Friday, August 7, 2015

How to face software engineering internship interviews ?

I got the opportunity to do few interviews and mock interviews for the interns who were trying to get into the Industry as trainees . What i have noticed from the candidates are that they are extremely skillful , had good academic track records and some of them are very good at problem solving . However what i didn't see was the preparation to face an interview . When the most common questions were asked , i saw the lack of ability to tackle those questions mainly due to the absence of preparation . So i thought of writing few tips on how to tackle an internship interview.

How to face it better ?

First things first : You should prepare a small "about-yourself " description to introduce yourself to the interviewer . Because the first question would almost always be something like "Can you first tell us about yourself a bit" . This is something everyone easily messes-up  because it is so obvious !

Stick to the script : When you introduce yourself to the interviewers , make sure to keep it short and sweet . It should be relevant to the internship . For example after stating the basic information (name , age , where you live ) , go with your overall academic records , projects you have done , any important contributions you have done to the IT community (such as open-source contributions , tech publications) , any interesting hobbies and a bit about why you selected this field . You might not want to share your pet's name , what your parents doing for a living .

Bring a copied CV : This is important and is something always expected from a interviewee .

Loud and clear : Some people are naturally soft spoken . But when it comes to interviews you need to make sure what you are saying is delivered to the interviewer . If the interviewer had to ask you again and again for something , it will create a negative impression . It will also show you that you are not in cable of having a efficient communication .

Confidence and eye-contact : Don't bore your interviewer by acting slow and dull . Show your enthusiasm in your voice and always keep a good eye contact .

Be honest : When you are asked about something about your self , make  sure you give the correct details . If you are not being honest at that time and if the interviewer later found out that you gave out incorrect details , you are done .

About your projects : Always have a look at the overall information about your university projects and you need to prepare for this before coming to the interview . There will be a question like "Tell us about your university projects" , So in that case it is important that you know how to explain what you have done . You might have done several projects , in that case , select one . 3 things need to be said during this question.
           1. Project description (domain , techs used , overall system architecture)
           2. What is your contribution
           3. Problems faced and the assumptions made

Think out loud : You will be given some kind of problem/scenario where you are required to provide a solution . The solution might be some pseudocode/algorithm or some high-level system design . Sometimes what happens is that you think about a solution in your head without expressing it ,Which will result in a uncomfortable silence between you and the interviewer . In this case a pen and paper might come in handy . You can sketch it and show as to how you will approach the issue . So the interviewer will know you got the idea.

Keeping your self updated : When it comes to IT field , It is imperative that you know a bit about the latest techs and trends . So always keep your knowledge polished by readings blogs , magazines etc. Also having a basic knowledge about the company is a must . Go through the company's website , Facebook page , LinkedIn or another SM accounts and get an overall idea as a part of the preparation for the interview .

Social media profile : Having a LinkedIn profile is a good way of marketing your self for a job . Remember to include this in your CV . Also if you managed a blog , if you have a stackoverflow or a github account , share it with your interviewer . This will help him to understand your skills better.

Passion and Mission : Another obvious question is "How do you see yourself in n number of years" . Always prepare for this question before the interview . Also your plans should be relevant to the internship and the field . "I want to buy a car and go around the world" is wrong kind of answer !

Ask questions : Interviewer :Do you have any questions to be asked from us ? " . Keep at least two questions prepared to ask at this point which also needs to be relevant to the context .
For Example :

  •          What are the new projects are being developed by your company ?
  •          How this place will help me to improve my career path ?
  •          If i get selected , what projects would be assigned to me ? what kind of part would i play in the company/project ? 

Few things you shouldn't do ..

Asking personal questions : Interviews are for professionals so act like one.

Lying about the qualifications : If you have a 3.45 gpa, then it is what it is . Do not round it to 3.50. Always be honest.

Do not "build" answers : If you were asked about a technical question and if you don't know anything about it , do not try to build a fake answer just for the sake of it . Remember your interviewer knows his stuff . Lying about something you don't know is a waste of time and you will lose your integrity at the very moment .

Don't ask about the salary : In your first interview for internship , asking about the salary is probably not a good idea .