Updated: Apr 12
On 14th April 2019, I was interviewing for a top 5 Bschool in India - FMS Delhi.
My Profile - X/XII/UG/Workex - 9/94/9/21months in consulting
My CAT Score- 99.21 Percentile (General Engineer Male)
FMS shortlists 1010 students for 101 General Seats. The initial shortlists for the college has 40 percent weightage to Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, 30 percent to Quantitative Aptitude, 30 percent to Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.
Before the interview, I was in the bottom 50 of the 1010 students (I made an excel and saw the marks I'd need to score in Group Discussion and Personal Interview to get admitted. It had to be the best score possible to have any chance). Anyone I asked would tell me it's not possible to convert FMS before 99.5+ but I'd done the math. However, in my mind they made me convince it was a long shot, if there was a shot.
GD - The Naxalite movement in India since Independence
I spoke well. Put in points from Arundhati Roy (had watched some of her YouTube videos), put in points from Raghuram Rajan’s The Third Pillar. Dint cut anyone, added points respectfully. I got a 8/10 which was the shared highest in my group of 10.
I came out of the GD panel and was taken to a room with the other team members. Everyone started talking about the shortlists they had. IIM A,B,C, L. I had none. But I din't felt bad. My cat percentile had exceeded my expectations. I ate food I'd got from home and relaxed. I checked google news. Read about different things such as the grounding of Boeing 787MAX and went into detail into what was happening for each news I read.
Interview - I was the fourth person to be interviewed. While waiting outside the interview room, I heard the third guy was singing a bollywood number. He sang well. I thought he'd aced the interview.
My chance came. There were three interviewers. Two male professors (M1 n M2) and a female professor (F)
(F) Introduce yourself in a line or two.
(Me) Started answering by saying “For the last 2 years I have worked in consulting at ZS Associates”
(F) [Abrupt interruption] - Okay Aakash your extempore topic for one minute is “Consulting is not my cup of tea”. You have to speak for the topic even if you feel otherwise.
(F) Alright Aakash. Who is your role model apart from Family members.
(Me) I follow business leaders like..
(F) Why only business leaders?
(Me) I am really passionate about business Ma'am.
(F) Ok. Tell us about one business leader and one non business leader
(Me) Sure Ma'am. The business leader who inspires me is Indra Nooyi. She's achieved so much in her professional career for Pepsi but I what I really like is how she takes care of her employees. She made day care centres at Pepsi offices. Working parents can visit their children at office. I really appreciate that employees can balance parenting with their professional careers.
[Recommendation - If you dont know who Indra Nooyi is then I highly recommend checking out this video]
The Non business leader I'm influenced by is the economist Richard Thaler who's written the book Nudge which is on behavioural economics. He's won a Nobel prize for his work.
(M1) So how did you come to read his book. Was it because of the Nobel prize.
(Me) I happened to read his book because of an earlier book I'd read by Daniel Kahnemann author of Thinking Fast and Slow. His book is in some ways a tough read because of being kind of textbook format, I wanted something more pragmatic and got to know about Nudge.
(F1) Aakash, tell us about any film leaders you follow.
(Me) Yes Ma'am. I really admire how Ed Catmull the CEO of the animation studios Pixar has built a creative company. He writes about how marketing dept wanted to produce sequel movies while the creative department wanted to produce new characters.
(F1) Okay great. Tell us something from Bollywood. Do you admire anyone.
(Me) Yes Ma'am I really like Aamir Khan. He's taken up movies that challenged the status quo like Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots.
(M1) Have you seen his latest movie with Amitabh Bachchan Thugs of Hindustan
(Me) Yes sir I have seen the movie.
(M1) Did you like the movie. Why did it not work at the box office?
(Me) I did not like the movie. It dint work because of the weak script. The movie was supposed to be a commercial masala movie and the audiences realised that.
(F1) Aakash I see you've done a lot of extracurricular activities in your college and read books. How did you get time for all this.
(Me) Ma'am I think UG students have a lot of time at their disposal.
(F1) Cutting me short. You din't have attendance requirement ?
(Me) No Ma'am it was 75 percent. I was regular with my studies in college. I used to read before the class. It helped me grasp much more in class. 30 mins a day was all I needed to keep up.
(F1) Please continue that in FMS
(M2) Aakash, what time did you come today
(Me) Sir, I was one of the first ones to come today at 7.30AM
(M2) But the interviews were from 9. Why did you come early ?
(Me) I came via the Metro sir. I din't want to take a chance because it was the first time I used the Delhi Metro. In fact my cousin's were teaching me how to reach here..
(M2) What did you see when you came ?
(Me) I noticed I was one of the earlier ones. I was busy arranging my documents.
(M2) What else did you see about the building?
(Me) The architecture is a bit old. And I saw this picture which is right behind you (The FMS building) It was a special moment for me. Infact my desktop wallpaper is the exact same picture.
(M2) Did you read the newspaper today?
(Me) I dint read the newspaper sir. But I checked google news on my phone. The most interesting news to me was how there was this airline…yes Southwest airline which is facing a crisis because of grounding of 787Max planes. It's a strange situation the revenue is sitting there and they don't have the capacity to serve it.
(F) Aakash you said your family is here right ?
(Me) Yes ma'am. My parents are in kolkata. I have my cousins here.
(F) So when are you leaving for Pune today or tomorrow ?
(Me) Ma'am actually I'm leaving day after tomorrow
(F) So you still want to have fun till then?
I just smiled.
They said we're done. I thanked each of them.
PI 14/15 Extempore 4/5
Waitlisted at 55. Converted. Living my dream. Not taking any day for granted.
I will like to end with these timeless words from Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or whether the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
~Aakash Agarwal, FMS Batch of 2021
Aakash is a Guest Lecturer at Wiseup Communications. He guides Wiseup students who want to pursue non-tech career paths post their graduation/post graduation.