Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nuts and Bolts of Technical Interviews

Are you what you perform during the interviews? Except few, many fresh engineers fail to impress the interviewer. I would say they fail because they are not sure how to sell themselves. If you want to sell yourself and get the job, you should know what industry people expect from you.

Let us look at some of the important things that influence the final result of the interview and get you the job.

If you want to sell any product, you need to share good information with the consumers. Usually people use brochures for the same. Similarly your resume is your brochure that highlights your skill sets, knowledge, interest etc.Your resume creates first impression and gets you the interview call.
Nobody knows who you are. Industries will approach you, if they really find your resume impressive. It should highlight the knowledge and skills sets that they are looking for.
Do some homework. Find out what industries are looking for. You need to gain skills and knowledge to make your resume valuable. This will help you to differentiate from others

-Make your resume well formatted, simple and distinct.
- Make sure that what you claim is actually you are.
If you have no knowledge on any particular technology, do not mention it in your resume.
- You need to be precise on highlighting your skills.
For example, you can say "I am good on Verilog, very good on Digital and worked extensively on UART project”. Interviewer will ask questions based on this information. He will ask basic questions from Verilog, advanced concepts from digital but he will try to understand how you did UART. He will ask you to draw the block diagram, waveforms and expects you to explain the operation in detail.

Communication Skill
Language is like your dress. You look great on good dress. Improve your language.

- Learn how to introduce yourself
- You should know how to explain the concepts clearly
For example, you can use pens and papers to draw the waveforms, block diagrams etc. I have seen many fresher explaining the waveforms in words
- Don't talk too much unnecessarily and show your language skills, if you are trying for technical positions.

Listening skill
Actually listening is part of effective communication. You can't give correct answer if you don’t listen to the question.

- Listen sincerely. Don't pretend that you are listening.
- Don’t go on mute, just for the sake of listening.

Planning and Preparation
Understand that interviewer will ask questions based on your resume. So make sure that you know everything that you highlighted in your resume. You need to plan very carefully on answering some of the HR questions too.

Sample HR type questions
- Why you want to be a chip designer? But you said you like C programming.
- Why you did not score much in your engineering course?

- Be natural and honest while answering to HR questions. You should really know how to display your positive attitude.

Small Things
Small things make big difference. Always remember this.

- Be on time. Good to be in formal dress
- Smile at the interviewer
- Be honest. If you don’t know, say 'I don’t know' but express it in positive way.
- Learn how to approach and solve the technical puzzle.
Don’t say blindly you don't know the answer. Try sincerely. Most of the interviewers will be very keen on your approach on solving the problems. They will also provide clues.
- Learn how to motivate/attract the interviewer towards your technical strengths
For example, if interviewer keeps on digging the information that you don't know. Say “Sorry sir I am not sure about this stuff but I am extremely good at the other thing that you are looking for".
- Analyze your personality and understand your strengths and weakness.

It’s very difficult for me to summarize everything that one needs to know to crack through the technical interview process. But I would say if you follow the basic things that I mentioned here and practice properly, you can get through it very easily. To practice, you can take up some mock-up interviews and few real ones.

Sachin Tendulkar also fails on the cricket field and sometimes scores ducks too. But he makes sure that he scores century in the next match. Approach your life like Sachin. You need to face the real interviews and learn from your mistakes. I did the same.

All the best !