Monday, 9 February 2009

Me V/S Google - Part 1

First to explain the title of the post. Most interviews for IIMs have the panelists sitting with laptops in front of them, with Google open. Whatever you say interests you, they Google and ask you questions on it. So if anything interests you, you better know everything about it. Hence, the title.

Now before you actually get to the personal interview, you have a group discussion (GD) to contend with. When I entered the waiting room for the Group Discussion, I saw 8 people already seated. None of them were talking to each other. My mind started racing. '8 people here plus me, that's 9. A total of 10 for the GD. If I talk to each one of them and become an acquaintance, they won't cut me when I speak in the GD. And that is of paramount importance. Let's become friends with these guys.'

So I went forward and introduced myself to each one of them individually. Ten minutes into my exercise, when I was speaking to the 6th person, he told me that there will be 3 groups of 10. So that meant 30 people were expected. BAD IDEA! I went and sat in a corner alone. My idea was good, but I couldn't possibly introduce myself to 29 others!

We were then divided in groups of 10 and taken for our GD. Everyone was quite tense visibly. The GD was just heating up when the moderator told us to stop. 50% done only the interview to deal with.

I was the fifth in line for the interview. The first guy took 30 mins, the second 20 mins, third 15 mins, fourth 10 mins. Time is no indicator of whether your in or not. Actually in an IIM interview, nothing is. So I wasn't bothered. I walked in. A 'maharaja' like chair was kept about 10 feet away from the two panelists. One of them was dark and looked like a typical Keralite (Mr. A), the other with a shaven head and glasses to go with, looked every bit of an intellectual (Mr. B).

B: (looking at my form)Have you spelt your name correctly? I have only come across Sean and no Shawn.

(An interview doesn't normally last more than 25 mins. So I decided that whenever given a chance, I will speak at length.)

Me: Sir, you are actually right. Shawn should be spelt as Sean only. Sean means 'God is gracious' and is derived from John, which is a French name. And John in French is spelt as Jean. But my parents thought that not many in India are aware that Sean is pronounced Shawn. So they spelt it the way it is pronounced.

B: (looks at my marksheets. Seems impressed.) Web Technology, nice subject. You scored very well. So tell me what is Web 3.0?

Me: I don't know, Sir.

B: Take some time to think. In web Technology, Web 3.0 would definitely be included.

Me: Sir, it wasn't in my curriculum and as of now I haven't heard of it.

B: (smirks) Ok, what is Search Engine Optimization?

Me: Sir, that is when you try to increase the traffic to your website by having it appear higher on the result list of a search engine.

B: So how does it work?

Me: I don't quite know how it is done in practise. One of my friends works as an SEO, so that is how I know about it.

B: (begins to laugh) Looks like you stick totally to your curriculum and have no interest in technology. (I don't react.) Name 10 search engines.

Me: Google, AskJeeves, Alta Vista, Yahoo, Rediff, MSN

B: Wait wait. Yahoo and rediff and all have some other search engine just loaded on their site. It is not their personal search engine. So you know any more?

Me: No.

B: (Laughs again and repeats the 'you are a book worm' dialogue) Who owns Orkut?

Me: Google.

B: Who owns Facebook?

Me: Sir, I am unaware.

B: Where do you have your profiles?

Me: Sir, I have it on Orkut and Facebook, because both of them combined over all my friends. I don't see the need to have my profile on any other site.

B: (laughs uncontrollably now) What is Google's latest browser?

Me: Google Chrome Beta

B: You made some good points in the GD regarding this. Now tell me what is different about this Chrome.

Me: Sir, you have an option to see which page makes up how much load. So if an unimportant page is acting as a bottleneck you can close it.

B: Have you used the browser?

Me: No sir.

B: Why?

Me: Sir, it was the beta version. If the browser became successful I would have downloaded it. But as of now Explorer and Firefox satisfy all my needs.

B: (laughs again) So you are not interested in technology. You are only interested in your curriculum. (laughs some more. I don't react)

B: Given any other exams besides CAT? Want to go abroad?

Me: No to both.

A: Shawn, your hairstyle is a bit like mine. Why is it cut so short?

Me: Sir, you see when my hair grows even relatively long, I get dandruff, which then results in hair fall. So I keep it short.

A: Oh! Medical problem. Alright (We instantly connect. I know this is my chance.) So Shawn, what is it that interests you in engineering? You are doing that for four years now. There has to be something that interests you.

Me: Sir, coding interests me. But I don't think coding requires great ability. Given an algorithm, any person can add syntax and code. Writing an algorithm interests me. That is where the logic lies. That is the real challenge. And even writing an algorithm isn't great. The greatness lies in writing it in the most efficient manner. That Sir, is what interests me.

A: Good. Now write an algorithm for Sudoko.

Me: Sir, a computer is no different than a human brain. My program will solve sudoko just as I solve it. As an input to the algorithm you take the entire grid. then you find which number is the most frequent. (I talk about backtracking and tell him about the algorithm.)

A: You think this is an efficient way? I think there might be better ways.

Me: Sir backtracking is the best method here. If we use a greedy approach initially it may appear optimal but later it gives us sub optimal solutions. So back tracking may look inefficient but it leads to optimal solutions almost always.

A: (Looks at my data form. Sees my reason for doing MBA.) So you have written about organising some events. Tell me very briefly about how you were creative. (He stresses on the word briefly. Probably he knows how it works with me if I know an answer)

Me: Sir, I had a shoe string budget to organise my event. It involved a treasure hunt with multiple treasure chests. We didn't have the budget to buy the chests. So what we did was we used shoe boxes and tied strings around them. Then we locked them up and so we had our Rs. 5 treasure chest.

A: You have mentioned that your most significant achievement is receiving the Jesuit award. What is this award?

Me: Sir, the Jesuit award is given to a single student who excels in the morals of the school. I have achieved a lot academically sir, but that is because God has gifted me with a superior brain. But at the end of the day it is about being a good human being and I think that is what really matters.

A: Could you be specific about the morals?

Me: Sir the motto of our school is Immaculata which means pure and the slogan is 'Education for the Greater Glory of Lord'. When I was in tenth I went along with a group of students to educate tribal children in interior Maharashtra. In the tenth standard, I also became the head boy. A lot of clever students didn't want to stand for the post because they thought that it would affect their studies. But Sir you tell me what are a few marks in comparison to giving something back to a school which has given you so much. And even today I don't for a second regret that decision of mine.

A: Shawn could you tell me more about your blog?

Me: Sir on my blog I write about whatever I feel strongly about. I watched Slumdog Millionaire and so wrote a review on it. (I was hoping he would ask me about the film and the awards and all, but he didn't.) I traveled to Canada two weeks back and some really funny things happened so I wrote an account on that. (Was hoping he would ask something about that, but he didn't). I then wrote about abortion Sir as I feel humans don't have a right to take some one's life.

A: You are a non vegetarian I guess. Isn't killing chicken also abortion?

Me: Sir to survive humans have to kill. A lot of vegetarians feel morally superior because they eat plants. But plants also are living things. In the J. C. Bose lab in Bengal we see that plants suffer just as much when they are pruned and killed. So it is not like plants remain unaffected.

A: But isn't killing a chicken really bad?

Me: Sir the chicken I eat are commercially bred. The chicken would not have been alive had I not been there to eat it. So I don't think it is wrong.

B: Even humans should be killed then. We kill each other in war. So many wars happening. (He became philosophical. A and B look at each other and ask me to leave)

That's all friends. Me V/S Google Part 2 coming up in the second week of March!


priyank said...


Anonymous said...

1)he heh...when ur hair grows loooong....!!!!
2) writing algos in the most "EFFICIENT" manner..!!!
3) morals of the school...lolz..
4) FUNNY THINGS happened to you in canada?? locked in the freezer :P

mohit said...

Good 1 shawn but the ans. were 2 long n u hav praised urself a lot