What is the one important thing according to you that helped you get placed at P&G?
P&G has a very unique way of carrying out its selection procedure in which it checks if the candidate is fit to work in their culture rather than testing ones technical skills. As a result, having a diverse profile as far as the PORs, internships and projects are concerned and being able to understand the importance of one’s experiences helps. So, in my case, I feel that having worked in Entrepreneurship Cell until my 2nd year and varied internships & projects were the main reasons behind me getting a job at P&G.
Is this true that a high CGPA is required to grab a good placement in the core sector?
Yes, a good CGPA is indeed important to get into the core sector. Talking about the chemical core, most of the companies have an internal CGPA cut-off of 8. Although P&G did not have an internal cut-off of 8 (It could be assumed to be 7.5), most other companies do keep it at 8. So I would say that having a CGPA of more than 8 is quite important.
What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.
Talking about P&G, the first round was a test which included a psychometric test and basic mathematics & aptitude test. After the test, they selected around 18 to 20 people for the interviews. The first stage was a group interview. In the interview round, they focussed on knowing about the virtues we have rather than asking us about the technical details of our projects. In this round, we were three people who were made to sit together for the interview but we had one-on-one conversations with the panel of interviewers. They asked us questions to know how well aware we are about our own experiences and the qualities we got a chance to work on thereby. The group interview was the most rigorous part of the selection process. After this, we had the last round, the personal interview, which had a pattern similar to the group interview.
Can you list down some of the questions you were asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.
The online test: There were essentially 4 sections. The first part was a personality test to check how well the candidate fits the culture of the company. There were about 70–80 questions which needed to be attempted with great care. The questions mainly tested honesty and consistency. For example, the 5th and the 60th questions could have been framed differently but essentially mean the same. The answers should be as close as possible, which they would be if answered honestly. The next three parts tested one’s aptitude. The second part consisted of basic mathematics which was a speed test. The number of questions answered by a student in a given time was tested. The format of all questions was( _ x _ x _ ) + _ = 329 to be answered using digits from 0 to 9 without repeating a digit. The other two parts were also a test for aptitude, memory and speed. The test results and CV was analysed and based on this, students were shortlisted for. Interview rounds: The panel tested the candidate based on majorly two types of questions — Response to a hypothetical situation; Justifying mentioned capabilities by taking examples of situations handled by the individual Below are the questions (one of each type) that were asked to me- Type 1 You have to complete a project in 48 hours. You had planned to complete it right on time and have been working accordingly. Your boss suddenly asks you to show more results than planned which looks difficult to complete in the given time. How would you deal with this situation? Type 2 Give us an example of how you challenged the status quo and made a decision based on your opinion and experience. No technical questions were asked. It will work well in your favour if you focus your answers on your positions of responsibility, internships, competitions that you have been a part of to make sure that even work that you have done in the past is taken note of.
What was your strategy for preparation? Did it change depending on which company you were aiming for and in between the rounds?
I had a decent profile in finance which included an internship, a project and being a CFA(Chartered Financial Analyst) Level 1 candidate. Apart from this, I also had an industrial internship at Vedanta Aluminium Limited where my projects were based on the application of machine learning on a core process. So I had a profile which was a mix of finance and bits of machine learning and core. During the placement semester, I tried coding but I didn’t like it. So, I thought of picking up my finance preparation apart from the regular non-technical preparation. I was preparing majorly for finance and I was shortlisted for Blackrock. When I got to know that I had cleared the test and got shortlisted for P&G, I started preparing for the same as well based on my conversations with people who had already got internships at P&G. Then I appeared for the group interview and cleared it. So I had 2 shortlists for the 1st day out of which I got into P&G before sitting for the BlackRock interview.
Any resources you’d like to mention which you used while your preparation? Eg- any additionals you took, online courses, etc.
These are the general resources that I used during my placement preparation. Aptitude: For tests, the usual constraint is the time limit. So, solving CAT material (I used TIME Practice books) helps. Geeksforgeeks puzzles, probability and statistics practice from books Heard On The Street, 50 Challenging Problems in Probability (puzzles from these books are usually directly asked in interviews of many Investment Banks) For most interviews, knowing one’s CV in and out is the most important prerequisite. Apart from this, interview preparation is mostly company-specific.
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?
The scenario now has changed a lot because of the pandemic. First of all, this year it will be difficult to get placed as compared to the previous years. I would suggest students focus more on competitive coding because most of the companies (about 70 to 80%) ask for coding in their tests. So it’s better if students do competitive coding is essential even if they are inclined towards some other sector if getting a job is their foremost priority as practising coding simply widens the student’s sample space of companies that he can sit for. For the core sector, apart from a good CGPA playing a very important role, it is important to pay attention to the internships/projects that the students do. In case the next semester happens to be online, seeing the bright side, I feel that students could do remote internships along with the semester as well. Having a core project/internship on their CV creates a good impact, as well as they, get to learn many things as well. Apart from this, for most chemical core companies the students should revise their core subjects well, like fluid mechanics, heat transfer etc.
At last, would you like to say something to the KGP junta out there? Any advice or a general message for them?
I included most of the placement related points in the previous questions. Concluding the same, I would just like to say that the placement season essentially tests one’s patience and stress handling capacity. So, it is very important to remain devoted and consistent with the preparation throughout the semester to minimize the extra stress 1–2 weeks before the process begins.