Hello Samruddhi, this is Aniket from Communiqué, and I would like to ask you a few questions for Communiqué’s initiatives, CQ FMCG_Luminaries.
Hello, Aniket! Please go ahead.
What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.
I was shortlisted for a very diverse set of profiles including FMCG, SDE (Software Development Engineer), APM (Associate Product Manager) and BA (Business Analyst). Thankfully, after my first interview on Day 1, I got the offer and did not have to interview for the rest of the companies. The general process is 1 test followed by 1 day of interviews but the GMT(global management trainee) profile follows an unconventional process with a unique system of hiring. There were 6–7 rounds spread across 1 month and the process started at the end of October. The first two rounds were tests, one of which was psychometric and gauged personality traits whereas the other tested focus and attention span. After clearing these preliminary tests, all the rounds which followed were interviews ranging from personal to group interviews. There was one round based on CV and another on HR. There was also a round on situational questions like ‘How will you resolve a conflict between two teammates?’ In group interviews, we were divided into teams and had to come up with a solution within a specified time limit. In the final round, we were paired with one more candidate either from Kgp or another college and were interviewed by the same panel which posed questions out of the box such as ‘What would you do with an aircraft and a billion dollars?’. That was the deciding round.
Could you please list down 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.
Sure. So first let’s talk about the test. In the psychometric test based on personality, companies basically check your consistency. For example, if the first question is ‘Are you a team player or do you like working alone?’, let’s say you answered that you are a team player. Towards the end, there will be a similar question framed in a different way such as ‘If you are at a party, do you like to socialize with everyone or keep to yourself?’ If you say that you’re a lone wolf, it would be contradictory to your previous answer so it’s essential to be consistent and say that you would prefer socializing. The second test was to check your concentration span, risk-taking abilities etc. For example, there was a question with a grid that had some coloured squares flashed on the screen for 2–3 seconds. The grid was then rotated and you had to re-colour the same squares from memory. For such a test, you need to have a cool mind. Don’t even think of it as an ‘exam’ that you need to crack to get a job because that would make you nervous. Instead, consider it a game and give it your best. After that, there were two 2–3 rounds of personal interviews. It is important to brush up on all the projects mentioned in your CV along with the technical details. For instance, I had a patent filed in the USA so my interviewer asked me, ‘If you are on Shark Tank, how will you pitch your invention to me?’ If you have a POR (Position of Responsibility), it is a good idea to talk about how you led your team and what were the obstacles you overcame while organising events. That shows leadership and ownership as well as time management. They will also ask you how you would tackle certain situations such as ‘If your team was unable to meet a deadline, what would you do?’ It’s a good idea to pull examples out of your CV where you dealt with a similar situation and that would create an impactful answer. Finally, for group interviews, try to avoid the common mistake of talking too much. Group discussions are more about listening to what others have to say, understanding all their various perspectives and weighing out their pros and cons. That shows you are a good listener and team player who takes the opinions of everyone into account. It also portrays you as a leader who formulates collective solutions by amalgamating the advantages of all the various solutions presented to you.
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.
Almost all the companies ask questions like ‘Why do you want to join our firm?’, ‘Why should we hire you?’, ‘Why are you interested in this particular profile?’ etc. It’s basically just one question framed in many different ways that all have the same answer — the culture of the company! Every company has a certain set of values that you can find on their website. It’s this list of values that form their culture and while hiring, HR looks for the same values in candidates. Big brands like AB InBev receive applications from thousands of talented people who want to join their firm. Since almost everyone is very skilled, what becomes a deciding factor at that point is who fits into their culture and who does not. In the HR round, we were asked questions like ‘What are your biggest achievements?’, ‘What are your biggest failures?’, ‘How did you overcome your failures?’ etc. Pick instances from your CV and explain them. For situational questions like ‘You have expertise in a certain aspect of a project and would be able to deliver well on it but someone else wants to work on it too. How will you convince him/her to work on a different aspect of the project?’, link your answer to at least one value of the company. Let’s say the company considers teamwork an important value of their culture. You can answer by saying that you will negotiate with and suggest to the other person to work on an aspect of the project that they have greater expertise in because that would lead to better results for the team’s project goals. This shows that you prioritise the success of your team, believe in teamwork and have an important value of the company so you can fit into their culture well.
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 common advice we hear is ‘Build a strong CV’ but I like to paraphrase it as ‘Gain as many experiences as you can’ because every single POR that you sign up for, every single internship that you undertake, every single project that you work on exposes you to a wide array of experiences which help you grow as a person. You might find yourself in situations where you are working in a field that you have no expertise in so you will learn to teach yourself. You might find yourself in a team where most of the people are senior to you and you will learn how to convince them to adapt to new and more efficient systems. All of this really helps you expand your horizons and consequently have a strong CV.
How did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?
I did not have technical rounds as such, it was more about fitting into the culture of AB InBev. We often don’t realise that we’re quite well-prepared for technical rounds and should instead focus on HR rounds towards the end because most of us have little experience in that area. One change I made to my preparation when I got shortlisted was ramping up my HR preparation. I found a lot of question banks online which have almost all the questions that interviewers can ask you and the situations they can put you in, along with their answers. If you are not much of a reader, there are some YouTube channels like https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrtPXCqjm9c7nqgJL-vBSZg which have very structured videos on how to answer every single HR question, right from ‘Tell me about yourself’ upto ‘How will you know when it’s time to quit your job?’ Apart from that, know all the facts about the company. You can read up on their history as well as their recent events in the news. Be aware of new products they’re launching or campaigns they’re planning and so on.
Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?
Don’t take up anything just for the sake of putting it up on your CV, do it because you actually like doing it. When you find yourself engaged in something that you really enjoy, you are bound to succeed and excel in it. So it will automatically end up on your CV. Sign up for projects with the open-mindedness and excitement to learn something new and not just to highlight it in your resume. Also, see your competitors as collaborators. Share your resources with others, study in groups and help each other out because that way you will be much better prepared rather than being all on your own.
Thank you for all your valuable time, Samruddhi, I hope all of this advice will definitely help the aspirants out.
Thank you for the interview, Aniket! I am happy to help. All the best!