests?

I: Sir, I am crazy about football.

P3: Ok, what is bicycle kick?

I (animatedly): Explained in full detail, the twisting of the body, the position of the ball to execute it perfectly.

P3 (looks at the happy kid): Ok, is this a new phenomenon?

I: No sir, not at all.

P3: Ok, who invented it then?

I (Damn!): Umm sir, I don’t know. *Checked it later, Brazilian forward Leonidas Da Silva is known as the father of this exponent*

Now, the weirdest part of the interview happened. I mean no offence to my Bengali brethren, I seriously didn’t understand the accents.

P3: Ok, so what do you know about Bicycle Thieves? *I hear Theep, now if I had any idea about the movie, I would have understood it, but I had no idea.*

I: Sorry sir, I didn’t get you.

P2: Bicycle Thieves.

I: *confused expression*

P1 (holding the proverbial parcel now): Thief!

I (desperately): Sorry sir?

P2 (exasperatedly): Arre bhai, chor chor, thief.

I: *caught between a rock and a hard place* Ma’am no idea.

P1: Movies nahi dekhte ho kya?

I: Sorry sir, not that many.

P1: Which state are you from?

I: Sir, Rajasthan.

P1: Which are the neighbouring states?

I: Gujarat, Haryana, UP..*interrupted*

P1: What about Punjab?

I (not my proudest moment): Umm, sir I think the northern tip shares some border with Punjab. *to even have to think before knowing your neighbouring states; I wanted to give myself a proper beating*

P1: Is that all?

*Now in all my anxiety about Punjab, I had forgotten that I hadn’t mentioned MP earlier. I thought I had but I hadn’t.

I (confidently): Well yes, sir.

P1 (sinister smile): Sure?

I: Yes sir. Gujarat, Haryana, UP, Punjab…..OH!

P1: What do you generally call OH?

I (smiling): Sir, MP.

P3 (laughing): And did you not forget something in the west?

I (smiling): Sir, I think that changed after 1947.

P3 (smiling): *sarcastically* Well, some people still want some of our people to go there. *Probably referring to certain comments by our MPs about sending a certain bunch of people to our beloved neighbour*

I: *smiled*

P3: Ok, what do you know about Irom Sharmila?

I: *I knew this, yet my memory was not with me that day* Sir, she was..

P3 (smiling mischievously): Ok, so she was..

I: No no Sir, she is!

P3: Ok, so she is, who exactly is she?

I: *After an awkward silence of 15–20 seconds* Sir, she is a lady activist from North-east, I think Manipur, who has been on an indefinite hunger strike (finally!)

P3: Ok, about what?

I: Sir, I know this but I cannot seem to recall. Sorry.

P3 : *Yeah right!* Never mind, what do you know about Tamas?

I: Sir, Tamas? Umm, nothing much.

P3: Bhisham Sahni?

I: *cursing my brain to come up with random GoT references at that moment, little did I realize it was trying to indicate something that I might have read long back* Sorry sir, no idea.

P3 explains about Tamas and its importance in both literary and cinematic world as a great work on stories of the partition while I nod vigorously. Tamas (film)

I: Sir, actually I have heard first-hand accounts from my grandparents. To be honest, I don’t like seeing any partition documentaries. Although, I have seen BBC’s “Partition, The Day India Burned”.

P3 looks at my surname, smiles.

P3: Where were your grandparents from?

I: Maternal, from Karachi. Paternal, from Quetta.

P3 nods and then looks towards P1 and P2.

All in unison: We are done. Do you have any questions for us?

I: Sir, I wanted to know about the CEMS MIM program. What is the exact selection procedure for it?

P1: We are not completely sure about the selection process for that but 20-odd students are selected in the first year for it. You will learn that during your orientation, if you make it. Anything else?

I: No, sir. Thank you!

All: Thank you and have a great day.

I: Thank you Sirs and Ma’am, wish the same for you.

The End

Verdict: Converted!

PS: This article is a reproduction (with minor modifications) of the original answer present at:


Utkarsh Goklani

Global Ecomomics at Credit Suisse