To My Younger Self

To My Younger Self

by Rohit Kumar December 10, 2020

Bachelors in Materials Science and Engineering from Sheffield University and MBA from Oxford University. Currently working in Supply Chain tech at Amazon as a Sr. Product Manager.

What we asked him …

Walking down memory lane, you have given and taken multiple interviews since graduating from engineering college. Can you tell us about an interview experience in college that you didn’t get through, your learnings from it and interview advice you would give your 20 year old self?

What he had to say …

There are many interviews that I have failed to get through but one that stands out in my memory is from my undergrad days in Sheffield. In 2009, I had been selected to a prestigious Summer internship at an Indian multinational steel-making company. I had a great learning experience during that internship and even managed to secure a scholarship for my final year at University on the back of my internship project. In 2010, I was called back for an assessment center at the company as a direct entry since I had done well during the internship the previous year. The assessment center was for the company’s annual graduate program intake and I was confident of making it on the back of my prior experience. But as it happened, the interview result was the opposite of what I had expected – I got rejected for the program!

Looking back now, it’s quite easy for me to figure out why the result did not go my way. If I were on the hiring panel, I would have handed out the same decision too. So what exactly did I do wrong? I assumed that I was going to make it. In turn, this mindset resulted in below par preparation and, what’s worse, I ended up underestimating the calibre of the competition. For example, in recycling some of my old content for the assessment center, I forgot to update the company’s logo on the deck I had to present. Even though I was well aware of the rebranding exercise that the logo change was an outcome of, I had no excuse for missing that update in my deck. I was also not focused during my 1-1 interviews and ended up making errors in my answers to technical questions. In short, I was sloppy on multiple counts.

It is fairly obvious what advise I would now give to my younger self with the benefit of hindsight: There is no substitute for preparation and effort.

I would advise my younger self to remain humble and even while hoping for the best, to prepare for the worst case scenario. The caveat here is that you don’t want to pressurize yourself to the point of underperforming, but rather over prepare and then just go with the flow.