Graduate Engineer Trainee | Placements 2020
Interviewer: Hello, Everyone, this is Swarnava Bag. We have Mr. Akhilesh Nalanagula, who has been placed at Cairn Oil and Gas. So, our first question is, how did you decide to go into the core profile? Considering that coding and data analytics are usually most talked about.
Akhilesh: Actually, when I was in my second year, I got introduced to various subjects related to Earth, and I fell in love with those subjects, and it was then that I decided to go for the core. The scope for the applications of the latest trending topics like Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning in our core sector (for oil and gas explorations) increased my interest in this domain. The fact that there is a bit of coding and such stuff being involved and at the same time getting to know more about Earth got me inclined towards the core sector.
Interviewer: Can you please explain the general interview process for the companies you aimed for from your experience.
Akhilesh: The only company I applied for was in the oil and gas sector. It came on day one. The interview process consisted of multiple rounds; The CGPA cutoff was 7.5. After that, they shortlisted around 30 students also for the written test. The written test had questions from aptitude and mainly from geophysics and geology. The duration was 1 hour. Then around 21 students were shortlisted again for group discussion. Then finally, about five students were shortlisted for the personal interviews. So these are the primary rounds of the recruitment process.
Interviewer: Thank you, so we now have understood about the general in the interview process. So, now would you like to give a detailed overview step by step?
Akhilesh. Yeah, sure, these are the steps.
- There was the CV shortlisting, so all the students who had CGPA above 7.5 were allowed to sit in their written test. It had around 35 questions. 10 out of those were related to aptitude and mental aptitude, which were of primary level and were not complicated. They were straightforward. There were 25 questions, mainly from geophysics and geology. Primarily the questions were from seismic, well logging and structural geology.
- Then we had a group discussion, which was approximately 30 minutes. The first 20 minutes were for conversation and in the last 10 minutes, we had to give our respective conclusions. The topics were general (e.g. lessons learnt from Corona, E-learning benefits and disadvantages, etc.)
- After the group discussion, we had a personal interview. There were questions mainly related to previous internships which I had done. There were some technical questions related to my core subjects and few HR questions as well.
Interviewer: Yes, so. I guess you have summed up the entire process in a very detailed manner. So now I have one more question. People generally believe you should maintain a very high CGPA for entering a core field. So is that true? I mean, you already said that it’s 7.5, so is it valid for most of the companies?
Akhilesh: See, actually cut off lies around 7.5 to 8, so it depends on the company and its policies, and it may change from year to year. The relative performance among fellow batch mates, like if more people are scoring around nine, and if you’re having around eight that may put you in trouble. So I would say that we need to be in the top three to four students of your batch, and that would be a safe zone because there are fewer companies, which makes the competition even more challenging for our core sector. Even if a student is not in the top 3–4 students of the batch (as per CGPA), a firm grip on the fundamentals of core subjects and some internships in the core sector will make that student a strong candidate.
Interviewer: Yeah, so we have completed our most searched question about the CGPA; the next thing is what resources you use to prepare for the companies? Any books or from anywhere?
Akhilesh: For me, I mainly referred to my class notes. The class notes were very, very useful. Apart from that, I had a couple of books that I will suggest. I will list them down:
- Seismic: Geldart and Sherrif
- Gravity, Magnetic: Telford
- Well logging: Class notes, Paul Grover’s notes.
Interviewer: So this means following the KGP curriculum was more than enough for your preparation.
Akhilesh: Yeah, it was enough. If the student is interested, he/she may refer to the different books which I have suggested or as suggested by professors.
Interviewer And that is all about the preparation resources which we need to follow. And the next thing is, what was the strategy for preparation? Did you Change it in between rounds?
Akhilesh: Yeah, so um, I prepared for this company stage by stage.
For the written test: Class notes and the knowledge acquired over the last four years are sufficient.
For Group Discussion: This is a very crucial round for this company. Regardless of the student’s capabilities in the core sector, the officials will filter out the students who do not perform in GDs. So, I prepared for these group discussions from youtube videos mainly. That was sufficient. I would suggest the student prepare his/her opening/conclusion/other relevant templates before the group discussion itself.
For personal interview: The questions will be fundamental, and the student is expected to be strong in fundamentals. So, the preparation of 2 months before the interview was sufficient for me. Important subjects were: Seismic, well logging. Gravity, magnetic. I prepared these subjects thoroughly, and also I made sure to revise my past internship works thoroughly as most questions are asked from internships. So, that was my preparation strategy.
Interviewer: Yes, so you said that specific questions should be prepared, from some chapters, so which are those?
Akhilesh: Yes, so there are a couple of topics which are very, very important.
First subject and the most crucial subject: Seismic methods of prospecting (Acquisition and Processing).
Other important topics:
Well logging, Gravity and magnetic methods. And the topics in which the student has done his/her internships.
Interviewer: So you said this before. You said that there was a CV shortlisting round. What, according to you, is first the most important thing? Specifically, they would have seen you see the internship or the CGPA or anything else.
Akhilesh: CGPA is, ofcourse, very important, but at the same time, they look at the internships that the student has done. They prefer students with internships in core companies / even research internships related to the core.
Interviewer: I guess that was Great, so considering that you had gone to the core sector, could you say something about what other opportunities are there in the core sector?
Akhilesh: Okay, a couple of years ago, like in, 2019 many companies used to recruit students from our campus: ONGC, Schlumberger, Cairn, Exxon Mobil. But post covid, the situation completely changed and this year, only two companies came, which recruited three students from geophysics (including 2 yr MSc courses). So, honestly speaking, there are limited opportunities in the industrial sector, but there are many opportunities in the research sector. Research is a good option if the student is interested.
Interviewer: One more thing I would like to ask that in KGP, people are generally given the fundae that POR’s matter a lot. What do you think about it relating to your field?
Akhilesh: PORs matter but only to some extent. It ultimately comes down to the skills that they are looking for in the student. Having some PORs is a plus point, but even if the student doesn’t have any, it’s okay if he/she is into some king of extracurricular activity (hobby or something).
Interviewer: OK, I think the next question is what advice would you like to give to your juniors who will be sitting for the placements this year? Anything you would like to feel like to say?
So for Geology And Geophysics students, all I would say for those companies is to be fundamentally strong in the core subjects. They should also practice some quantitative aptitude for the tests.
They should also keep one backup option ready (coding/data science/ research).
Interviewer: Just one doubt. We should be preparing for the backup thing or the core things, or we should be preparing both Simultaneously.
Akhilesh: Yeah, both simultaneously should be prepared because the situation gets a bit unpredictable in this core sector and having a backup plan always helps.
Interviewer: I guess you have reached almost the end of the interview, so Akhilesh would like to give any general fundae for the KGP people out in the community anything you would like to suggest to the public out there.
Akhilesh: Enjoy the KGP life, guys!! Prepare well for the placements, and yeah, All the Best!!