I’m blessed that my memories last for long. 1st week of December 2011 was a critical week for me. This was the first time when I had to appear for job interviews at IIT Madras. I trusted myself completely. Yet, I was unsure of my performance in interviews with analytics companies.
I had great difficulty convincing recruiters that I’m an ideal person for the job. They considered me unfit for analytics jobs. Actually, the trouble with me was, I did Mechanical Engineering. And, later I discovered my love for business analytics. I’m sure there would be many other like me finding themselves stuck in similar situations.
The wheel of time has brought me to the other side of the table today. I now have experience of both the souls, a recruiter and a candidate. Once again, December is approaching fast. I can sense the anxiety and trepidation of candidate who would be appearing for campus interviews this season.
I will help you now!
Having interviewed many candidates, I’ve analyzed the essential patterns for cracking campus interviews. In fact, these patterns can help you to clear any type of analytics interview.
In this article, I’ve shared these insights along with some useful interview tips. I’d recommend you to follow these tips while preparing for job interviews. I’ve seen lots of candidates taking these tips for granted, and ending up disappointed.
You should also check out the ‘Ace Data Science Interviews‘ course. It is the ultimate course, with plenty of videos and resources, to help you land your first data science role. Give yourself the gift of cracking data science interviews!
Let’s start with breaking few Myths
- Will a low academic score impact my chances of selection in non-core companies : Of course it would. Academic performance is the only indicator of your excellent performance at a given task in past. The extent to which it can impact your selection might be slightly less compared to core companies. But, try to keep your academic record flawless. These are questions which you can kill even before facing them. In case, you’ve already completed your education, make sure you have it covered with useful tools which can increase your credibility.
- I can not show any interest in non-core fields before getting a job in such company : You are wrong my friend. With free online courses spreading across the world, you can always take up courses on Coursera , EdX etc. You also have platforms to compete like Kaggle and Analytics Vidhya. These are strong indicators of your interest in the field.
- I only expect puzzles to be asked in such non-core interviews : Puzzles are a main component of these interviews, however they do not give a complete picture. You need to find things in your resume which can catch interviewer’s interest. Here are a few interesting puzzles you can test yourself on : Puzzle 1 and Puzzle 2.
- These interviews are generally interviewer driven : You don’t know that! If interviewer fails to find something to talk to you about, you have a very slim chance to get through. Make sure you give enough talking reasons to the interviewer.
Here are few good things to do thing before interviews
- Make a 1 page resume : Never apply in non-core companies with longer than one page resume. These companies are interested in whether you can concisely present your complete candidature in an impressive way. This is one of the very few things they can test you on. Here is the best way to prepare CV for analytics roles.
- Practice few frequently asked questions : The first question in most interview is ” Tell us about yourself” or “walk me through your resume”. You’ll have to nail such questions. Make sure you have an effective 2-3 minutes answer prepared. Don’t get into too much details but make sure you give him enough pick up points.
- Do a complete research on the company: This shows your admiration, passion to join the company. You will need to show your research in your resume and in your interview. This probably can be one of your strongest point to gather recruiter’s attention. I will always prefer a person high on company research and medium on all other skills against otherwise.
- Get your questions to be asked ready : In general the last question is “Do you have any question for us”. Note that, the interview does not end until unless you leave the room. So you need to kill this question as well. Show your research here. Talk about something new which the company has got into. Try understanding the role better. Try touching up on a few popular debates in the field.
- Never volunteer to ask for compensation until the interviewer wants you to : In general, compensation is fixed for all chosen candidates when companies come for campus selection. Do not look excessively money minded person and someone who can leave them for a minimal hike in compensation offered.
- Try to get your name first on the list of interviews : Not sure if you have control on this factor. However, you should try to get your interview done as early as possible. With time, the expectation of a good candidate rises and hence its always better to get finished with your interview as soon as possible.
- Show your fit to company culture : Some companies are very particular about the culture fit into their community. In such companies, make sure you show your humorous side/ sports engagement/ community engagement.
- Prepare well for guess estimate questions: Recruiters are keen to explore the aspect of structured thinking in candidate. They don’t look for any correct or incorrect answer. This technique of evaluation helps recruiters to filter candidates on the basis of quick decision making, comfort with elementary maths and analytics skills. Get some tips to crack guess estimates – Useful Tips.
What are interviewers primarily looking for in candidates
- Good communication skills : I believe this is the most important skill which interviewers use to distinguish the best from the rest. Make sure you are confident and clear in what you speak. No blabbering. Do not use jargons which you don’t know. Try to be simple and fluent in your vocabulary.
- Interest in the company : Interviewers want candidates to come well researched. There might not be a direct question about this but interviewer always gets a sense of how much you know about the company.
- Good Analytical skills : Practice lot of puzzles! I know that puzzles are probably not the best way to choose candidates but you have to accept the fact that they are heavily used in elimination rounds. Make sure you practice variety of puzzles. Even if you are unable to solve a puzzle at interview, it is very important to show that your approach was structured. That’s all recruiters look for!
- Relevant Resume : Make your resume specific to the company you are applying for. Do not use the same resume everywhere. For instance, in an analytics company, you can mention a few big data/ machine learning / operation research experience ( internship or full time). Try bringing up quantifiable numbers. Do not use technical jargons and make your resume difficult for recruiter to comprehend.
Last but not least, dress well for your interview. There is a lot you cannot control in this recruitment process, but there is a lot which you probably can do very well. The list is not exhaustive but some very basic pointers which can help you prepare well. I will urge other recruiters to add what they look for in a candidate in interviews. Here is another awesome resource to prepare yourself.
Best of luck to all candidates!
Did you find this article helpful? Please share your opinions / thoughts in the comments section below.