How did you decide to go in the core profile considering that coding and data are usually in vogue and are most talked about?
I had always wanted to work in the automobile sector and that was definitely one of the reasons, I had opted for Mechanical Engineering in the first place after JEE. Also, I wasn’t the jack of all trades. I was a part of the Electric Vehicle Group since my 2nd year and worked there pretty much all the time. So, I had a pretty simple choice, to go forward with the work I did in the institute, mainly for the four reasons: I loved what I did! 2. I was good at it. 3. I had my CDC internship @Lear Corporation in my field of interest and got to explore it. It turned out to be tremendous and spiked up my interest in the area. 4. The field I worked in (Electric Vehicles), happened to be increasing in demand and scope. I searched for possible work scenarios in the area. What are the future opportunities if I continue with the field and whether I like it or not? Some other things you can do are: Talk to the seniors who are placed in the company of your choice: In my personal opinion, it’s always good to get a first-hand insight as experience still speaks louder and more precise. You will have a better idea of the company culture, further growth opportunities within the company, types of projects and work culture, the HR team, etc. Talk to people about their internships: People generally fight for their PPO and try to get an idea about its working environment. But remember they have just interned there, which is very different from doing a job. Remember, an intern is an outsider with a slightly closer look at a company. So, I would recommend going with the point above wherever possible.
What was the general interview process (number of rounds, questions asked, topics they questioned about in each round, etc.) for the companies that you aimed for?
I had most of my interview shortlists in the core mechanical companies. My first interview was actually at Bajaj Auto on the eve of Day 2 as I was among the waitlisted candidates for Jaguar Land Rover which comes on Day 1. Bajaj Auto had 2 PI rounds the first round being technical and those who clear the technical interview are called for one final round which is the HR interview. A common question you can find in most interviews is “Tell me about yourself”. The ball is in your court. It’s an opportunity to tell the interviewer what’s not on the resume and steer the interview in the direction of your strengths, or the areas you are confident in. Have a sweet, short story. Some people connect things they did in the past which made them the person they are today (like how you ended up here), about their skills and then end up with something on your resume if that matches the flow. Some people just have a long-ass list of their achievements. Something that can act as a foundation for the interview will work wonders, but it’s okay if that’s not the case; you don’t have to keep it sober. Then they ask questions based on your CV and here you should be able to defend each and every word which you have mentioned there. I had sufficient things to show regarding I am passionate to work in the automobile sector so most of the questions were regarding things related to what I have done at EVG & during my previous internship. Moreover, my CDC internship in pre-final year summers at Lear Corporation was also based on the design of an electric vehicle so all these definitely helped a lot. You can expect questions like what have you learnt from your previous experiences and how you would actually like to implement them if you are hired at the company.
Many of us have heard that one should aim for going into the core sector only when your CG is high. Would you like to comment on that statement?
CGPA happens to be the most important one (sadly) because they filter you out. A lot of companies use CGPA filtering, and being rejected just because of low CG sucks! It’s right at the top of your resume and quickly catches the eye. Some companies don’t officially mention it, but they do sort resumes on CG. But you can actually still get through if you have pretty impressive work on the resume to somewhat compensate for your low CGPA. Basically, if HR asks you why do you have a low CGPA you need to tell him a suitable reason for it. You can answer that you have done well enough in the core courses but due to a few subjects like Biology, EVS, Economics which we are kind of forced to take as a part of our curriculum might be one reason for a drop in the CGPA On the other hand, if you have a high CGPA which can range from anywhere above 9 you would definitely face the question “Why wouldn’t you like to pursue masters or a PhD”? The question can be specifically challenging if you have a lot of research projects and a high CGPA. An answer to this might be you can tell you thought about it, just like everyone else in the institute. But after discussing it with seniors, with whom you’ve worked for the past two years and my parents who know you well, they rightly pointed out that skills are directed more towards working in teams and actual implementation of the projects, which on introspecting made sense. Also, you wanted to explore breadth rather than depth, which isn’t generally the case in research.
Any resources you’d like to mention which you used while preparing? Eg- any additionals you took, online courses, etc.
I was an active member of the Electric Vehicle Group, IIT KGP which I have been a part of since my 2nd year. The practical experience I gained from there helped me a lot in developing sufficient knowledge regarding automobiles. I didn’t use any special resources for preparation. I just used to read things that will bring in some clarity and fill in my knowledge gaps. Question sets from the GATE entrance exam are a good resource for core mechanical Engg. practice. For almost all the core companies they conduct a test which you need to clear to even get shortlisted for the PI round. I was also preparing for my CAT exam which usually happens just before placements so it helped me with the problems in the Quants section. You should have one particular field of engineering you know in some depth (like Design, Thermo, Controls, etc.) Having a peer group to prepare along with helps a lot. We used to divide topics among ourselves for core prep, learn the specific topics, and sit together at night to teach their subjects and discuss them.
What was your strategy for preparation? Did you change it depending on which company you were aiming for and in between rounds?
For every company, you need to have a different mindset as the job profile in every company is different. On Day 2 itself, I had 2 interviews (Bajaj Auto and Alphonso). The extended shortlist of Alphonso arrived when I was actually having my technical round at Bajaj Auto and within 10 minutes time, I had to be mentally prepared and adapt myself accordingly for my interview @Alphonso which was actually based on a completely different profile. So for every company you need to know what questions might be asked in that interview, you need to find out from people(mostly seniors) what is the kind of preparation that you need to have and accordingly you need to change your strategy. Having a predefined strategy for each company is definitely beneficial. The rest of my interview shortlists were on Day 3-Mercedes Benz R&D, Caterpillar & Sterlite. But since I had already accepted my offer I didn’t sit in the PI rounds of any of these companies
What are the opportunities in the core sector?
One might consider opportunities in the core sector are less but I feel they are actually not less but they are actually not that rewarding for the first few years in your company. So, people tend to have a wrong intuition that trying to land a job in the core field is tough so I would like to add that there are many companies which provide you with enough remuneration.
What advice would you like to give your juniors who will be sitting for placements this year?
Just be confident of the matter in your CV, and defend it earnestly. Look the interviewer in the eye, and speak, in fact, brag, to an extent elucidating why you would like to work for the firm. Never ever go anywhere near mentioning anything that is even remotely your weak point, anything that you have even the slightest of doubts about conceptually, the interviewer can pick a hole and tear you apart from a speck of hesitation and doubt. Always try to guide the discussion, especially in technical rounds, towards topics of your strength, and stick to it. The interviewers have your CV in hand, so they will naturally try to pull you into your projects and internships, so prepare your CV well, so in the first place prepare your CV in a way that you are sure of explaining and defending.
What would you like to say to the general KGP public out there? Any advice for them?
While listening to your heart minimizes regrets, thinking about the repercussions might benefit you in the long term. Emotions are temporary, but consequences can be permanent. Talk to the people who have worked there. People who have nothing to do with you and people who know you well are the ones who will give you unbiased opinions. After listening to all of them, you are the judge. Say you have two offers to accept, which one would you choose. Say A is paying you more than B, but you value your work life, and after talking to a guy you know in A, you realize A has a shitty work life. You have your answer! Another thing I would like to go with is “Prospects.” Some companies pay you less but have a great brand value. You can always choose to use the experience and their name for a higher paying job later. And finally, RELAX, GUYS! This is just your first job. You have many more opportunities to come. Do the best you can and embrace whatever comes your way. You guys have the grit that brought you here. You can do anything if you decide to do so. Also, your soft skills matter a lot to get you through. You can be a pro in technical stuff and screw up your interview like a pro just because you don’t know how to talk to people. Job is about working with people. So better work on them. Build up the competency you need to get the job; you’ll be okay. HAVE A GREAT PLACEMENT EXPERIENCE! And after you grab what you wanted, PEACE OUT!