Can You give us an Example of a Rhetorical Question?

IIM Calcutta WAT/PI Experience – 09th March, Monarch Luxur, Bangalore, 8:00 AM.


X/XII – 94.2/93.2

B.E. (Chemical Engg) – 7.92

19 months of Workex at Oracle Applications.

CAT ’15 – 99.75

WAT – Something about freedom of press and no corruption in media being vital to a successful democracy. Straight forward topic, with valid recent examples of events, so I’m guessing everyone would’ve done a decent job here.

PI – 1 F (30s), 2 M (one 50ish, other one mid 30s)

I was the last one in my slot. I guess they were probably bored of all the regular questions (and answers) by then, because none of the expected questions came my way.

I walked in, and asked to be seated.

M1 – Why are you asking? The chair is for you to sit, who else? (laughs at his own joke, then proceeds to tell me how this was an example of a rhetorical question)

M2 – Can you give us an example of a rhetorical question?

Me – explain a similar scenario involving a glass of water which is *obviously* meant for drinking, in much the same way as the chair was *obviously* meant to be sat upon.

M1 – Hmm, you sound confident but I’m not sure about your example.

Me – Said that it might not exactly be a rhetorical statement, however this was the best I could come up with on the fly.

M2 (who was meanwhile going through the form, and no doubt asks this question since he notices that college is in Goa) – why is Uber not operating in Goa?

Me – Explained about how the taxi union has influence there etc.

M2 – Granted, but can you think of a more obvious reason?

Me – (Realising what he is hinting at)  Talked about how demand is not that high in Goa, in proportion to its large area, since it’s a state and not a city. Explained how cab aggregators work and why the model would fail in Goa.

M1, M2 seem satisfied with this.

F steps in at this point, and it becomes clear that she was the one tasked with asking the quintessential-IIM-C-interview-maths-question.

F (going through my transcript) – Hmm, seems like you did courses on Operations Research and Optimization in college.

Me – (shit.)

F – Do you remember what topics you studied?

Me – Mention a few random things like Linear programming, Shortest path algorithms, network models etc.

F – (face lights up) Great! So you will be able to answer questions on those!

Me – (With an equally wide smile) No ma’am.

F – Okay what about integration?

Me – No.

F – Differentiation?

Me – No.

F – Matrices?

Me – No.

This back-and-forth went on for a while, until I finally gave up and made a “fine, ask whatever you want” face. She finally settled on probability. Luckily had already encountered a question similar to the one she asked (a conditional probability question), so was able to solve.

M2 – Recently there was news about a case in the SC involving your college (BITS Pilani) and their right to award degrees outside the main campus. (I am from BITS Goa).

M1 – Suppose SC passes a ruling in favour of UGC, and your degree becomes invalid. Then we can’t give you admission. What will you do?

Me – (wtf!) Said that first of all, any such ruling would not be retrospective, it would take into account that people who have already graduated, their degrees would remain valid.

M2 – Chalo, what if I say that even that is not considered, and your degree is actually made invalid. Obviously this is unfair. Now who will you sue? IIMs, BITS Pilani, or UGC?

Me – Sir I can’t make a judgement call on a legal issue without having all the facts. In case what you said actually happens, I would need all details about the ruling of the SC, and only then can I decide legal course of action.

M1 – So you are saying that you’re a cautious sort of person?

Me – Said that rather that calling it cautiousness, I just like to have all the information I can get before making a decision, especially in a situation like this. Would not like to assign blame to one party without all the facts.

F, M1, M2 look at each other.

M2 Thanks Rohan, we are done. Any questions?

Me – Asked about the football culture at IIM C, since I love playing.

M2 – Explains a bit about how some people do play, etc. Ends up calling Futsal something totally different, and I have to hold back a smirk.

M1 – Don’t worry, you won’t get any time to play football there.

Me – Sir, I will try my best to make some time for it.

Thanked them and left. All this was a little over 10 minutes. And nothing at all from my profile, academics, work experience, or career goals.