• How Tina mastered Quantitative Ability

    How to master quantitative ability-01 (1)Rahul saw Tina sitting dejected in a corner. “What happened, Tina?”, he asked. Tina pointed him to the list of students placed in the recent drive. Rahul knew in an instant.

    “College will end in three months, Rahul. I really wanted to put my mother’s anxiety about my future to rest”, said Tina between sobs.

    “It’s ok”, Rahul consoled. “You’ll be okay. I know how well you code. Plus, you speak better English than most of the professors!”

    Tina didn’t cheer up.

    “Tell me what’s wrong”, said Rahul. After gathering her strength for a few moments, Tina spoke.

    “It’s the quant section always. I can never remember so many things. You know I’m smart and capable, and I get the answers right if I know what formulae and identities to apply. But there are just so many things to remember, so many formulae, and so much variety of questions, I can never solve them all in time!”

    Rahul offered her his bottle of water.

    “It’s ok, Tina. Everyone has tough stuff to get through. It can be hard, but you know, I had the worst English, but I conquered the odds with planning and practice. Surely someone as smart as you will get through your obstacle much faster!”

    “I can guarantee you’ll be placed in the next two months”, said Rahul, and Tina looked up. “But you have to promise me to stay positive and work on the quant section for the entirety of those two months.”

    “Can you do that, Tina?”

    Tina nodded. Rahul smiled.

    That evening, they went to the library and picked out a few choice titles, all of them on the Quant section. “Don’t look at how thick this pile is”, said Rahul, noticing Tina being overwhelmed at the number of thick books there. “You’re smart enough to solve these in ten minutes. All you need is a planned approach and practice to help you remember the concepts in exam time.”

    “Right then. Let’s start!” Rahul drew out a notebook and wrote down the names of all the subsections there were in Quant.

    “I trust you score well in a few of these. So why don’t you tell me how to tackle the ones you know about, and I’ll tell you how to do the rest”.

    Tina smiled in response.

    The Algebra and Arithmetic Strategy

    Algebra and Equations”, declared Rahul as he wrote it down. “Most of these are questions requiring you to find out values of a variable or an expression.”

    “Oh, this one’s fairly simple”, chirped Tina. “I’ve done these since school, and most of these are pretty school-level.”

    “That’s right!”, said Rahul. “The identities and formulae you need to know are the same as you studied in class 8. There are also topics like Speed and Distance, or Time and Work, that you may need to pay attention to, but they’re simple if you know the basics well. Let’s list some things you can do to keep yourself up to date with the topic”. He drew out a pen and wrote down a few action points.

    • Revise NCERTs till class 8.
    • Practice word problems, especially for speed and distance.
    • Time yourself while solving problems.

    Same for Arithmetic”, Rahul continued. “The level of complexity usually does not exceed a medium-difficulty board exam paper. You scored well in your Board exams, didn’t you, nerd?”

    Tina smiled. The quant section seemed doable after all.

    “Right. Next comes Profit and Loss, and Simple and Compound Interest questions”.

    “Oh Rahul I absolutely hate these. My brain just cannot think along the lines of money. Plus, they make things so complicated with half-yearly rates and comparing simple and compound interests…”

    “Ok, ok. So I guess this is one type of questions you need to practice”. Rahul noted “Profit and Loss” and “Simple and Compound Interest” in a separate column. “You know, Tina, a good way to get through these questions is to think of the rate of interest as percentage increase or decrease. Simple interest means the time and the percent increase will be multiplied to get the factor that leads you to the amount. For Compound interest, you don’t multiply the two, instead you put time as the power of the factor.”

    Tina looked confused.

    “Ok think of it this way. If you have a sum earning simple interest at 10% for 2 years, you can get the amount this way. 10% means 0.1. Multiply that by the number of years, which is 2. This gives 0.2. Finally, add 1. So your factor is 1.2. Your amount will be 1.2 times the principal. Simple, right?

    Tina solved a few problems this way. Rahul was right!

    “And now for compound interest… if your sum earns 10% interest for two years, the amount at the end of the first year will be 1.1 times the principal. The next year, this amount will be the principal, so the next year you get 1.1 times the previous sum, or 1.21 times the original. So you got (1.1)^2 times the principal as amount.”

    Tina was surprised she hadn’t thought of it before. She quickly noted this down and resolved to practice this for the next few days.

    Planning for Mensuration

    “Okay then. What about Geometry?”

    “Oh there are so many properties and formulae to remember I get a headache every time I try. Is there a simple way to handle these like the one you suggested for Simple and Compound Interest?”

    Rahul smiled. “Unfortunately, there isn’t. The properties are best mugged and practiced to apply quickly in a question that needs it. But there are always ways to make memorizing these easier. When I was studying for my exams, I used to write them on a white board each day afresh, and a week later I could recall most of them without peeping at a book. Memorizing is one thing. But more important is to practice applying these theorem and properties so you can solve questions using them.” He wrote down a few action points again.

    • Make a chart of properties and formulae. Revise daily.
    • Use flashcards to remember tough formulae.
    • Look up shortcuts, practice against a timer.

    “But you know the good thing? If you get these right, the concepts from mensuration may help you in all sorts of other topics, be it pie-charts, mathematical modelling or even probability!”

    The Modern Mathematics Agenda

    “Yes, what about Probability?”, asked Tina with hope in her voice. She had always had a tough time answering questions from the topic.

    “Well, I’m fairly certain you know the basics. After all, probability is about the chances of something happening. The number of times a condition is met divided by the total number of cases possible gives you probability. But most people I know falter when making or considering cases. I say they should learn it in conjunction with Permutations and Combinations. Solve through a simpler exercise on PnC first, and then practice the harder problems. There are a lot of concepts to learn in the topic, which is why people find it hard. Make it simpler for yourself. And revisit the topic often so you don’t forget it. Let’s see what all you can do to tackle it.” Rahul started penning some action points for it too.

    • Devote 4 hours per week to PnC and probability.
    • Solve as many types of questions as possible and practice each type to get familiar.
    • Think of special cases where particular events or permutations will have to be excluded. Practice those.
    • Make a chart to memorise typical formulae like Baye’s theorem.

    Tackling Statistics and Mathematical Modelling

    Statistics is simple!” jumped Tina, when she saw Rahul note it down next. “It’s just a few formulae, and most of the questions I can conceptualize pretty easily.” Rahul smiled. “Just remember to keep practicing. The same goes for Data Interpretation. There are no formulae in DI. It’s mostly algebra, and sometimes you can even solve questions based on visual data alone! Remember to not solve these questions to the last digit, unless the question demands it.”

    “Yeah, that’ll be easy. Mathematical Modelling is one area I draw a complete blank in though”, said Tina.

    “Well, if you have mastered the other sections, chances are you’ll be able to crack these as well. Most mathematical modelling questions are simple, where you only need to replace the variable in one function with a second function. So really, it’s just a fancy form of Algebra! One trick to solve these correctly is to write the larger function in terms of y instead of x, if both are given in x. That way, you don’t get confused where to put the smaller function.”

    And that was it. Rahul had shared all he knew with his friend, and Tina had all she needed to give the quant section a final, wholehearted push.

    Tina Triumphs

    Tina spent the next two months slogging over numerous math textbooks. She borrowed a few books on CAT and other MBA exams from her friends, and solved through most of those to be doubly sure. She wasn’t going to let the quant section stop her from getting a good placement offer.

    One and a half months later, a major technological brand arrived at the college. Tina decided she was ready, and filled the form with eagerness. Two days later, the assessment was conducted. Quant couldn’t prevent her from landing an interview, and the interviewers were impressed by her academic record and proficiency in coding. She walked out of the interview hall, hoping to score a placement offer.

    A week later, Tina stopped Rahul in the corridor to the reception, and handed him a chocolate. Rahul understood looking at Tina’s eyes that were bursting with excitement.

    “A chocolate won’t do, Tina. I want a grilled sandwich from the canteen”, he laughed, and they walked to click a photo of the notice board which had the list of the candidates who had been offered the placement. Tina’s mother wouldn’t be anxious anymore.


    This series of posts aims to assist Engineering students in preparing for assessments that form the first step to bagging a good placement. If you have a question on how to prepare for any stage of placements, ask our experts through the comment section below.

    Contributed By – Saksham Bhatnagar
    Assessment Team, Aon CoCubes
  • How Anjali mastered Logical Reasoning…

    How To Master Logical Reasoning-01Rahul had cracked the online examination of a corporate giant and received the highest package in his batch. People started coming to him, asking for his advice.

    One day, his best friend Anjali was sitting alone in the classroom, clearly worried about something. When Rahul talked to her, she said, “I have studied so hard, prepared for all the technical sections and interviews, but I am not able to clear even the first round. The reason – Logical Reasoning.” She was afraid that people would make fun of her if she told them that she was having trouble with the easiest looking section of the test.

    Rahul came to her rescue and answered all the questions that were bugging her.

    Why is Logical Reasoning important?

    Every human being can reflect consciously on his/her actions and reason out situations. Logical reasoning helps in building rationale thoughts which allow people to come to conclusions by involving facts and experiences. Finding out the best solution to a problem will not be possible without logical reasoning.  It is used not just in situations requiring immediate solution of problems but also in anticipating problems that may arise in the future.

    Why do employers use Logical Reasoning assessments for hiring?

    Measuring the mental ability of any employee before their selection is a very important criterion for all the corporates. Logical reasoning helps determine an employee’s ability to adjust to a company’s environment. It also helps the employer gain more understanding of the candidate’s behaviour or personality.

    Each employee contributes immensely to an organisation’s worth. Hence, it is necessary that before the selection of an employee is done, their abilities in terms of adaptive skills, cognitive abilities, and reasoning skills are tested out thoroughly.

    What are the components of Logical Reasoning Assessment?

    Rahul told Anjali his story of how he had prepared for Logical Reasoning.

    He took out a notebook from his bag and presented it to Anjali. It was the notebook in which he had analysed the Logical Reasoning section when he was preparing for his placements.

    Anjali reviewed the notebook and noted important points.

    In the end, here’s what she had collected in her notebook…

    • Odd One Out/Analogy

    These were one of the easiest types of questions in the Logical Reasoning section. Anjali had to look for the best possible relationship between the given words. Although in the beginning, it was hard to find any possible connections, with time and regular practice she was able to solve these questions well.

    • Series
      • Numeric series – From simple addition and subtraction of the numbers to complex exponential patterns, these types of questions need to be identified carefully. But in any case, if Anjali was not able to deduce the pattern in the first 30 seconds, Rahul suggested her to leave the question and move on further. She could revisit the question if she had time later.
      • Alphabetic series – These types of questions were easier as the number of operations that can be performed on the alphabets is limited.
      • Alphanumeric series – The easiest of the series, if Anjali was not able to find the pattern between the numbers, she could find the relationship between the alphabets.
    • Coding-Decoding

    These questions are an important part of Logical Reasoning section. Here words are coded using various logics such as jumbling the words, exchanging positions of the alphabets, arranging them in ascending or descending order, etc. To solve these questions, one has to correctly identify the logic behind the code and then apply that code to another word.

    Trick – Represent the alphabets using numbers (as shown in the table below) and then analyse the correct patterns.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    Z Y X W V U T S R Q P O N
    26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14
    • Flowchart

    Rahul told Anjali that there are mostly two types of flowcharts used in logical reasoning assessments:

    • Process flowcharts – Here the questions are based on what the result of one or two deciding steps of the flowcharts will be. In these kinds of questions, it becomes important to identify which steps are the decision steps and which ones are the process steps.
    • Data flowcharts – Here the flowchart would have some operations to be performed on each step. These are very easy if solved carefully.
    • Visual Reasoning

    This category has a wide variety of item types under it. Picking the odd image out of the given ones, identifying the image that follows the correct sequence, image analogies, the list seemed endless. But how to approach these types of questions? Easy, start with the elimination of incorrect options, and after that find the differences between the leftover options and similarity of options with the images in the question. This way she could easily arrive at the correct answer.

    • Data Sufficiency

    These types of questions also involve using Mathematical concepts. They consist of a question which is followed by two or more statements. One needs to decide whether the information given in the statements is sufficient to answer the question or not. As easy as this seems, one needs to know the correct approach to solve the question, without which they would not be able to answer correctly.

    • Attention to Details

    This is one of the most desired skills that corporates like to test, making it one of the most important types of questions one needs to work on. The best part – these questions are always comparatively easier. From counting the number of specific characters in a sentence to finding the word which can be created using a given set of alphabets, the variety of question types in this category is diverse.

    • Case Puzzles

    The best and the worst types of questions are from this section. Why so? – if one can solve the passage, one would be able to score more than 1 mark by solving just 1 passage. She identified that case puzzles were majorly categorised as:

    • Arrangements based – Seating people in circles, in a straight line or any other patterns.
    • Grouping based – Where the data pertaining to people are given and they have to be segregated in different groups based on the same.
    • Blood Relationships

    These were Rahul’s favourite questions. He had found a great trick on one of the websites. The trick is to learn how to draw the family tree. One can use their own symbols to represent different relations and the answer would be very easy to find.

    Note – One should never take a person to be a male or a female based on their names. These are methods used by question creators to confuse the candidate and to make them answer the question incorrectly.

    • Assumptions & Arguments

    These questions consist of a statement (argument) and other statements (assumptions) that follow the argument. To solve such questions, one must focus on understanding what the argument indicates. The strongest assumption would be the one that validates the argument and the weakest one would be the one which completely denies the assumption.

    • Statement & Conclusions

    These questions, most of the times, depend on “Syllogisms”. Rahul had studied how to crack syllogisms-based questions from various books to answer such questions. Rahul’s most important learning here was that one should never take the statements in the literal sense. He had to assume all the given statements to be true.

    • Directions

    These are the questions where someone starts travelling from one point to another (mostly taking random turns). Anjali used to face a lot of problems in attempting these questions. The mistake she used to make was that she used to try solving these questions without using pen and paper. The result – no answers or incorrect answers. But taking Rahul’s advice, she started making diagrams step by step and slowly started getting correct answers.

    Taking help from what she had learnt from Rahul, and a whole lot of resources and website links that he had shared with her, she improved a lot. She also got a significant amount of help from books in her college library.

    Anjali now started having fun solving the questions that she had once dreaded. She felt a sense of achievement as she was able to complete questions from books which were famous for having tough questions.

    A month later when another lucrative placement drive was set to begin, Rahul wished Anjali good luck. She went to appear for the preliminary assessment with her confidence level at an all-time high. Later in the evening when she met Rahul she shared the wonderful news that she had bagged the most vied-for job role that the company used to offer. She was happy beyond measure. While they were celebrating, Rahul saw Tina sitting nearby with a similar look Anjali once had before he helped her. She had problems with the Numerical section.

    Want to know how Rahul helped Tina?


    P.S. – If you have any questions for Rahul, post them in the comments and he’ll get back to you.

  • Myths about the first year of engineering college

    The fact that you have made it to a reputed engineering college shows how hard you have prepared to crack the entrance exams. However, as soon as you enter the first year, you are sure to come across various myths, regarding your studies or the overall college experience. But beware they can detract you from achieving anything worthwhile.

    The hype around these myths will make it impossible to survive your college years. Below are a few common myths and the tips to avoid them.

    GPAs not important, only practical knowledge matters

    The dangerous myth being bandied among most engineering students is that GPAs don’t matter much. However, this is not true and this can cause a lot of regrets after it’s too late to do anything about it. In this day and age, companies receive a large number of resumes and your GPA often matters during your interview, as that is the first thing the interviewer looks at. Your academic grade reflects your ‘practical knowledge’ and, hence, interviewers don’t consider GPA as just a number, but an initial screening criterion. You’re better off by not falling prey to this myth.

    I can catch up later

    As a first-year engineering student, you would encounter many people who will tell you that you don’t have to start worrying right from the start; there’s still a lot of time. It’s quite easy to come under the influence of peers and skip your classes. Do not listen to them, and tackle your difficulties then and there rather than procrastinating. Your school days when you had a limited syllabus and teachers to spoon-feed are behind you. Engineering college is the beginning of the real life where you must start doing things on your own. So it is advisable you stop pushing things till the last moment and start solving your problems as soon as possible. In short, if you want to survive four years of engineering, then you need to pull up your socks from the first year itself!

    It is too much for me

    It’s true that the first year can seem a little too overwhelming and you may feel a bit lost and stressed. There might be a time when your inner voice whispers, “you are not good enough for college, and you will not pass”. Do not pay attention to these voices; keep reminding yourself that you have great potential and if you didn’t have what it takes to succeed; you wouldn’t have reached here in the first place.

    Remember to be your greatest supporter and celebrate your little achievements. Get yourself a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee for that ‘A’ on your test. The positive reinforcement will encourage you and boost your confidence.

    Finally, we would like to say that when you are facing something new in life, it is natural to seek information from everywhere you can. But it is not necessary to absorb everything, just observe and don’t let these myths turn into self-limiting beliefs.

  • Tips for surviving the first year of engineering college

    The move from high school to college can be terrifying, especially for engineering students. You must go through so many stringent screening and selection processes before you get an entry into your dream college that you completely overlook the challenge ahead, which is surviving the first year of engineering.

    First-year can be a nightmare for students, with the sudden change of environment and the pressure to adjust and adapt to it. Additionally, you are expected to be more responsible, be in control of your habits, and much more. Fret not, here are a few tips that will help you get through your first year of college.

    Learn all about GPAs

    Grade Point Average, also known as GPA is very important throughout your academic year. It is a standardized method of calculating how you perform in a semester. To a great extent, your chances of bagging your dream job depend on your GPA. On top of that, if you wish to apply for a master’s degree or MBA to universities outside India, then your GPA plays a crucial role. While most colleges in India employ a 10-point GPA scale, the 4-point GPA scale is prominent in the US. Below is a table that will help you understand the Indian GPA system:


    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_grading_in_India

    Maintain your GPA

    At the end of the engineering course, your Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) is calculated, which is the sum average of your individual GPAs. It plays a crucial role for an engineering graduate when applying for a job or a college for higher studies. So, ignore the late-night study advice given by your seniors and study consistently right from the first term without losing your focus. Besides, scoring marks in the first year won’t be a problem as the first year’s syllabus mostly comprises of basic concepts. Follow this tip and you are sure to score excellent marks without burning the midnight oil.

    Maintain a budget

    First-year college students are highly susceptible to overspending. It is mostly because this is the first time that they are given complete freedom to manage their expenses, with minimal supervision. Hence, establishing a practical budget is essential. You can classify your spending in categories such as needs, wants, fixed expenses, variable expenses, and emergency funds. This will help you evaluate what expenses are essential and what you can do without. However, while you are planning your budget, keep some money aside for a short getaway at the end of your semester. After all, you deserve a break.

    Study in groups

    You often have to deal with the stress of transition and academic pressure during the first year of engineering college, and studying in groups can help you cope up with this stress. Many students have even stated that being in a group has been a great help when it comes to sharing or managing their problems on a personal and/or academic level. So, try to find a group of friends who have similar interests and form a peer group not only to handle your academic and study-related problems but who can also help you in your hour of need.

    The first year is definitely a challenge but keep up your persistence and determination as it is true that the greatest rewards come with the greatest struggle. To sum it up all, the first year won’t be such a nightmare if you follow the aforementioned tips.

  • Websites that can help you prepare for your first job interview

    Internet is a treasure trove of information on every topic one can imagine. In a poll conducted by Aon, 58% of candidates said that they use educational websites to prepare for an interview. But which ones will serve your interests best?

    There are websites like Glassdoor.com, which give valuable insights into the company culture and work ethics, and if you’re lucky, you can also find a few interview questions. But that wouldn’t be enough to ace your first interview as employers generally look for candidates with great problem-solving skills and sound technical knowledge. Fret not, here’s a list of some of the best websites out there that can help you crack your first job interview.


    PrepInsta is a one stop destination for placement preparation. They have all the previous year papers for most companies. The website uses AI and ML based rank prediction system that can help you in predicting your rank even before giving the exam.

    The best thing about the website is that it’s organized well. You can find practice papers, tutorials and interview experiences in the website.


    Includehelp has answers to all your computer programming questions. It has a large collection of coding programs across various categories where you can find solved outputs with their explanation. There are separate sections for aptitude questions in C, C++, JAVA, DBMS, interview questions based on JAVA, SEO, etc., and tutorials on CC++JAVAData StructureLinuxDOS, and other computer science topics. You can also find various personal blogs and technical articles on the website to keep you updated about the industry.

    The content is easy to read and understand, so you won’t feel puzzled while trying to learn important concepts and it’s not just for job seekers but also for working professionals.


    Geeksforgeeks is a one stop destination for a computer science student. They provide courses on topics such as JAVA, Machine learning, Python, Android App development, JAVA app development, System Design as well as courses on interview preparation. You can find multiple tutorials on the website including tutorials on Data structures and Algorithms, programming languages, web technologies etc.


    Studytonight’s motto is “learn something new today” and the website stands by its promise. One can find tutorials ranging from programming languages to web development to latest concepts like Numpy and Tkinter libraries of Python and then you can take assessments available on their website to test your knowledge. You can also find several blogs on the website in the “curious” section to help you keep updated on the world of programming and data science. The website also has an option to practice your coding skills.

    This portal is especially useful for beginners. The language used by them is very simple and it will help you understand difficult concepts with great ease.


    Indiabix is a holistic website covering each part of a candidate’s placement journey with topics ranging from Aptitude to current affairs to domain knowledge. You can find several practice papers on the website for quantitative aptitude, verbal skills, programming, domain knowledge, general knowledge, etc. They also have a discussion forum where you can discuss questions and solutions with your peers. Once you have practiced, you can also take online tests available on the website. There is also a separate section for interview preparation where you can find previous year papers, practice questions, etc.

    In a nutshell, you can get all the help you require to prepare for your interviews online. All you need to do is go ahead and spend some time researching on the above websites, and you are sure to crack your interviews easily.

  • How to prepare for your first core job interview?

    Core JobStudents often take up core engineering, but when it comes to taking up their first job, they often listen to their peers and parents and end up taking IT jobs. However, if your passion is core engineering, a job in the IT industry is very likely to leave you frustrated after a few years and, by that time, you’ll never be able to change course and do something else.

    Having said that, students often get nervous during their first core job interview and miss their chance of landing a dream job. Getting nervous for your first job interview is perfectly human, but it is best to ensure that you are well-prepared for your interview.

    Here are some tips that will help you ace your first core job interview.

    Brush up your concepts

    If there is one thing that you should do before your interview, then it is to get your basics clear. The interviewer would want to know your grasp on the basic concepts as it gives them the impression that if you’re good with the basics, you are more likely to be good with complex concepts too. Hence, make sure you revise the basics and are well-prepared to face the interview.

    Work on your communication skills

    Your core job may require you to meet and present your ideas to a lot of people. Good communication skills ensure that you can get your point across calmly and clearly. Hence, employers look for candidates who can communicate effectively.  While interviewing for core jobs, you don’t need to use any jargon; however, make sure that you are confident and clear in what you say. Don’t blabber; try to be simple, yet fluent in your vocabulary.

    Think logically

    Engineers are logical thinkers who view the world through a rational lens. A big part of an engineer’s job entails solving problems using logic and analytical skills. Interviewers always hire candidates who are capable of identifying a problem and come up with solutions. Hence, you need to be a strong analytical thinker capable of giving logical solutions to a wide variety of problems. Additionally, make sure that whatever you do or present during the interview is backed by logic.

    Choose a company after evaluating

    Interviews are a two-way street. Surely, it depends upon the interviewer to shortlist you, but you can always shortlist a company you would like to work with. Be ambitious about the type of work you’d want to do once you get the job. If you are not convinced with the work they do, you’ll not be motivated enough to work hard. Always pick a company only after you are completely sure about it.

    Lastly, you will always find people who keep complaining about their job, both in IT and in core. Do remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. Besides, it is often easy to lose yourself in the constant noise from people around you, but you should always listen to your heart. At the end of the day, your job satisfaction is all that matters.

  • How to handle stress interviews?

    No job is entirely free of stress. However, some jobs can be more demanding and can subject you to stressful situations on a daily basis. In such scenarios, interviewers conduct stress interviews to evaluate whether a candidate is likely to cope up with the pressure of the job.

    Such an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for candidates who are appearing for it the first time. The interview process can be extremely severe and can take many forms depending on the job interview techniques and strategies used by the interviewer, the main purpose is to test the candidate’s presence of mind in stressful situations. So, what can you do to remain calm in such interviews?

    Here are some tips.

    Do your homework

    It is easy to intimidate someone who has not done their homework, so make sure you have thoroughly researched the company, product, competitors, etc. It is often seen that candidates fumble during a stress interview and answer without thinking. To avoid this, it is recommended that you structure your thoughts by jotting down your strengths, weaknesses, and achievements. This will help you to frame your answers without any hesitation. Also, practice your answers out loud so that you can express them clearly on the D-day.

    Stay calm

    Do keep in mind that interviewers can be very creative when it comes to finding ways to pressurize you. Right from intentionally delaying an interview to interrupting you in the middle of an answer, they may do anything and everything to test your patience. So, make sure that you remain calm and try to refrain from getting offended. The minute you lose your cool, the interview is over.

    Be objective

    The interviewer may try and intimidate you to make opinion-based answers; however, you must ensure that your replies are backed by facts and reasons. Also, once you have delivered your response, don’t backtrack it even if the interviewer is trying to state that you have given an incorrect answer. Ensure that you are polite and don’t get into a heated argument.

    In case you think a question is lacking any vital information, ask for clarifications rather than making unnecessary assumptions.

    Be assertive

    Always ensure that you do not let the interviewer intimidate you emotionally. Remember that he is there to criticize you, but you can always be assertive about your answers and politely convey why you think you are correct. Despite the interviewer’s attempts to shake your confidence, you must keep reiterating the facts to arrive at an answer. However, there is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive; make sure you don’t cross it, lest it makes matters worse.

    End positively

    After the interview, thank the interviewer and leave with a smile. After all, the end purpose of a stress interview is to simply test how you maintain your positivity even in a dull situation.

    In a nutshell, if you do not crack under pressure and avoid being outright rude while staying assertive, the interviewer may have found a winner in you.

  • How to defend a gap year in your studies during your first job interview?

    Gap YearIn this competitive world, going for a job interview with an academic gap can often make you feel under-confident. However, the fact is that most students who have taken a gap year find that it has benefited them greatly. Though challenging, explaining these benefits in a way which strikes a chord with an employer is crucial.

    Here are a few effective methods that you can use to showcase your academic year gap as an advantage during your first job interview.

    Be transparent

    If you have had a gap year in your academic timeline, the first thing you should do is own it without being ashamed about it. There can be several reasons for this; maybe there was a financial crisis in the family, you were undergoing health issues or maybe you were preparing for a competitive exam. Irrespective of the reason, explain your past situation to the interviewer and be honest about it. Do remember that you probably won’t lose out on being considered for the job because you experienced a complex situation. But you are more likely to lose out if the interviewer believes you are lying or you come across as if you’re trying to cover up something.

    Be concise yet comprehensive

    It is important that you don’t bore the interviewer with details or come across as you are defending your decision by taking too long to put forth the reasons that led you to consider a gap year. Often, giving too much explanation can seem like you are trying to cover something up by presenting an alternate version. Also, being confident and brief will increase your interviewer’s trust in your presentation and communication abilities.

    Plan your speech

    You shouldn’t create or plan a fake plot. However, it is important to revisit the gap year and arrive at some key highlights about how you used that time in a productive manner and the specific skills you acquired during that time. Doing this will make you more confident and less defensive at the time of the interview. Furthermore, if you stumble or fidget when discussing your gap year, your interviewer might think that you’re hiding something, even if you aren’t. Hence, preparing beforehand is very crucial.

    Emphasize on the positive

    While explaining your gap year, be sure to give emphasis to the constructive activities that you undertook during your gap year. This could be additional courses that you took to develop your skills, internships, volunteer work, etc. It could be even something unstructured that you might have pursued. Bring light onto the positive experiences and explain how they have helped you evolve in different areas of your life.

    Show your commitment to stability

    Lastly, to ensure your gap year does not create uncertainty in the mind of an employer with regards to your commitment, take time to explain how you are now ready to commit to your current career development phase. If your break was recent, talk about long-term so the hiring manager is convinced about your commitment. If it was a while ago, talk about how the break has made you realize an even greater need for stability over the years.

    To sum it up, use the gap year as an opportunity to communicate that you are driven and willing to learn. Be confident and go through the above pointers to be interview ready and no gap year can hold you back from securing your dream job.

  • How To Tackle Tricky Questions In First Job Interviews?

    Tricky QuesPreparing for the first job interview can be overwhelming. No matter how well prepared you are, there can always be a few unexpected questions coming your way. Some are tricky while others are designed to put you on the spot to see how you react. Then, there are those that don’t have a right or wrong answer: these questions are designed to understand your thought process. With these, how you react is as crucial as what you say when you answer.

    These  questions have a purpose. Since you are at your first job interview and have no work experience, these questions will mostly be asked to understand your personality and characteristics.

    Let’s take a look at some of the common yet tricky questions that employers often ask, along with advice on how to respond to each of them.

    How would you describe yourself in one word?

    Employers often ask this question to elicit several data points:  your personality type, how confident you are in your self-perception, and whether you’re fit for the job. This question can be a bit challenging because you don’t know what personality type the employer is seeking. There is a fine line between self-admiration and self-confidence. People are multifaceted, so defining oneself in one adjective can seem impossible. So proceed cautiously; use this as an opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job.

    For instance, if you are applying for a technical position and you are good at adapting to different situations easily, then you can describe yourself as ‘agile’. If problem-solving comes come naturally to you and you’re applying for a programming job then you can even describe yourself as an ‘analytical person’. Depending upon your strengths and the type of role you are applying for, you need to come up with a few suitable descriptions.

    What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    This again is a tricky question. Your strengths and weaknesses say a lot about who you are as a person. The interviewer is looking for deal-breaker and red-flags. Each role has its unique requirements, so make sure your answers showcase strengths that fit the requirements. Your weaknesses should always have a silver lining. For instance, maybe you can’t multitask but you are good at focusing on one project at a time and delivering error-free work.

    Why do you want to work here?

    Hiring managers often ask this question because they want to judge your level of interest in the job. They want to see if you have taken the time to research the company and understand their culture. Interviewers know that your first job is very important for your career trajectory; if you don’t fit the company’s culture, you will not be motivated to perform. They also want to know that you understand their vision and want to be a part of it. When the interviewer asks this question, respond with skills that correspond closely with the company’s mission.

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    You may have already said why you want to work for this company but interviewers test you further by asking this question. For instance, if your five-year goal is to become a financial advisor, then it would be hard for them to believe that the position of an IT manager would be a good fit for your career strategy. Additionally, companies invest a lot of resources in hiring and training a candidate for a particular role; they don’t want to hire someone who is already planning to leave for a better opportunity the minute it comes along.

    So, always use this question as an opportunity to talk convincingly about why you want to invest the next five years in the company you are interviewing at.

    To sum it up, these questions might look very simple on the face of it but as you may have realized, they can be quite tricky.  You’d do good to not take answers to these questions for granted; but instead, use them as an opportunity to help the interviewers see the best in you.

  • How Rahul aced English

    Revised Infographic_9thJulyRahul was both anxious and nervous. His dream company was about to visit his college for placements, and he desperately wanted to crack the online assessment to bag the position. He worked hard, practicing logical and numerical ability. He did everything that an aspirant usually does – he watched inspiring videos, solved a battery of mock tests, and even remembered to take care of his health. He was quite confident that he will make it. Finally, the dreaded day arrived; Rahul gave the exam and waited for the results with bated breath. The results were announced and to his dismay, Rahul did not pass the test. He was devastated. His mentor in college consoled him. She enquired about his scores in each section. It came to light that the test had sectional cut-offs and though Rahul had performed exceptionally well in the remaining portions, he hadn’t crossed the cut-off for the English section.

    As they say, failures teach us more than success ever can. Rahul took responsibility for his failure and acknowledged the importance of English. He researched a lot to find answers to these questions that were popping in his mind.

    Why do recruiters use English assessments for hiring along with Aptitude and Technical assessments?

    Recruiters across the world acknowledge the importance of English, given it is the primary language for most official communication. Almost every field in the market, ranging from management to sales and marketing, requires decent English language skills. Even if one is not in a client facing role, one needs to communicate internally in the organization, and so recruiters aim for people who not only have technical expertise but who also can communicate their ideas well. Rahul realized that in a world where everyone else is learning English if he doesn’t take it seriously as well, he will fall behind.

    What are the components of English Assessment?

    After analyzing the test papers of various companies, Rahul found that almost all recruiters follow a similar pattern when it comes to the English section. The most common components of an English assessment are:

    1. Reading Comprehension
    2. Verbal ability
    3. English Grammar

    Reading Comprehension:

    Rahul found Reading Comprehensions to be tricky. Information intensive passages can be mentally exhausting to read. Attempting questions linked to it, though rewarding, can be time-consuming. Mostly, multiple questions follow the same passage, and if one comprehends it well there are quite a few points to score. All the passages can be classified under the following sub-headings based on their area of study:

    – Passages based on Social Sciences (History, Geography, Politics, etc.)

    – Passages based on Economics and Business (Business events, Economic theories, etc.)

    – Passages based on Science (Developments in Physics, Astronomy, Medicine, etc.)

    – Passages based on the Liberal Arts (Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, etc.)

    – Passages based on current affairs and latest events

    – Miscellaneous Passages (which can have a combination of the above topics)

    The questions asked from these passages can be classified as:

    1. Lexical Questions: Items where one needs to understand the key vocabulary of the passage and answer accordingly.

    Ex. What does “enchanted” mean as used in the passage?

    1. Interpretative/Inferential Questions: Items where one needs to understand facts that are not explicitly stated in the passage and answer questions like what if, why, and how. 
    1. Read and Reply (Literal Questions): Items where one needs to answer things that are directly stated in the text. 

    Rahul read English newspapers from around the world to polish his comprehension abilities. When he had a tough time concentrating on the topics, he didn’t like such as politics or economics, he’d read a piece from the science and technology section which he was crazy for. Slowly but surely, he became comfortable reading complex passages as well as ones on topics that were new to him. He looked up the words he found difficult on online dictionaries like the one from Oxford. Visiting the newspaper stand in his hostel common room was easy enough, and cruising through editorials and special reports in The Hindu, Business Standard and Hindustan Times gave him enough practice to ace the Reading Comprehension questions.

     Verbal ability:

    Verbal ability was a crucial part of all the tests Rahul analyzed. These questions test the ability to understand and critically evaluate the given information. Questions that test one’s command over vocabulary and sentence formation also fall under this category. The sub-topics covered are as under:

    1. Synonyms and Antonyms/ Vocabulary
    2. Odd One Out/ Verbal Analogy
    3. Sentence Formation/ Sequencing
    4. Phrases and Idioms.

    Questions asked from Synonyms and Antonyms/ Vocabulary are either one-word substitutions or fill in the blanks. On analyzing the papers, Rahul realized that most recruiters prefer to use commonly confused words and one can easily get command over these questions. A lot of words that come from the same roots have similar meanings. Using this knowledge, he found it easy to relate that bellicose and belligerent are similar in meaning, for example.

    In Verbal analogy questions, one needs to identify the relationship of the elements in the question to select the correct answer, while Odd One Out questions check one’s ability to differentiate between the given options. Rahul practiced these questions as stress busters, and that was enough to improve his grades. It not only increased his confidence but also helped in scoring more marks. Verbal analogy was tricky at first, so he gave each question time and tried to filter the options based on criteria like the form of speech the question asked for, the proper tense and the nuance in meaning.

    Rahul loved to read blogs and magazines, and he realized that was how he had to look at sequencing questions to arrive at the correct answers. All he had to do was read the given set of sentences and arrange them sequentially to form a meaningful passage.

    For phrases and idioms, he just needed to have an idea of conversational English. It had been a little tough for him since English wasn’t his first language, but with all the reading he had taken to after the debacle, he found it easy to answer most questions in the category.

    He also gained from his college’s book club. It was tough to sit through their meetings at first, especially since he hadn’t read many books himself. But as he got through a couple of them week after week, he found the meetings to be a great place to pick up conversational English skills. That made sections like Vocabulary and verbal reasoning easier still!

    English Grammar:

    Grammar is the structure and sound of any language. While scrolling through the feed of his online dating app, Rahul read a study which implied that people on the app are 14% less likely to chat with someone who uses poor grammar.  It was only obvious that recruiters also prefer those with good grammar. Being strong in grammar would surely give him an edge over his peers and could be useful in his daily life as well. The most important sections in Grammar were:

    1. Articles and Prepositions
    2. Tenses and Gerunds
    3. Speech and Voice
    4. Sentence Correction

    Most of the times fill in the blank questions were asked from the first two topics. Questions requiring Rahul to change the speech or voice became pretty easy too once he had practiced them for a few hours.

    Sentence correction questions required him to identify the error in a given statement. These errors could be grammatical or contextual. Commonly tested concepts included:

    1. Subject-Verb agreement
    2. Redundancy
    3. Error in Modifiers
    4. Parallelism
    5. Homonyms and Homophones

    Rahul got stuck a few times in these questions when the target error was of redundancy and parallelism, while his friends got stuck on different errors he knew how to spot. With collaboration and persistence, he understood what to look for in sentence structures, and which words paired with each other and which ones didn’t. In no time, he was getting them right every time!

    There were lots of websites that had mock tests and tutorials on all such problems as well. Rahul went through them and was glad to not spend a penny.

    Seeing him work this hard, his parents picked up a Wren and Martin and sent him the book. Rahul was fond of solving English questions by this point, and he found an immense sense of achievement in getting through the book. He completed a few exercises on every topic, and he was raring to go by the time the next big company rolled in with its assessment.

    Sometimes by losing a battle, you can find a new way to win the war. After analyzing the components of English assessment, Rahul practiced questions from various test series. He worked extremely hard to improve his English. He had already fortified his Logical ability and Numerical ability sections. He easily cracked the online examination of a corporate giant and received the highest package in his batch. Rahul did not let failures overtake him. He worked hard and made it happen. BE LIKE RAHUL.

    Want to know how Rahul aced the Logical and Quant portions?


    Contributed By – Deepika Pant
    Assessment Team, Aon CoCubes