The one interview I distinctly remember for “screwing” it up took place in April 2011. I wrote the GATE exam in my final year of engineering and got a decent score. Well, decent enough to get an interview call for MS in Aerospace Engineering at IIT Madras. I took a couple days leave from college to attend the interview. Mind you, this was in April- in the middle of my final semester.

I showed up at 8:30 am (Reporting time was 9:00 am) for an interview that eventually happened at 5:30 pm. I was the last candidate for the day. I still blame poor handling of the interview process as much as I blame myself. By the time my turn arrived, I was so tired (from waiting for my turn!), I had not even eaten from anxiousness (and the fact that I couldn’t tell when my name would be called, so I had to stay in one place the entire day).

I was overwhelmed enough, facing the top minds in the field. After all, this was my first tryst at an IIT- which was supposed to be a dream for any engineering aspirant. The Professors must have interviewed around 50-60 candidates before me. Everybody was exhausted and wanted to get it over with. They asked me to be seated and began with the questions right away.

I don’t know what happened to this day, but I don’t recall having answered any of the questions convincingly (even by my own standards). Their attitude toward me wasn’t helping either. They were probably trying to simulate a stressful environment to test my ability to think under pressure, but it clearly wasn’t working. (In my defense, it wasn’t a job interview. You don’t do stress interviews for university admissions, what were they thinking?)

When I got stuck deriving an equation-

“Are you saying you cannot recall a derivation you only learnt two semesters ago?”

(thinking) “Yeah, make me feel more useless. Way to go.”

Then I was asked to explain my project work. I did my best but I also added that it was still ongoing, since I am in my final semester. I won’t be able to explain my results and conclusions already. I don’t think they believed me, at least that is what their expressions and body language told me.

I just wanted it to end so I could get the hell out of there.

In contrast, my interviews at IISc Bangalore and IIT Bombay where beautifully fulfilling experiences. The Professors there were extremely encouraging and friendly. It is a pity that that one poor experience has imprinted a very negative impression on IIT Madras in my mind. People rate IIT-M highly but I always say there are better IITs in India.

Like IIT Bombay. :p

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