• Simran Somani

CA Interviews – Aayushi Mehta & the IIM-A tango

Another CA in the IIM-A family!

We are excited to share the unique interview experience of Aayushi Mehta, a Chartered Accountant and my fellow batch-mate at IIM-Ahmedabad (2020-22)!

Aayushi had a “hatke” interview in terms of how it deviated from regular interview questions and the very first question threw her off guard!

Read more about it down below!

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Aayushi’s Background

10th – 92.73%| 12th – 88.67% (Commerce)

B.Com – 88.21%

Narsee Monjee College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai University

Chartered Accountant – AIR 48 (CA final) [IPCC 60%, CA Final 65.38%]

3 years Article-ship at Bansi S. Mehta & Co.

Work ex – 22 months, Valuations, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC)




An overview of my interview experience:


The one statement I had heard the most during my mock interviews was, "Do not be stressed about the interview as they are looking for reasons to select you and not reject". I didn't believe it till I had my interview experience.


My interview wasn't a traditional or structured one. There was no cliché "tell me about yourself" starter. I was not asked any questions around academics or deep technical testers.


It was actually majorly based on current affairs.


Also, they did give me subtle hints in between, appreciated my honesty on a certain matter and didn't counter question it, and gave me ample opportunities to speak on the topics of my choice, all while trying to make me feel comfortable.


My interview take-away:


The best way to approach it is to think of it as a conversation instead of an interview. Be honest, calm and confident. Going with a positive mindset really helps.


Also, try giving as many mock interviews as possible and work upon the feedback you receive. The questions asked during the final interview would still be unpredictable but at least you do learn how to tackle them in the best way possible!

Interview experience – IIM-A

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai.

21st February 2020,

Duration : 25 minutes

AWT (20 minutes) – Two people arguing, one says banning free speech is shameful, whereas other says speech can incite violence so is it really worth it.

Which view point do you agree with? What are the stated & unstated assumptions? What would strengthen/weaken the argument?

Interview:

While you were giving your written test, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a post about some girl in Bangalore who said "Pakistan Zindabad". Now there are sedation charges against her. What is your opinion on it?

This was a challenging question as I expected the 1st question to be a standard HR question where you can highlight your achievements/likes for further discussion.

However, during such a situation being calm and smiling really helps.

I said that had it been any other country, nobody would have taken such actions and there are these charges just because she said Pakistan.


On the other hand, such actions can motivate others to follow suit as well and hence the action had to be taken.


I concluded by saying it was quite debatable.

They tried to counter question a lot on this topic. However, I refrained from taking a side as I really didn’t have an opinion on it.

What do you do?

Sir, I was working with PwC in the Valuations department.


I explained the 3 approaches and various methodologies of Valuation in detail with reference to the projects I had worked on.

I was hoping they would ask to elaborate on the projects I mentioned. However, that didn’t happen.

If you have to value an insurance company say LIC, what would your approach be?

I explained why the “Income and Asset” approach won’t be appropriate and hence we'll apply “Market” approach.

I also explained the entire procedure - peers screening, multiple computation, and adjustments to multiples. Further, I gave an example of the project I had worked on in the NBFC space as to what parameters are considered while making adjustments.

Lastly, I highlighted how non-monetary considerations should also be given weightage.

I realized later that I probably shouldn’t have mentioned the “non-monetary considerations” part. Oops!

What do you mean by non-monetary considerations? Can you state a few?

In that moment, I couldn’t think of a lot.

I mentioned that corporate governance could be one. There would be many others as well.

How can corporate governance affect the valuation? Can you explain with an example?

It really felt like they were examining each and every word through a microscope.

I gave an example of the differences between public vs. private sector, family owned vs. independent owners, etc., and talked about how it impacts the decision making, motive of the company. I concluded by saying that we need to adjust the multiple as the two can’t be considered directly comparable peers.

What do you think about climate change?

Paused for 10 seconds as I wondered how the topic suddenly took a different tangent. At that point, I suddenly realized that it was in reference to the “non-monetary considerations” of LIC valuation.

Told them how it can affect the business of LIC in terms of increased burden of claims. Elaborated on that for a bit.

The interviewers do try to help you and give you hints! Only catch is to actually pick up on them!

What if LIC was not into health insurance? Would it still have an impact?

I explained how no matter what the industry is, demand in the end is always driven by consumers. Hence, it will have an impact.

What do you do during your free time?

Sir, I like to paint during my free time. However, I’m an amateur painter and do not follow any specific painter.

Why did I proactively mention this fact? Interviewers tend to ask a lot of questions on this topic such as which painter you follow, what do you like about his paintings, awards in this space, etc. However, the honesty helped, and they were kind enough to let it go and end the discussion.

*Tip – Read AS MANY interviews as you can! Especially from people with a similar background. That is how you will know which common pitfalls to watch out for!*

I see you left your job in September. Was there any specific reason? Or was it only for CAT preparation?

Sir, it was for CAT as well as personal reasons. I had given the CFA Level 3 exams in June ’19 alongside my job. Unfortunately, this didn’t give me enough time to prepare for CAT.


After a lot of contemplation, it seemed like a good opportunity to focus on CAT for the time being and take a leap of faith. No counter-questions. Phew!

Do you read the newspaper?

Yes.

Which ones?

Economic times, Mint.

That is only related to business and finance. What about other aspects?

Mentioned “in-shorts” and other applications which cover a wider array of topics.

Latest 3 topics you read about?

Told them about Covid-19, Trump’s visit to India and Adjusted Gross Revenues dues (‘AGR dues’).

Is he going to come now? Isn’t he already here?

He is coming on 24th.

Okay, what do you think is the purpose of his visit?

The other panelist said, “Maybe he had some additional miles left which he needed to complete and hence the visit to India”.


They do try to make you feel comfortable and it is more of a conversation than an interview.

Sir, I don’t think there’s any agenda as such, mainly it is for strengthening India-US relations in light of the U.S elections. They will also discuss the ongoing trade deal. Elaborated this for a bit. .

Do you know the U.S. election process? Is it different from India’s?

I didn’t know the entire process.

Told them that I didn’t know it in complete detail. However, mentioned that during the previous elections Hillary Clinton had majority votes and yet, Trump won, so there are differences for sure.


Explained India’s election process in depth.

*Helpful tip - It helps to state whatever you do know around the topic instead of simply stating “I don’t know.” Ensure that you are factually correct though!*

Which candidate will go up against Trump?


Sir, it isn’t finalized yet. As of now, as per the majority, it is Joe Biden.

Okay, and what is your take on AGR dues?


Explained about AGR dues issue. Talked about the rationale behind incorporating the clause in the Act (change in government share from fixed to variable structure to help the telcos) and mentioned that there have been controversies on it since almost a decade. Spoke about recent Supreme Court judgement ~INR 1.47 lakh crores is payable by the telcos out of which share of Airtel, Vodafone being ~INR 35k crores and ~INR 53k crores respectively.

Currently, the same is under discussion as the assessment made by the individual company is much lower than the order.

Further, there has also been news stating that if there is no change in the liability, the shareholders of Vodafone would not be willing to invest anymore and may declare bankruptcy.

Do you concur with SC judgement? If not, what do you think should be the way forward?

No sir, I do not concur with the judgement. Cited my reasons.

Further, they should be given sufficient time or an option of staggered payments so that telcos can cope up with it.

Explained further that there are anyway barriers to entry in this space post introduction of Jio and this will just be an add-on.

How do you think it can affect the spectrum?


Mentioned that with only 2 players, Government will lose its bargaining power. Elaborated on this further.

They tried to convince me that it will impact the telcos and not the govt.


Told them that I still believe the bargaining power would be with the telcos.

Okay, thank you. Take a toffee or cashews, if you want.

Verdict – Converted!


PS - You can reach me for any queries on my Linkedin here. I would love to help you out!

 

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Interested in learning about how to approach the CAT? Check out our Strategise the CAT series here!


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My honest IIM-A interview experience

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