Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Management..part 2..The interview!

(Continued from last post...and sorry about the loong post, i didnt realise it got so big until i finished, but i couldn't think of what to delete..)
The MDI interview, is one i'll never forget. It wasn't too long, But every minute of it was worth talking about! So here's the story..

Dateline --> March 2008
Place --> MDI, Gurgaon

After asking for permission, i came in, greeted them with a smile and sat as straight as i could. The people conducting the interviews were the same as those conducting th GD's. A middle aged man, and a middle aged lady, both who had the 'professor look'..They seemed quite knowledgable, as expected from people taking these interviews..
In front of them, was the sheet we were made to fill up with all our details. Evidently, they had no interest in our resumes. Then they started..

Interviewers (Int) - "Hi Aditya. Tell us something about yourself".
Me - "I am pursuing my engineering from ..etc etc... I live in bangalore with my family consisting of...etc etc...".
Int - "So you are from Bangalore? Which school did you pass out from in bangalore?"
Me - "No, actually i did my 10th and 12th from Hyderabad".
Int - (looking into the sheet) " So you were born and brought up in Hyd, live in Bangalore, and study in Jaipur?"
Me - (smiling)"No sir, i was born in delhi, did my schooling there till 5th class, and then moved to Hyd."
Int - (Smiling)"So you're what i would call a true Indian. And now you're back in Delhi. Its a full circle!".

Int - "Ok, now lets talk about the GD. - "Who do you think spoke the best?"
me - (expected Q, i was ready for it.)"number 10."
Int - "Why?"
(This i did not expect. This was the part where i started making things up..From this point on, i was on my toes, making up answers as we went along)
me - " he said blah, blah and blah, which was against what i said, but he stated his points well blah blah blah..
Int - "Did he say that? I dont recall him saying this. Did you note down the points?"(they had given a paper for that purpose)
Me - (obviously paper was blank, a smile broke out on my face!! So i tried recalling a couple of things he said and told them)"yes sir, this , this and this were some of the things he said."
Int - "You said you support the presidential system, and talk of it like direct voting, but do you know that George Bush was elected in 2004 with less votes than al gore!"
Me - (baffled!!!! i didnt know what to say!!)"Sir, i was trying to support a pure presidential form, not necessarily like one in US".
Int - "But you did not say much."
Me - "Sir, i tried to make my point a few times early on, and got in a couple of points. But after that, it became chaos with 3-4 people talking at any time. I made a few attempts to interrupt and make my point, but kept getting interrupted by cross talk. I could also shout, but i felt that there no point adding to the noise by talking while someone else is talking. If you can't be a part of the solution, then you definitely should not add to the problem! And in that discussion, it was clear that there was no solution.."
(What a dialogue!, thought of at the spur of the moment! I saved my ass!)
Int - "But you didnt talk much. If it was chaos, then why didnt bang the table, stand up on the chair and make everyone listen to your point?"
Me - (Smiling away to glory)"But sir, thats not the point of a group discussion, that would just be a test of who can scream louder. Thats goes against the idea of a civilised discussion that a GD is supposed to be".

Int - (both were seemingly amused at all my answers)" Ok, so tell me a place where Aditya Bharadwaj showed bravery."
Me - ( any of the mad things i've done count as bravery? I decided not to go there, cos though brave, they were'nt exactly stuff mentionable in an interview...So, i started making up stuff from scenarios i'd been in..adding up along the way..)"I was the college chess team captain (i even highlighted the achievement!), and we used to go to BITS pilani every year for the sports meet. There used to be 2 chess events, one of classic, and one of lightening chess. Towards the end of the first event, the fight for a position in the finals used to get pretty close, and we were running for a place in the finals. The people in 3rd place, required all 4 points to get by us and reach the finals, so they started bribing and scheming with their opposing team, saying that they should give them all the games in the classic event, and that they would return the favour in the lightening event. I protested against the practice, saying its unfair, and even threatened to leave if they continued with it".

Int - "But whats wrong in that? Its an agreement between the two."
Me - (Going with the gush of bravery i created, lots of reeeeally big words came out of my melodramatic head)"Because it goes against the spirit of the game, and the tournament. If i were to decide who gets the points in each game, what is the point of playing? I could pay-off a team or two and get the points and win the tournament, that would be no different. If you don't want to play, don't play, But don't kill the spirit of the sport just because of your weakness!".

Int - (Taken aback by the sudden flow of words)"But then, if you were stuck in the same position, what would you do? If you were in a position to make the deal, would you?".(Then a smile came across their faces!)
Me - (thinking...Damn these guys are good!!! If i say no, then i'm a fool, and not fit to be a manager. If i say yes, then i'm backtracking all the big words i just said!!! Finally, with a sheepish smile, i said) "I would leave that descision to my teammates".
Int - (bigger smile!)"But you were just talking about principles, and the spirit and things like that.."
Me - (Smiling back)"Sir, when i go as the captain of the team, i am answerable not only to the college, but also to my teammates. And a descision like that affects them as much as it affects me. Being equals, they should also have a say."

(I was feeling like a royal fool by now, knowing well, what an ass i made out of myself! I was laughing at myself, and so, by this point, it was quite a jolly interview, with everyone smiling, and me even showing my teeth once in a while!!)

Int - "Ok, Aditya, tell me about your reading habits."
(Reading........habits???????????? whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? i've read about 5 books in my whole life!!!!!)
me - (trying to buy some time)"I read mainly fiction".
Int - "Ok, what were the last 3 books you read".
(after virtually scratching my brain to get past asterix and archies! Then i remembered the few books my sis bought for me and i read over the last yr or 2! Finally i thought of 3!!)
Me - "'The magician', by somerset maugham"(big author, small book, 200 pages)
Me - "'The death of ivan illyich', by leo tolstoy"(Bigger author, smalled book!! This book was about 100 pages or less! in big font!!)
Me - "'The prelude to foundation', by isaac asimov".
(if they asked me for 2 more, i would just say dan brown and then maybe Tinkle!!)
Int - "Ok, what magazines do you read?"
(Me smiling even more that i saved my ass and managed to remember 3 books!!)
Me - (Buying time, cos i didnt remember any names!)"I read mainly automobile magazines"

Int - "Ok, so whats the best car in india today according to you".
(I couldnt remember too many car names, cos i hadn't watched TV or read a car magazine since i came to college!)
Me - (buying more time, smiling even more, trying to sound as if i know stuff!) "In which segment?"
Int - "small or Mid range".
(I almost let out a squeel of joy, this guy knew nothing about cars!! But i still couldnt remember any names apart from Ford Ikon, which went out of production 2-3 years earlier! I kept thinking, what is that orange car that prof in college has...)
Me - (Finally, showing teeth while smiling by now)"Maruti Suzuki Swift"
Int - "Ok , so whats the most important thing in a car?".
Me - (trying to buy time)"Value for money!"
Int - "Yes, but name 5 the things u would looks for in a car".
Me - "Power, fuel efficiency, design, interiors and value for money"
Int - "Design and interiors, aren't they the same?"
Me - (All happy, cos i knew he would ask me the difference, as he knew nothing about cars, thats why i told him those two!) I explained it..

Int - Ok Aditya, Thank you!

As i was leaving, he stopped me and asked.
Int - What do you think is most responsible for car accidents?
Me - (didnt know what to say, so a tongue in cheek comment came out)"The driver!".
Int - (laughing) "yes, but what part of the car"
me - "sir, the tyres and the drivetrain"(I had no clue what that meant!! i just read it somewhere!)

Int - "Dont you think, its the steering?"
They had a nice laugh. and he said that last part wont count in my interview, it was just a joke.

I came home, knowing well how bad i screwed up the whole thing, amazed at how closely they scrutinized everyone and smiling away at the most jovial interview ever! Throughout the interview i was smiling, and so were they. I kept trying to make up answers as i went along, making mistakes along the way, but it was pretty obvious that they realised that..

But imagine my surprise, when i see my name on the waiting list !!!! On one of the top 10 management institutes of India!!
And in the second list, my name even got confirmed!!!! They must've seen something that i didnt, to actually select me!!
As i said before i started out, i still didnt join the place,,but this is one interview i shall never forget!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Management...part 1

Last week the results of CAT were out...For those of you are so very blissfully ignorant, CAT is the entrance test for all the IIM's. It is considered the worlds most difficult exam, but it still makes up only the first part of the two part selection process..But then,, no one ever said getting into an IIM is a walk in the park..Out of the 3 lakh odd people writing the exam,,about 7000 or so are eligible to get a call, but then, even amongst them there are different selection criteria for each of the IIM's, based on which this list is further shortlisted. So basically, you could get a 98 percentile, and still fall short of the expectations...May seem cruel, but then, the world is not all fun and games...

Cut to CAT 2007. I prepared decently well and took the exam. It went off decent. And in Jan 2008, i got my results. Now being in 8th sem, we were busy with DoTA (as usual), and i wasnt too bothered about checking the results. It was mainly cos of the mad rush that would be there on the sites and all, seen enough results to know that there was no point. So the 5 of us sitting in my room, were busy playing. Lots of people had expectations that i would 'crack the CAT' , so i started getting calls about my result, and i kept telling everyone that i didnt check. One of them finally asked me to tell him the details and that he would find out!! He tells me that i got a royal 98.64 percentile. To me, that was just still a number, so i didnt know whehter that meant a call, but then, i just got back to playing! I was already exhibiting managerial skills, making optimum use of my time and getting others to do my work!!

But as fate would have it, i didnt get any calls from any IIM's, seems like these days even a 98.6 isnt enough!! later i found out that the reason i didnt get calls, was cos i got 91.98 percentile in english,,whereas the cutoff was 92!!!! It was then, that i realised the value of 0.02%. But then someone reminded me that i filled up forms of MDI..Its another management institute, which comes in the top 10 in the country..I got a call from there..

Most people were very excited at the prospect, but i wasn't too keen.. Call it overconfidence or plain stupidity, i was pretty sure i wouldnt join the place even if i got through..But i still was going to give the interview..My interview was scheduled for mid march, and it was on the MDI campus in gurgaon. Between the cat results and the interview, i even got placed the second time, getting my job that i'm in now. This only decreased my interest in MDI more..But i still was going to give the interview...Here's what happened..

Dateline -> March 2008
Place-> MDI, gurgaon.

Reached gurgaon the nigth before the interview, stayed at rommates house. His parents always treat me like their own kid, so there was a royal dinner too. I read up a little on a few sites, checked my CV one last time, and went to sleep..

In the morning, the procedure was supposed to start at around 10AM.. But to be on the safe side, i got out of home by 8, and reached the place by 8:30..There were only a couple of people there till about 9, but they were all there for the same purpose, so i set my doubts aside and sit there in the class room type place where we were to wait. I have the knack of being able to sleep anywhere and any time, and i tend to feel more sleepy after having a bath. Like many other weird and very inappropriate times, i started feeling sleepy there!!! i put my head down cos i had nothing to do, and i ended up taking a little nap without my knowledge. When i next opened my eyes, it was almost 10 and the classroom was full !! went, washed my eyes and came back to find the guy who was telling us the instructions in class..We were divided into groups of 10 for the group discussion(GD)..

The GD was a a very sad affair. The topic was should india have a presidential or parlimentary form of government. We were all given slips to note down stuff and a number by which we would be assigned. i read an article on the same thing a few days before, so i had loads of points supporting why india should have a presidential form, and the people around me didnt seem like those ultra smart people who would steam roll everyone else. So i was all excited that this won't be too tough for me.

I expected the GD to be a structured affair, with people being civilised unlike the 'gavaar log' in college who just believed in screaming. After all, this was a prestigious management institute and all.. But my mistake again. Even here people were screaming their heads off, cutting off people's points in middle. I spoke once at the start, then in middle i tried to make a couple of points, but kept getting cut-off in middle. There was never a time when less than 3 ppl were shouting. A few more sterner interrupts from me all went to waste cos no one was in a mood to listen. Then they told us conclude!! i was like ,,whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? already?? Then before the conclusion,,they pointed to me and 2 other people saying we hadnt spoke much!! imagine,,someone telling me that i dont talk much!!! Anyways, then i told them my points, which were not taken well by the guys opposing the idea, and again the screaming started. Another interrupt by the ppl coordinating later, it was concluding. I didnt know what to think of the whole thing. But anyways, we sat and waited outside because the GD wasnt an elimination round...

The next round was the personal interview. One by one, people started going in. When they came out, there was usually a mad rush to find out what they were asked. Most people were cagey in telling the others, cos they had no clue themselves. The only thing i got to know from the first couple of people who came out was that they detested wikipedia, and that they were asking everyone who spoke the best in the GD. After finding this out, i didnt bother finding out more and went an sat aaraam se without a care in the world...Then, after a loooooooong time, my turn for the interview came..

It kept running in the back of mind that these interviews are usually "stress" interviews,,where they have people sitting on your head and keep firing away questions left, right and center!! So i prepared myself, straightened out my tie and shirt and walked in.....

To be continued...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New year...

First of all, wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
hope you have a great 2009!! Looking forward to hearing some crazy new years eve stories from everyone!

Though my new years eve wasn't the wildest or the best, I ended the last year, with another experiment, of the gastronomic sorts..More on that later..But i started the year by meeting lots of my relatives, mostly people from Delhi, who had all seen me when i was about half their height, this time around,,many of them were half mine! and many of them, with kids who were born around when i was leaving Delhi..I soon realized, that (though i don't look it) i was among the eldest amongst the whole group of cousins!! One of them who'd never seen me even asked her mom in which class i was!!!! I overheard it,,and contrary to what people might think,,i quite liked it and felt all smug inside!!

That evening i took many of them to watch a movie, and all the elders left everyone as my responsibility...It was one of the first times i really felt that i'm one big fellow at home! I had to wait for almost an hour to get tickets for the movie, and it was a multiplex,not a very famous one at that, it was just another one of the zillion that Delhi has!! And i ended up spending a 4 digit sum for the movie and snacks and all..Not that i mind it,, but the crowd and the cost it got me thinking, as to how we used to spend new years when i was little...cos i never remember anyone spending even 1/10 as much on new years,, or on a movie!!

Those were the days, way back in the 90's...We were kids with not a care in the world!! We didnt care about brands or fashion, didnt care about traveling in buses, autos or even rickshaws, never a rupee in our pockets, eveready to go out and play and TV with a couple of channels used to be a special treat !! Cut to new years eve, there used to be few people going or coming, meeting everyone and wishing them a happy new years.. Phones were costly, so noone used to talk for hours together,, a 3-4 minute talk was something reserved for those special people, close to us who we couldnt meet.. No irritating cell phones ringing/beeping/screaming at unwanted times to pull people out of the group conversation/activity..

New years usually used to be a quite and nice family affair, with everyone crowding in front of the television to look back upon the year gone by.. In the few channels available, there was not much choice of what to watch,, and though it may seem strange,, the quality of programs and even ads back then used to be so much better.. In the 2-3 channels running, each program had the power to keep you hooked as long as it ran..Since mahabharat,ramayan, chitrahar, jungle book that used to be shown on sunday mornings on DD, no show to date has had the power to grasp soooooo much attention from people..They almost used to be like an event in themselves!! The 100's of channels, millions of shows, and remote controls to help have all but killed the joy of watching TV..Whats the use of having million channels, if u can rarely ever watch something decent!! Back then, people used to wait for ad breaks, so that any work/natures calls could be attended to..Everyone used to be back by the time the ads ended... everything fit well into the whole mood keeping everyone satisfied!!

Talking of ads, the way the guy on doordarshan announced about 30 sponsors per second was a treat to hear in itself! no one seems to be able to pull off that even now! and most of the really memorable ads i remember, are all almost 10 yrs or more old..Seems like people are making lots of mediocre ads these days, but not any memorable ones.. I mean, who can ever forget the 'Jaleebi' ad, or the 'doodh doodh' ad, or the 'sunday ho ya monday, roz khao anday' slogan, the dairy milk ad in which the girl comes dancing onto the ground or even the first ericsson ad that showed the great new invention called a mobile. For each of these ads,,almost everyone still remember the exact words/lyrics in each of them even now!! Those were some great ads,, and being among a lot of lousy ads,, that made their greatness even more!! My salutations to all those great people behind the ads..

The single new years program running right up to the stroke of midnight, usually had a concert or two, a few songs here and there, but mainly a look back at all the happenings of the past, with the top 10, movies, songs, shows, ads, sportsmen, etc etc..No sensational masala stuff..A Plain and simple lookback..A little comedy, and a few performances here and there,, All this leading up to the final countdown to midnight when everyone wished each other,, ate a few sweets made by my grandmother and went to sleep all happy about the occasion..

Seems like those days are never coming back..But it sure was great while it lasted!! I think technology has killed the art of conversation and the joy of big meetings of family and friends.. It actually seems like the main thing it has done is kill patience of people,, and everything else just happened on its own,, leaving laziness as by-product..Whatever it is,, it is here to stay for good or for bad, so we look at all its good sides and live with it!!

New years eve has come and gone, marking another year passing by..So many years have gone by, and so much has changed over the years..The puny little boy with a girly voice is now one big fellow who's working and supposed to be responsible, and has become much more talkative is telling people abt those great days in his blog!!