– Krishna Chaitanya Venkata, Chennai
CRISIL – Risk Solutions
You should probably know something about me before I tell you about my GD.
I am an engineer who took up engineering for the same reason that a lot of engineers do. It seemed cool to study it, and a distant cousin of my mom’s colleague’s spouse did his engineering at some I.I.T long back and had settled in some firm in U.SA. As a result, I am armed with an electrical engineering degree, although I probably can’t explain how the ceiling fan above your head works.
I frequently read news articles about companies and the economy, but I could not figure out what they meant. While switching channels, I always wanted to know what those folks in NDTV Profit meant by those numbers that keep flashing at the bottom of the screen. I figured I could answer my questions by doing an MBA, and I appeared for the CAT exam, like most Indian engineering students. Unfortunately, my CAT percentile turned out to be even lesser than Harbhajan Singh’s bowling average in test matches.
I learnt about CCAP from Pagalguy, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn everything I always wanted to about finance. If you identify with this story, and, since you’re reading this, you’re probably in the same position that I was a year ago — an engineering student with very little finance knowledge and zero work experience,getting a GD/PI call to a programme on pure finance – read on to know how I cracked the GD.
My GD topic:
- Euthanasia: Should it be made legal?
- Online dating: Can we find a soul mate?
So it went like this:
The GD was scheduled for 2.30pm, and we were assembled in a meeting room at the Irevna office in Chennai. Some interactions later, Priti, the Director of HR, asked us to start the GD with the topic ‘Euthanasia: Should it be made legal?’ Two minutes were given to think about the topic before the discussion started. Within minutes, the discussion went completely off-course, to the extent that we were talking about suicides. The HR coordinators had to stop us and change the topic of the GD. The new topic was ‘Online dating: Can we find a soul mate?’ Yet again, the discussion veered off course – we ended up speaking about marriages — but this one was relatively better. The HR actually stopped a person in the middle of the discussion (to me, it seemed like it was a hint that ‘you’ve spoken well and you’re in’). Then they asked each of us to summarize.
Quick tip: Remember to bring up at least one new point not mentioned by anybody. It helps.
Ten minutes later, the results were announced, and six out of the nine participants got selected for the PI. If you’re a nervous fresher, you will be relieved to know that three of the selected six were freshers.
The interviewer was young; in his early 30’s. The interview got off to an embarrassing start, because my pen fell onto the floor and I spent a bit of time searching for it. I was asked that expected question, ‘Tell me about yourself’, and I mentioned details about my education, hobbies, family, etc. After all, that was the question I had been preparing to answer throughout my final year.
As highlighted by seniors on Pagalguy forums, regular questions such as ‘why finance, why not MBA’ followed. I told them about my interest in finance and the great scope I saw for learning the ropes of finance at CRISIL. Then, a few easy questions about probability were asked, because I had mentioned quantitative ability as my strength.
I was asked a few questions about the latest happenings in electrical engineering (which was my B. Tech Branch) and in technology (because tracking gadgets is my hobby). We spent a good amount of time discussing Apple v/s Samsung (which was a hot topic, since S3 had been released at the time).
Finally, he asked me some questions about the recent happenings in the world of finance, and I mentioned S & P’s downgrade of India. He asked me what I would do if I were the finance minister of India. I mentioned some of my thoughts on austerity measures, government spending, etc. If I were you, I’d read up on the Cyprus crisis, twin deficits, the union budget, etc.
Finally, he asked me whether I had any questions. Ha! I was prepared for that too. I wanted to know about the regulators for credit rating agencies, and about CRISIL’s entry into education grading. The interview ranged from 20-30 minutes, and I came out content with the proceedings. I had followed the teachings of the BhagvadGita – I gave it my best shot, without worrying about whether I would be selected or not.
The results came, I got through, and I’m tracking the Cyprus banking crisis here, with an S3 in my hand. And I shall live happily ever after.
My tips for you:
To start with, you should know that the GD is an elimination round, which means that if you make a mistake, you’re out. You cannot ‘get to the PI and level things out there’. The good part about this is that you’ll be more confident once you’ve made it to the PI.
The topics are never any specific subject-related and so, everyone is on a level playing field. You could know exactly the same amount about the topic as the person sitting across the table. The GD isn’t very intense and noisy,unlike the ones in those B-school rounds. Even if you don’t get to speak much during the GD, you’ll have to summarise at the end. Take my word:summarise well and you’ll get into the PI round.
The PI tends to be pretty smooth. As my friend Ashutosh pointed out on Pagalguy last year, interviewers generally tend to grill you on topics you should be knowing about, and then take it to the point where you don’t have an answer to give. But the CCAP PI is just the opposite. You get to talk about everything you know and there’s no grilling. You’re the captain of this PI ship, not the interviewer — how cool that is?
Of course, this is assuming you know everything you claim to in your CV, but I trust you guys that much.