Updated: Jul 15
When I used to read IIM interview experiences, I often came across stress interviews and wondered, "How would I tackle a Stress Interview if I ever get to face one?" Today, a blog member shared his IIM Kozhikode Interview Experience and it was a flashback to those times of reading nail-biting interview experiences.
Jayant Singhal is an economics honours graduate from Hansraj College, Delhi University and has some months of experience in the consulting domain. He will be joining IIM Lucknow (Batch of 2022). This is his IIM Kozhikode Interview Experience that took place a couple of months back:
In Jayant's Words:
IIM Kozhikode Interview Experience:
B.A. Economics (Hons.) graduate from Hansraj College, University of Delhi.
Work Experience: Few months with a management consulting firm.
Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dwarka
Slot: Afternoon 1:00 PM
After document verification, we were distributed the WAT answer sheets in the waiting hall itself. The instructions were given and we were asked to start. The question was (non-verbatim) -
"Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."
I was familiar with the meaning and context of this idiom. I had also been reading varied things while preparing for the interviews, that's why when I read this question, on the top of mind, I thought that it could be related to the current scenario prevailing in the Indian economy. Hence, I decided to go ahead with my intuition and wrote my answer in the light of the recent budget presented in the Parliament showering light on the disinvestment policies, India's debt and borrowing schedule and fiscal structure.
After the WAT, we were asked to wait for our turn. I was the 5th person (out of 8) to be interviewed in my panel. All the candidates which had their turns before me said, ''They are asking anything out of the blues, plus, they are grilling a lot."
My turn came around 4:00 PM.
There was one male professor and one female. (Probably in their 40s). I greeted them and they asked me to have a seat. (F would be female professor and M would be male professor, I'll be J here)
F - Please hand over your personal data form.
J - (Tensed after all the reviews I heard before, juggling through my folder to find my data form) Sure ma'am!
F - (after taking my form) You seem quite stressed, just relax a bit! This is just a simple interview process, we aren't gonna eat you out.
J - (Trying to smile and calm myself down) Sure ma'am, I am just feeling a bit nervous.
(The male professor was simply staring at me throughout)
F - (After reading my personal data form) Oh my god, what is this? Why did you leave this firm just in 4 months?
J - (Trying to speak, ghosh why am I not able to speak!?) Ma'am, I left this firm...firm (stammered a bit, then took a deep breathe and started again) Tried explaining her how the firm provided me a lot of exposure and how I didn't want to do wrong with my work and team....(interrupted in between)
(Both professors seemed quite disinterested)
F - Leave it! Tell me what is neoclassical approach?
J - Explained how neoclassical approach being an extension to earlier classical theory was an attempt to include behavioural economics into management aspects and also how it stressed on human interface part side by side focusing on the forces of demand and supply as the reasons behind production, consumption and pricing theory.
(F seemed to be petrified at my answer, while M was browsing through his phone, giving me a nod)
F - (passing a notepad and pencil to me) The boy whom we interviewed before you was also an economics graduate, we had a heated debate with him and he was of the opinion that demonetization is the major cause behind current slowdown. Just use your curves and prove it.
J - (what!? where is this interview going? which curves should I use? trying to remember all the curves I have learnt about thinking that I don't really believe demonetization is the major cause for slowdown) Can I please take 1 minute to structure my approach?
M - One minute, huh, why not take an hour? (Both the professors started laughing) Just kidding, please take your time.
J - Thank you, Sir. (Trying to calm down and stay focused)
(While I was thinking, someone from the room service team came inside to provide refreshments to the professors)
F - (grinning) Want some cake, huh!? Come on, you can take it, don't be shy!
J - (a bit nervous) No ma'am, I am good, thank you for offering me the cake.
F - (annoyed) Well, your wish.
J - (after thinking for a while) I think we can prove it by using AD & AS curves, showed them my workings and tried shifting curves accordingly.
M - Would you like to change your answer or try some other approach?
J - Sir, I sincerely believe that demonetization is not one of the major causes behind slowdown and that's why, I am not quite sure how to prove it. (Trying to lead the interview by introducing another topic) I believe the problem is much more scattered. Tried explaining the transition from twin-balance sheet problem to four balance sheet crisis (cited Arvind Subramanian's paper's findings) to explain slowdown causes.
(As I finished, there was a pin drop silence for a while, and then both the professors burst into laughter)
J - (embarrassed, what the heck did I just say!?)
M - What other curves do you think of?
J - Sir, I am not sure. But maybe, IS-LM model!?
( While I was trying to smile, again, they burst into laughter)
M - Come on yaar, you have done economics and you're not sure about anything at all!! Is this what Hansraj has taught you?
J - (facepalm!) Sir....(interrupted again)
M - What is IS-LM model?
J - Sir, IS-LM model is a Keynesian technique. IS curve is derived when goods market is in equilibrium and LM curve is derived when the money markets are in equilibrium...(interrupted).
F - You know Keynes?? Nice!
(Both started laughing again)
F - (Laughingly) Who is he? He is your friend, right?
J - (what!?? Am I doing a stand-up here!?) Tried explaining a bit about John Maynard Keynes and his contribution to economics and how Keynesian school of thought developed and what was his views on savings and investment....(interrupted)
F - So, savings are a form of leakage in the economy, right?
J - Yes ma'am, until they are invested back and..(interrupted)
F - We all should do savings or not then? Tell me what is the optimal savings rate?
J - (Confused, what exactly should I say?) Ma'am, I am not sure but ....(interrupted)
F - You are not sure about anything at all. Is that what you have done in economics (hons)? Come on, savings, investment, this is very basic 12th standard economics, and you don't even remember that!?
J - (Yaar, kya ho ra h ye?) Ma'am....(interrupted)
M - (With a big smile on his face) Have you studied Maths or Stats? Anything at all?
J - Sir, I did study mathematical & statistical methods for economics, plus, I had opted for Maths as my elective in all the four semesters.
F - (in a grumpy tone) What?? Maths for all four semesters?? Where is your marksheet? You didn't even hand over the same to me. Why are you trying to hide your subjects?
J - (frightened to death) Ma'am, just giving you all my marksheets (again juggling through my folder, why don't I find things on time!?)
F - (taking my folder from my hands) Give it to me, I will find it out. You are so unorganized.
(Both looking at my college marksheet then)
F - (in Hindi) Oh, isne to sach me Maths hi maths padha h!
(He has seriously studied only Mathematics)
(Again, there was a big wave of laughter, I had lost all my confidence till then and was feeling quite depressed)
F - (Laughingly) How does your college even award you a degree with such subjects? All Maths? When I graduated, I had opted for a different elective each semester.
J - (Trying to explain my rationale behind choosing mathematics) Ma'am....(interrupted)
M - (in a serious tone) So, you had stats. There is a river and you are standing at one of its bank along with some other people, you guys need to reach to the midpoint of the river. Using which statistical device, you will measure the depth of the river, mean, median or mode?
J - (lol, what is this question now!? cursing myself for such a bad day already) Sir, I am not sure, but I think....(interrupted again)
M - Give me a one word answer, mean, median or mode? That's it, no explanations.
J - (was thinking how mean won't work since outliers will be missed out in such a case, giving up, I just blurted out!) Mode, Sir.
M - Why so?
J - Sir, because that would be the measurement with the highest frequency.
M - (with a big smile on his face) Ah, you will miss out the greatest depth in that case, and shit, your boat will sink down!
(Again, laughter, laughter everywhere)
M - Okay Jayant, we are done, you may leave now.
J - (what!? Leave now?? No current affairs, no intro or HR questions, even in economics, no sound questions? Man, I have got rejected already) Thank you Sir, thank you Ma'am.
(While I was standing up from the chair, I was too lost and then suddenly...)
F - Wait, please take your personal data form, we don't need it anymore.
(Was putting my form back)
F - Wait, where are you taking our notepad? (Shucks, I didn't notice I was also about to carry the same)
F - (Laughingly) Give it back to me, other students also need it.
M - (with a big smile) Wait, Jayant, what could be the reason for you taking this notepad along with you outside this room?
J - (Things were just going down the hill) Trying to clarify that I didn't do it intentionally...(interrupted)
M - (Laughingly) Arey, silly, you should be actually taking this notepad with you. If you take this notepad with you, then others won't be able to structure their answers without it, their interviews will be affected and you will then have higher chances for selection.
J - (felt like as if I had just received an electric shock, what!? Now this notepad is also not leaving me) Will keep that in mind, thank you Sir, thank you ma'am.
(While I was leaving the room, they called me back)
F - You didn't tell us about your family background.
J - (I was simply standing there and talked in a frantic voice) Told.
M - Take care, bye Jayant.
(After the interview got over, I was just shattered inside for destroying one of my important calls in such a manner, I was about to cry when I exited the room. Worsening the situation, many people outside the room were talking that those candidates who had been rejected straightway by the panelists had been specifically asked to carry their personal data forms back.)
Verdict: Converted in the first list itself.
Key Takeaways: I feel that they were simply trying to test how I would react under stress and to unexpected questions during the interview. Despite being thoroughly grilled, I tried maintaining my composure and not to lose my temper.
You know guys, Jayant's IIM-K interview experience was so similar to my IIM-A Interview Experience. You won't believe how much I was grilled. It almost felt like the panelists wanted me to not get in.
But, after reading many such interview experiences, I was finally able to understand what stress interviews are. In fact, there's a post on the blog about "How to handle a stress interview?", in which you can capture when exactly does the panelist start taking a stress interview and what is expected of the candidate in such a situation. Hope this helps you.
You can also read Jayant's other interview experiences shared on the blog -
And, if you're interested in reading other experiences and tips related to IIM interviews, do check out these categories of the blog -