Mr. Subham Rajgaria from IIT Kharagpur, was recently placed in Mckinsey as a consulting analyst. Communiqué IIT Kharagpur, interacted with him on the interview process and the strategy he adopted for its preparation. Here, we present you a glimpse of the brief interaction we had with him. We thank Mr. Rajgaria for spending his valuable time with us for the same.So, Subham, What was the general interview process for companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.
Sure. Mckinsey has this portal which was released just around August where you will have to send your cover letter and your resume. So based on these, they shortlist around 15 students after which they conduct a buddy session. What happens in the buddy session is that 2 people from the company who might be your alum, might be alums of other colleges, like 3–4 yrs senior to you, help you in the process of preparing for the interview, which will be coming up later. What happens in these types of interviews for consultancy companies is that you have case interviews, where you are given a scenario, which might be about the problems with the company, lets say the revenues are falling, or someone has launched a new product, and you have to identify the problem and give recommendations. The buddies help you prepare for such cases and gives you some tips about how to go about this process. After this, there was a round with some of the people at Mckinsey. That was round 1. That was around 11th of September.In between we had 15–20 days with the buddies. This time it was a little short. Last year, my seniors had a longer period, the interview was in October.
Was the buddy session evaluated?
The company will tell you that it is non-evaluative, however I am not sure. There might be a 50–50 chance that the buddy might put that he has done well in the buddy session, so it is important to take care during these buddy sessions and actually do them well. So, on 11th of September, we had round 1, I had 2 rounds of interview on that day with a few other people at Mckinsey. Some of my seniors and batch mates had 3 rounds, depending on how well their interviews were. Finally, they shortlisted 5 people for the partner round, where partners from Mckinsey take your interview. So that happened on 13th On that day, again, I had 2 rounds of interviews, both were partner rounds. So, this was the general interview process, with the final round on 14th of Sept. This was the entire process.
Could you please list down questions were you asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.
Sure, as I mentioned earlier, these are generally case interviews. Case interviews is identifying problems.Apart from case interviews, what they ask is our guesstimates. For eg, you will have to guess how many planes are flying in India or a question which I was asked in the first round was, what was the market size of the e-commerce business in India. So, what is important here is that depending on the interviewer, he may not be looking for the exact number, but the process behind it- approach. So, it has to be logical, structured, it is not something that you just come up with a number in your mind. Even if the number is correct, that does not say that you are a good candidate. But if your logic is correct and you might hit the number by a factor of 10, it usually works out and is worth more. In the 2nd Interview of the 1st round, there was a sort of an HR question, like we already had a device planned for a bank, we have to make sure that the banks employees follow it. So, I was asked that this scheme, which was proposed by Mckinsey is followed by the client. So, these were some of the questions and normal case interview questions can be easily found in the case interview books, such as CIC by IIT Bombay, IIT Madras Day 1.0. This are the books which the candidates can refer to and have more idea about how case interviews are. They did not ask any puzzle as such, but they do ask a lot of HR questions, like, why do you want to join consulting, or tell me something about yourself which is not on your CV. Its not very typical, they don’t ask your strengths and weaknesses, they might, but rather they will ask you, something that you really work hard for that you cherish it now that you did that through your hard work, or where you show leadership. Candidates should prepare for these types of questions because these can be asked at every interview.
Is there any resource where candidates can prepare for HR?
I don’t think there is something for HR. HR rounds are mostly done by CV itself. I think you should be thorough with your CV, you should be clear why you took a decision at a particular point of time. If you have done do a FT, it should not be only because of the academic part, you should not only talk about academic part, but how it helped to develop your personality. What I think is, candidates should try to bring a holistic experience in what they tried out during their stay at IIT Kharagpur. Do not only look at one aspect. There is no specific resource which I can point out, but being thorough with your CV and yourself is the most important part.
What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.
You should sort out where you have shown leadership, what did you do to demonstrate that you are out of the crowd. Everyone is unique. You need to bring that out in front of the people.So, you should write down the points, in case you are asked these questions.Apart from that, each and every question was different.
What are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?
Initially, I was preparing for both the software job and consultancy job. It is very difficult to manage both which I realized from my personal experience. So, I would suggest that the candidates should clear it out which kind of job they want and which sort of companies they want to target because it is almost impossible to target all kinds of companies. It is very difficult because there are a platform of opportunities in IIT Kgp. Once they start preparing for different kinds of job profiles, they will understand what job they want and this should be very clear to them at the beginning itself. To maximize the chances of placement, once you choose, be thorough with that, follow the specific routines. Everyone knows the basic types of questions in each type of profile, so prepare accordingly. Practice well, give your best.
When did you think of going into consultancy?
I guess I thought of joining consultancy once I started. I had applied for BCG. Then I talked with some of my alums and thought that it is a very exciting job.I thought of giving it a shot, so I started preparing around last part of July and 1st week of August, and I really enjoyed doing those case interviews. That is what tempted me to actually prepare for it. I was simultaneously working for my software job as well. It was difficult for me, so I suggest the future candidates to try to figure this out early, but it’s OK if you can’t figure it out even till placement time, if you can manage both, I’s great, you can have many opportunities and finally decide. If you can’t, I would say, it is better to decide as early as possible.
What were the strategies which helped a lot in the process of preparation?
The most important part was solving puzzles and doing those case interviews. When you solve a case interview, you find out a problem, or if you solve a puzzle, may be related to probability or common sense, it keeps you thinking and helps you grow. These kinds of puzzles improve your thinking and there are many approaches to each and every problem. These puzzles motivate you to learn more. Initially, you may not be able to solve the puzzles, but once you start getting it, it makes you feel good and try on more. It makes you feel positive. After coming to IIT after JEE, many people lose the spirit and zeal to solve problems like in the JEE days. But if you keep practicing, this will motivate you to learn more.
How effective and important was the case group?
The case groups and the buddy sessions are very important and are the core thing of a consultancy job. Buddy sessions help you know what kind of cases that company may ask. They try to help you to come into the firm. A buddy generally gives you the cases which have arisen before or are generally asked in companies. Also, forming a case group and solving it with different people helps you to get different lines of thought from different people. This way, you can understand how many different ways of approach can be possible for a problem. The interviewer might ask you to solve a problem in different approaches. So, it’s good if you listen to the approaches of different people. It helps you in the interview.
What should be the number in case group?
For the case groups, I would say 3 or 4. 2 is a bit biased, because it becomes monotonous, you are only exchanging ideas with each other, 3 is more balanced, you can pair up alternatively and this helps you better. In the initial stages, you can listen to both sides, act as an interviewer and interview someone else. That part is also important because you have to guide the interviewee to the answer. It requires a lot of thinking from the interviewer’s perspective as well. Sometimes, I may twist a case, so that it becomes more difficult, that might lead to different possible answers and different possible suggestions.
How did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?
There is no technical round in Mckinsey, but there is another round which did not happen this time. There is a problem-solving ability test which is conducted specifically by Mckinsey, but due to the shortage of time, this time, it did not happen. It’s usually Mathematics and Analytical test. There are some basic form questions, apart from which there are paragraph questions, which you have to read and give analytical answers. There are 30–35 questions and you are given only 30 minutes. It is generally tough because you have to do it very fast.
In case this round is held, do the candidates need special kind of preparation?
It takes place after you complete Round 1. After round 1, they give you some sample papers, doing that would be enough, it will give a basic idea about that.
Other than consultancy, did you look for any other profile?
Yes, for software job there was definitely a checklist. Subjects like Operating Systems, Networks, Database Management systems are very important for placements. These were definitely on my checklist. Apart from that Algorithms and practicing coding on Interview-bed or e-port were in my checklist. Some basic questions of probability were ls very important, almost all the companies ask these types of questions. If not a consultancy company, I was looking for companies like Google, Microsoft. But I was looking more for the companies on front side, where there is less of development. I did not find development very appealing to me, so I was looking for companies having con roles if I had to sit for placements.
Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?
Be honest with yourself, it is very important that you realize where you are standing. Do not try to get deceived, for eg, it is very easy to copy-paste code from somewhere. But doing it from a scratch is difficult in the beginning, but afterwards you get a grip. Always be alert about where you are standing among the people. It is very important to interact with people and get to know where are they preparing from so that you are on the same level. That is the general funda I would like to give.
What were your involvements in Kgp for the past 4 years?
I have been part of Business Club, I have done a number of Case studies, which are different from case interviews, but general problem-solving skills came to me through Business Club.It improved by presentation skills, confidence. This has really helped me along with my friends here. Projects and presentations should not be neglected because it helps at the end of the day.
Thank you a lot for spending some valuable time of yours in sharing your experience.