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Interview Guide. From an interviewer Disclaimer: Everything on this presentation is the personal view of Somnath Shahapurkar. It does not in any way represent views or interview process of Intel corporation. Finding the right candidate. Like finding a good life partner

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Interview guide l.jpg

Interview Guide

From an interviewer

Disclaimer: Everything on this presentation is the personal view of Somnath Shahapurkar.

It does not in any way represent views or interview process of Intel corporation.

Finding the right candidate l.jpg
Finding the right candidate

Like finding a good life partner

  • Should have good skills and/or potential to learn them

    • Technical: Making money, taking care of the house etc.

    • Behavioral: Caring, understanding, sensitive etc.

  • Your interests/hobbies should compliment/supplement theirs

    • Share the same passion

  • Has to be interested in your combined future

  • Has to be reliable

    • Should have a good track record

  • You should get along!

    • Same values, work ethics etc.

Application l.jpg

  • Target your industry of interest

    • But do not leave other industries out!

  • Make a good resume – keep it up to date

    • Many company sites have their own resume building tools

    • Restrict to one or two pages – not a laundry list – just highlights

      • Think about placing an add on a dating site

      • It is an advertisement! – however, don’t use pink paper either

      • Do include keywords – not a long list though – think spam sites

    • Resume should have depth and breadth

    • It should be easily readable – no fancy fonts, no font < 11pt

    • Resume’s are photocopied so restrict use of color

    • Use bold face and italics sparingly only where necessary

    • Have it reviewed by an expert – University has many resources

  • Network

    • Get involved in ACM/IEEE, talk to alumni, go to industry conferences

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Phone screening

  • Company representative usually the manager who is hiring or one of his group members calls

    • Objective: determine whether they should call you on-site for interview

    • See if you can have it scheduled or ask for a minute to get ready

    • Accommodate schedules

    • Sit in a quiet place, use land line and see if you can use a headset/speakerphone

    • Get a scratch pad and pencil

    • Take a deep breath and start by thanking them for their interest

  • Your objective is to make an impression and get some information

    • Ask about the group that is interested – write down the name

    • Ask what the group does – make notes

    • Make sure you ask about the job – make notes

    • Ask for the name and contact information of the person who is calling

    • Ask for the next steps, when you can expect response etc.

    • Send thank you if they have given you an email

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Interview is like a date

  • Do your homework

  • Dress to kill

  • Be confident cheerful and positive

  • Use small talk to break ice then philosophy to show you are deep

  • Quickly gauge the person you are talking to and adapt accordingly

  • Find balance between impressing and telling the truth

  • Put your best foot forward but do not feel shy to accept your weakness

  • After all you are looking for a potential life long relationship

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Before the interview

  • Do your research about the job, company, type of work

  • Review some basics from your coursework/area

  • To the Interview, take:

    • Writing pad

    • Pencils or pens

    • Hard copies of your latest resume

    • A bottle of water if requires

    • Soft and hard copies of your thesis/dissertation presentation

    • Positive attitude

    • Turn OFF your cell-phone

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Dress code

No one likes to judge a book by its cover but…

first impressions are best impressions

  • Think of grooming/dress as one more media for you to market yourselves

  • You will not get the job just because you wore a suit but you might certainly miss an opportunity if you don’t

    Groom well

  • Clipped nails, Clean shave, groomed hair etc.

  • Mild deodorant – no cologne, minimal jewelry

  • Well pressed shirt and well polished shoes

  • Suit color should be black, dark blue or gray; white or off-white shirt and dark tie with a good knot

    A Firm hand-shake, pleasant smile and confident (not loud) ‘Hello I am ___’ will complete the first impression

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The interview

  • It is an interview not an interrogation

    • Interview is most effective if both interviewer and interviewee are at ease

  • Candidate is good till proven otherwise

    • Interviewer is interested in finding a good candidate

  • Be yourself

    • If you are at ease, your interviewer will be at ease too

  • Overcome the communication barrier

    • Showcase your skills and qualities

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Small talk – says a lot about you

  • Use small talk to break-ice and develop a rapport

  • Start with safe subjects

    • Good Topics: Weather, sports, travel, city, university life, etc.

    • Bad Topics: Politics, war, personal-questions, ethical issues

  • Be careful about cultural, race or religion matters

  • If you do not know what jokes are appropriate stay away from jokes or trying to be funny

  • Laughing without reason is seen as a sign of nervousness – but do laugh at appropriate jokes

  • Stay away from complaining about anything or being cynical – stay positive

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Behavioral Interview – what they want

  • It obvious that you must have a certain level to technical knowledge to have earned a technical graduate degree

    • That is only half the picture

  • But do you have the acumen to contribute and succeed in an industry setting?

    • How do you think or attack a problem

    • How do you react to pressure of time

    • How do you react to uncertainty

    • How do you handle confrontation

    • How do you make decisions

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Behavioral Interview – what you can do

  • Know yourselves

    • You have a lot of skills that you use every day and do not know about

  • Make a list of all things you have done in life that you are proud (and not proud of) – technical and non-technical

    • Published in journal…

    • Failed to find an internship and improved interview skills

    • Helped a roommate pass an exam

  • Now look for hard/soft skill keywords on the internet

    • Team-work, analytical problem solving, working under uncertainty, conflict-management, object oriented mapping, performance-management etc.

  • Map the incidents in your life to the skills you displayed from the keyword list

    • Remember the examples

    • How you tackled the problem or achieved something

  • Practice by narrate the example aloud or to a partner

    • In the narration concentrate on process – how rather than what

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Behavioral Interview – how to answer

  • It is OK to take a few seconds to think

    • Let them know you are thinking.

      • Say, ’Let me think’ or ‘give me a minute’

  • Give only so much background so the example is appreciated

    • Do not use up all time to explain the background

    • Small but clearly narrated examples are OK

  • Your example should clearly illustrate that you have displayed the skill in the past

    • No hypothetical answers like, “if this was the case… I would do this…”

    • More of “it was like this… and this is what I did”

  • Don’t fib

    • They can tell if you are fibbing

    • Be consistent with examples and throw in some specifics like dates or numbers to illustrate genuineness

    • Be prepared for ‘why not this’ or ‘how did you conclude that’ type questions

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  • Time to know more about the company, its culture, work-life balance, benefits etc

  • Dress more casual but still conservative

  • Make sure you strike a conservation

    • That way they will remember you

    • Use same guidelines for small talk as before

  • Food/drinks

    • Order something that is easy to eat

    • Stay away from most expensive item on menu

    • Stay away from alcohol

    • OK to take a box

  • Offer to pay – though mostly company pays

    • Make sure you thank them for the lunch/dinner

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Technical Questions – what they want

  • There is no way they can possibly measure your skill level in all the areas accurately in such a short time

    • So they take a ‘guesstimate’

  • Mostly ask basic questions

    • To see if you were paying attention in class

  • Ask about previous work

    • To make sure you have genuinely done it

    • And understood what you did

  • Look at impact and achievement

    • Money talks – if you can put a $ amount (or time or rating number) they are sold

  • Looking for process/method you use to come up with answer than answer itself

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Technical Questions – what you do

  • Make best use of the time to showcase your skills

  • Breadth and depth both are important

    • Breadth is important – only Professors work in the area they studied

    • Depth is important because that is the expertise you bring to the team

  • Your interviewer will most likely know less about your field

    • You have spent years on your research while managers got out of school a while ago

    • Think about impressing a pretty/handsome person from fine-arts or still worse her father

    • Stay away from Jargon

  • Give brief answers that address the question

    • Don’t go on and on about a particular topic

    • Be specific enough to not sound vague and,

    • General enough to keep their interest

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Technical Interview – what if I don’t know

  • Can you say I don’t know?

    • Only as a last resort after you have attempted to answer

    • Don’t guess blindly and don’t shut the door

    • Explain or give a process by which one can find the answer

    • Give an instance when you have solved a similar problem

    • Usually they give hints – listen carefully and work with the interviewer to come up with an answer

  • If doubtful of the answer ask: Did I address your question?

  • Think aloud so they know what you are thinking

  • Don’t be shy to use the board/pad – practice drawing pictures

  • Draw pictures – binary tree, hash table, linked list

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Ask questions

GOOD Questions

  • What aspect of your job do you like/dislike the most?

  • Which group works on cutting edge data analysis methods?

  • What type of training program do you have for you new recruits?

  • Does the company support continuing education?

  • How does the company help you manage your life and work?

  • What does the typical career path look like in your group?

Inappropriate Questions

  • What drives you to work here?

  • Do you like your managers?

  • Do you do any data analysis at your company?

  • Does your company pay for classes?

  • How many hours do you have to work every week?

  • When will I be eligible for promotion?

  • Is alcohol allowed at your workplace?

  • How many days vacation will I get in the year?

  • How soon can I change groups in the company?

  • How much do you make?

  • Make sure you ask questions when given a chance

    • It shows you are interested

    • Keep them general and/or related to your technical area of expertise but keep them relevant to the interview

    • Watch out to see if the interviewer is uncomfortable with the question; if so, move on – do not persist

  • Do not hesitate to ask clarifying questions

    • Next steps, contact info, about the group business etc.

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Many companies are having their graduate candidates do presentations

  • Even otherwise, it does not hurt to take a couple of pages of print to point and show you research work – pictures than text

  • If the presentation is scheduled, ask ahead how much time you have and what equipment they can arrange.

    • Prepare for shorter than that time and do dry runs

  • Keep lots of time for questions – remember unlike conferences your audience might not know your subject

    • Stay away from complex mathematics

    • Could provide links or hard copies to your paper

  • Highlight impact – address the questions:

    • What was the problem – high level, examples

    • What you did and how you did it?

    • So what? – most important – think application

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  • Send thank you emails to all interviewers or request manager to forward to everyone

  • Do a quick review of the interview with yourself

    • Make notes as to what you did right and wrong

  • Wait for the time they have told you and send an email

    • Managers are busy people - be persistent till you get a response

  • If you get a rejection, ask for the reason/feedback

    • It might be hard to come by but some people do give feedback

    • If they say you were just not suitable for that position,

      • Ask if they know about any other groups that might be hiring

      • Request them to forward your resume to other managers

    • Don’t be disheartened, persistence is the name of the game!

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Tips about how to prepare for the interview process

  • How to land a interview

  • Telephone screening – tips and tricks

  • Dress code – why is appearance important

  • The interview – how to think of it

  • Behavioral questions – how to prepare for them

  • Lunch/Dinner, Attitude, Small talk, Jokes and

  • Technical questions – what if you don’t know or know a lot

  • Presentations

  • Follow-up