March 11, 2007


it's a need-based world, isn't it? you scratch my back and i scratch yours? there's the need to love, the need to be loved, the need to be appreciated, the need to let someone in. the need to be understood, the need for exclusivity, the need to reach out.

so are we selfish bastards after all? the self reigns supreme?

or am i just being cynical?

March 2, 2007

my first (and last) mba interview !!

start scene.

q: tell us about urself.
a: i am so-and-so.

interrupt - we already know that.
okki, i hail from so-and-so city. did my schooling from st. xavier's there[stressed this part ]. took part in lots of extra acads there. after 10th i decided i wanted to pursue a career in science and engineering. so iit happened. in iit, i again tried my best to maintain a decent mix of acads and extra-acads, but i don't think i've been as successful here as i was in school.

q:what extra-acads are you talking of?
a: most of my extra-acads have been literary. i did this. i did that..blah blah

q: oh! but they were all at school/college level.
a:no ma'm, i've won at national level too. wait a sec. [open my folder. and show her the certi. take this opportunity to hand them my folder]
[there were two of them, won in 9th and 12th, an icse all india creative writing competition]
i say:the one in 9th was more important of the two coz this competition is open to students from 9th to 12th and that particular year, i was the only 9th std student to have my essay included in the top 15.
**lots of nodding of head going on in panel**

q:so what topics were you given in them?
a:tell them. say i don't remember the second one as it was a poem. and i had ended my essay with a poem of my own, though it was all rhyming. it was only later that i realised that rhyming is not all that is there to writing a poem. [lady seems interested]

q: so can you write a poem for us now. on xlri?
a: but there's already quite a gallery of good poems on xlri [hinting at GMD]

q: no, no we want you to write.
a: okki, i need paper.

[write them a poem on the spot. something about when everything is done and every place has been visited, there's a last frontier left to conquer, to xl, it's xlri]
[hand them the paper. but they ask me to read it myself. so i do. smiles all around]

i ask : is it that bad?
a: no, we just wish it was all true

q: what's hdi ?
a: human development index.

q: what are the criteria for it?
a: the only ones i remember are health and education. other than that i don't remember anything.

q:what's transparency international?
a: an international organisation that brings out a corruption rating of different countries of the world, of which i think india is about 127th [i later found out it's the actual rank !! YAY!!]

q: which country is ranked first?
a : sweden, i think [ this was also found to be correct later !!]

q: what's the group of countries around sweden called?
a: scandinavia. it's sweden + finland + norway.

q: why is it named so?
a : i don't know.

q: what's your course [maths and computing] all about?
a: it's a heady mix of maths and computers. though i must admit i know precious little in the maths part.

q: you are going to complete a master's degree in that subject and still you say you know little?
a:look, there are two types of maths courses we've done. i am weak in the subjects where you have constructive proofs, where you know the answer only if you know it, there's no way you can reach the answer on your own from the previously taught principles, unless you happen to be euler.
** one or two sympathetic nods **
the other variety is the logical one. like graph theory, discrete mathematics, modern algebra and i'd be more than happy to answer any questions on these topics.

q:what's your fav subject?
a: algorithms.

q: do you know about vedic mathematics?
a: only a little. just a few tips and tricks like the one line mulitplication and squares.

q:why so, why not more?
a: i chanced upon vedic mathematics quite late. and for someone coached in the western style, it's a bit difficult to unlearn all that stuff and learn this elegant method.

q: where did you find it useful?
a: in any time-constrained exam. for example, cat and xat.

q: what was your percentile in cat ?
a: tell them. say i messed up di.

q: so how do you compare the cat and xat papers?
a: the first factor of course is length. quant in cat was child's play when compared to xat. xat passages were way too lengthy, but then cat had ambiguous ones.

q: do you think such an exam is a just way to judge someone?
a: no i don't, but that's all that you can do.

q: i don't want a politically correct answer. tell me what you feel.
a: it's unfair to judge an individual on the basis of his performance in a particular three hours on a particular day at a particular place. lots of things can go wrong.

q: so do you think i'll have a good idea of him if i administer him 50 tests?
a: i think so. something like the law of averages. like for example, if it was decided that one's performance in college will be decided on the basis of one exam at the end of those four/five years. that would be unfair, won't it? that's why we have cumulative grades. so that an individual is given a chance to improve his grades if he messes up one exam. he may or may not do so actually, but at least, he's given a chance.

q: what other career options are you considering right now?
a: i've got a job in futures first. other than that, xl is the only option i'm considering right now.

q: you are in iit. haven't you considered going abroad.
a: no ma'm. there were two companies which were placing students abroad. i didn't apply in them [which is the truth]. i want to be here in india with my parents.

q: even at the cost of your career?
a: if it comes to that, then yes.

q: what does futures first do?
a: it's a futures trading company. [and before he could ask, i said] i don't know anything about futures. the company tested me on my quantitative skills, quick-decision making ability, reactions to stress, reflexes and they found my performance satisfactory on these accounts. they'll be training us for 6 months and i'll be giving my 110% in that.

q: so did they check you on all these parameters?
a: yes, they did. they tried to take a sort of stress interview. but by then i had become a veteran of several interviews. and it hardly mattered.

q:how many interviews did you face till you got a job?
a: you see this shirt? it has been through 9 interviews.

q:so this is your lucky shirt?
a: i think you misunderstood me. this is my unlucky shirt.

q: so why have you worn it to this interview?
a: coz i believe that clothes don't make a man. and i'm willing to stand by what i believe.

[panel hoohaa impressed]

q: so what was the toughest question you were asked in all these interviews?
obviously - what is your weakness?

q: and why was it the toughest ?
a: coz they expect you to lie.

[panel all smiles. i reiterate]
no, seriously, that's what they expect you to do. i narrated my lehman experience wherein the interviewer actually started baying for my blood the moment i told him that i wasn't good at spoken english by my own standards. and this was even though i showed him all the literary stuff!!

q: so what would your answer be now?
a: it will be the same.

q: no, no. if you were to give them the answer they want.
a: the only weakness i can think of is my physical weakness. other than that i don't think i have any weakness.

** panel all smiles**

ok, that will be enough.
i'm done.