My Interview Experience

Okay, so I got placed. The very first company I applied, job profile which interests me the most and the highest CTC from my branch. All this with ZERO preparation(for the specific interview). Allow me to share my experience with you for you to know a feel of how the overall process is.

First of all I told ZERO preparation. This ofcourse does not mean I knew nothing. I had started working and thinking about placements long back and while going through the process you realize that no "last minute preparation" helps. This is not exam. While giving the answers you will feel that the chances of you getting selected or not is already decided way back. All what you did in your college life, the skills you built effectively unfolds in the interview. So, if you are thinking along the lines of "Once I get shortlisted, I will prepare hard and crack the interview." or "Let the company come, I will prepare accordingly", you are on the wrong track. The right time for preaparation is NOW.

Okay, Searce is the company I am placed in and the designation is Cloud Engineer, location Pune. The exact profile will be decided over a telephonic interview shortly before joining. The process first involved the Aptitude test, just the basic questions but you had to do them real fast. 20 questions, 30 minutes with some questions intended to waste your time but actually a pair of questions had two sub questions each(as separate). I wasted some time to actually go back to the question and verify that the problem statement is actually same, it was just a "one paragraph two question" type of problem. Difficulty level was easy. I had solved NO aptitude book like RS Aggarwal, nor any aptitude app or taken any competitive coaching. At morning, I was looking at the Simple Interest formula :p. Just if you like solving problems and solve them here and there at times, you can clear the test. The second round was a Group Discussion but the top performers were directly called for the PI rounds. I was one of them :)

There were 3 PI's in total. The company allowed students to apply for 4 profiles- Cloud Consultant, Cloud Engineer, Software Engineer and Business Process Analyst. I had applied for Software Engineering and there were very less people from non CS/IT background who had applied for technical posts. Searce was the second software company on my campus(first was Morgan Stanley) who allowed non CS/IT branches to apply (I am from Instrumentation) for the computer technical posts. For the business post, of course everybody could apply.

First PI-
The guy called 4 students and gave a programming problem to solve. I got an easy problem on string- to print the words of the string in reverse order while keeping order of the capital letters and punctuation same. Example:
 Input String: Hello world, I like pRogramming
 Output String: Olleh dlrow, I ekil gNimmargorp
I took my time and wrote a working code but I knew it was not perfect as I was not much comfortable with the syntax. The guy told us to not worry about the syntax and solve it in any language. After solving, he called us one by one and took the interview.

To me, he first asked me to explain my program. I explained the logic: to store the string word by word by parsing through spaces and storing the capital letter position in an array and then display the words in reverse while taking care of the array blah blah. The problem was I did not know the exact syntax for converting to capitals(while writing this post, I now remember that I could use direct function to convert into upper case!), so I adjusted the ASCII value of it through another integer variable. Well I was able to convince him that I knew the logic and since I am not from CS/IT background and less experience in coding, I don't know the exact line for it. He said, fine.

Then, he asked me to tell me something about myself which is not mentioned in the resume. This I felt I nailed it on my part. I answered: "Sir, I am a person who always like to do things which are creative and the things which people normally don't do. For example, in my first year I gave a second attempt at JEE Advanced because I was not satisfied with the first attempt and I scored a near 8000 AIR in my second attempt along with maintaining Nirma Academics and rules(we have 85% attendance scheme). Then, in second year I started writing a blog and I am fairly active towards it. Later down the line, I made a video testing GK tests of my fellow classmates. Now, I am doing an Idea Lab Project on IOT which is an initiative by Nirma and it is a research grant based project. I am also interested in spirituality and have been to various meditation retreats. I like programming and my intention is to create products which makes people lives easier."

Overall, it seemed like he was NOT much impressed with all this. He asked me to describe my research grant based project. I explained him the project and then he asked which framework on python am I using, I told him webpy. I explained the future intention as in what future plan of the project was. Like from the live feed the user can select a person or an object and the bot will automatically follow it through Image Processing and otherwise the bot can be controlled manually through 4 buttons on a HTML page linked with the python code on the server hosted by Raspberry Pi. I further told more of the details here.

He again looked into my program and thought a bit and started asking technical questions. The basic "What is XYZ" questions about linked list, recursion, AJAX and stuff. To others the questions were about PHP, front end back end and stuff. When I did not tell all the answers, he did press on me and asked Why I could not answer the conceptual stuff when I am interested in programming. This I handled with like I am from Instrumentation background and all. He said fine and asked me to do another programming question which was again easy- to swap the values in two variables without using third variable by two methods. I solved it. He then asked me whether the program will work on negative numbers and the situations where it will fail. He asked me questions on classes and objects and asked me to give a real example on object and class. He was by then reading my resume so it immediately clicked to me. I said Sir resume can be the example itself, for example my resume can be a class and different objects be the properties and blah blah. I now realize that a better example can be- resume in general is class and My resume is an object which will be the instance of the resume class.

I was shortlisted for the second round. The lady was asking puzzles. She asked the 100 storey puzzle(you have two balls, you have to find out at which exact floor the ball will break in minimum number of trials). Although I did not have a clue about the puzzle, I smiled. Seeing that she asked "Have you already solved the puzzle earlier?", I said No and then she asked why I was smiling then. I said smile is the ultimate stress relief :p. I struggled with the puzzle for good 10-15 minutes and gave at least 5 different solutions to it and every time she was like "Optimize it further Shivam, you have to make people lives easier right? 20 trials is bad for the worst scenario in this case." I felt like I gave a good solution but after some time she gave up and started asking "What do you do?". I gave a stupid "I am doing Instrumentation" reply. (Don't ever give this reply). She made an ugly look and then I again said my dream is to build products which makes people lives easier mostly in the software/programming side. Then she asked whether I would be comfortable in locations like Rajkot. "Will you not cry like Rajkot is a small city, After some time you will say I want to meet parents and all?" I replied: "Mam, I was a day scholar and of course I spent 14 years of school at home only, now at this point my parents want to kick me out of the home" She laughed at it. I think she asked one or two questions further which I don't remember. She took my resume and put it on the back table. I felt like I have answered questions confidently.

Few people were shortlisted and I was one of them for the third round. The third round was taken by the Technology Head. It felt like he did a thorough reading of my resume and as soon as I sat, he asked me "So, webpy huh?" with a good smile. I said, "Yes sir, short and easy.". He replied, "Yes, short and easy." He then digged into my project on IOT (It was the highlight in the entire process). I explained my project again and told what's new in it. When I explained that the Raspberry Pi will run the motors of the bot according to the command received from the HTML, he asked how will the command come. At first I did not understand his question and then I got it. I explained him that the Apache server software is being hosted on the Pi, http requests, python and blah blah. He then asked me what was the exact command in webpy for receiving, I told him. He asked me whether I did all this on my own, I said yes, I took the initiative and currently we are exploring on the Image Processing part. He asked me about the camera and fps details, I told him that we have not reached there but told him some details which I knew. Till now it looked like he was really impressed especially for that I did this much on my own. Then I impressed him further by saying the sad story of Aaron Swartz who was built webpy(and many things) but later committed suicide because of his own work. (You can read his story on the Internet).

Immediately I returned to IOT. I told him that my dream is to create an online repair platform such that people can actually repair and prepare physical/tangible things and perform processes like cutting, welding and everything through the Internet. He said that you probably cannot work on your core IOT dream, will you do our cloud work, will you come? I said "yes because it is not necessary for me to make a fixed career in IOT. My goal is anyway to build products which makes people lives easier". He then asked whether I was clear with all the loops and algorithms, I said I am clear with looping and I good at designing logic but I stated it clearly that I cannot code from scratch. He said fine, the training will be given but you have to research on your own and provide solutions for the work we receive. I said fine. He asked whether I knew any database languages, I said yes we are working on MYSQL in a project this semester. He asked a question on Image Processing. Then he said that you probably have to move locations for reasons related to work, I replied that it is in fact wonderful for me. He then asked me whether I was fine with the location being Pune, I said yes Sir its fine. Then he asked me whether I have to ask any question-

My first question was related to the presentation they gave. In the presentation, one mam asked how will you feel when your boss is standing at your door on Sunday asking you to come and work? I asked the guy straight away how often will the Sunday thing happen. He said not to worry about that as it is very less frequent. He said that we work like a family and just like how in a family we know each other's strengths, we choose the person for particular work. He further said not to worry about work load at all, the lady in the presentation said so just to tell you that it's not a government job. I, then further asked what are the flexibility options as far as work is concerned, what are the growth and stuff. The company well had already declared that the growth is unlimited, you can be ANYTHING in years to come. He replied that growth will depend on two factors, one your performance and second organizational growth. If you work really hard than within a year you can become Cloud Architect blah blah.

So overall it was an easy process. I feel like Communication Skills, Projects do help a lot in the process. Best of Luck!

I saw this video long back and I think it's good enough. Sandeep Maheswari really nails the point here on what attitude you should have for job interview-

I have also attached my resume, just in case if you need.


Manish Purohit said...

Awesome 👌
Congratulations bro

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