Conquering ExxonMobil: Placement Tales
ExxonMobil is one of the world's largest publicly traded energy providers and chemical manufacturers that develops and applies next-generation technologies to help safely and responsibly meet the world's growing needs for energy and high-quality chemical products. ExxonMobil is one of the top-priority recruiters which visits NIT Rourkela for campus placements annually. This academic year (2020-21), 7 students from different branches in the UG program were recruited in ExxonMobil.
Eligibility: Final year undergraduate students pursuing their degree in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering
Avg CTC: 10.81 LPA
There are a total of three rounds of screening in which the candidates have to appear in. The first round is that of an Online Test which is conducted for 90 minutes. The online test has two sections, namely, Aptitude and Technical. The second round is Group Discussion, where candidates are grouped in 8 numbers. The Group Discussion goes on for around 20 minutes and has topics mostly related to current affairs, science and technology. The last round is of Personal Interview. The interview lasts for approximately 30-40 minutes, and the candidates are generally enquired with technical and HR questions randomly. On clearing the third round, the selected candidates are communicated by Exxon Mobil.
Team Monday Morning caught up with the recruits of Exxon Mobil for the academic year 2020-21 to get insights into their journey to success in this edition of Placement Diaries.
SHIVASISH SAHU (Chemical Engineering)
ExxonMobil is at the top of every chemical core aspirant’s checklist, and it wasn’t any different for me. The primary source of preparation for any company is the Placement Manual which gives every student a fair share of ideas regarding the process from those students who have faced the grill. Then, I contacted my seniors, who shared their experience of the process with me and calmed some of the nerves. A big kudos to Rahul Mohanty, Sovit Suman, Atanu Prasad Sahoo and Rohit Dash guided me at various junctures. ExxonMobil follows a conventional campus hiring process comprising Online Test, Group Discussion, Personal Interview (Technical and HR).
Having got the head start with the process details, I started preparing, keeping some basic points in mind. First, revising the major core subjects of my domain, i.e., Chemical Engineering like Thermodynamics, Heat & Mass Transfer Operations, Chemical Reaction Engineering, Fluid Mechanics etc. Class notes, GATE Materials etc., really helped me in preparing precisely for the domain test. I never had much issues with Aptitude and Verbal Ability. Still, to keep in touch with the concepts and funda, an occasional practice test on IndiaBix was beneficial. IndiaBix can be helpful for testing domain knowledge using its practice papers.
For Group Discussion, I tried to keep myself updated about various relevant topics, mostly Current Affairs and Generic stuff. Newspaper articles, reports, debates etc., can help gain some much-needed knowledge regarding the same. Just before the process of ExxonMobil, there was a good session/webinar on how to prepare efficiently for Personal Interviews. Many useful pointers were provided in the session, which helped me to script appropriate answers for basic questions which are generally asked in the interviews. In a nutshell, I played each process by its rules and tried to keep it simple by being me, which is very important in Group Discussions and Interviews.
Initially, it was a bit hectic being the Primary Point of Contact from the Training and Placement Cell for the company and being a part of the process. The concept of virtual hiring was a very novel idea, then, which added to the already brimming pressure.
The standard of the Online Test was a notch above average, which was in line with the previous trends. My attempt wasn’t very good, to be honest, but I expected it to be above par and by God’s grace, I qualified. In my opinion, the Online Test was the most difficult step in the journey and clearing that hurdle was a huge sigh of relief.
As I had mentioned earlier, playing the Group Discussion with its rules will more often than not sail you through. It was my first experience of a virtual GD, and my topic was ‘How Data Analytics can help in handling the Covid situation in India?’ The motion had great potential, and there were many schools of thought. Since this was a very relevant topic, and every member was allowed to introduce and conclude the discussion, I didn’t play aggressively nor put my guard down. I tried to stay relevant and provide direction to the discussion, which is actually how a Group Discussion should be.
In the interview, one’s resume is the most important thing. In most cases, the resume decides whether or not the recruiter is interested in the candidate. Hence, I invested a lot of time to prepare my resume by bolstering it with relevant details and, at the same time, making it reader-friendly with appropriate formatting. My interview went really well, where most of the questions were picked up from the resume apart from some situational and personality-based questions. I tried to be as calm as possible during the whole process, which is highly essential for quick thinking and occasional witty replies. Overall, it was a very good experience, and everything went as I had anticipated.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
My mantra for success has always been dedication, determination, strong willpower and ethics.
From someone who was compelled to take up Engineering to bagging a dream offer at a Fortune 4 organisation, I have grown up as an individual. This growth phase was instrumental in providing me with instances and experiences in tackling the interview phase. For example, my experience in Innovision in various capacities and the responsibility as a Placement Coordinator helped me sail through some tough situational questions regarding some crisis and my take on them. My involvement in various club activities and the International representation of NIT Rourkela in the US gave me the confidence and the platform to explore my networking and soft skills, which are very important for personality development. (To know more about this, click here.)
I feel everyone prepared according to their full potential, and finally, it comes down to the slight luck required to edge out others and luckily, it was my day. There wasn’t any special preparation strategy except for some company-specific fine tunings. Everyone has a different technique for preparation, and if one technique works for someone, it is not mandatory to work for everyone.
Hence, in general, I would recommend the students preparing for the upcoming placements to research about the company, prepare their resume accordingly, work on their weaknesses and give their full effort during the process without thinking about the result.
ASHISH KUMAR OMPRAKASH (Chemical Engineering)
I started my preparation very late, probably 15 days before the date of hiring! I felt that the situation would have been a lot better if I would have started a bit earlier.
Regarding Online tests, I just practised some topics like Quantitative and verbal aptitude from online sites like Pariksha.com and Indiabix. For core, I prepared thoroughly for the basic subjects like Thermodynamics, Heat and Mass Transfer Operations, Chemical Reaction Engg and Mechanical Operations.
Group Discussion: We had a group of guys who decided to work on their Verbal ability and Communication skills together. I was amongst the very poor orators of NITR back then and required some training. We used to dedicate an hour daily to discuss current affairs, core Chemical Engineering topics, and some Abstract topics so that we can at least utter a few words before the jury! We did better than expected, and most of us became competent enough and cleared the GD round.
Personal Interview: For PI, I prepared thoroughly for two of my favourite subjects (Heat Transfer ops and Chemical Reaction Engg); this was already told by my seniors placed in the Company. Further, I prepared myself for some common HR questions and wrote an essay on myself so that I can answer anything about myself effectively. Also, I memorised and prepared every bit of text in my CV—especially my internships, projects and Club Activities.
The OT was divided into two sections - Aptitude and Discipline-specific (core) sections. The aptitude involved some Comprehension passages and questions associated with those passages and General Aptitude. I felt that the OT was of Moderate level difficulty. I wasn't good with the Aptitude part, so the situation for me was a bit tense. However, some of the questions were very easy, and over all the things were balanced.
On the other hand, I felt that the core part was easy, and I managed to solve all the questions within 20 minutes. Most of the questions were from Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Chemical Reaction Engineering and Fluid Mechanics. There were some questions from Thermodynamics that were beyond the Chemical Engineering syllabus, but the concepts were easy, and I had those in my Minor Degree course. So this was an easy section for me.
The Group Discussion was easy to handle as we had a good practice. We were divided into groups of 8 students. My topic was 'Energy Security in India'. We were given some time for preparation and were asked to present an introductory note for 60 sec on the topic. Following the introduction, we started an open discussion on the topic that went on for 8 minutes. In the end, we were asked to present the conclusion of the GD in about 30 sec. They were very particular about the time allotted, and those who spoke for too long were interrupted. Overall it was a good GD, better than what we thought of.
The PI was very smooth. The interviewers started with introducing themselves and asked some personal questions to cool down the situation, and it helped me a lot. Then they started with my introduction and my expectations from ExxonMobil. They moved further and asked me questions from my Resume (Internship and Project related) and my favourite subject. None of the questions was harsh or difficult to handle. Then they asked some HR-related questions to know more about my personality, ability to work under stress, collaborative and leadership qualities etc. The interview went on for 40 minutes.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
For success, I can only say that, be honest to the recruiters. They are here to hire you and not to reject you in the first place. Do not pretend to be someone else. Show your true self. Be as polite as possible; respect the questions that are asked to you. If you don't know the answer to a question, you need not worry. They won't reject you for not knowing a concept. They want to feel if you are genuine. Do not bluff even if you're good at it. Finally, be positive, know the difference between an Interview and Viva. Keep smiling throughout the interaction, whether in GD or PI and never hesitate to ask for help!
SUSMIT ATHAVALE (Mechanical Engineering)
ExxonMobil was one of the companies I was targeting. ExxonMobil says that it hires you for a career and not for a job. If a candidate has good interpersonal skills, the basics of core subjects clear and is honest during the whole process, he/she can get in. Coming towards the preparation for the aptitude, I used to solve Arun Sharma, Level 1 and 2. For the technical part, I consistently focused on the major core subjects and practised its question repeatedly.
Group Discussion was one of the most important rounds over there, which was made virtual this time. So, I practised for my Group Discussion beforehand. I formed a group with my peers, and we practised group discussions 2-3 days apart on topics from various domains. The practise really helped me to carry on smoothly with the online GD procedure and boost my confidence on the final day. In the Personal Interview, they mainly focus on the resume, projects, core subjects, and HR round. In HR, they ask STAR (S-Situation, T-Task, A-Action, R- Result) method questions, so I used to connect my life experiences with them and answer. For technical questions, I used to follow the class notes and consistently clear my concepts and basics, which helped me a lot during my online test and in my interview. Even for PI practice, my friends and I used to carry out our PI to improve our preparation. We used to focus on our resumes in a systematic manner covering every single word written on them. That really helped me with my preparation for PI.
I appeared for the Online Test from my home. I was a little worried about my connectivity issues, but fortunately, it was stable during the test. OT consisted of verbal aptitude, logical reasoning and technical questions. The verbal section was of moderate level, and the technical questions were of basic level. One can solve it even without a pen and paper as mostly conceptual questions were asked, and there were fewer numerical questions.
Coming to GD, ExxonMobil followed a unique procedure for GD. In offline GD, not every student gets an equal opportunity to speak. However, ExxonMobil gave every person involved in the GD a limited time to introduce their topic. And in the end, they gave us another 1 minute to conclude our parts. So, everyone got an equal opportunity, and that was a standard code for them. The topics of the GD were very relevant to the current situation. The topic was- In these unprecedented times of covid, is India using its technology and data correctly? If not, then how it can be improved. My GD practice really helped me to get through in this round.
In my PI, they asked about each word written in my resume. They asked me everything, from my projects to all the work I did in clubs. So, it would be best if you were thorough with your resume. They will want to check your confidence while answering these questions. In the HR round, the questions asked to me were tricky yet really interesting. At the end of the interview, I would suggest one should ask relevant questions about the company to the interviewer, which reflects your interest in the company. Overall, my PI experience was very nice and unique.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
Honest self-introspection, finding out your mistakes, embracing them and working on them is the real mantra to success. One should be well aware of his pain points and should take important measures to tackle them. Along with that, channelising your energy in a proper direction and proper planning is what matters. Consistently following these and the learnings I got from the previous interviews helped me a lot.
One has to keep in mind that mistakes and rejections help us grow with every passing day. So, despite all the hurdles, one has always to keep their self-esteem high. Always remember that your competition is with yourself, not with anybody else.
As already mentioned, I always started my preparation through proper planning and decided how much time I would dedicate to individual aspects. Despite all the rejections I have faced in my third year, I stayed optimistic and believed in myself. I kept putting in efforts consistently. I also did extensive research about the company, which helped me understand the company's mission and vision in a better way. I knew that my CGPA wasn't exceptionally high, but that didn't downgrade me in any way. CGPA makes you qualify for the company; after that, the work you have done in your 3 years helps you in clearing your resume-based as well as technical questions, your life experiences help you sail through HR questions, and self-confidence gives you an edge over others. I think anyone who is honest with himself/herself and ready to put in the consistent effort can definitely crack it.
RACHITA SAHOO (Chemical Engineering)
We knew from the beginning that Exxon Mobil conducts an Online Test round followed by Group Discussion and a technical interview. So I did practice the aptitudes from Indiabix, and for technical questions in Online Test, the questions were basics ones from the core subjects. For the Group Discussion round, in previous years, the Training and Placement Cell used to conduct these practice session for Group Discussion, but since we were in our respective homes last year, I, along with some of my friends, practised it on our own. For the interview, I chose some of the subjects that I was confident in. I practised questions related to the subject based on an industrial point of view, and one should be confident about the projects they have mentioned in their CV.
The different rounds in the placement procedure were very organized. In the Online Test round, we had an aptitude section and a technical section. The aptitude part included a quantitative section, a qualitative section and a verbal section. After 5 days, we got our Online Test results and the next day, we had our Group Discussion round in the morning. On the same day, we got the results during the afternoon, followed by our interview and the final results. The Group Discussion round was a really organized one. At first, we got one minute for each of us in our group to give the introduction, and then they let all of us have a discussion among us, and they let each of us give our respective conclusions.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
After my interview, I was not thinking about my results. I was satisfied with my performance in my interview. I was really confident during the interview and it went really well. They asked me about my projects and related to some of my core subjects. I was calm and answered without any pressure all the time. That was a strategy that worked for me!
AKASH JAISWAL (Chemical Engineering)
There was no strict strategy that I followed for Exxon Mobil because I wasn't entirely focused on core companies. I was preparing for various kinds of companies like analytics ones, as in Axela Advisories, just a week before Exxon Mobil visited our campus. Broadly I'll suggest everyone be well prepared for each round in the process. In the Online test, the questions were mainly from Fluid Dynamics and Thermodynamics. You must have good clarity on these six subjects before sitting for the placements – Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, Thermodynamics, Chemical Reaction Engineering, Fluid Dynamics and Chemical Process Technology. These subjects are the pillars of Chemical Engineering, and if anyone wants to be placed in one of the core companies, they must have a thorough knowledge of all of it.
We were in lockdown when Exxon Mobil had visited, so for practising Group Discussion, I, along with some friends, managed to get into video calls on MS Teams, and we talked about some random topics in English. This improved our presentation and communication skills.
For the Personal Interview, I watched lots of videos related to interviews. My recommendation would be “Dan Lok” wherein you can get some good and realistic tips.
The Online Test round was scheduled for 19th August 2020, and its results were declared within 2-3 days. The next two rounds were scheduled on the same day, 25th August 2020. The results were also supposed to come out on the same day itself, so we utilised this gap for our preparation.
In the first round, there were 100 questions, out of which 40 were technical questions, and 60 were aptitude questions. The technical questions were from core subjects, and in the aptitude section, 25 questions were from Quantitative Analysis, 20 were from Logical Reasoning, and 15 were from Verbal Reasoning.
For Group Discussion, I had got the topic – "How India is utilising data and technology to fight coronavirus". The first minute was given to the candidates to introduce themselves. Then we were briefed about the topic and were given 5 minutes to prepare, after which each one of us was allowed to put forward our points as an introduction to the topic. After that, we had 8 minutes to have a discussion which went pretty well. I wasn't very familiar with the topic, but I had developed a habit of reading newspapers somewhere at that time, which helped me put out some facts and figures during my part of the discussion. This helped me in highlighting my points compared to others. My advice over here will be to not make a debate out of a group discussion. You have to speak something, and it can be for or against the topic. Don't engage your valuable time in proving someone else wrong, and don't sit idle as well. Have a healthy discussion and scavenge every corner of the given topic.
In my Personal Interview, they asked about the project that I had done, my internship, and everything present in my CV. I wasn't asked many questions on technical aspects, maybe because I had specified that I didn't want to pursue higher studies but instead would like to work, create, and develop. Most parts of the interview were based on what I did in NIT Rourkela and some achievements that I had mentioned in my resume. There were some very basic questions related to my core subjects. The entire interview lasted for around 40 minutes. My advice will be not to ask lame questions when they enquire if you have anything to ask. This might create a very bad last-impression on them.
SECRET TO SUCCESS
I will dedicate my success to my senior, Vashu Raghav, an IIT(ISM) Dhanbad alumnus. He guided me throughout the process and trained me for more than 4-5 months to be worthy enough to fit in the placement process. I had worked with him on a project, and he was very supportive throughout the work we had done. I believe my project had a very significant role in my recruitment to ExxonMobil. It was a brilliant project that I could flex everywhere (laughs), and it was completely different from what other candidates had with them, like CG, internships, etc. This made me stand out among all others.
GOURAB DAS MOHAPATRA (Mechanical Engineering)
Firstly, I knew that ExxonMobil mainly focuses on the internships and projects that we did during our B.Tech. So, I properly prepared the topics on which I have done internships. After that, I decided to prepare two core subjects, one from the thermal field and one from the design field, because I knew that their work revolves somewhat around these fields. Along with this, I also prepared some general HR questions.
In the OT, they asked core questions, mainly from the important topics like fluid mechanics, the strength of materials, design of machine elements etc. and aptitude questions, which were relatively easy, and a little bit of practice can get you through them. The questions were not very ambiguous, rather very generic and were from important topics.
The GD round was very crucial. We had to be very careful about how we go through the process, and they very strictly abide by the time limit they give. There were a few good students who got eliminated because of some mistakes in the GD. The topics of GD were not very ambiguous. They were related to COVID-19. During the GD, they checked if we can speak properly, respect our group members, and have a proper discussion.
In the personal Interview, few generic HR questions were asked, and the technical questions were 80-90% related to the projects and internships that I had done. They were asking in-depth about those projects and internships. They wanted to mostly stay in thermal fields as it is related to their work. So, there were a few questions related to that as well.
SECRET OF SUCCESS
We can sometimes become a bit more dominating during GD to make sure we have a voice, but ExxonMobil strictly doesn’t like those things. They want you to be polite in the discussion and to have good fluency in English. So, in the GD, I was not trying to be very dominating. I was waiting for my chance, and when the time was right, I gave a few good points. I didn’t speak for a very long time, but I made sure to provide good points whenever I did. While concluding, I just gave a conclusion and didn’t add more points. These things are crucial. I even saw one student who spoke very well, but he said a few more points during the conclusion, so he got eliminated. So, these small rules are critical, and they have to be adequately respected.
SHRUTI JAIN (Chemical Engineering)
ExxonMobil is one of the first core companies that visit for chemical engineering students. I focused on my core subjects. I was also preparing for GATE simultaneously, so I didn’t have that much of an issue in core subjects. The main subjects they mainly target at the interview are Heat transfer, Thermodynamics, Mass transfer, Chemical reaction engineering. So, I focused on these topics. Along with that, I prepared for the basic HR questions and did a little bit of GD practice. A thorough revision and understanding of all the internships that the candidate has done are also essential.
The OT round had separate sections which had aptitude, English and core questions. The aptitude section questions were very similar to other companies and were not very tough to crack. For core questions, a basic understanding of the subjects of chemical engineering is enough to crack it.
The GD for me was not that easy since the topics were not as easy as I had probably thought of. For example, I had a topic where I was asked to comment on the use of technology by the Government of India during covid times. The GD for ExxonMobil has a pretty good level.
My Interview was very different compared to other people. I had done an internship in Machine Learning, and I had put that into my CV. Despite ExxonMobil being from a core profile company and I being a chemical engineer, they just asked me two very simple questions on chemical engineering. And most of the other questions were focused on Machine Learning. So that was a surprise for me. They asked me questions like- why did you do an internship in ML, how can it help in chemical engineering, etc. Even if you have done non-core internships, you need to be very confident and thorough through them. And they also asked pretty much standard HR questions.
SECRET OF SUCCESS
For companies like ExxonMobil, you seriously need thorough preparation and revision. According to me, what stood out for me was my confidence and my core knowledge. I was very thorough with my projects and internships. So, I knew where ML and chemical engineering could integrate. If I wouldn’t have been able to answer that question, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been selected. So, core knowledge, confidence and practice are essential for a company like ExxonMobil.
Team MM congratulates all the recruits for their success and wishes them good luck for all the future endeavours.