• Sujeet Sir

Three extraordinary mindsets -  To crack any interview.

Do you think you have what it takes?


What came into the existence first, chicken or egg?


It was the question, Dr. T A S Vijayaraghavan was posed in an interview of IIM Bangalore.


He later became a Dean of XLRI and earned many alphabets to his credits like B.Sc. (Maths), M. Stat. (ISI), PGD in SQC & OR (ISI), Fellow (IIM Bangalore), to be mentioned amongst few.


It’s not that the question of such ambiguity was directly fired upon him, but he was given chance before, to choose, if he wants to proceed with many but easy questions or one but difficult question.


And it was him, who out of his choice of wisdom, selected to proceed with the difficult, but rather only one question.


Vijayaraghavan’s assessment for the given choice was, it may be that the questions that the interviewer thinks are easy, may turn difficult for me, and the one which is difficult for the interviewer may come easier for me. Because essentially easy and difficult is a subjective matter and differs from person to person.


After decided to go for answering the difficult, but only one question, he answered, “It’s chicken that came first.”


“Explain your answer.” asked the interviewer.


Vijay Raghavan replied, “But you said to answer only one difficult question.”


Not to mention, he got selected.


And here comes the first lesson, to have the mindset of “Think otherwise.” 


Remember, the interview is not about a knowledge assessment but moreover a personality assessment.

A good interviewer doesn’t care, whether you know the answer or not, they just want to know, how you handle the situation.


With what personality, with what confidence, with what situational brilliance, do you handle the interview.


The confidence to say that, I don’t know the correct answer but can find it for you, scores much in an interview than a hesitant correct answer.


All battles are first won or lost, in the mind — Joan of Arc.

Exhausted by the no of candidates he interviewed throughout the day, the interviewer asked the candidate who has just entered the interview room, “Write something on board.”


This was all he asked the interviewee to do, directing him towards the whiteboard.


Passed the day, all candidates buffeted and out of sheer confusion, couldn’t handle his question, and gave up.


His only command, without any other clue i.e. to write something on board, surprised all candidates, but the one who has just entered the room took a marker, went on to whiteboard, and wrote, “Something” on it.


He literally wrote the word “Something” on the whiteboard.


And this was all, the interviewer was waiting to happen throughout the day.


Many times the answer to any questions actually lies in the question itself.


What we forget here to do is to “Read between the lines” of what is being said by the interviewer.


It is the second mindset on my list that you must have i.e. the ability to read between the lines of what is being asked. 


Undoubtedly it is one of the most important mindsets with which you can not only get through in an interview but also can create an impression that will last long in the mind of the interviewer.


Wiser is the one who understands what is being said, but genius is who listen even what is unsaid and hidden.

Have you ever wondered, what questions would the interviewers ask, while selecting the CEOs for a multinational company?

What is the quality, that qualifies a candidate to get recruited in companies who are in fortune 500 companies, where CEOs are paid in millions and sometimes in billions?

Ex. Elon Musk made $595.3 million in 2019 making him the highest-paid CEO. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai’s 2019 compensation worth $281 million.

These executives who get paid in billions, what would they be asked in an interview? Isn’t it a question that envokes curiosity in you?

No doubt many of them are well equipped by the extraordinary degrees, so they can’t be questioned on academics.

Loaded with the required amount of experience, neither can be they calibrated on the scale of experience. Hundreds of performance stories back up their leadership qualities.

No question of networking, administration, HR, or Management can also justify being asked to people of such caliber, as they have had to handle a company with a huge no of employees in past.

Every candidate who is considered to such posts qualifies all the above quality. Having all these qualities enable them to exempt from conventional interviews. So based on what qualities, they get selected then?

Well, peoples with such candidature, are just asked only one question, and they are expected to answer that question in 30–40 min to complete the interview.

Do you want to know, what questions are asked to candidates with such candidature/class/ rank?

They are only asked, “Describe a big failure in your life, and tell us, how did you handle it.”

Remember, at this level, you are not checked by your performances you are checked by how well you handle failures.

So the third and last mindset that you must have, is the ability to learn from your failure and grow further, rather than getting punched down by it.

So your life’s failure, and your ability to handle and overcome it, is actually a badge of honor, provided you use it to present your proposal, in an interview where, everything else like academics, experience, etc. fail to promise the growth and security of the organization that you are presenting yourself to lead hereon.

It shows, and at the same time promises the interviewer, that the company is, and will be, in safe hands. So your failures, if used to grow your confidence, personality, and wisdom, can turn into a treasure of wisdom and an asset to your personality, that you one day can cash on.

No matter How well prepared you are, how sound, physically, and mentally you feel, how well informed you are, the moment you enter the interview room, the sensation of a butterfly in the stomach starts taking over our preparation.

So many if’s and but’s start ruling over our wisdom. Sometimes we manage but many times we collapse miserably. And many times we just wonder why couldn’t we outperform, even after so dedicated preparation.

The answer to the above question somewhere lies in our conventional view of preparing ourselves.


“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” Elon Musk.

— Seppuku, is a form of ritual suicide that originated with Japan’s ancient samurai warrior class. The grisly act typically involved stabbing oneself in the belly with a short sword, slicing open the stomach, and then turning the blade upwards to ensure a fatal wound.

With the above 3 mindsets i.e.

  • Think otherwise,

  • Reading between the lines of what is being asked,

  • and using your ability to overcome failures in past,

You would not only excel in an interview but would also get benefited to do very well in a journey called life, which is perhaps even more important than any interview that you will encounter..

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