Mu Sigma Interview Experience Off Campus
Student Name – Jayesh
College – IP University
Date of Writing – 12 June, 2012
And before I answer, disclaimer – my methods are often known to be weird, but they got me into MuSigma, so follow them at your discretion. I’m not a serial MuSigma entrance ‘cracker’ either, so the experiences listed will be of very few data points and they are now a year old, and so, again, use your discretion.
So, as is known to every aspirant so far, the recruitment process is a multi-layered event that stretches across two days and four rounds, sometimes five depending on the person interviewing you. A year ago, I, like half the engineering students in India, was preparing for the CAT. This aided me quite a bit in the aptitude test, for I spent the day right before the ‘apti’ watching and re-watching House episodes. Like I said, I have my methods, mad as they seem.
I walked into the aptitude test with absolutely no expectations, though I’d heard notorious tales of the difficulty it posed to students in previous years. Its pretty simple actually – you go in, you see the questions on the screen, you read the instructions clearly (I skipped this step and realized that there was negative marking after I finished the math section and couldn’t do anything about it) and you start furiously scratching pen to paper. You have ample time to solve all the math (a notch above regular aptitude tests and far below CAT levels, testing your puzzle solving ability and math skills equally) and verbal (analytical) questions that are given to you. Following this is a short section on programming (separately timed) that tests your ability to process code, and understand it, not merely find errors in syntax. This section is slightly difficult for those with absolutely no understanding of programming (C/C++), as understanding the syntax is key to understanding the question, and solving it. Note that you will not get more than a minute a question, sometimes even lesser depending on revisions to the process. I would suggest you spend the first minute running through the math section, quickly solving those you’ve practiced for/expected. There will be a few difficult ones in the set as well, don’t spend more than a minute on them. Remember, you are not writing an exam to score a hundred. The analytical verbal section, believe it or not, actually requires you to think, so save some time for that. Personally, I attempted all the math questions (before I read the instructions, D’oh!) and three or four of the verbal ones. Since I’m fairly competent at understanding programming, I was able to attempt four of the five questions in that segment.
The second round, held on the day following the apti, was Group Discussion. This is your standard fare GD with the usual current affairs topics; however, you must not assume that you will be graded higher if you speak more often. The idea is to test two main things – your thought process, and how you interact in a team. Hollering will get you nowhere, and neither will contradicting yourself. You don’t have to be the first speaker. Sure, every Tom, Dick and Harry will tell you that speaking first gives you the advantage. I was told so, and I did not speak until about a minute into the discussion. I took my time to understand the topic, (again, my methods are different, I never go the easy way), waited for someone to finish speaking (NEVER interrupt a speaker) and spoke what I had in mind. Always look at the speaker, and not at the moderator. Nod your head in agreement occasionally, but never shake it in disagreement. If someone asks you to speak, take a second to articulate what you wish to say, and then go ahead. Poor grammar helps little, and lack of clarity of though even lesser. At the end of the day, unless your group was absolutely terrible, one or two will be picked. Make sure you’re in the top 2.
The Video Synthesis round, which, if I remember correctly, took place before the GD this year, is perhaps the simplest of rounds and yet, accounts for most of the aspirants. Its a straightforward round, really – synthesise the (max) ten minute video that is shown to you into three or four sentences. The elementary mistake that everybody makes is that they summarize what they see on screen. Please note that this is not a joke of a process, so if you really think they want you to write a summary, you don’t need to be in the running any longer. A synthesis (literally “putting together”) involves watching the video, and taking the underlying message that the scene portrays and then summarizing that into three crisp sentences. You can either jot these down with spaces in between, indicating paragraphs of a sort, thus showing clarity, or at one go, showing that you are a wee bit cluttered with your thoughts. To avoid this, take a minute – you have ten of those to finish this round and you only need two to write them down once you are clear on what you want to write. You aren’t allowed to take notes during the video, so watch clearly. Pay attention to what’s going on, but always keep an eye out for the underlying message.
The final round is the interview. You might have one interview wherein you are asked technical questions based on your major/department and one wherein you are asked to solve puzzles or a case study. If you get the technical interview first, don’t panic. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. If you are asked a basic question such as Ohm’s Law, get the definition right, even though it may sound rehearsed. Knowing your basics is the only thing they test. The questions are usually specific to one stream based on what the interviewer knows, and more often than not, the interviewer knows enough. If you’re called in for a second interview, know that you’ve done everything right so far, and that getting the job is in your hands now. Walk in confidently, and wait for the interviewer to ask to you to sit. Don’t shuffle around in your seat, it tells the interviews that you’re nervous. You might be, but showing it isn’t going to help. Thankfully, I was called in only once, for the final interview. The most common question across all campuses is the oft-used “Why MuSigma?”. Your first instinct is to vomit the answer you’d prepared the previous night. Don’t. Tell them the truth. They’d like to listen to someone real for a change. For instance, I told them I had a passion for mathematics (duly reflected in my academic performances, of course. No point in bluffing), and that since my dad was a commerce guy, the math came pretty easy to me. Believe it or not, we spent the next five minutes arguing over why Beckham was my favourite player, and why I idolized Cristiano Ronaldo and why Messi was the better player though Madrid had a better team (Again, I’m the weird one, remember?). You’re nearly there at the finish line, don’t stop now. The puzzles given to you are pretty straightforward. Again, they test your approach, not your ability to arrive at the answer. You are more than welcome to make a mistake (I sure did), and as long as you are able to correct yourself in time, you’re alright. Sometimes, all it takes is an ounce of humility. Unfortunately, I can’t provide insight on the case study part of it as I’ve never been part of one, but from what I hear, it follows the same pattern as the puzzles. You take some time to analyze the problem (this is where they look at your approach) and arrive at the needs.
Well, if all the above rounds go well, you’ll walk out with a letter of intent in hand. To those of you trying for MuSigma this year, all the best!