Interview Experience At IIT Kanpur

Writing after a long time...

Kanpur! An awesome experience though I messed up and blew their heads off, literally. I was second-last on the second day, i.e 10th May, 2014. My turn came at around 5 or 5:30 pm though as per list sequence, my turn should have got over by afternoon. It took almost complete day for the process since the reporting time was 9 am. Unlike other design schools, they didn't take any aptitude test.

The wait for interview felt really long for me since I didn't have breakfast because there wasn't any; the hostel they alloted, Hall V, didn't have any mess or canteen nor did they provide the candidates with any bedding so it was quite obvious for me to get little hot. But the wait for interview cooled me down gradually. And I entered the room with great calm and composure.

I entered and greeted with 'good-afternoon' and they were like, 'yeah! yeah!, talking among themselves, reading their sheets, showing disinterest in the candidate. And suddenly...

"What's your preference, Product (design) or Visual (Comm Design)?" The person sitting next to me asked.
"Product!" I said.
"What field?" 
"I'd prefer to go for Automobile or Watch design."

The person who had asked, left after I answered, making the count of members, five.

"You are from Guru Gobind Singh University, Who was he?" Another member asked.
"A Sikh guru."
"What numbered?"
"Don't know."
"Which era he belonged to?"
"Don't know, sir," This time I said promptly.
"Ok, was he before Arjan Singh or after Arjan Singh?"
"Don't know!"
"Who killed him?"
"Which (one)?"

I didn't answer. But my pause was clear, I didn't know.

"Ok, anyway, you want to become an automobile designer, how'd you design a car for Guru Gobind Singh?" Another member asked.
"Well, sir, the design process starts with research. I'll have to look for how as a person he was, what he strived for, what his values were...what he liked etc. Then, will do brainstorming on the ideas..." I said.
"But you don't know anything about him."
"This is what for research is done, sir. Research can always be done, it's the regular process," I replied.
"Ok, design a car for him," he said to me pointing towards another member.
"Again, sir, for that I need to know his personality traits, interests and  all," I said.
"But can you design it?"
"Yes, I can but economically it doesn't sound as a good idea to design car for one person."
"No, forget the financial matter, what if he has the capital?"
"Of course! Design can be done!"

They started talking to each other...Mera ho gaya! Tumhe kuch puchna hai? Nahi! Ho gaya bas! Two nodded to me while others, still into their sheets.
I made out that they were going to throw me away like this only, then I got determined to ask them the truth. And then...

"You are an engineer? Draw the graph of |sin x|," Third member asked like a last bonus question to shoo me away.

I drew it a bit wrong, the one who asked me, called me to his chair and gave me a hint. I corrected it.

"Ok done!" Other said with a fake smile gesturing me to leave!

I felt like shit and fool who travelled hundreds of kilometers in a train which got more than eight hours late, slept on hard bed with bed bugs and spiders, didn't eat proper food for the past one and half day, walked for more than three kilometers in campus in search of food. And they were asking me to leave! Leave without showing them portfolio! How they had judged me? They didn't ask any good design question, didn't ask any technical question too...|sin x| graph can't be the judging criterion. Did they judge me on the ten questions they asked on Guru Gobind Singh? This made me lose my temperament but I still managed to be little gentle before throwing my question. I had sensed it that they were not interested as soon as I had entered but gave the interview positively. But after what happened in the so called interview, I got confirmed about not being selected. Their attitude was totally uncalled for. This can't be done! So what if you are IIT professors! Is this how you behave? All such thoughts were coming in my mind.

I stood up and said in a firm and monotonous tone,
"But sir, I have a question!"

Like before, their heads were into their sheets and my statement rose their heads up suddenly, including of those two, who didn't glance at me during the complete interview (so called, I repeat).

"Sir, this is the 4th institution I'm appearing for. And I haven't got selected anywhere yet. But, there, at least, they showed interest, asked me decent questions, reviewed my portfolio...And here (Kanpur), what I see is that the professors aren't even interested in my portfolio! So, what it is that I'm lacking, my CEED score, presentation, or something else?" I said.

From this point I started to enjoy! They started looking at each other as they'd have never expected anyone to question their attitude.

"Kya keh raha hai?" one asked the other.
"Puch raha hai, portfolio kyu nahi dekh rahe iska."
"Well, it depends on professors' wish," The one didn't speak at all, spoke, trying to conclude.
"And that's what I want to know, sir, the reason," I said.
"THIS is the problem of this generation!" He said.
"No, sir, it's not about generation. I'm only seeking constructive criticism. I have come here from Delhi and observing what happened, I know, I am not getting selected. I just want to know why!" I said firmly.
"How dare? HOW DARE YOU question these senior members? Even I have never spoken to them like this! I will tell you why, sit down!" He shouted with his eyeballs rolling up towards the ceiling.
"You know, I have three US patents. I applied to 50 companies here (India). FORTY NINE companies rejected me. WHY? WHY?? Because I didn't deserve. Only one company took me...huh!" He said at the top of his voice, again trying to conclude.

But, I am a rebel.

"Sir, I am not disrespecting anyone here...All I wanted to hear was the criticism from your side. But, it seems, I'm at wrong place..." I took my laptop and portfolio files signalling that I was finished speaking.

The scene would have been great for those waiting outside, one last candidate (a girl; who's finally there in IITK) and others of IITK M.Des batch.

""You may leave now!" His voice was damping.

I didn't seek your permission, I spoke to myself. I moved the chair and shut the door behind...Dham! I came out smilingly. I did it, I was celebrating in thoughts. As expected, it was really hot scene outside with ears on doors, eagerly waiting to hear the matter. Few of them even followed me to know. I shooed them away saying, "Ask your professors!" And rest is history (the present).

I don't know how this experience will be perceived as but all want to say is that there are always two ways of rejecting candidates, one showed here and the other which IIT Bombay's Product Design panel adopted (Read it here) You decide and tell.

Is it right to reject a candidate on the basis of nine-ten irrelevant, silly questions? Is it justified? Whatever! I'm really glad that I'm not there. 
'Whatever happens, happens for the best!'

PS- I even wrote to the Head, there, telling about this incidence and stated it was them, who disrespected the candidate, that's me. I didn't disrespect any senior there.


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