Hello everyone, I’m Snehal, a secretary at communiqué. And today we have Mr. Snehal Swadhin who has been placed at Ather Energy as a product analyst. Hello Snehal, first of all congratulations for the placement, how are you doing today?
Hello Snehal! Thank you very much. I am fine, and you?
I am fine as well. So, basically, in this short interview, I’ll ask you a few questions for our product-oriented blog series. The blog will be shared with the KGP community to guide them about the selection procedure through your experience. So,if you are ready, can we start?
Yeah, Snehal. Let’s begin.
So here goes the first question. What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process
For Ather energy, it was a basic aptitude test in the beginning, along with CV shortlisting for the product role. Later, the interview happened offline in Nalanda itself. We had three rounds for the interview. Two of them were on CV and cases and the third round was an HR round. These things don’t exactly go as planned. You can see the course of that interview changing a lot during the interview itself. So it’s not a fixed procedure. Sometimes people can have more than three, four rounds also. The first round was supposed to be on the CV and technical skills only. And, the second round was supposed to be an entire case round. We were given an initial case study problem before the interview process started. We were given time to prepare for it. But during the process of the interview, the interviewer started questioning about other things as well. The case that we were provided before the interview was — “Let’s say you use Google Maps every day, right? But if you are local in a city, then you already know the ways of going around the city, right? So why would we, why would you use Google Maps?” As a product analyst, you have to figure out how you can incentivize these things to your users, to use Google Maps, even if they are a local in that city. So those things we had to prepare beforehand, and they were asked in the case itself, along with cross-questioning of course.
Thanks for the briefing about the process. Could you please list down questions you were asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.
Product roles in general, I’ll say, are more focused in testing your problem solving skills and communication skills. So puzzles and questions will be based around that. That’s it.
In my case, the first round, what’s supposed to be on my CV and technical skills, the kinds of internships I have done, what were the things I learned from those and of course, to test whether, how dedicatedly I worked on those internships. There were even questions on the technical things like SQL and other technologies that I had used during that internship. So the CV part will obviously be asked, but they will focus on how you have developed yourself during those internships and projects and how it would be useful for their company. And in the first round itself, another case came up. Because of the things I had done during my internship, the interviewer asked the case related to their company, how that translates. The question was — “If there is an experience center for Ather Energy, where people will come and test your vehicle, (the EV scooter). There are three kinds of stakeholders there — One is the customer itself, one is the employee in the experience center and the third is the business unit.” I was tasked to build a dashboard which would be used by these employees and the business units to improve the customer experience and to help them in the selling process. These kinds of things can be related to your CV and turned around in a way their company would be using it — puzzles, etc. In other interviews, not specifically in the case of Ather Energy, you would obviously be asked, guesstimates other things.
That was insightful. Coming to the next question, What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.
I guess the most frequent question I was asked in these HR rounds was my role in these projects, and POR’s that I worked in. In places where I had mentioned that I was in a leadership role, they asked about what I did as a leader and what I brought to the team. Those kinds of things were most frequent. And the questions that you hear about during your junior years, like “Where do you think you will be in five years”, those kinds of questions are not generally asked. They are more focused on the kind of person you are and how you work in a team environment?What kind of things have you mentioned in your CV? Those are more frequently asked than gimmick questions.
They asked multiple questions, but the most time was spent on one thing. I had participated in the Smart India High Hackathon and I was the team leader for my team and we won the first prize for that problem statement that we were working on. So they spent around 10 to 15 minutes asking about my role as a team leader and how I handled bad situations which happened during the process of the hackathon itself because it went on for months. And we were a team of six.They were trying to see how I was able to handle problematic situations that came up during the process.
So moving ahead, what are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?
Preparing for product roles, the two things that you should focus on mostly right now are guesstimates and case studies. If you can try to participate in case study events like during Kshitij or Great Step, etc, it will be useful. There are casebooks for multiple companies, one is very famous from AT Kearney and an author named Victor Cheng, his book is also read very frequently. So these things are useful. People can try to use resources on the internet as well because there are a lot of YouTube videos which highlight how case interviews go.
So you can try to search for mock case interviews, search questions about these things online. Try to meet with seniors and have mock case interviews with them. These things will help improve your thinking process and even your communication skills during the interview. Communication is a thing that cannot be improved just overnight. So if you have time till placement, these things should be focused and if you have a lack of communication skills, you should be working on that. The second thing was guesstimates. Guesstimates are also frequently asked during these product interviews. So, those are very crucial things as well.
Alright, so moving ahead, how did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?
Preparing for a product domain is much easier than any other which you will come across. Like for software and data roles you have to practice coding and machine learning, those kinds of things but for product roles it is much simpler. You just have to improve your thinking process and communication skills and practice case studies. It is best done with real people rather than reading it online. So the best thing you can do is talk to seniors who are working and have experience in this field. The technical side depends on your particular CV. The technical questions are not generally outside of whatever you have already put in your CV. You would be already prepared for that as you have worked on the projects.
Thanks for the answer. Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?
I recommend people to prepare for at least two roles. More than that would be difficult but prepare for at least two domains. I was preparing for software and product roles both, so as to maximize your chances during the CDC placement and as a situation is not quite certain right now in the tech domain. Product is a good field to look out for. The placement process of our college is very hectic so it is best that you make your preparations during this time when the test and all the other processes have not started because once the semester starts you will not have enough time to manage your academics and continue preparing for whatever role you are preparing for. Try to finish the major part of the preparation before the semester starts and try to have good time management with your academics and placements. The placements, I believe were one of the most hectic times I experienced during my life. So prepare well and manage efficiently!
Thanks a lot for your suggestions. With this, the interview comes to an end. Alright Snehal, it was great talking to you and knowing your experiences and insights.
Thank You. It was a pleasure being interviewed.