Giving my two cents hoping that it would help someone later. This years procedure was a bit different. Due to the coronavirus pandemic there was no written test but a direct interview. Unfortunately this years GS cutoff for receiving an interview letter was pretty high, probably because they had to cut out the written test round. The interview was an online interview. We had to fill out a form regarding our preference list of the RA projects available. I chose IBM AIHN Project[NLP], Abdul Kalam Fellowship Project on Medical Informatics and Academic Office (SAFE) as my top 3 choices in that order. The interview was scheduled on 22nd/23rd June. By 20th June I received a mail saying that I have an interview for SAFE on the 22nd. The interview was held over google meet. This is how the interview went,
Interviewer – I
Me – M
I: (Mentioned a set of rules i.e. no looking up answers, no one else in the same room to help out etc. to which we have to agree for obvious reasons)
I: What is your GATE score
I: Tell me about your academic background
M: told (college graduated from, cgpa, goals etc.)
I: So you had graduated in 2019. What have you done in the past 1 year ?
(Note: They had informed us to provide a shareable Google drive link containing our CV, project reports or anything we would like to show the interviewers. I gave my CV, two project reports and my research paper)
I: I see that you have worked on a Bluetooth based attendance system (SAFE was also an attendance system amongst many other things). Can you explain a bit more about it ?
M: Explained in detail
I: Do you have any skills such as C, Java, Django, Android etc.
M: Told them that I knew C,Java, Android basics and another framework which I explained a bit about (the framework is called JADE)
I: Could you explain another project that is in line with our project ?
M: Told about how I worked with a lecturer over her PhD thesis. (Not a project, but had some work that I thought was in line with their interests)
I: Ok. Are you familiar with concepts in operating systems and computer networks ?
M: Yes Sir, but I’m a bit more inclined towards Algorithms and Data Structures sir (I was better at algorithms and was hoping they changed their mind).
I: I’ll give you a small overview of what we’re working on (told). That’s why we’ll be focusing more on operating systems and computer networks
M: Sure sir. I’ll give it my best Sir.
I: Explain about Internet protocol suit (TCP/IP protocol stack)
I: Good, you gave a detailed explanation. Could you explain about Proxy servers ?
M: Explained with a diagram I drew and showed it through the webcam.
I: Ok, consider the same diagram you drew and take one system, the proxy server and a server you want to download from. How many TCP connections and how many HTTP connections will be created between the system, the proxy and the server you want to download from ?
M: Explained my thoughts on how and why should there be 2 TCP and 2 HTTP connections (1 TCP and 1 HTTP between system and proxy, 1 TCP and 1 HTTP between proxy and server)
I: Ok, That is right. good, you were able to reason and come to a conclusion.
I: I guess that’s all the questions from my side. Do you have any questions ?
M: Yes sir, I have one question about the attendance system (SAFE) sir.
I: Yes tell me
M: I saw the brief video presentation about SAFE and found that it can avoid attendance proxies from those not in the class even though it works on WiFi. How does that work ?
I: (Smiled) What do you think ? How does it work ?
M: Explained my thoughts on it and how it could work
I: Ok, you’re close but no it does not work like that. (Eh, well. I at least gave it a shot) He then explained how it worked.
(A bit more discussion on the attendance system and I also put forward my thoughts on my prototype of the attendance system)
I: Did you field test the Bluetooth attendance system ?
M: Yes sir, with 2 classes next to each (Note: I told the interviewer before that the attendance system was a prototype and not a full fledged model)
I: Ok. Just out of curiosity, what were your 1st two preferences ?
I: Ok, anymore questions ?
M: No sir, that was about it sir
(End of interview call)
This is the first ever interview I faced (since I did not sit for placements) and it lasted for 45 mins. The interviewers ensure that we remain calm and are very humble. In my perspective, I found it best to be myself and explain everything that I had known about whatever question they asked. If I did not know something, I would mention that I did not know but I still tried to somehow find an answer that made sense. I would talk out loud and let the interviewer know what I’m thinking. The interview really gave me a new found respect for the professors at IITB.
If whatever I have said so far is more ‘rookie’ for folks who have experienced more interviews, I apologize.
The main point at the end of the interview that I was happy with was that I was able to give it my best at that time, irrespective of whether I’m offered a position or not. What I can truly say about giving interviews now is to always give an interview when provided the opportunity. It’s exciting, it could go sour, who knows ! but at the end of it you will also gain insight on how to improve yourself.
Hope this helps somebody who may have to face an interview from IITB later on. Peace !
Update (7th July 2020): I have been offered a seat at IITB Mtech RA. I guess the interview went well.