Wednesday, 31 December 2014

5 DECEMBER 2012 : The best day of my life

First interview is always special. One is completely oblivious of the entire process and by the virtue of this very fact, one rigorously prepares for it and tries various maneuverings so as to ensure that he emerges successful at the end. We all have been through this and have experienced every bit of it. Following is the narration of first ever interview that I faced and emerged successful.


The weather had started getting colder. The 5th semester was heading towards its last phase. This time university scheduled our practicals before theory exams, a case of aberration since theory exams had always preceded practicals throughout the course. This move of the university that apparently looked  peculiar to the students was in fact a fairly right step in my opinion. Anyway, it was the third day of  first week of  December when we were intimated by a representative of placement office about  pool campus drive of UES-23 ( UES - UNIVERSITY ENTRY SCHEME ) to be conducted by Indian Army on 5th December, 2012. This bombshell news was notified to applicants of my branch and to me particularly in the computer lab at a time when I was fumbling with Design & Analysis of Algorithm's book whose viva, I was supposed to give in following 5 minutes ! Just after the information regarding scheduled campus drive was notified I along with my friends got into intense baat-cheet (discussion) regarding the evaluation process, attire, etiquette and blah-blah... For a minute or so I literally forgot about the dreaded viva that was supposed to occur anytime now. Anyway, I had a good viva as it was not that vicious as I anticipated.


The big day had arrived. Nah...Nah... No dignitary was coming from Downing Street. But today was as big to me as 26 January is to Republic of India. I had filled the form of UES-23 in September, in the same year and since then till  December I was constantly doing little preparation for the same. I had interacted with Dean Academics and he had given me a clear message to exploit every opportunity that comes as placement prospects were looking shabby and he had also given enough indication of no resourceful organization coming to campus and future campus drives culminating with just  TCS and other small Noida based IT companies. Alarmed by his response I had started preparing for UES-23 despite the fact that  I was not unprecedentedly crazy of  Defense Services, although I have always found them dynamic and appealing from my childhood days as My maternal uncle has been working in 510 Army Base, Meerut Cantt and  my mother is herself a native of Meerut Cantt, means I had been to cantonment numerous times since childhood and had a huge exposure and influence of cantonment lifestyle.

Earlier, I had done a rigorous preparation for the evaluation process. The scale of preparation was so dramatic  that sometimes  I had to coax my classmates to execute mass bunk after lunch so that I could gather some of the illuminated minds along with my close friends for a group discussion on burning topics. I had also prompted my class peers for open discussions on burning financial topics during Engineering & Managerial Economics lectures in which I got full support from both classmates and Lec. Mrinal Verma. I had also raked critical topics during the classes of  Human Values & Professional Ethics  and had also delivered one lecturatte. So overall, I had done a reasonable preparation and now everything came down to converting preparation into performance, today.


Keeping in mind the nature of evaluation procedure and moreover the fact that entire procedure was being officiated by Army Officers I dressed in one of  the most exemplary attire. Wearing silky green neck tie over a dark sky blue shirt and laden with official blue coat, I was experiencing the essence of my own physical appearance for the first time ever in my life. Needless to say, unlike always, every eyeball in the college was transfixed upon me when I reached there.

Anyway, Additional Directorate General of Recruiting New Delhi had shortlisted my college for conducting pool campus drive in Ghaziabad as maximum numbers of applicants (259) were from my institute. The evaluation procedure consisting of Group Discussion and Personality Assessment Test (Personal Interview) was to be held twice; on 5th Dec for home candidates  & on 6th Dec for the outsiders. 

Our Soft Skills Trainer Mrs Pooja Rohtagi directed all the candidates to the auditorium in administrative building. The atmosphere was very formal. The entire  Training & Placement office (TPO) was also gathered over there. Much before the arrival of Army Officers our TPO representatives started the procedure by distributing the application forms to the candidates that we had submitted earlier. I didn't received my  application form .After some inquiry and searching  I got my form. Some chap had kept two application forms with him. Hey dude, only single candidature is allowed.

As we were going through our forms suddenly Komal Mehrotra, a TPO representative, asked a question -

" Who is the chief of Indian Army ? "

The entire auditorium echoed - "General Bikram Singh"

Mr. Mehrotra mocked - " That's it ?"

The auditorium went clueless. Without wasting a second I stood up and replied with sheer authority - " General Bikram Singh PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM is the Chief of Army Staff. He succeeded General V.K Singh who retired on 31st May,2012". 

Quite impressed with my authoritative tone and attire, soft skill trainer Mrs Puja Rohtagi   replied - "You are already looking like an Army officer !". I acknowledged her and sat down.

Very soon three Army Officers sauntered into the auditorium and occupied the stage. One was Colonel while other two were Lieutenant Colonel.One of the Lt Col assumed podium and gave a briefing. He told us about the structure of the organization, 1 year ante-date seniority in service, salary, perks and allowances,  rank promotion, prospects of higher studies in abroad and overall life.He also categorically stated that India Army is not a career avenue but a way of life. At last we were showed a video augmented with a heart thumping background music, depicting , life in Indian Army full of honour, adventure,valor, resourcefulness. Boy, it was a brilliant video and sadly I haven't been able to find this video on the internet.

The evaluation procedure got underway. Around 14 groups were formed with each group consisting of 15 candidates. I was allotted the last group. Group discussions were conducted at tandem in  Director's office room in administrative building itself. The turn of my group came in the very last, eventually. I created a chance and managed to enter into the room first. The chairs were arranged in semi-circular fashion and all the three officers were sitting across the desk kept at some distance. I stood in the front of middle seat owing to its strategic nature. As all the candidates got in Colonel asked us to take the respective seat. He casually asked us on what topic we shall have a discussion (in manner of saying). I ( in light mood ) deliberated with the entire group, arrived at a consensus and came with a topic - Relevance of FDI. He sarcastically replied us of surely  having a discussion afterwards. Then  finally he gave us the topic of Group discussion - Concept of Corruption and Judicial Accountability. Unleashing an assertive tone I initiated the discussion and put forth pertinent points. Quite soon as I expected everyone started shouting and the discussion turned into a fish market ( "Bloody MTV Roadies Brats" I tell you ).I realized that my group was going nowhere and going with a probability of entire group getting rejected I intervened and asked the candidates to put forth their points one by one and luckily discussion came back on track. Suddenly the unprecedented happened. My cellphone rang during the discussion . Bloody shit, I forgot to switch off the phone ! Everybody was staring at me. I instantly switched off my phone and got back to the discussion. I spoke 3 to 4 times and raised really good points. The discussion went for around 15 minutes after which we asked to leave the room. Before leaving the room I tendered sincere apology to the officers . Thanks to the generosity of  Lt Col he didn't took it as a offense and replied - "No problem. These small things don't bother us." I left the room and came back to the auditorium. A volunteer came to auditorium and informed us that the announcement of  names of candidates shortlisted  for the Personality Assessment Test will be done after lunch. " Very well .... Let's go to cafeteria ". I murmured.


I went to the cafeteria to have a lunch. My friends have had their lunch some time back as their GD had finished earlier. I was alone in the cafeteria having egg-rice while my peers went back to the auditorium. I was in middle of my lunch when one of my friend called me over the cellphone and told me that officers have done the evaluation and are announcing the names of candidates shortlisted for the interview. Alarmed by the information I gulped 3-4 spoons of meal quickly, left the rest and rushed to the auditorium.I had hardly reached the first floor when I saw crowd of rejected candidates coming back. Damn, I couldn't hear the results. One of the gentleman in the crowd told me that I have made through. Still, I rushed to the auditorium where I caught hold of my friend who told me that just 14 candidates have been short-listed and I am one of them. He went on further and told me that the name of last shortlisted candidate (which was me) was announced with great deal of drama. Unable to control my curiosity, I demanded more explanation from him when he told me that after announcing the names of 13 candidates Lt Col took a bit more amount of time by getting rest of the candidates to their nerves.Lt Col played with the nerves of the candidates by hallowing -

" And  . . . the last one is . . . . . . "

Every candidate apart from 13 had their heart in the mouth. Each of them were anxious and were praying to almighty to get their own name spell out. 

 " . . . the last one is . . . . . SIDDHARTH YADAV ! " .

Pheww. The candidates apart from those 13 shook their heads in disbelief. I wonder they all  would had been be thinking about who the hell is Siddharth. My dear mate, a creature who is running fiercely towards the administrative building and is en-route to auditorium as you  listen to the result is Siddharth. 


So 14 candidates were shortlisted for the personal interview. I was given serial number 14 i.e the last one. Interviews started at around 15:20 hours and were officiated by the interview board consisting of all the three officers and were held in Director's office room only. The interviews went on at tandem.My turn came at  around 17:00 hours. A bell rang to convey that my turn has come. I entered the room and spotted a chair placed some 3 metres away from the table. The Colonel was  sitting on the left ,  Lt Colonel who gave briefing in the morning was sitting at the center along with my application form in his hand and another Lt Colonel wearing specks ( his name was Sukhwinder Chahal which I came to know later) was sitting at the right  and was having a sort of score-sheet containing rows and columns with  rows being filled with unique fields. " So the right guy will do my evaluation." I told myself internally .

I greeted the officer sitting in the middle politely and he directed me to take the seat. Then started the interview. Firstly he asked me a customary question of giving the introduction.Then he came to educational and family background and inquired every bit about it.I gave the answers in totality with great clarity. Before he could ask anything else the guy (with specks) who was doing the evaluation suddenly asked me - 

Lt Col Sukhwinder Chahal  : " Who is Xi Jinping ? "

Me : Sir he is the newly elected president of People's Republic of China. He has been preceded by  ... a ...Wen Jiabao   or . . . Hu Jintao may be. I am not sure who is the President between these two.

Lt Col Sukhwinder Chahal  : (while writing on the scoresheet) ...Hmmm . . . OKAY.

Meanwhile the guy sitting at the centre continued. He came to the  most critical question. He interrogated me - "Why do you want to join Indian Army and not any other profession ?" I had fabricated a realistic answer during my preparation and gave the answer in totality as it is. The interview went on. Boy, I was enjoying every bit of it. The next question was about my hobbies. I told them I like reading, blogging, outing & photography. Leave the entire world aside, they decided to take me on  blogging. Again, center guy asked me to tell something about last article that I wrote.I articulated everything about my then last article "Luck in Favour".  

Here Colonel who was silent till now swung into action asked me about blog's URL. I told him. He opened it instantly on his mobile started scrolling it to find out what all I have written. He also briefly asked questions about foreign direct investment, food security regarding which I had jotted down in my blog. I answered him perfectly. Close to 20 minutes had been elapsed by now. Finally Lt Col Sukhwinder Chahal asked me to go. Interview was over, now it was turn for final results.

The result was declared around 17:30 hrs. We, all the 14 candidates were waiting outside. Lt Col (with specks) who did the evaluation came out of the room and announced the name of  7 candidates who were recommended for the Service Selection Board. While he was announcing the result I observed his olive green uniform and noticed that his name was Sukhwinder Chahal. He spelled out the names of  7 candidates in the serial order and finally finished the day by spelling out the name of 14th candidate...


. . . .and  Siddharth Yadav . . . . . .
Lt Col. Sukhwinder Chahal

The process was over. I went berserk. I had finally succeeded. The adrenaline was getting into my head. I was ecstatic. I was feeling exhilarated. I wanted to run all throughout the college. I wanted to scream in jubilation after clearing  first  interview  of  my life. And I did !     I came running slowly outside the administrative building in the lawn in front of cafeteria. My face, elated and exuding the confidence, captured the attention of every one out there.Before anybody could understand what has happened to this guy laden with official blue coat, I loosened my neck tie a bit and took a giant leap in the air with the fist pointing towards the sky and roared in jubilation, loud enough to unease anybody standing near applied sciences & humanities department 100 meters far from me. 

Thereafter I had one Pepsi. I also informed my parents about the just-achieved success who were, then , en-route to Meerut to attend a wedding . I was also suppose to go to Meerut, they were to pick me from the college itself as it is situated at the Meerut Road, to be a part of wedding party but couldn't go for obvious reason. So what . . .? I straightaway headed to Bikanerwala restaurent, Ambedkar Road, Ghaziabad and celebrated like hell. Oh God.....I want to live 5 December, 2012 again and again. Below is the status that I posted on facebook to share my emotions with my friends.

You certainly must be thinking what is so special about this interview. Well, in 2010 I gave many engineering entrance exams after rigorous preparation. I am a creative person and engineering is not my forte but still I prepared with full gusto but only to get disappointed. Though I cleared some entrance exams but those were never enough to fulfill the aspirations of my parents who were swayed by faulty societal notions of seeing there son becoming only engineer. 

This interview turned out to be a inflection point in my life and transformed my perspective. This interview enabled me to attend Service Selection Board (SSB) Allahabad  which helped me immensely to explore different aspects of my personality. There is hardly any avenue in India where you will get a chance to introspect yourself, know about your hidden traits, strengths and weaknesses. SSB helped me to figure out what career avenues (along with armed forces) are most suitable for me and I reckon this is the most critical thing for any individual. 

Thank You Sukhwinder Chahal Sir. Thank You very much.

Wish you a happy 2014 ending. 

( You may find this article over-rated but I believe all those things that happen to be the FIRST ONE'S are just priceless. )