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With all the hustle and bustle due to the resume deadline done, you must have gotten pretty knackered and tattered. However, this is the time to start pulling your socks up for the next lap of the placement race – the placement prep.

Main Building, IIT Bombay

Main Building, IIT Bombay

This article covers placement prep involved for all the companies from different sectors that come recruiting to IIT Bombay. But before getting too deep into that, we will take you through some basic placement fundae. This can be treated as a TL;DR section too.

Resume

Resumes are discussed by interviewers in almost all sectors. While discussing about the projects or interns mentioned in the resume it’s important to be honest and be able to explain the results and how you got them. Go through all that you have read when you did that project and ask yourself questions to which you do not know the answer and write all of it down to quickly revise them a day or two before the interview.

GDs

A few companies conduct group discussions to gauge your communication and other skills. To improve your performance at GDs – practice is the key. Follow the news to supplement the points you raise in a GD. It is important to start the GD. Try to be the one bringing order and structure to the discussion and most importantly, do not get carried away by people diverting off the topic.

HR

Another hurdle is the HR round which basically tests your suitability for the position.
In general, try to show some enthusiasm for the company. You could do this by doing a thorough background research about the company. Another important thing for this round is to be fairly (or seemingly) honest but not excessively modest and you have to be confident in your skills.

Puzzles

To test your logical thinking and problem-solving approach, some companies ask puzzles in the interviews too. It is always better to be prepared with the solutions of common puzzles.

Moving on to sector-wise prep now

Consulting :

In layman’s terms, a consultant provides expertise or professional advice and suggestions to help organisations solve their problems and attain their goals. The problems can range from long term strategy planning for the client or to simply fix its current operations to minimize losses.

The famous ‘case prep’ or case preparation is the major kind of preparation that has to be done to get into a good consulting firm. A typical preparation will include practicing case studies through which the interviewer gauges your problem solving approach, solving various aptitude based questions, preparing for HR questions which basically focus on why you want to choose a career in consulting, proving why you are a good fit for the company and last but not the least, gearing up for resume based questions randomly thrown in by interviewers.

Consult companies generally take aptitude tests – with the usual DI, verbal reasoning and quant sections. The tests conducted by the institute should suffice as enough practice for them.

Next comes the case prep.

While preparing, students tend to form case prep groups of around 3-4 people. It is useful to form groups comprised of people from different backgrounds and who can give honest and brutal feedback. A frequency of around 1-2 meets per week in the initial days should help, before increasing the frequency to a meet every day towards the end. Sometimes it is very hard to get a good case-prep group. In such a situation you could try out many online platforms like PrepLounge and MyConsultingCoach where you can find case partners outside the confines of the institute.

‘Case Interview Cracked’ is among the most popular books used for case prep. Providing adequate insight about what goes into case prep as well as a number of practice cases, this is where most applicants generally start off. Additionally, Victor Cheng’s Case Interview Secrets and a playlist of videos by him serve as adequate prep material. While preparing one must note that doing too many cases might bias you towards a particular framework, though, so you need to be able to make the tradeoff with the additional practice.

Apart from all these, the buddy system adopted by most consulting firms helps a lot in getting additional cases, guidance, and an insight into the format of the interview conducted by these companies.

Case studies make up for a large chunk of the interviews. There’s time dedicated to basic HR questions and informal conversations too, though.

Resume doesn’t necessarily play an active role in the interviews – though your PoR, interns or hobbies might be made into a case for you to solve. Hence, the resume based questions involved in consult interviews require you to study your resume points at a deeper level and be clear about every nook and corner of your resume. Listing down significant points from intern/PoR and ensuring that you have a sound reasoning behind the numbers helps.

On a side note, discussing and following current affairs and trending business news with people can earn you some brownie points.

Data Analytics:

Data analysis deals with drawing various interpretations from the data provided by an organisation. It can be the company’s logistics, sales figures, costs etc. The job involves sharing your interpretation of the data to help the company make better business decisions.

Companies offering profiles in analytics majorly focus on quantitative reasoning and coding prowess. Although there are different roles within the data analytics sector which may not demand coding skills, it is always a good practice to brush up on Python, R and SQL as they are highly desirable skills to have. Online courses like University of Michigan’s PY4E course should be enough to for you to get a basic idea of the language. Practicing diligently once you know the basics will help you gain more proficiency and help crack the coding-related part of these tests. On the other hand, the Pariksha tests should suffice as practice for the aptitude tests.

Other resources for learning coding include w3schools for gaining a good command over SQL and Datacamp for R programming language.

Coming to the interviews – Probability, statistics, Machine Learning and coding skills are highly valued by the recruiters. This part of the interview is basically the same as the tests. Having knowledge of a few basic algorithms, and data structures like linked lists, stacks and queues will be an added plus for the interviews.

Guesstimates and cases, while not as exhaustively focused upon as in the consult interviews, still make up for a key part of the interviews of most companies.

An unpredictable part of the interviews for this sector are puzzles – which are a way of testing your logical reasoning skills under pressure. Learning the solution to common puzzles at least will be beneficial, as tackling new puzzles in the interviews might not necessarily yield the best output. The book ‘Heard on the Street’ is a good starting point for tackling puzzles.

There is, of course, HR prep involved. HR questions, which can be found easily over the internet, should suffice for this section. Very often, the interviewers pick up projects/lines randomly from your resume and frame questions based on them. It is always a good practice to go through your resume thoroughly and have a sound reasoning for all your numbers and quantitative points ready.

FMCGs:

Fast moving Consumer Goods [FMCG] companies cover everything from toiletries and cosmetics to electronics gadgets. A job in the FMCG sector entails dealing with customer queries or complaints, ordering and managing inventory, forecasting future sales and much more!

This sector requires preparation only for reasoning and aptitude tests. If one is preparing for CAT, then they need not worry about doing anything much beyond that. Otherwise the pariksha tests conducted by PT Cell ought to suffice for the test prep.

There is no specific technical prep involved for the interviews in this sector. Instead, interviews involve situational questions, questions on your resume and your motivation for joining a particular FMCG company. Discussions on questions like ‘Tell me about a time when you had to take the initiative to solve a problem’ and ‘what is your biggest achievement so far’ are very common.

Interviewers generally look for your leadership qualities and ask detailed questions on your internships, PoRs etc from your resume. While taking them through your resume or any particular project, make sure you cover some important pointers such as the process, the problems that arose in between and your approach to solve them. Apart from these, be prepared for HR questions – you can look up the 64 HR questions for help. Be sure to highlight specific skills that companies are looking for through supporting anecdotes to help them get a clear picture of your skills and qualities

Finance:

The placement season sees a number of companies dole out finance roles of various profiles – Investment Banking, Risk Advisory etc. A thin workforce and huge variety of roles makes this an appealing sector. Again, the exact kind of work you get would depend a lot upon the vertical in which you enter.

Companies in the finance sector test a candidate for proficiency in statistics, probability and data structures. The tests are timed, and of an objective nature. Coding proficiency is also looked at in most of the companies. Basically, a strong quantitative and logical foundation is looked for in candidates. Commonly known websites and books ought to help out with the coding – one needs to focus on OOP and DSA specifically. CAT study material can help with the quantitative aptitude.

Interviews test pretty much the same things as the tests – coding and quantitative aptitude, albeit in an interpersonal setting. Strong reasoning abilities are tested and looked for in candidates. Strongly quantitative points in the candidates’ resumes are picked upon by the interviewers and made questions out of. Research projects and internships are regularly quizzed upon – so make sure you’re thorough with your resume and know all the results you achieved.

Finance is one sector where there is a strong positive correlation between the tests and interviews – so make sure you’re thorough with one of the two, and you’ll be good for the other too.

Core:

The core sector draws in PSUs, multinationals and various other companies annually come the placement season. Of course, the kind of work that you do in the core sector would depend on your department, and hence cannot be generalized.

Coming to the placement part – core companies generally conduct two kinds of tests to supplement resumes for shortlisting of candidates. The first kind is the aptitude test – common to various sectors as mentioned above. These tests look for logical soundness by including verbal and non-verbal reasoning and quantitative aptitude. The other kind of tests are the technical ones. These are of GATE level difficulty, and test your knowledge of whatever you have learnt across your 4/5 years at IIT. Going through lecture slides of courses and previous year GATE papers ought to be enough preparation for the technical tests.

For interview prep, one can also study the various challenges being faced by the present-day core industry and prepare a few case studies. Resume points are frequent subjects of questions in this sector as well, and hence one needs to have at least a 2-3 minute explanation of each resume point ready. Typically, recruiters look for technical soundness in the resume, and probe into most of the technical points – interns, projects – to gauge if you have sufficient knowledge about those.

We wish you all the best for the upcoming placement season!

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