The wait’s over maa, I am placed :)
It was a rainy afternoon. The room was full. Eyes were exchanging glances. Some had confidence, some had excitement, some had desperation, and some had hope. Whispers about what’s about to happen were continuous just like the incessant rain outside. 45 candidates eligible for appearing in the aptitude round of the placement drive for a well-known firm were waiting impatiently for the exam to begin. A pen and paper exam of 40 questions from logical reasoning, verbal ability and quantitative reasoning. 40 steps to get into the next round, to finish in an hour. The task seemed simple enough. But the HR personnel gave it a twist. “The paper is tough, no doubt”, he said. One line was enough to heighten tension and suspense across the room. The paper was distributed. I started with the easy ones, which ended pretty quickly. An hour seemed less for the paper. Like everyone, I was in doubt about my performance. “The results will be declared tomorrow”, they said.
A genuine doubt kept bothering me and my friends all night. “Should I prepare for the interview?” What if I prepare the whole night, only to return without even qualifying for the next round? I looked at my CV, edited it a bit, studied a bit, kept all the documents in my bag and slept early. I reached the auditorium on time. All my friends were waiting. Some were talking, some were quiet. I chose to talk, and talk like always, just to calm my nerves. It was just another day, I convinced myself. I was praying for the best, but was not ready for the worst.
At first, there was a pre-placement talk. A one hour presentation, highlighting what the firm does, what is expected from us, what we should expect from them. The presentation was good. Gradually, I began listening my heart beat distinctly. “It is result time”, he said. Then came the names. Names of people I didn’t know. With every name being called, my heart rate incremented by 1. Then came some familiar names. I wanted to feel happy, but could not. It was anxiousness at its peak. He was reaching the end of his list. I started with my post rejection revival therapy. Now this isn’t something fancy. Just the usual excuses that we give ourselves that would help cope up emotionally for the worst. “Maybe it wasn’t my day”, “This was not that good a firm” etc. Then suddenly he called my name. The 40th name in a list of 44. A gush of relief and then the sudden realization dawned upon me that many of my friends were not in the list. I felt bad, but before I could say anything, we were rushed to another room. “The interview process will begin in few minutes”. Some went inside pretty quickly. For one, it lasted about 20 minutes. “It was an HR… tell me something about yourself…your hobbies…why do you want to work with us?”, he said as students pounced on the poor soul to know more.
I knew I would have to wait for a long time, as my name was towards the end of the list. The wait was getting longer. People were already done with two rounds of interview, while I and some others were in line for the first round itself. The format was clear. Every candidate has to go through an HR round, a technical round and one round with the director of the company. But, there was no specific order. Lunch was declared. I came downstairs, only to get a shocker. About 12 students had been sent home already. “You’re done for the day”, a polite way to do the tough job perhaps, but a bit confusing as well for the students giving interviews for the first time in their lives. I was getting restless. Will I be interviewed at all, I thought. Around 4:45 pm, I was called in. I was blank inside. I realized later that this helped me as it was a stress interview of sorts. Pertinent questions about my project left me scrambling points to explain myself on a sheet of paper. He was testing candidates on out of box thinking and impromptu decision making capabilities. Drops of sweat on my forehead indicated very well that I was getting a bit nervous. Fortunately, I had not lost my composure, and continued speaking my mind out without a hitch. After some more questions, I was asked “Any questions for us, Bhaskar ?”. I asked about the training process and what it encompasses. The round ended with a formal handshake and a customary “Thank You”. As I walked towards the door, I was left unsure of myself. “This was no cakewalk”, I said to myself.
Meanwhile, many more had left while I was inside. The number had reduced visibly. After some minutes, I was called in for the next round.”How has been your day so far?” was the question I was welcomed with. “Long and tiring”, I said in a genuine tenor. The interviewer asked me to write the program to sort an array of integers using Bubble sort. A simple code, followed by some more questions on complexity. As the questions proceeded, it became clear that this round was the technical one. Random questions from Computer Networks compelled me to pause and recall our lectures to gather those minute details. The interviewer then focused on specific areas from my projects and internship. I could see what he wanted. A clear picture of what I did, the overall output and how I went about doing the project. The interviewer was not at all intimidating, and thus I was able to calmly explain whatever he asked in a simple way. The person seemed kind and I felt positive after that round.
As I came out of the room, some were asked to leave, I was one of them. I felt surprised. “Bhaskar stays, rest of you may leave for the day.”, the coordinator announced. Some miscommunication happened, I suppose. Amidst all this, I experienced something I had not till now. A student went outside with visible hatred in his eyes, hatred towards the situation, towards the interviewers or the remaining candidates…… that was not clear. What was our fault, I thought. In this race many are left behind, I had been one of them for the past two firms that had visited our campus. What could I have done?
About 10 of us remained. The third round for me was with an HR . “Tell me something about yourself”, I was asked. I had prepared for this question. My answer was a small story of where I belong to, how my interest in computer science grew, and how I ended up joining this college.. “Mention something that’s not written in this CV”, he asked. “I am a blogger! ”, I said promptly. “What do you blog about?”, he enquired. I told him about my blogs ‘Life As I See It’ and ‘Eduindian’, about how I have helped several ISC students by clearing their doubts on my blog. He asked some general HR questions and it was done. This round was a lot quicker than others. “How could it be that simple? There’s a catch for sure”, I thought. My senses foretold what was not expected by anyone.
A fourth round. That too only for me and one more student. “Is this it?”, I thought. I went in, the interviewer was smiling. His questions were reasonable, the interviewer seemed a level headed man. “Are you comfortable with travelling?”. “Yes!”, I said with some emphasis. ”What are you aiming at, 5 years down the line.. after all, we all are in for more money, right?”, he asked. “Tricky question!”, I thought. I wanted to give an honest answer that had pragmatism as well. I highlighted that apart from earning a livelihood, which I would do for sure as I would work for the same, a great learning opportunity is what lures me towards this company. A chance to interact with people from different cultures, to speak with people having superior technical skills and learning more from them, and finally, to share my experience with my fellow juniors. These were what I wished to do in these 5 years. He seemed convinced. “Ok, Done!”, he said. Another handshake, the fourth for the day, and hopefully the last one.
Seven students remained at the end. We were talking about our experience. “Will they select just 1-2 of us ?”, I feared, thinking about the number of eliminations already made. The panels wrapped up. “All the Best to you all”, said the director, as he and other panelists left. Not only our energy levels, but those of our mobile phones were also down. I had not spoken at home since the morning. The wait finally ended. After a while, one of the company representatives came to us, informing the remaining 7 of us, that we all were selected! He called out the names for confirming. Everyone was super excited. I was happy too. All the effort paid off at the end. I checked if I had kept all my original certificates in my bag. I took out my phone and called my mom. “The wait’s over maa, I am placed :)”.