How to face the Recruitment Test?
By Kasiviswanathan M (M.Sc Software Engineering, 2009-14)
I have been recruited successfully from campus and met similar people and interviewers who are a part of this annual process. This article is my view of campus recruitment and how one should approach it.
In India, campus recruitment, or placements as it is commonly known, is the “so called” second most important moment of one’s life (the first being the board exams, of course). Although India has a booming economy and jobs are aplenty, campus recruitment is not that simple. The challenge here is similar to that of the board exams. Good is not good enough anymore. Getting marks is not the same as getting good marks. Similarly getting a job is not the same as getting a good job. And these good jobs are limited (or at least that’s what everyone thinks). When campus recruitment is your one way ticket to a happy life, no one is ready to compromise.
The most important thing – Attitude
“Companies need people with a good positive smart attitude. When they have these people, they can mold them to suit their needs.”
I start with attitude. Why? Because everything else, like technical knowledge, communication skills, etc., can be provided by the company and acquired by the candidate later. Attitude is something which can neither be given nor be taken.
Have a single paper resume. Yes, just one paper with two sides. Why do I recommend this? Interviewers hardly read the resume and if you are going to attend the interview with a booklet, most of it may go unread. And the unread part may have something important. Hence it is better to keep just the important points on the single paper. It also gives a sense of your attitude. The fact that you are able to identify what is important will be highly appreciated. When mentioning about your achievements, have one thing in mind, what you think is great may not be so, and you will never realize it. Never frame stories to fill lines. Read through multiple times. Any grammatical error or spelling mistake can be embarrassing.
What is an interview?
An interview is a conversation in which the company and candidate get to know each other. It is not a test. It is not an evaluation. Consider speaking to your teacher outside the campus. You realize that the conversation has very little effect on your relationship inside the classroom and no bearing with the marks allotted by the teacher to you, but you still need to be very respectful. The same relationship exists here.
What are the questions like?
The interview questions are broadly classified into 3 categories.
- Analytical Thinking
- Communication Skill
- Technical Knowledge
Of these the first two are important. Surprised ?! The common perception is that when you have the first two, the foundation is set for technical knowledge to build on.
How to answer the questions?
Analytical questions test your style of thinking and level of understanding. They usually involve the application of simple mathematics and common sense to solve the problem. Clarity of thought plays a big role here.
The first class of technical questions are the simple ‘What is <something>?’ kind of questions. My advice here would be to give your own definition rather than a commonly accepted one. Your ability to understand and explain in your own way will make you stand out. You can afford to say,”I don’t know” here. In my interview, I said “I don’t know” for half of the questions and made my own answers for the rest, and it worked. Never hesitate to say,”I don’t know”. Interviewers don’t expect you know to everything. They expect you to know enough.
The second class of technical questions are ‘Practical / Real-Time’ questions. These are questions where you have to use your technical knowledge and analytical skill to come up with the answers. This is where most fail. Usually these questions do not have a standard answer. It requires your own solution to the given problem. Never say “I don’t know” here. The ability to solve these types of problems is what makes you an engineer. The least you can do here is to speak out whatever is in your head, you may be provided with hints.
Smiling during the interview is highly recommended, especially for girls. It makes the interviewing scenario a little more pleasant. Interviewing is as stressful for the interviewer as it is for the interviewee. Interviewers have to travel long distances, interview a number of candidates while still being preoccupied with the unfinished work they have left behind at the office. The last thing they need is a grim looking candidate acting like a robot.
A few more things…
Companies don’t hire the best candidates. They hire the ones that fit them the most. Sometimes, they hire less qualified candidates instead of the better ones because they believe that these candidates remain loyal to the company and stay for a longer period. So if you don’t get recruited, it is not because you are not good enough. It was because you did not fit their needs.
Interviewers understand that campus hires are limited in industrial experience and don’t expect much from them technically. They only look at the fundamentals in their field of engineering. Fundamental concepts are the only things that connect engineers having different interests. Positive attitude always helps. Don’t bother about small errors. Nobody is going to reject you because you made a mistake on your resume or you forgot to take a pen to the interview. Also, summer internships are important. Everybody knows you can do nothing productive in a few weeks, but it could be the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.
The knowledge and skills developed are not the only resources you gain from college. Another equally important resource is your network of friends. Placement is not the end of your career, it is the beginning. If you end up getting a job that you don’t like, you can always find opportunities later in your career, and your friends can help you. Keep in touch with your friends who are placed in different companies and often ask them about career opportunities and job opening in their companies. You will find more doors opening for you then.
For now, Eat well, sleep well, do not prepare for at least 24 hours before interview (48 hours, even better), attend the interview, and have a good conversation. If you are hired, go celebrate. Else, do the same thing for the next interview. Sooner or later some company will find some use for you. Have fun getting a job!!
KASIVISWANATHAN.M (M.Sc SWE, 2009-14) was the Joint Secretary of Students Union, Secretary of the Entrepreneurs Club and Captain of the Table Tennis team during his days at PSG Tech. He is the founder of “The Bridge”. He is currently pursuing his M.S in Computational Finance from Carnegie Mellon University and has previously worked for Goldman Sachs.
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