Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tryst with Destiny

Many people have asked me about my experience during my job interview…so it is for those all who wish to know my experiences…those who are not interested can stop reading right here.

The fateful day was 26th December, 2007. The results of written test were out much before than I expected. I thought that the interviews for Tata Steel would be over before interviews for this particular company could start. But it was not so. I was enjoying music in my room and just then I got a call from Gautam Midha (thanks bacche!!!) that I had to be present at Jai Krishna Guest House within 10 minutes and that my name was first in the interview list. (What a start!!!)

I expected some 3-4 hour time for the interviews to start. I didn’t have even a copy of my resume that I submitted online for this particular company. So I had to take the copy of my resume that I had prepared for some other company earlier.

But I knew about this old trick of placement people of putting people under pressure so that the people reach the venue 20 minutes before the Interview panel itself. Poor placement people…they don’t have any other way.

But one thing that we all have to admit is that placement guys did a wonderful job all through…and are still doing it. I congratulate the entire placement team for the successful placements so far. Without all those night-outs by you guys our placement would have been awful.

Coming to the interview preparation, I had neither revised the SURA project nor the training…and I knew it from the beginning itself that if they go into the intricacies of project, I would be in trouble. On my way to interview venue, I just glanced at the resume…I had mentioned Economics as one of my subjects of interest. Fish!!! I had read economics a long time before…and was doubtful about many a thing. There was some uncertainty in my mind and I closed my resume and tried to calm down myself.

Anyways, I reached the venue some 20 minutes after I received the call. And 10 minutes later, I was sitting in front of the panel itself.

The panel had four people. Two of them were young people…around 28 years old, I guess. I shall denote them by Y1 and Y2. Then there was a man in mid thirties who asked lot of technical stuff during the interview. I shall denote him by T1. And the last gentleman was the senior most of them. I’ll denote him by S1.

Yours truly would be denoted by Moi.

There was some fear in my mind…and as a result I made the first mistake while greeting Y1…It was 2 pm at that time and I greeted him ‘Good Morning’… fish!!! What a start!!!

Fortunately Y1 did not notice it. (Lady Luck was probably on my side that day:) ) I shook hands with all of them. They asked me to sit. S1 asked for my resume. I again tried to calm down my mind.

Y1: Go through your background in brief.

Moi: Pardon (Wow…must say…a dream start!!! :( )

Y1 repeated the question.

Moi: Blah Blah…

Y2: What factors do you take into consideration while choosing a company for yourself?

Moi: I would like to work in a company that gives me sufficient opportunities to learn and grow, an organization where elements like integrity are inherent in the work culture…

T1 (cutting me short): How do you find about the integrity of the organization?

Moi: I get some idea about it through general perception and…

T1: (cutting me short again) So you don’t like to find out the truth and go with the general perception?

Moi: Sir, I said that I get some idea that way but that is not all. I try to contact some people who are already working in that company and ask them about it because every company would boast itself in its presentation and on its website.

T1:(agreeing) Very true. So what did you find about us?

Moi: I know some of my seniors working in this company and blah blah!!

Y2: What do you understand about the business function we are hiring you for and what would be your role?

Moi: Explained.

S1: You have written that you can do programming in C/C++. How comfortable are you with programming?

Moi: I am very comfortable (For God’s sake…don’t ask me anything!!!).

S1: What is the difference between C and C++?

Moi: (felt a little comfortable) Told them.

S1: Where do we find the use of C++ beneficial over C?

Moi: Told.

S1: And where do we find the use of C beneficial over C++?

Moi: Thought for a moment and told them that I din’t know. (Bullshit!!!…I had even programmed microcontroller…)

Y2: You did internship in Portugal and from your resume I see that its description is full of jargon…considering me to be a non-technical person, explain me your internship project and your role in it.

Moi: I worked on FPGA which is a semiconductor device…

T1 (cutting me short): Which semiconductor do we use in FPGA?

Moi: Silicon.

T1: Suppose I ask you to build a computer on Mars…how will you do that?

Moi: (where did that come from???) Sir, I will look for silicon on Mars :P

(Man, it was meant to be a joke…he took it otherwise)

T1: Mars does not have silicon. What will you do now?

Moi: (still confident of my wits, I said, smiling) I will use Germanium.

T1: Why germanium?

Moi: Blurted out something about similarity in characteristics of Silicon and Germanium (Man, I didn’t even remember which characteristics were they).

T1: Will germanium work on Mars?

Moi: (Now I seriously started regretting my decision to crack a joke there) Yes sir.

T2: Do you know that the temp of Mars is less than -75 degrees? How will it work?

Moi: Why won’t it work?

T1: What do you know about the effect of temperature on electrical conductivity of semiconductor?

Moi: (Read it in 1st year and didn’t even look at that topic ever since) Blurted out some crap about energy band and energy gap. Also said something about the atomic theory and how the electrons come out of their orbits on supplying heat.

T1: What effect does increasing the temperature of a metal have on its electrical conductivity?

Moi: It would increase (shit!!! What the hell did I say? But I wanted to project myself as a confident person so didn’t back out)

T1: How?

Moi: Sir, the same concept…heating a metal would provide electron with extra energy and it will come out of its orbital.

T1: So what if I decrease the temperature of a metal?

Moi: Its conductivity would decrease.

T1: And what happens in case of semiconductors?

Moi: Its conductivity will also decrease.

T1: But Viraj, you were saying that germanium would work at -75 degree on Mars. How will it do so when it can’t even conduct? You are contradicting yourself.

Moi: (plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz come back to earth :( )

Sir, it will still conduct though to a very small extent. But it would.

T1: I don’t understand.

Moi: ( :(:(:( ) Then explained them the entire thing once again. But T1 was still unhappy with my explanation.

T1: What other materials can I use if I don’t have even germanium available on Mars?

Moi: (I thought of saying that I would bring a computer from earth…also Mars is closer to Earth these days. So bringing a computer from earth would be cheaper :P …but I was afraid to crack another joke…so started thinking…)

Y2: Probably you will have to look into the periodic table.

Moi: (with this welcome respite…) yes sir. I will have to.

Y2: So you were explaining your internship. Continue.

Moi: Sir, I worked on FPGA which is a semiconductor device and allows reconfiguration. The aim of the project was to design a multi-serial protocol IP core for 3 serial protocols namely…

Y2: (cutting me short) Viraj, I asked you that I don’t understand all that technical jargon. Explain me in simpler terms.

Moi: May I assume that you understand Boolean algebra?

Y2: Yes, yes. I know that much. And what is FPGA? Is it some hardware or software?

Moi: explained it well.

(I consider myself lucky in the sense that they didn’t ask anything about the technical aspect of the internship. I was not well prepared with that. In between Y2 asked for simplification of a few more technical terms but then I explained it well and Y2 seemed to be satisfied with my explanation :) :) :) )

Meanwhile Y1 was carefully reading my resume and was also observing my body language.

S1: You have mentioned that Economics is one of your areas of interest.

Moi: ( :( :( :( ) Yes sir. (I tried to sound confident)

S1 asked me something…I could not understand the question either.

S1: OK. Leave it. Tell me about price elasticity of demand.

Moi: ( :) :):) Probably knew only this thing in entire Economics course) Explained very well. I gave examples too. Also explained cross-elasticity of demand, Giffen goods, conspicuous consumption etc.

S1 seemed to be very pleased. In fact he was smiling as well.

Moi: (:D :D :P :) )

Y1: But there is one basic assumption that you are missing here. What is that?

Moi: (thought for a moment) Sir, the demand for any product depends on a number of factors…

Y1: (cutting me short) No, tell me the basic assumption involved.

Moi: (Thinking…)

Y1: OK. Leave it.

Moi: Sir, but I would like to know. Please tell me the assumption you are talking about.

Y1: That we assume that factors other than price remain constant while describing the price elasticity.

Moi: (Shocked…) Sir, this is precisely what I was coming to!!!

Y1: (smiling) OK.

T1: So your B.Tech project is on speech recognition. What is different in your project than the existing systems?

Moi: Explained.

T1: Are you sure that no such system already exists?

Moi: Not in my knowledge.

T1: What is the average efficiency of the existing systems?

Moi: (actually confused but tried to sound confident) 70%

T1: What efficiency are you trying to achieve?

Moi: (How could I comment when we had not even started? So thought that I should say a figure more than 70 so that I could say that we have improved upon the efficiency.) 80%

T1: When so many existing systems can achieve only 70%, how will you implement all those innovations that you mentioned and still improve efficiency to 80%? Is this merely a wishful thinking or do you know of any algorithms to implement it?

Moi: Tried to deviate him from the topic and told him about the hardware implementation. And explained it well.

Y2: Yes, OK. You have increased the data base, but we are asking you about the efficiency.

Moi: (All efforts in vain!!! :(:(:( In electrical engineering, the 7th semester is as hectic as hell. CAT and GRE preparation takes its toll too. The results also indicate the sad story. People who never scored less than 7 scored 5 point something…8 pointers scored 6 point something and so on. Generally we all start BTP in 8th semester itself. And now he was asking about the project itself. I could have told him the entire idea of the project, its applications etc…but by talking about the efficiency, he was asking about the actual progress so far :(:(:( And I knew it for sure that had I said something, his next question would have been…How are you so sure about the efficiency? Have you tested it? I was caught badly in their trap this time)

Moi: Sir, we complete the project over 2 semesters. We will implement our idea through both software and hardware. And we are working in a team of three. My other partners are looking after software implementation part.

Y2: Did they not tell you anything about software part?

Moi: No sir, I was concentrating on hardware part.

Y2: OK. But ask your partners about it too.

Moi: Yes sir.

Y1: Your resume seems to be full of technical stuff while we have come to hire people for consultancy work…

Moi: (Knew it well that I had screwed the interview and this made me fearless and so I cut him short and said…) what else do you expect in my resume considering that I belong to a technical institute?

Y1: No it’s OK. But I expected you to customize your résumé’s contents according to the company.

Moi: Sir, once we submit our resumes, we can’t change the contents…we can only change the priority order of extra-curricular activities and areas of interest.

Y1: OK. Do you want to say something?

Moi: Expressed my interest in their (and now mine too :-) ) company and told them about how am I suitable for it.

T1: One last question. What is your dream company?

Moi: Again started with my fatte ( for people outside iitr, fatte is a lingo here and generally accepted definition of fatte is – “the truth of life” :P)… sir any company which…

T1: (again cutting me short) No, but everyone has one dream company. What is yours?

Moi: It was ITC.

T1: was???

Moi: Yes sir…it came here on 4th day itself.

T1: OK.

Y2: Any preferences for location?

Moi: I would prefer Mumbai, but any other location would also do.

S1: Will you be available for next one hour on this mobile number that you have given us?

Moi: Yes sir.

Moi: Will there be a second interview?

S1:(You idiot!!! let us find out whether you clear even this interview or not) May be.

S1: Appearing for any other company today?

Moi: (At this point there came a thought in my mind that he might be interested in selecting me) yes sir, GE.

S1: But it is late in the night.

Moi: Yes sir.

S1: Thank you very much for your interest. You may go now. Please send the next person in.

Moi: It was a pleasure meeting you sir. Again shook hands with all of them and came out.

As I came out, I noticed beads of sweat on my temple. But it was not because of interview itself. Actually it was becoming unbearable in coat.

Others waiting eagerly for me outside told me that grilling went on for more than 30 minutes.


Ashwini said...

Hey dude...
Very nice narration !!
cheers :-)

Viraj said...

Thnx bhai :)

surendra said...

you have written a good script.
aboutyour interview good.

Khushal said...

d cartoon column at d start of this narration is awesome man!!
u keep on writing like this nd i tell u we would have to purchase another novel from an IItian but form roorkee this time!!!
think abt it VG!!
@@@@@@@good work keep it up@@@@@

Viraj said...

@ Surendra - thnx yar

@ Khushal - :)
vaise never thought abt it, but will consider it now :D

unpretentious_diva said...

thinks about taking the interviews

Setu said...

brilliant narrative man

JaY said...

Just go on to say how grilling Interview can be!!!

BTW, you did not mention whether you clinched the job or not :)