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Kshitij Bhatt: An IIM BLACKI shortlister's IIM Bangalore Interview Experience!

Kshitij Bhatt is no stranger to The Unconventional MBA. A veteran in the CAT (Seriously, he took it 5 times!), and presently a student at IIM Ahmedabad (20-22), he knows his fair share of struggles about MBA entrances, shortlists, and more.

In fact, we found his wacky MBA journey so entertaining that we've called him back not for the second, but THIRD time to give us nervous folks a little bit more courage as we approach interview season. Read on to find out how his IIM Bangalore interview went, this time last year!

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10th - 10 CGPA | 12th – 95.2% (Commerce)

B. Com (Hons.) – 78.2%

Ramjas College, Delhi University

Work ex – 28 months (as of Feb 2020), Investment Controller - Continental Tires

CAT - 99.83

Interview experience - IIM-B

Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi

14 March 2020 – 2:00 PM Slot

Interview Duration – 25 minutes

Before talking about the interview, let me tell you that I was SUPER CONFIDENT for this interview. My work-ex was on the higher side, and I had invested a lot of time on my SOP.

Editor's Note: Find Kshitij's SOP in this article- IIMB SOP writing - The why and the how!

IIM Bangalore’s interviews generally follow a standard pattern for people with high work ex. I loved my company and the work I did. It is only because of IIM-B’s interview call, I had the courage to resign from my job even before the interviews started!

WAT (30 minutes, 250 words) - Mumbai 24/7 policy approved. Challenges in public transport, infrastructure, and safety? Is it desirable for other metropolitan areas to do the same? (10 mins for thinking, 20mins for writing)

Since the interview was in the afternoon slot at IHC, I obviously did not have lunch at home. I feasted on the delicious chicken, Fish, Chinese, and desserts IIM-B had arranged for us. I was so full, the weather had turned rainy and I was the last one in my panel (#5). At that point in time, I just wanted one thing - SLEEP!! :P

I was called in the interview 2 hours after WAT.

Two professors (P1, P2), Candidate (KB)

P1: Hello Kshitij. Sorry to keep you waiting. I hope the long wait didn’t bother you.

KB: Good evening sir. Sir I feel extremely lucky to be the last one on the panel. (Both of them look surprised)

P1: That’s the first time I have heard this from someone. Why would you say so?

KB: Sir if there is one thing you need to know about me is that I love to eat. And the food IIM B arranged for us was AMAZING!! I had everything and felt extremely full after the dessert. The long wait helped the food to settle down.

P1: (Laughing) Oh C’mon! Are you telling me that A and C didn’t arrange for food?

KB: They did sir. But it was just tea and biscuits in case of A and poori Aloo in case of C. Also the taste wasn’t that good. But honestly sir, you guys have done an excellent job. Thank you so much for this!!

P1: Hahaha. Seems like we paid extra. Anyway. So, you work in Continental India private ltd. Are you still working?

KB: I am sir. Although I did resign on 4th February. So currently serving my 3 month notice period.

P1: Woah!! That confident of converting?

KB: Haha. Let’s see how it goes sir.

P1: So, tell me the history of Continental India.

KB: The company started as Modi Rubber Ltd in the early 70s as a TBX Tires manufacturing company. They had collaborated with Continental tires, Germany from the beginning itself. More about Continental India… (not too important)

P1: That’s a lot of information for someone who joined just 3 years back.

KB: Haha. Actually, one of my uncles worked here from the beginning itself and was the quality head until very recently. He retired soon after I joined. He keeps telling me tales associated with this company.

P1: What products do you produce?

KB: The Factory in Meerut produced Tires – TBX, TBR which are both truck tires and PLT i.e., Passenger tires. Apart from that, Continental AG, the holding company in Germany has 4 other divisions, apart from tires, which are Chassis and Safety, Interior, Contitech and Powertrain.

P2: So, you play badminton and football (from the SOP). Tell me one thing you learnt from football that you use in badminton and the other way around as well. (Did not see this coming)

KB: Football requires a lot of running and since I played for so many years, I believe that the stamina I built has helped me a lot in playing badminton. Badminton made me realize that individual effort is as important as team effort and has helped me believe more in my individual strength. Hence when my team members are not able to perform in football, I am not afraid to take charge individually.

P2: Don't you think people will play solo in football if this happens?

KB: Ma’am I believe that as long as the individual’s mentality is that of team effort, he would always put the team first no matter how good he is as an individual. And since I have always been a team player, I know when to go solo and when not to.

P2: Are you able to identify people who are team players?

KB: In general, yes, I can.

P2: How do you do that?

KB: Since I have played both football and badminton doubles for a long time now, I have had the opportunity to play with a variety of teammates. Through this experience, I have realized how people behave and react in different situations. This instinctively tells me that if that person is a team player or not. (Shitty answer? :P)

P1: What exactly is it you do in your company?

KB: I am responsible for handling all the capital expenditure of the company. So, if someone wants to invest in a new project, I am the 1st level of authority that it goes through. I analyse every project in terms of its financial feasibility, wherever possible, track is spending progress and ensure its timely capitalization. I was recently handed additional responsibility of a production controller and thus responsible for all the period expenses of the plant.

P1: And who do you report to?

KB: I report to the Head of Plant Controlling, who reports directly to the VP of Manufacturing and functionally to the head of manufacturing controlling, Germany).

P1: This seems like a very important position.

KB: (not sure what is happening) Ummm, I’d like to believe the same sir.

P1: No No. What I mean is why are you earning so less?

KB: (still unclear) Sir I am not sure what is the exact worth of my job but getting a monthly salary of 54k felt decent as I had started with only 12K two years back.

P1: Oh! (as if he had just been enlightenment) You have entered your monthly salary!!! People usually enter the per annum amount. I was wondering why anyone would be going through such an atrocity. (kept laughing)

KB: (sigh of relief :P) Hahaha. Actually, all the other forms had asked for a monthly salary, and since no information was given in Bangalore’s form, I entered the monthly salary.

P1: Hmmm. So, investment controller, production controller, reporting to the head of controlling. Too much control?

KB: Hahaha. Of course, sir. We are the ones who plan the budget of the company and monitor each expense that goes from the company’s pocket. If we do not “control”, everything will be unplanned, and the company will not have any direction. So yes, too much controlling, but in a positive sense.

P1: Okay tell me one incident where a senior proposed a project, and you rejected it.

KB: (this was a lengthy answer where I talked about a ventilation project and how a senior was trying to overpower me, but I did reject his project – nothing to be gained from here)

P1: How do you analyze ventilation projects?

KB: If there is a possibility to calculate IRR, I proceed with that. But in this case (above question), it was more related towards worker safety. So, I went to the shop-floor, stood at the place where there was a ventilation requirement for around 10-15mins and realized how bad it was. With all the chemical powder flying in the air, it was a big safety hazard. And the only thing Conti prioritizes over IRR projects is Safety associated projects. Hence, I approved it.

P1: What will be the ROI in terms of non-cost saving projects?

KB: Improvement in working environment in terms of safety and ergonomics, availability of spare to avoid machine shutdown, fulfilment of legal requirement, etc. (also gave examples of each type that I had worked on)

P1: Hmm. Makes sense. What will happen if a company is highly fixated on IRR?

KB: (Talked about all the demerits of IRR here -> bias towards early cash inflow projects, no impact of size of project, possibility of multiple IRRs)

P1: That’s a textbook answer. Tell me something else.

KB: (WTF? I had the same answer for every interview, and everyone seemed convinced) Well, Sir IRR is in terms of % and the company never knows how much amount, in absolute terms, is actually being added to the wealth of shareholders. (Kuch bhi boldia)

P1: Okay. Do you want to add something else?

KB: I am pretty sure whatever I’ll say, you’ll term it as a textbook answer. I have nothing to add. (Attitude much? :P)

P1: How is the dip in oil prices affecting your industry?

KB: Not much sir. The sales are pretty much at the same level… (interrupted)

P1: I am not referring to sales. Tell me about the CoP of the tire.

KB: (take my time to think about it) Sir I am not sure about the impact oil prices might have had on the cost of production of tires. We actually have another person, i.e., Cost controller, who takes care of costing.

P1: Do you know anything about synthetic rubber?

KB: Yes sir. In addition to Natural rubber, one of the raw materials used in a tire is Synthetic rubber or artificial rubber.

P1: Where do you source it from?

KB: Sourcing is done primarily by a separate division of Conti located in Singapore. But as far as I am aware, we source it from Indonesia/Thailand. However, I am not sure about this.

P1: So just for your knowledge, a lot of oil is used in the manufacturing of synthetic rubber and I am sure that the recent prices must have had a huge fall.

KB: Aahh. Didn’t know that sir.

P1: You have been working for what, around 3 years now? Why MBA now? Did you give a try earlier as well?

KB: Sir I gave the exam 2 years back and had a few good calls. But unfortunately, things didn’t work out so here I am sitting in front of you with a better percentile and all the calls :P (did not want to commit the same mistake I did in IIM A Interview)

P1: Hahaha. Well, Kshitij, it was fun interacting with you. Thank you for coming and all the best!!

KB: Thank you sir!

While heading outback, as I reached for the door I turned around and asked “Sir, Ma’am, can say one last thing?”

P1, P2: Sure, go ahead.

KB: The food was awesome! Thank you for the lovely arrangement.

(Both of them smiled, I’m convinced they must have thought that I thought that IHC’s lunch > IIM B interview)

Verdict – Converted (with 5lacs scholarship :P) TUM Editor Note: Thank you for everything, Kshitij! Your honesty and TUM articles have won our hearts and won you many fans! Here's our little tribute to you :)

Friends, kindly note. Kshitij may have converted IIM Bangalore, not through knowledge, but this extracurricular passion of his. xD


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