In 2003, I graduated as a Mechanical engineer. I had done fairly well in my undergraduation and was confident to crack a job in the Mechanical field. Never in my wildest dream was I hoping to land a job in IT – considering how to stuff the competition was from Computer science graduates.

As destiny would have, I cracked an IT job and here I am 20 years later as a “Tech Enthusiast”.

So how did this happen? How did I manage to crack the interview? How can a mechanical engineer crack an IT job – please remember 2003 was just after the dotcom bust and IT jobs were really tough to get through.

It all boils down to a section in my resume that I seldom thought would tilt the scale toward me. It was my “Areas of interest / Hobbies” section.

Formula 1 is a sport that is very close to my heart. I have been hooked on this sport since 1992 and have a deep understanding of the sport. No surprise, I had called this out in the “Areas of interest” section in my resume in 2003.

After clearing the initial rounds, I had my final round with the hiring manager. I did my best to prepare technical concepts (like LinkedList, and Pointers in C++) and was preparing myself for the worst.

After the customary introductions, what took me by surprise was the first question – “So how long have you been following F1”.

This set the tone for the interview. The next 30 mins were spent going deeper and deeper into the topic. And as abruptly the interview started on the F1 topic, and it ended abruptly with the manager shaking my hand and wrapping up the interview. I walked out of the room totally confused as to what just happened.

— no technical questions were asked
— nothing on my academics
— no logical questions or quizzes

I concluded that I am not going to get the job and the interviewer just had a casual chat to make me feel good.

15 days later – I get a note that I have been selected. Though excited about landing the job, I really wanted to get more insights on my interview.

Fortunately, I got to meet the hiring manager when I joined and asked her this question – her answer was my first corporate lesson.

“Vignesh, as a fresher I do not expect you to be a functional expert… I am looking for someone who has the inclination to go deeper in his/her area of interest. You exhibited that trait and I am confident that you will do well in your new role”.

Next time around, do not add your “Areas of interest” as hindsight in your resume. You never know whom you might find on the other side of the table during the interview process 🙂