20 Tips to Crack the Campus Placement Interview

13 Dec 2016    11:32 pm

I have written this post mostly based on my own personal experiences. It contains lessons I learned while preparing for placements back in 2016. I hope it is still relevant for any fresher who might be getting ready to sit for campus placements. It may be slightly biased towards Computer Science freshers though considering I was a CS Undergrad myself.


Preparation for the Written Round


1. Start by preparing specifically for the companies you are sitting for. As for example Mu Sigma, Capillary, Latent View, Sabre Holdings ( i.e the Analytics companies ) are going to focus more on maths, puzzles and your resourcefulness than your knowledge of core subjects. While some Software companies  will require a good knowledge of OOPs especially Java.  Almost all coding profiles though will test in depth your algorithm writing skills. 

2. Companies want the candidates to be proficient in at least one programming language. Pick the language of your choice and learn to code all sort of programs using it.

3. Check the Glassdoor reviews about the interview process of the companies. Most of them paint an accurate picture about what you are going to face. Read about the interview process of other candidates and try to gain some insights into which subjects the interviewers of that particular company most focus on.

4. Google for past placement papers of the company you will be sitting for next. It seems unimportant but let me tell you a secret. Most of the companies have a standard set of questions which they repeat throughout the whole Placement session wherever they go. I am not saying mug the standard answers. I am just saying get a general idea about the type of questions that they ask.

5. Now that you have a rough idea about the whole thing it is time to focus on individual subjects. Data Structures, Algorithms, Operating Systems are the subjects most interviewers focus on. For DSA if possible read the Cormen boo k( standard reference book on Structures and Algorithms for most good colleges in India). As one of my friend said ‘its the biggest investment you are going to make in our college time and which will yield more returns for you than any other thing you do during college’. Try to perfect all your core subjects but focus on Structures and Algorithms most apart from Operating Systems. You can even buy Crack the Coding Interview. It is generally used by most students as a source for good programming questions.

When you are done with all these and you still have got time, it is never late to call a few seniors( who are working at the company you are trying to get into) and ask about their own experiences. If you have a good network of friends it wont be hard to find a senior who guides you.


Preparation for the Personal Interview + Later rounds


1. Do not be late for your interview round. Nothing pisses a HR person more than a candidate appearing late.
 
2. Look confident but not appear brash. Most people no matter how good they are sometimes just cannot handle themselves during their interviews. Just try to relax. Work on your communication skills from now itself. Learn to answer as succinctly as possible. If you are nervous do a few mock interviews with your friends.
 
3. Do not blatantly lie as these guys were themselves students earlier and have been part of the interview process all throughout their life. Questions like “Why do you have this much CG?” ” Why do you want to work for our company?” “Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years”  are commonplace and it would help you a great deal if you are prepared for these beforehand. Do try to not mumble/bluff through your technical rounds too. If you are confident then answer. Otherwise ask politely in terms of ” I am not exactly sure of the answer but can I tell what I know about the topic” and try to make an educated guess if you are permitted.
 
4. You never know if the Interviewer is planning a stress interview. If the Interviewer appears rude also keep your calm and do not not lose focus. Prepare for Common Interview Questions: http://hrinterviews.blogspot.in/ 

5. Read the ” About Us” page on the company website and listen carefully during  the company presentations generally held before the Interview process. When you are given the opportunity to ask questions do not hesitate and show how much you are already familiar with the company and your job profile. Good questions to ask will be about a typical day at the job, about the interviewer’s job profile, what qualities they look for in a prospective employee or something unique you noticed during the presentation.
 
6. Do not get demotivated if you cannot answer all the questions and do not panic under any circumstances. Sometimes Interviewers ask hard questions.  It is OK. After I answered correctly one complexity question during the interview of a particular company, the Interviewer brought up some new research being done in the field and mocked me for not knowing enough. Sometimes they ask all sort of questions which are probably too hard for an under grad student. It is just to know if you are well prepared and have an interest beyond what is taught at your college.
 
7. If they ask you about your favorite subjects, be prepared. I was asked protocols of almost all the layers including session layer while the most common things taught during most  Networking Classes involve TCP, UDP etc. Be prepared. Be very prepared regarding the subjects of your interest.
 
8. Do bring 2-3 copies of your resume. You do not want to sit there and find out you gave the only copy of your resume to the HR lady and do not have something to show to your interviewer.
 
9. After you are done with the interview do graciously ask for their feedback after the whole process even if you are not selected. It will help you perform better for the upcoming companies. If they refuse then walk out.

10. For Analytics companies, prepare for all the common puzzles generally asked during the interviews. A few are mentioned below.

Man in elevator problem
The man in the Elevator
Golf ball problem/ Number of cars in a particular road variation
How many golf balls are in the air right now world-wide?
How many airplanes are in the air at any given time in the US?
 Flash light problem
The Rope Bridge
 Switches Problem
Switches
Salary Problem
Salaries
 100 Doors in a Row
100 Doors in a Row
Boys and girls puzzle
Boys and Girls
Gold division
Gold Chain
Red Marbles, Blue Marbles
Red Marbles, Blue Marbles
Pirate solution
Pirates
Hat puzzle
More Hat Puzzles

11. Do not dress casually and cut your finger nails. I was asked during one of my Interview Rounds if I considered the company below my level as I had dressed like a Hobo.

12. Write about your projects on your CV. Write briefly and do not give it all away so that you can explain the interviewer later on during the actual interview  and impress him. If you are any good you can easily divert the whole interview process towards your projects and questions based on them. But do prepare in advance and read about your projects thoroughly. There is no excuse for failing to explain whatever you did during the time of the interview. I had 3 technical projects as well as 4-5 non technical ones including 2 Study Oriented Projects. I would focus on the technical ones during the coding profiles and the others during the rest.

13. Do not talk too much. Be to the point and do not ramble on during interviews. Do not try to impress your Interviewers  by being quick to answer their questions and in the way not listening properly or giving a wrong answer. During my earlier interviews I used to guess a lot of answers, specially those complexity questions. I would say it is o(n2) and as an after thought o(log n). If you have some doubt just say that you are not completely sure of the answer but would still like to attempt the question and then follow up with the best logical explanation you can give even if you do not know if it is the exact answer.

14. Prepare different resumes for different profiles. The resume you make for a Business Analyst profile  will obviously have to be different for that coding profile. In case of Coding profiles put all your coding projects at the top and focus more on them during the interview while during interviews for Analyst / Account Manager / Others structure your resume in such a way that it suits the Job Description for the post. This was a mistake I made during a lot of Software Company interviews where I highlighted all my marketing based SOPs and internships instead of the technical projects. Do not make the same mistake.
 
15. If it is a telephonic interview fix the slot during which you can give your best. Most people in college only get up during the afternoon and are most proficient during late evenings. If possible try to arrange the interview according to that.