Tuesday, 9 March 2010

My Last B School Interview

The location: Xaviers College, Mumbai.

The preparation:

7 days. Topics include Copenhagen climate summit, Kyoto protocol, Indo US nuclear deal, Nuclear situation in India, Beijing Washington conflicts, infrastrcture in India, Woman's bill, Origin of Woman's day, definition of every possible stock market term, monetary policy, fiscal policy, RBI, fundamental rights, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, BAFTA awards, Oscars, everything about Jamshedpur, Mumbai, India, Canada, France, capitals of 70 countries, currencies of 50 countires, head of states of 25 countries, all 35 districts of Maharshtra, industries in Maharashtra, Bandra Worli Haj Ali sea link, Mumbai Metro, rivers of India, Indian geography, all economic statistics, everything about the Tatas, significance of US flag, Indian flag, 13 colonies of US, Naxal Maoist ideology, communism, socialism, capitalism, life of Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Keynesian economics, booker prize winners, left wing politics, Edward De Bono, C K Prahlad, Navratnas, Chipko movement, IPCC climate controversies, IT industry, my college, Air India, Jesuits, XLRI alumni, their blogs, blogging, ballroom dancing, travelling.

Things asked in the interview: None of the above.

Panelist 1: Supriya Kumar De (was busy reading DNA throughout the interview. I didn't even see his face)

Panelist 2: Abhijit Gangopadhya (legend has it that this person knows more than Google. Today I had first hand experience.)

Panelist 3: Rajeev Sharma (Was reading the Times of India)

Me: May I sit sir?

P2: Chair is in front of you. We are here to take your interview. Who gives an interview standing. Sit down. (That pretty much set the tone for the interview)

P2: So Shon or is it Shron or Shawan?

Me: Sir, it is Shawn. Rhyme it with pawn.

P2: So you resigned from your job?

Me: Yes sir. I decided that I wanted to do MBA this year. I am very clear in my mind that I want to do an MBA. So I didn't see any point hanging around in the technical field. Then told him about an ethical dilemma I faced in TCS and why I resigned 3 months earlier than planned. (XLRI hai boss. They value such stuff) Also told him why I wanted to do an MBA

P2: Oh so I don't think you need XLRI. You have already done so well managing things.

Me: Sir what I did was on a small scale. XLRI will give me the confidence and credentials to do it on a larger scale. It will polish me. There is so much I don't know yet and need to learn (He proved this statement to be true. Read on)

P2: We don't have any polishing machines in XLRI, do we? (Looks at the guys busy reading their papers)

P1, P3: (in unison) No

Me: Sir, it was a metaphor.

P2: So, 87 percent in 10th, 88 in 12th, 79 in computer science engineering. Somaiya to XLRI! That is some jump you are trying to make eh *evil smile* Father works in Air India ha. Tell me about the restructuring of Air India.

Me: I start of with how Air India started making losses. 15 seconds and I am cut.

P2: No no, tell me which units of Air India have been removed.

Me: Sir the cargo unit and the repair, maintenance and operation (RMO) unit.

P2: So what will happen of those units then?

Me: Sir they were removed because they were loss making units and so in order to reduce the loss of Air India balance sheet they were removed from Air India.

P2: So what will happen to the workers then?

Me: Sir it is a governement company so they cannot shut it down without notice. Employees will have to be phased out.

P2: When will all that happen? RMO isn't vital to an airline you know that?

Me: Sir, I haven't had the time to discuss that with my father. Just read it in the newspapers yesterday.

P2: Common sense. Use it. Anyways which company manufactures airplanes?

Me: Boeing.

P2: Where is the industry located?

Me: I don't know sir.

P2: When an airplane is sent for repair where does it go?

Me: Sir airplanes are kept in a hanger. (He doesn't seem satisfied)

P2: Tell me some union laws.

Me: Sir I am very certain in my mind that I don't want to do an HR course and that is why I didn't apply for the XLRI HR course even though it is the best in Asia Pacific.

P2: But you want to be a manager no? Manager should know all this. Tell me some unions in India.

Me: Sir I dont know.

P2: Ok. Why do you need a union?

Me: Sir to tackle worker grievances, to know their wants and needs. Some gyaan.

P2: So are unions good?

Me: It depends. Like everything in life, this too has its good points and bad points. When the twist the arm of the management unfairly then it is bad. Then mentioned some good points.

P2: Will you encourage a union when you become a manger?

Me: Sir if you have few workers then there isnt a need for a union. You can address the workers on a one to one basis. But if they are a huge number of workers, then a union is the only way out.

P2: Have you been to a factory?

Me: No sir.

P2: Industrial visit?

Me: Yes sir. Had gone to Jaipur and seen a mug manufacturing unit.

P2: Oh I know what you guys do on an industrial visit. You people just have fun. Anyways what did you learn?

Me: Sir, I observed that the workers were very diligent and meticulous.

P2: Indian wokers? I have always heard they are lazy.

Me: It could be that the fact that we college students were visiting them made them work hard, cause they knew they were being keenly observed. But that is the impression I took home.

P2: What are Scandinavian countries?

Me: (Aah! The GK part...aa beta, I'm ready) Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

P2: Name some Scandinavian companies in India? (He goes back to what he likes best! Industries!)

Me: Nokia is in Finland so Nokia would be one.

P2: Where is the Nokia factory in India?

Me: No idea sir.

P2: What are multi national companies? (He repeated this 4 times because I couldn't hear what he said)

Me: Companies which have offices in multiple countries.

P2: So if I just have offices in foreign countries it will do?

Me: No sir, they should be production of some sort or some deliverables. Gave an example of TCS (seemed satisfied)

P2: What is RBI and IDBI. Gimme the difference.

Me: I explain about RBI and monetary policy. He cuts me again

P2: What is IDBI?

Me: Don't know sir

P2: Have you heard of it?

Me: Yes sir as a commercial bank but I dont have much idea.

P2: Industrial Development Bank of India.

Me: Alright.

P2: What is differential rate of interest?

Me: Sir when a bank gives a loan and the rate of interest isn't fixed.

P2: Don't give me all this ok! If you don't know say you don't know. It is interest given to social causes.

Me: Sir my last five answers have been don't know. This I thought you meant the flexible loan rate of banks!

P2: What is FMCG?

Me: Fast moving consumer goods.

P2: Why the name?

Me: Sir consumer goods because the consumer uses them and fast because they are consumed at a rapid pace.

P2: Name some FMCG companies.

Me: HUL and Procter and Gamble.

P2: Where is HUL based?

Me: Holland.

P2: Where is Procter and Gamble based?

Me: Don't know sir.

P2: Name some more FMCG companies?

Me: Don't know sir.

P2: Name some HUL products?

Me: Sir rin. It was in the news because of its tiff with Tide manufatcured by Procter and Gamble.

P2: (Cuts me again) Name some HUL products from the food industry.

Me: Don't know sir.

P2: HUL manufactures Walls ice cream. You eat ice cream no?

Me: Yes sir.

P2: What is the percentage of air in ice cream?

Me: *I smile. yaar bahut ho gaya. yeh koi question hota hai kya? This is the final nail in the coffin question. The choke slam!*

He smiles back. I didn't know he knew how to smile.

P3: (wakes up) Anything else you would like to tell us beta?

Me: Spoke about ballroom dancing, travelling, blogging, word games. About my article being published on rediff. Me turning down the offer to work for them. Bahut bola.

(Come on cross question!)

P2: So your passion is dance and writing this blog and word puzzles. And travel. Any other passion?

Me: No sir.

P3: Okay. Thank you.

Me: Thank you.

Musings: Not the best of interviews. But I don't know why I have the feeling I will make it! God willing! Never at any point did I lose it. Kept my cool and kept smiling. The high point of the day was the Xaviers crowd! Wow! I feel like a dork wasting four years in barren Somaiya.


18:06, March 26, 2010:

After checking and then re checking three more times. I haven't made it. To sum it all up in one word. Gutted!


Channa said...

Just been going thru interview. I think it was pretty gud. You know lot of stuff..May be AG wanted to know how long would you last..I more than certain u will make it..Anyways, ATB & Keep your fingers crossed...

monts_mr said...

hey dude .. i strongly feel u getting thru this school ... all d best ... btw .. how did u manage to remember all these questions and post it here?? i m sure u have missed lot if them ...

Anonymous said...

shit...you gotto stop publishing stuff like this ya...its scary!!
sounds like you did great though :)all the very best

Shawn said...

@Channa: Thanks and I hope you are right :)

@Mitesh: I posted it immediately after my interview ya. Didn't miss a single question

@anon: I don't reply to anonymous comments :P

Rahul said...

Thanks for the detailed interview - An XLRI aspirant