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  • Writer's pictureSimran Somani

CA Interviews - Tanuj Ruia & a technical round with IIM-B!

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

A CA is always on edge while preparing for his IIM interview. Why? Because we have about 12,000 pages of course material to not only cover but master!

But what happens when your IIM B interview panel tells you that it’s time for you to go back and review your entire CA syllabus?

Today we have Tanuj Ruia, who faced tough questions on not only his choice of doing an MBA after CA but also on the real life applications of theory we study in CA!

In his IIM Bangalore interview, Cross-questioning was the name of the game. As nervous as one could possibly be, the interviewers seemed to have made up their minds to drive him to the ropes, taking him (and us!) on a ride for the stress interview of a lifetime.

Important Alert! - If you are a Chartered Accountant, Lawyer, Economics or Commerce graduate who wants to make it to the B-School of your dreams, don't forget to subscribe to The Unconventional MBA!


IIM Bangalore Interview

Date: 27th Feb, 2020

Venue: President Taj, Mumbai

Interview Duration: 25 minutes

Tanuj’s Background:

CAT/10th/12th/ B.Com:

99.69%ile /92.3% /93.8% /77.77%

Chartered Accountant - All India Rank 15, CA Final

WAT: “Aadhar has become a success by enrolling 120 crore Indians as per a survey. However, people are apprehensive about the privacy concerns of Aadhar. What are your views on the same?”

Personal Interview:

P1 & P2 - Professors at IIM B

P1: Hello Tanuj, hope you are fine. Are you nervous?

Was I giving it away so easily?

Me: Good Evening madam. I am doing well. I hope you are doing well too.

Yes, I am a bit nervous. This is one of the most important days of my life. Naturally, I am a little on edge.

However, I am sure that I will be more comfortable as the interview progresses.

P2: So Tanuj, what was the WAT topic about? What are your views on the same?

Me: I gave them a brief summary of my WAT and the reasons for my conclusions.

P1: Give me one advantage and one disadvantage for each one discussed-

  1. Direct Cash Transfers to the poor

  2. Giving necessities at subsidised rates to the poor

  3. Giving necessities free of cost to the poor

Which according to you is the best alternative?

I started out by giving an advantage for the DCT method. P1 interrupted me and said that subsidies were better than direct transfers as the funds could be used by the beneficiaries to buy necessities.

I appreciated her point, and smilingly said that it was my plan to quote it as an advantage in next point. We all shared a laugh (Yay!)

I was in for a lot of cross questioning on everything I said.

Luckily, I had recently read the book “Poor Economics” by Nobel Laureate Abhijeet Banerjee, which had some insights on these topics andI used that to conclude my stand.

That laugh in the middle really did not mean an easy interview!Deep down inside I had a niggling feeling that the cross questioning was just a glimpse of what I was going to begin to experience. However, I tried my best to remain calm.

P2: Do you know anyone studying at IIM B or at any other IIM?What differentiates them?

Me: I do know people studying at IIM A and IIM C. I am also in touch with my mentor from IIM B

(Fun fact! -We are assigned mentors for the interview at IIM-B).

I told her about their way of thinking and their structured attitude to any problem by citing an example. I also told them about a start-up which one of them was conceptualizing.

As I continued to ramble, P1 did not look even remotely convinced, and by this point I was certain that I was done for and it was going to be a stress interview. But I kept going, keeping a plastered smile on my face and hoping for the best.

P2: What have the people who were interviewed before you told you about us?

Me: (I was 4th in my panel) Honestly, the first 2 candidates looked pretty relaxed. I did not ask them about their experience since it would have created a bias in my mind.

However, the person who came just before me looked a bit perturbed. He came to me and said that he had a stress interview and wished me luck (with a sheepish face).

P1: Why MBA?

Phew! A question I DEFINITELY knew the answer to. We’re back in the game!

Me: I had a well prepared answer for this question. I told them about my interests in the field of Consulting and Finance and MBA being one of the most efficient ways to get to my goal. I added that the group exercises and Case study based pedagogy of B-schools would help me in developing my skills. Also, learning from the experienced faculties and a diverse background of peers will be an enriching experience.

There were some counter questions and discussions about fields and work in my desired profession. I guess I answered them satisfactorily.

P2: What are your hobbies?

Me: Told them about my love for cricket, badminton and TT. I also told them that I am Black belt holder in Taekwondo. (She laughed and said that they won’t be asking me to perform over there)

P1: Okay. Since you are a CA, explain to a layman what cost of capital is.

Great. Tanuj, this is your chance, I thought. Time to talk about what you’re good at, and what an easy question to start off with!

I started with the meaning and components of WACC and explained it by giving an example.

The discussion went on about various components of Cost of Capital such as Cost of Equity, Cost of Debt and Cost of Retained Earnings.

P2: Would you invest in a start-up, say OLA, making huge losses. How will you evaluate the proposal?

I told that among the many ways, Discounted Future Cash Flows and Future prospects are the options I would go for.

I also added that Investment decisions are dependent upon the price at which the asset is available.

P1: How do you calculate the Cost of Equity for a startup?

Me: Cost of Equity is the return expected by the investor. It can also be arrived at by comparing it with similar companies and adjusting it for the level of risk.

P1 continued to counter, saying that since there are so many investors with different

expectations, how will the rate be determined? Would they not always want maximum return?

I tried to explain what was on my mind using the example of debentures, but P1 gave me irritated look and asked me remain focused on the equity part only.I somehow tied it up by comparing the rates to the economic concept of demand and supply, concluding that the rates will be eventually decided by the market forces by adjusting the risk and value of the securities.

P2: Is there any formula?

Me: I had just started describing the Gordon’s Dividend discount model to find Cost of Equity when P1 counters (Yet Again!) by pointing out that for a startup, dividend information won’t be available since the company might have just started the operations.

I thought about the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) but even that model requires Beta and suffers from the same shortcomings as the Gordon’s model.

I finally concluded by saying that by using Cost of equity derived by such a model for a similar company in the industry, adjusting it for changes in the capital structure and risks of the new company, an expected rate could be arrived at.

P1, regardless, was not pleased with my answer.

P1: Okay, I am done. I think you need to study your CA course once again.

The fake smile still plastered on my face, I looked at the professors and thought ‘Bye Bye IIM-Bangalore. Let’s go home.’

P2: (Hiding a smile) She’s kidding. Do you have any questions for us?

It had been a long day, and a longer interview. Relieved, I recalled a query I had seen on the IIMB website as a part of my preparation and asked them about it.

P1 and P2: Okay then, have a nice day!

Dejected, I wished them the same and left, taking with me any hope I had for making it to the Place to B.

Fast Forward to 8th May, 2020-

Verdict: Converted.

Not just converted, I was one of the students to be offered an admit to the hallowed halls of IIM Bangalore with a scholarship.


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