CQ_Finforte | Ranjana Singh Sengar | Blackrock

Ranjana Singh Sengar
Placed at Blackrock

Interviewed By: Charvi

Hello Ranjana! This is Charvi from Communiqué. Congratulations on being placed at Blackrock. Shall we begin?

Thankyou, Charvi! Yes, go ahead.

So my first question is, what is the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.

On the first day, I had given interviews with four companies. For Blackrock, they shortlisted students based upon their CV on the day before the interview. In the interview, they had three rounds. If a candidate qualifies for all the rounds, they have to sit for HR rounds, which lasts for around 20–25 minutes. It was more of a personality test. They asked me questions from my CV, my PORs, and my extra-academic activities, mainly NSS. Some situation-based questions were also asked.

Could you please list down questions you were asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, HR questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.

First: they were checking the candidate’s coding skills based on the language they had mentioned in their CV. I had mentioned R and Python in my CV, but they asked me to choose one, so I decided to go with R. He asked me about libraries and functions in R. He asked for function names and steps to carry out a particular task. Then he asked me about functions that have very minimal differences like left join, right join, inner join and outer join, etc. Second: The interviewer asked me CV-based questions (mainly internships and projects). Being from a financial engineering background, he asked me questions from finance like “what is bond valuation and how to do that? What are the variables used? What is the yield curve? Some questions were from corporate finance and derivatives. They also asked me questions based on my CV, as I had done two interns and many projects, so questions were asked regarding the same. Third: The interviewer asked me a guesstimate. The question was “to estimate the number of iPhone currently present in India.” He didn’t ask for a number but asked me to explain my approach to solve the question like ‘How would you start and what separations would you make,’ ‘what factors the buyer considers before buying the iPhone.’

As a pre-final year student, what can students do to maximize their chances? Please suggest some strategies or resources for the same.

For pre-final year students, I would suggest that they should, first of all, decide in which profile they want to get into and talk to seniors about their interested fields who are already placed in that profile because that would give them a good idea like what are the things they need to know and skills they need to gain before placements, so that would be very helpful. Then, prepare a good resume, keeping it neat and clean, mentioning all the things, take help from seniors, and get it reviewed by them. I would tell you that while I was interviewed by IARC, the interviewer said that my CV was neat and clean, which was a plus point for me. So maintain a good CV. If you are sitting for a software profile, then you just need to be good at your coding skills, but if you are sitting for an Analyst profile, then in tests, questions would be based on quant, Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation(LR/DI), ML, English. So you need to be good at all these skills. If you are good at your logical reasoning skills, then I would say you don’t need much practice, and if not, you need to practice from some online resources like the website “IndiaBIX” which would be very helpful in the test. Apart from that, If your English is not that good, then you have to improve that. After all, they have a section of English in the test, so try to improve before the placement if required and prepare for guesstimates from a book like a case interview because guesstimates would be asked in the interviews for analyst profiles. For practising probability questions for the interviews and tests, you have “50 challenging problems in probability” and “Heard on the Street,” these books are excellent sources. Many times you just get direct questions from these books or questions based on similar patterns in companies like GS, JPMC, etc. For puzzles, geeks for geeks is one of the best sources. For normal quant practice, Arun Sharma or any other CAT book would suffice.

What do you think about the weight a certification like CFA or FRM adds to a CV for this role?

So here I would say that I am not the right person to answer this question because I have never prepared or even appeared in these examinations. Therefore I don’t think I can comment on this, but in general, how much I know is that these help you build a robust finance profile and add value to your CV. In my case, I would say that my being from financial engineering helped some way or the other in the placements.

How did you prepare for the rounds involved once you were shortlisted?

On day one, I was shortlisted for five companies. The first shortlist I got was on 27th or 28th November, So there is a group called inter IIT placement where interview questions are shared by all IIT students and NIT students. You would get interview questions for all companies, and if the interview and test questions are updated, you would have an idea of which company is asking which type of questions. You will not be sure that you will be asked that same question, but you will surely get an idea about the kind of questions asked in the interview rounds. Also, for preparing for the HR round, I had prepared for typical HR round questions because if you are doing well in technical rounds and do not speak well during the HR round, then that may create a problem, So what you need to do is that search for HR questions on any website, there are so many websites, go to any website. You can see some basic questions like where do you see yourself in the next five years? Now next thing to do is to prepare a model answer for these types of questions. One more thing attending presentations would also help know about the company for which you have got shortlisted, along with this visit the website and see what work the company does, where the revenue comes from and all such basic things. If you think that you are going to get shortlisted for a particular company or you want to go for that company, then attending the presentation session will be very helpful. Every company more or less organizes this session. I prepared my CV thoroughly before the interviews.

Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?

I would say just one last thing that analyze yourself like How much you know and what skills you already have and how much extra work and efforts you need to put, accordingly preparing a schedule like how much time you need to give daily to get that skills and identify resources for that. Don’t go here and there as someone said prepare from that source then you are going to that, and then someone else said something, and you again change, so pre-decide what are the sources you are going to refer to and check whether these sources are actually helping you in getting the skill and answering the questions that would be asked in the test. Also, do not fake yourself in front of the interviewer. Have faith in yourself, and don’t get stressed. That’s all from my side.

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