An interview or a stand-up comedy show? Jayant Singhal & IIM-Kozhikode!
Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Everyone expects their ideal interview to be the epitome of confidence, sass and exuberance.
But what if your interview turns out to be a laugh fest, where you are just an object of amusement for the highly qualified interviewers? You are flustered at every turn and you leave the room, dejected.
When we reached out to Jayant Singhal and asked him about his most memorable interview, it was not IIM-Lucknow’s (Considering that’s going to Jayant’s alma mater for life!) but his IIM Kozhikode one!
Jayant is an economics graduate who has a wide array of experiences under his belt like Digital Marketing consultant, a freelance writer, a part of the Founder’s office in Houseltt to a deal advisory consultant for KPMG India!
He shares his strenuous, and yet absolutely hilarious IIM Kozhikode interview with us!
Read on to find out more!
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Jayant’s Background :
10th -10.00 CGPA | 12th -96.4% (Commerce)
B.A. Economics (Hons.)
Hansraj College, University of Delhi
Work Ex: 4 months with Spire Research and Consulting (left the firm before the interview)
26-February-2020 - 1:00 PM slot
Immediately after the document verification, we were distributed the WAT answer sheets in the waiting hall. –
Our topic “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."
I was familiar with the meaning and context of this idiom. I had also been reading a variety of things during my preparation for the interviews.
That’s why, off the top of my head, I related this with the current scenario of the Indian economy.
I decided to stick to my intuition and wrote my answer in light of the recent budget presented in the Parliament, highlighting the disinvestment policies, India's debt and borrowing schedule and the 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 blue, plus, they are grilling a lot."
My turn came around 4:00 PM.
IIM Kozhikode Interview Experience:
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.
Fun fact! – After the initial IIM-K call (Which is given to everyone above a certain percentile), we are asked to fill out another form.
The second form solicits more data from us and that is when the actual interview shortlist is announced!
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 going to eat you up.
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, gosh, why am I not able to speak!?*
Ma'am, I left this firm...firm stammered a bit, then took a deep breath and started again Tried explaining to her how the firm provided me with a lot of exposure and how I didn't want to do injustice to 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 theories was an attempt to include behavioural economics into management aspects. I stressed on human interface part while focussing 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 and also 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 to explain the transition from twin-balance sheet problem to four balance sheet crisis by citing 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 out laughing)
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, they broke into laughter…. again)
M: Come on yaar, you have done economics and yet 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: (Laughing) Who is he? He is your friend, right?
J: *what!?? Am I doing a stand-up here!?*
I tried explaining about John Maynard Keynes and his contribution to economics. I also mentioned how the Keynesian school of thought was developed and 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?*
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 it over 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 on my own. You are so unorganised.
(Both looking at my college marksheet then)
F: (in Hindi) Oh, isne to sach me Maths hi maths padha hai!
(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 people, you guys need to reach to the midpoint of the river. Using which statistical device, will you 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!*
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!
(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 got rejected already*
Thank you sir, thank you ma'am.
(While I was standing up from the chair, I was feeling lost and when suddenly...)
F: Wait, please take your personal data form, we don't need it anymore.
(Was taking 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 downhill)
Trying to clarify that I didn't do it intentionally...(interrupted)
M: (Laughing) 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: * I felt like as if I had just received an electric shock, what!? Now, this notepad is taunting me too*
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 just stood there and talked in a frantic voice) Answered them.
M : Take care, bye Jayant.
After the interview got over, I was completely shattered as I thought I had destroyed one of my important calls. I was about to cry when I exited the room.
Worsening the situation, many people outside the room were saying that “those candidates who had been rejected straightaway by the panelists had been specifically asked to carry their personal data forms back.”
Verdict: Direct Convert
My two cents: I feel that they were simply trying to test how I would react under stress and to such diverse and unexpected questions during the interview.
Despite being thoroughly grilled, I tried maintaining my composure and did not to lose my temper.
And that, my friends, is the story of my IIM Kozhikode interview.
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You can also check out some related posts such as:
A Chartered Accountant's IIM-A Interview Experience (PS - It's mine!)
How does a fresher economics graduate make it to IIM-Ahmedabad?
Converting IIM-A after a pure stress interview - Kshitij Bhatt - Ramjas to Ahmedabad!