Off I went, with a friend along the lonely dark road, dressed in a tee and shorts. One simply can’t resist showing off how cool he/she can be in the tensest of situations, which is rarely the truth. After waiting for about ten minutes outside the placement cell, a member of the placement council came out with a list and an important looking face.
They had shortlisted forty students, out of the 92 interviewed. I got through, along with most of my friends, and everyone was asked to be present there at 9 o clock the next morning.
I wasn’t that pleased, to be honest. Yes, my interview was that good.
Back to the hostel, I had no idea what to prepare for the next morning. I just went through the stuff Rahul, Lovneet and Shruti had given and taught me, and setting the alarm to 6.30 am, I went to bed.
It took me a few moments to realise why the alarm was ringing in the early morning. There was no real hurry, and I started grooming myself in earnest. After putting on the tie and looking in the mirror, a feel-good factor blossomed out of nowhere. Instead of doing the ‘last minute revision’, I asked Harry to take a few clicks, to which he sportingly agreed. I went into Rishav’s room and told him, ‘I don’t wanna say it out loud, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get placed today!’
Almost everyone came on time to the placement cell at 9 am. No sequence was put up on the notice board. In fact, they started the interviews at ten.
Eleven o clock. Nishit and I were still waiting for our turn.
Noon. I was getting hungry, but only went for water. Nishit was getting frustrated.
Somehow the delay didn’t bother me. I was prepared to wait all day for this. Such crazy optimism is highly unusual for a person like me. So I decided not to eat till I was done.
They finally called us both in to wait at 1.30 pm. The people that were coming out said that they were getting a different interviewer. I tried to find a pattern, but there was none. Some students were even going for their third interviews.
At long last, the moment arrived. In contrast to the previous one, my walk was steadier, more confident. This time the glass door did open smoothly, but contary to what I expected after forty minutes, it was a trembling hand that left the door knob.
The ones who got the surd (sort of leader of the team), wore a bewildered look after they came out. Thankfully (I thought then), mine wasn’t him. He greeted me with a smile. I wonder if his jaws were hurting after doing that all morning.
All was still well, as he asked me my name and a general introduction. But right after that my panic alarm started ringing. I’m so glad he couldn’t hear it.
“Okay Kishore, tell me something interesting about yourself.” Inspite of my love for spontaneity, it’s always reassuring when you hear a usual question. I had no idea how to react to this.
“I’ve lived in a variety of places, Sir. I’ve experienced diverse cultures and dealt with many different people.”
“Even the army goes around in many places. What’s so interesting about that?”
That totally took me off guard. But I supposed this was some kind of test, so I decided not to back down.
“Sir, I’m a very creative person.” (I was thinking, ‘Yeah, that ought to show him!’)
“I see. Then design an advertising campaign for this paperweight.”
I spent the next few minutes staring into the paperweight, thinking of a witty tagline, instead of a plan. But my creative instincts, usually so good, weren’t there. His retort about the army seemed to have ruined it. The words came out incoherently, but they weren’t that bad.
“With the sole function, sir, it would be difficult to market it, unless we increase its functionality. Bluetooth chips are embedded in all sorts of places these days, so maybe we can install a bluetooth chip along with an MP3 player. It would obviously increase its price, but it’s necessary if we have to make it viable for the market at all.”
After his thoughtful nods, I leaned back on my chair. Some would say that’s not polite, but I felt a need to show I’m relaxed (which I wasn’t.)
“Why do you want this job?”
“Sir, firstly I want a non-tech job. Secondly, I think I have the necessary skills for …”
“And what do you think those skills are?” He cut me off.
“Umm..good communication and analytical skills..the skills which aren’t reflected in a gpa, and I appreciate that on your part.”
“Why do you think other companies give weightage to gpa so much?”
“They obviously think that a good gpa shows sincerity and a hard-working regime.”
“So you’re saying you’re not sincere or hard-working?”
“I’m not saying that, sir, that’s my point. You can’t make those judgements purely on one basis.”
“Hmm…so you think we’re all duffers, we don’t know what criteria to choose for our employers.”
Maybe he was trying to shut me up, but it didn’t work on me.
“Not at all sir, no. You can look at my grades, for instance. If you look at any technical subject, I’m not quite the expert, but look at the other stats. Like the summer training.”
“Summer training…everyone scores well in those.”
“I topped my class, sir. I’m really good with presentations.” I was actually second best, but this was a call of desperation.
“Okay Kishore, I’m going to give you a case study to solve. Your college has a cultural fest, right? What’s it called?”
“So let’s suppose that Saturnalia is held in..umm..Thapar University. I want you to estimate the amount of wheat flour consumed in your college, in those five days. I’ll be back in a while.” And he left the room. It was just the two of us now; me and the wheat problem.
I approached in the standard way; first classified all the population into the hostels, teaching staff, guests.. upto even the guards and peons. (Well, they eat too.)
As I was approximating the numbers staying, he came back in. I started explaining my assumptions to him, “..the first year strength will be quite low as most go home during the fest..”
Then I considered the usage of wheat flour in the hostels; parathas and rotis. He’d asked me to leave out the vendors coming from outside.”What about bread?”, he asked.
“Sir you said the wheat flour consumed within the college. Bread is manufactured outside. Otherwise I’d have included Maggi Atta noodles as well.” Yes, I actually said atta noodles.
Then I made more assumptions, like the amount of wheat used in a parantha – 100g. I also considered the consumption according to the time of the day. For instance very few people have lunch in the hostel, during the fest, and prefer to eat elsewhere.
I worked my way to a very unrealistic number. I wasn’t sure about my calculations. “Do you think it’s realistic?” “Yes sir, I do.”
“Kishore I’ve got one last question for you. Say you work a year at Evalueserve. Then you get an offer from McKinsey, who offer a better package at the same position. What would you do?”
“Sir, if I ever thought I was good enough for McKinsey, why would I apply for Evalueserve?”
He repeated the question, “No, I’m saying you will get the offer. Then what?”
Thankfully, I made up for the dumbest answer of my interview with the best one.
” At this point, money’s not that big an issue for me, sir, it’s all about the experience right now. And if, after one year I’m satisfied with my job in Evs, and if money’s not a problem for me, I don’t think there’s any reason for me to leave the job.”
He seemed pleased this time, “Good. Thank you Kishore, that’ll be all.”
And that’s why the hand trembled.
The longest wait of my life (yet), had just begun.