What was the general interview process (number of rounds, questions asked, timeline, topics they questioned about in each round, etc.) for the companies that you interviewed for?
In P&G, the first round of elimination was an online test, which can be divided into two broad categories. The first half included a personality questionnaire which consisted of about 70 to 80 questions. This part was tricky as questions assessing the same personality trait were repeated several times to see if you are answering honestly. The trick is to answer genuinely because P&G is a company which essentially looks for cultural fit more than anything else. The second part of the online test consisted of three rounds, which would assess your memory, speed and aptitude. The first round tested your mathematical aptitude, for example, you were given a mathematical equation with some blanks and you had to fill them. In the second round, they would show you some dots in a specific pattern and you would have to memorize and repeat the sequence later on. The third round was also a memory-based test. I couldn’t find anything on the internet that would give an idea of how the tests are exactly, but I guess once you start giving the test you will have a much clearer idea about how to go about those questions. It requires basic mental maths, no preparations required as such. This was conducted towards the end of November, after which around 16–18 people were shortlisted. The next round was a group interview, which happened on day minus one. They interview three people at once, the same question is posed to everyone and their answers are compared with the group. Nothing they ask would be something that goes out of your CV. For example, they asked me to give an instance of me leading a junior team, so you have to take points out of your CV or out of your life to answer the questions. They wouldn’t be asking any technical details unless you cite a relevant instance while answering. The bottom line is, they check on your CV while assessing your cultural fit for the company. On the final day of placement, a personal interview was conducted which was quite similar to the previous day group interview, except for the fact that on the final day we were given situations and were asked how we would respond to that situation. For example, the question posed to me was that imagine yourself working on a project for two weeks and being on the verge of making a big breakthrough. The day before your final presentation manager tells you that you can’t work on this project anymore, we have got a new project and you will have to start working on that. How will you respond to that? What’s more important for you, something you have worked on for two weeks or something new that comes on your way? Another question was about me coming up with an innovative cost-cutting solution using cutting edge technology for your company, but the officers you have are resistive about it, how would you go about proposing your solution and convincing them to follow your approach. Now the answers to these types of questions are purely subjective, but it is always a good practice to back up your opinion with profound examples from your work life so that they know that you lead by example and not by words.
Moving on, 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?
If I talk specifically about companies in this sector, if you have time on your hand you can prepare the core subjects from your department. Speaking for my department you should study Heat transfer, Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. If you have less time on your hand I would suggest you go by the questions that have been asked in the previous years, and then prepare the subjects according to that. While preparing for these topics a student should focus more on the real-life applications of these topics. The interviewers won’t ask for derivations or formulas but how those concepts work in real life. Preparing by explaining to your peers would be the best bet. Apart from that, one should also practice basic aptitude, logical reasoning and data interpretation questions once in a day as they occupy a sizable portion of the initial tests conducted.
So, how can students in second-year start preparing for getting a job in the core, how should they build their profile for core jobs?
So if you are preparing for core sector, apart from having a strong grip on the subjects you would have to back it up with the internships you have done in the core sectors and to get those internships you would have to have experience on your CV to justify yourself as an asset. So what you can do is to take up a project in the department you are interested in. You should talk to your seniors about your interests and take their inputs while taking up a project under a professor. Gain some expertise and then include that in your resume while applying for internships. As for how a student should go about applying for internships, there is a three-step process that I recommend to people. The first one is to approach your contacts, if you know somebody who is there in a company relevant to your interest, then ask him about the role, send him your resume and see if that works out. The second step is to approach your warm contacts. The warm contacts would include your seniors, the alumni, the mentors that you have, talk to them about the internships they did and if you find that interesting get the contact details and mail your resume to them. The third part would be cold mailing in which you mail to HR of different companies. In short, it’s projects, internships and a good CGPA.
So CGPA does matter for getting jobs in the core sector?
Having a good CGPA never hurts, and of course, having a lower CGPA has its consequences, because most of the companies do keep a CGPA threshold. I believe if you are aiming for the core sector having 8.5+ CGPA is a must.
Were you fixated on the Core sector or were you also trying for other fields like consulting and data science? If yes, how did you manage time for preparation between them?
Thankfully I had an option where I could go for consulting and I was preparing for that along with my core. As you must be aware that for consulting we have to do case preparations with your peers, so I used to do one or two cases in a day, that would take about 2–3 hrs for me. The case-solving was something I used to do post-dinner along with solving one CAT Mock paper every day, specifically the LR and DI portion, to ramp up my aptitude and accuracy. In the final year, you have a lot of free periods between the classes, so in these free periods, I used to prepare for the core subjects.
One final question, what would you like to say to the general KGP public out there? Any advice for them?
I think that the campus offers us a large number of opportunities and there is no set procedure for you to succeed in college life. The only thing that matters according to me is that whatever you do in college do it with all your heart. Don’t let the position define you, you define the position you have taken. Try to expand the horizons of whatever is expected from you in a particular role and you will do fine. All the best!
Thank you Shubham for your time, I do hope the students at KGP derive motivation from your story.