Sunday, November 9, 2008

As one among the TATA

This post is going to be about my first ever interview experience. It was my campus interview semester. All talks about this semester being the turning point in my life from everyone made me sick. I wanted just to enjoy my last few semesters in college as much as possible and not want to put any pressure onto myself.

I never took this serious but I wanted to face it. The semester began some 15 days before the first company (TCS) came to our campus. I had actually flunked in 2 papers the semester before. So that being an issue, I wouldn’t be able to sit for companies that doesn’t allow arrears or even companies that allows just 1 arrear. TCS actually allowed 2 arrears therefore I was eligible to sit for their interview. Even if I wasn’t eligible for any of the companies I had this self-confidence that there’ll be some company waiting for me thereby not putting myself under any pressure. :D

Most of my friends in class were very serious about this and they were seen with the RS Agarwal book doing the aptitude problems whenever they get free hour. That had actually got into me and made me feel if I’m taking things too lightly. After all I’m just a normal human. :DWe then had a placement program for a week. It was total waste and nothing was gained apart from the GD session we had. We enjoyed the GD also mainly because the person conducting it was good looking. :D

The interview happened to be during my birthday week. Lots of wishes came in saying that my best ever birthday gift would be to get a job in TCS. It was at that time then I realized that if I’m going to flunk in TCS it will really be tough to even sit for companies that came after it (infosys, HCL and so on). Though I still didn’t start to work for it by practicing the aptitudes and stuffs, I mentally had this hunger to somehow get this job.

Then finally the day came. There was some sort of tension. I wasn’t at all feeling good to have my breakfast as I wanted this day to end positively as soon as possible. But eventually I was forced to have the breakfast and I left to college after ensuring that I’ve taken all the documents and things that were required for the interview. It was somewhat an unusual sight in my college. Everybody were in formals having a file and somewhat tensed and not in the usual manner.

I understood the situation and very soon we were asked to be seated in the auditorium for the TCS people to give pre-interview talks. They showed their presentation video and spoke about the schedule for the day and where to assemble for aptitude test, interviews and stuffs.

Once it got over, I was put in 2nd batch for the aptitude test. It was a long wait and once those who were in the 1st batch came out, I saw some happy faces and some looked really disappointed. So from that reaction I came to know who got selected and who didn’t. There wasn’t any time to even go and talk to those who were done with aptitude test. Within minutes our batch was called in.

It was an online test. I entered my user-id and password and started the test. I had my full concentration on the test and didn’t think about anything else. The toughest part was when the test was completed and when about to click the submit button. Once the submit button was clicked it’ll either say “Congratulations, and please proceed to next stage” or “Sorry, better luck next time” but there’ll never be a next time!. I clicked the submit button and while it was processing, I was really tensed and nervous. I just didn’t want the day to end this early.

To my relief, the window displayed a positive result and I was able to proceed to the next stage. Next is the technical interview! I very well knew the fact that this round is my weakest link. What I had planned was to talk some crap for any questions asked and just not remain silent or a response with “I don’t know” and just hope for the best.

While waiting for my turn I had this chance to interact with one beautiful HR from TCS.:P She seemed very young and she was actually the support staff who take in the forms and do other works. So I took the chance to ask her if the interview will be tough and what will they be expecting from us and so on. She just smiled and replied to me saying “just be confident and don’t show any sort of tension”. At that time I didn’t know what that smile meant.

Then my turn came. There were 2 interviewers for me and both of them were male and seemed to be in late 20’s. One from that panel asked me to introduce myself. I took this opportunity to talk for at least 10 minutes and told him about my history, background. Then he himself went on asking what my area of interest is. I replied saying my two area of interests which I had already planned before. The two area of interests I told was “theory of computation” and “computer networks”. I actually had put in lots of efforts to decide on these two areas of interest even before the interview. Theory of computation mainly because I very well knew this subject is theoretical and therefore the chances of interviewer being aware of this subject are very less. At the same time I just learnt this subject the previous semester and so I had this confidence of talking some stuff that’s related to it.

The plan worked out to perfection. He asked me simply to tell whatever I know about TOC (theory of computation). From the way he asked this question itself I understood that he knew nothing about this.:D If he had known this subject he wouldn’t have bluntly asked about TOC. I took this chance and vomited my entire 5 Units in that subject and briefly explained to him about those details. From his reaction I was able to make out that he was satisfied.

Next came the funny part. He asked me “what is a bus?” I was actually shocked for a moment because out of nowhere he asked me “what is a bus?”. Before explaining the funny part here, the thing that should be noted here for all those non IT background people reading this is, bus is a networking terminology. It is one of the topologies used in computer networks. That I knew very well but I wasn’t really sure if that’s what he had meant or was it some kind of stress interview he was doing to me. There were all kinds of rumors before the interview that TCS has this thing called a stress interview and that is done mainly to test the person’s calmness or whatever. Realizing that, I calmly replied saying “A bus is a mode of transport”. Before I could even continue, the 2 interviewers started laughing. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that situation and so I remained silent with an unnatural smile. Then he asked again to me and this time clearly asked me “what is a bus topology?”. :D I told him some crap explanation that came to my mind at that time and he asked me if whatever I was telling was correct. Frankly I wasn’t sure if what I told was correct but I responded confidently saying that whatever I said was correct. :D

Then I was tested on some queries (DBMS). Thankfully, he asked me that instead of some other programming languages like C++ or java because if he had asked me from that then it would’ve been curtains! But DBMS was the only lab subject I was good at mainly because it’s bloody simple. :D

After about 20-30 minutes of interaction with him, he finally concluded and asked me to wait at the entrance. At the waiting area, one more guy from ECE dept. (vijay karthik) was also waiting and we were just discussing about the interview questions asked to us. While doing that, the lady, whom I was talking with initially, came and called out “Vijay Karthik, you’re selected and please proceed to HR interview”. The more I was made to wait, the more anxious and restless I started to become.

Then finally my moment came, the lady read out “Arvind, please proceed to HR interview” and that gave me a huge sense of relief. I knew after coming this far, I will not let this opportunity go off in HR round. So my confidence level got up and I was pretty sure I am going to make it. Without any break, I straight went to the HR interviewer desk and stood and greeted him. He asked me to sit and was enquired how my day has been so far. I told him everything was going on well and hope everything goes according to my liking when the day ends as well. :P He smiled and had my resume. He noted my achievements I got in football. He asked me some football related questions. I told him a-z about football without any pause: D. He asked me if had this chance to represent the national team and at the same time have this project in TCS and its deadline being the next day, what would I do? That was a testing question and I knew it required a smart answer! Now ill put you guys on spot and u comment on what you would’ve answered before I tell what I answered. ;)

He asked few more questions about the college and he thanked me and said “hope to see you in TCS”. I didn’t know if that was a positive thing or whether the word “hope” means my selection was in doubt. I went out and discussed with my classmates (karthik, sombu, ganesh, laxman, manoj and few more). Then my senior Wencut and one more of my friend from other college, Sneha, came to college and was talking to them before the result was about to be announced.

After a long wait, at around 11.45 pm the result was announced. And all the names were being called and finally as soon as I heard my name being called, the joy was immense! I was totally out of this world and I wasn’t sure if whatever happened was just a dream or if it was real. I called up my parents who were waiting anxiously to tell that I got selected and that ill come back and talk. :D

Everything got over and I just felt great about myself because, more than anyone else this was huge for me, for the reason I told before. 28th June 2007 is one of the most memorable days for me in my life calendar. :D

PS: While writing this I just got a message saying my call for TCS will be in December. :p

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