Hello everyone! Holidays going well? It is, for me at least! I am done with my engineering, done with the placements and now I’m peacefully waiting for my job to start. While you have a LOT in your hands right now. This period of bliss will only come a year later. But not to fret, it will be a hell of a ride in the coming few months. I guarantee that!
By now, I hope you have found a summer internship for yourself. If you haven’t, I seriously suggest you do, specially if you didn’t do an internship after your second year as well. An experience in the industry is very crucial for your placement. When the companies know that we have this huge gap between two semesters, they expect us to go out and explore the arena. It doesn’t matter which area you get. It’s more important that you start living in the work environment, even for a brief period.
Your day shouldn’t end after coming from the internship, of course. The dreaded placement prep has to go along parallely. And that’s why we are here today : to remove the dread and give you a clear mind on how to carry out this preparation.
In a standard placement process, there are three rounds : The Online Test (OT) , the Group Discussion (GD) and the Personal Interview (PI). My suggestion is to keep your preparation very general and one that would cover up for most of the company processes. I will guide you through the prep required for each of these steps.
THE ONLINE TEST
Online/Written tests are just a mini gateway where you will be tested for your basic cognitive skills. We have all been through all the MCQ test before so you are well versed with how it’s carried out. The difficulty level is strictly basic and typically there aren’t many out-of-the-world questions that would make you sweat. In most of the cases there are no negative markings so you can bank on your luck as well. All you really need here is a sharp mind.
And to keep your mind sharp, you have to practice. A lot.
RS Agarwal’s Qualitative Aptitude book is easily on the favourites which you would see many recommending. The questions in those books are just about what you can expect in the tests. It explains all the concepts and formulas that you should be knowing. It is that one book for all needs. Personally, I think aptitude done from any book or from any online source would suffice. More important is that you keep finding questions and answer them as much as you can. You need to get the hang of it and the solutions should come naturally in your mind when you are in the test. The source I used the most was indiabix.com, another favourite for not just aptitude but for technical as well.
Aptitude is the major section for any company test (yes, even for the technical ones). So it’s very important that you are familiar with all kinds of tests that are outside your curriculum. There are many types of it – Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning, Behavioral, English – look them all up and start with the practice.
Once you have proved you have the brains, the rounds henceforth prove that you have the personality and the required qualities for the job. One of the common ways they check that is through this round. The prerequisites are simple – you need to be well-informed about everything that happens around you and have a clarity of thought.
There are different kinds of group discussions that happen and you will know more about it when your placement party is on. For now, it’s important that you are well versed with the current affairs, global issues, latest in tech and so on. So read everything, know everything. Read the newspapers along with your dad. Search for informative videos on YouTube (occasional cat videos or standups are allowed).
Form your opinions and views on every topic. There are few rules on how to conduct the GD which you can find online easily. Just remember the 3 golden rules :
Never intervene when one speaks
Choose a side (for/against) and stick to it
Engrave these rules in your minds from now on, so that you remember them when it’s showtime. If you have people around who are well versed with the happenings around the world, have some meaningful conversations with them. The more you “discuss”, the better you will be at it.
It all boils down to this. This round is where the panel looks for that one factor in you which makes you stand out from all other candidates that’s left. How are you going to make that impression?
The first thing to work upon is your CV/Resume. Most of the questions that we faced during interviews were all based on those pieces of paper. They can pick anything – and I repeat, ANYTHING, from it and start their interrogation. If your percentage in 12th has been low, make sure you have a valid (or a very well-made) reason for that. Every small achievement that you put in has to be justified and should reflect a good quality that you inherit. Most important are the internships or industrial training that you mention there. Sometimes the questions are directed only towards your experience as an intern. Which is why I stressed in the beginning to find an internship. And not only find, but learn and document every work of yours. The question can be as simple as “Explain what you did in the internship”. You can have a prepared answer for that, narrating your internship journey like a nice, compelling story with the great technical and management lessons you learnt there (that was sarcasm. Coz, let’s face it, there isn’t anything nice or compelling that you do there). Remember – the internship doesn’t have to be great, the story that you narrate should definitely be. Same applies to your club activities as well. Oh, and it’s not a rarity anymore to be a board member of some club. With the number of clubs we have today, you can throw a stone and it will hit a president of some club. Still, it’s not what but how you say that matters. I had no club activities to boast about. I relied only on my experience as an organizer of fests and a small stint as a CC for Revels. That’s it.
Another thorn you will be often thrown is the “Area of interest” based questions. Pick some concepts or courses which you loved or were good at from your branch of studies. Before typing its name there in the blank, make sure you actually know, at the very least, the basics of that course/concept intact. For students aiming at core companies should anyhow study all their notes and course, but special significance should be given to your ‘area of interest’.
AND SOME MORE TIPS
Along with this preparation you should start doing a basic company research as well. glassdoor.com is the best website to find out about a particular company, their offices, the work culture, profiles etc. written over there by employees. You have the company list provided by the placement department which has all the companies that have come to the campus. Like the search method I explained in this post, see the number of selects for the companies you find interest in and just keep looking for more information on them. You will be doing this more often when companies start coming, but it’s better if you get the hang of it little early on.
If there is the coder bug in you, looking for software profiles then head on to GeeksForGeeks or HackerRank ASAP and start coding as much as you can. This is a different beast of a field altogether and anything from it can be asked in either test or during your interviews. Pick a language or two you think you are strong in and keep building on that.
If you intend to give exams for higher studies – GRE, GATE or CAT – it’s better to start that as well. The main goal in this holiday would be to keep your mind sharp, and your preparation for these test would only help it further.
Come what may guys, just try utilizing these holidays to the fullest. Don’t be like me – writing you this post way later than I should. As the days would pass and you would near your semester opening, you will start feeling anxious. It is okay to feel that! It is going to take you few days to get accustomed to the environment.
You will see the post from this series next around the time your semester opens. Till then, happy holidays!