Thursday, March 06, 2003

"That man and his tractors...."
Okay now for all that happened at the IIMA interview. My GD and PI was scheduled at 2 pm. The IIMA panel consisted of one lady (northie, fair, and had a very unconvincing stern look on her face always), two guys a fair kandu type guy and a french bearded mallu looking guy, but maybe bong too. My gd panel had 10 people and one fundoo did not turn up. I guess there was three people with work ex. in the group.
GD: I was number five on the list and so got a central seat, excellent start. One goof up happened though, did not take a xerox of one cert, the lady (who was the leader I guess), shot a look, and told me to bring them before 5 o clock. The GD was on a case study about some tractor dealer who has hajaar customer savviness, but one day comes to his office to find that due to a training scheduled at 12, the staff has turned away customers who came in for servicing. That too on a heavy traffic saturday. What should he do? Some guy started, and it wasnt going anywhere, so after a minute I came in and suggested breaking down the case into a few problems, I got attention and spoke well. Pretty soon I was leading along the GD. People were speaking to me to get approval on their points, the freshers kept harping on labour problems, and I kept insisting on immediate corrective action, i.e. the pissed off farmers. It went along well. One thing I remember distinctly was two of the IIMA people changed their seating positions to get a better look at me. The lady however got up suddenly and said STOP !!!. So no conclusion and all, I must have had 5 speaking attempts, and maybe accumulated 3 minutes out of a total of 20 minutes. But no doubt I think I did well, and it was quite like the meetings I have been in, in my jobs. One guy goofed up majorly by starting the GD before she had even said start... But otherwise I think everybody except one or two guys got a good share. There were two girls, and one spoke extremely well, the other was average. Nobody hogged any light.
The interviews started soon after. It appeared that people who spoke well in the GD had short and very sharp interviews, while the guys who did not had a longer one. My thinking being, you got a second chance if you didnt do well in the GD. On average the interviews went for around 15 to 20 minutes each.

Interview: I was fourth to go in, and immediately the lady had a stern appearance. She asked me why I have a frown on my face. And then took my portfolio from me, I made sure to hand it the right way up and she thanked me for that. She started grilling me from the first page, the quotation, and I smiled my way out of that. The two guys had smirks on their faces, and I could work out that the lady was normally not so stressing. I smiled my way out of a lot of tough questions. Did not let them stress me out at all. Then she said what I wanted to be asked, so I had to parrot out a list of all the questions that are normally asked in MBA interviews, they wanted more and more and I kept making up questions, and finally told her that I had run out of questions. There were smiles all round at that point. Then she asked me all about Arundhati Roy, again it went into stress types, again smiled my way out, even she found it funny after a point. She tried a googly with if I thought Arundhati roy was a feminist, I knew what was coming after that, so I said no my opinion was that Arundhathi Roy was a "Socialite Activist". That took a long time clearing what that meant. The Grouchy lady (GL) was hell bent on getting me on the wrong foot, but like sachin tendulkar, I smiled while blasting the hell out of the guys. All short and crisp answers mind you, nothing beyond ten words maybe. The other guys (man1 and man2) were smirking all the time. She asked if I had read God of Small Things, and I said I had started it but did not complete. Then to again check me out asked how many pages the book had, I said three hundred (man1 actually tried to prompt the answer, he whispered "three" under his breath). GL I guess finally gave up stressing me out. Then the mega surprise man1 turns out to be a metallurgist in his dark past. We spend a healthy five minutes on tech questions Iron-Carbon diagram, basic iron and steel, a little steel making, one heat treatment question, some gk on steel plants etc. He was happy, and we were smiling profusely at each other. Man2 then took over and asked me stuff like where I played football for RECT, how many teams played in the tournament, did I know about the NIT thing. He asked if NIT was good or bad, and I guess I told him honestly it is good, threw in some figures about percentage contribution from the center and all. He was happy. (By now, I was wondering why nothing came about my acads and all...) Bang GL comes back in with what was my first job, why I left, profile of my second job, and I was not involved in metallurgical engineering now. I told her honestly about how I tried to get a meta job, but nothing happened, the panel actually nodded in agreement with my troubles. Back to man2 and he asks if I was happy with my acads in college after good acads in school and PUC, I said the first year was bad bcos I lost a lot of weight, and the change, but after that I did very well vis a vis the rest of the class. He again nodded in appreciation. Then the last question was if I was Prime Minister for one day, what are the three things I would do, I said 1. Take religion out of politics 2. Spread education and understanding and 3. end all this indo-pak rhetoric and waste of national resources. Suddenly he asked if religion was not in politics where should it be, and I gave him a fundoo answer by any standards I said : "Sir, religion should go back in to the person, into himself, where it really belongs...." one sweet nod again. Then they said thank you and all, and I reminded GL about my cert xerox, she suddenly went back to grouch mode and said "If you do not bring it now, we will disqualify you and all that, we will not tolerate time waste", and I was a bit taken aback actually. But then thats when the nicest thing happened, man2 shot his hand across the GL and said," baba dont worry araam se go get the copies, tell the attender, I will come out and pick it from you". He gave a big smile and even the lady cracked up a bit and had a sheepish look. But I was still the Mona Lisa, and all encompassing smile. While the men asked questions the lady wnet through my whole portfolio from cover to cover. I had the copies outside, picked it up, the man came out, thanked me for it, I said welcome and he went back in, going through all the scores carefully. And thus ended my interview and GDs, but a couple of amazing consequences. One of the girls in my group, came over and asked me if I remembered her, I said no.. it seems I had met her at Calicut, before my REC counselling a full six years ago. Her dad was my uncles colleague at his bank. So I thought that was a great omen, I had gone to REC Calicut then hoping to get Meta, and again when I am at my next interview hoping to get into IIMA she pops up again. Talk about major omens. She did another favour too, the panel asked her in my interview how the GD went and who she thought spoke well, she said it was an ok gd, and that I spoke best !!! I have taken down her address to send her a Kisan Vikas Patra or something if I get through.
And thus ended my travails at IIMA interviews, good if you ask me. Some negative feedback is that they did not ask me a whole lot from my form. Nor did they ask any regular questions. They read my form throroughly I could see that, and I think I really cracked the GD. Now it is all left to the ethereal mysticisms of IIMA admissions.... We will see... 

More on this story as things happen....

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