Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Interview

I am sure a lot of you are curious to know how I got into Capital IQ. Read on.

The placement season at our college was pretty dull in the beginning. The first company which came to us was CommVault Systems, I didn't apply for it. CommVault Systems took two of my friends, Roopak and Ratna Paul.

Soon after CommVault, Capital IQ came to our college. Capital IQ was the second company this placement season and almost everybody in my class who was eligible, applied for it. It was announced that Capital IQ would be coming to our college on 13th of August 2009.

Then began my struggle for the job. I started going through my C, C++, DS, OS and DBMS text-books (actually, had to spend some time searching for them at my house). In the beginning, everything seemed Greek and Latin, but after some time, things started coming back on my mind. Pointers, Inheritance, Trees, Scheduling Algorithms, SQL and what not. Then came the twist, Capital IQ tests the aptitude and verbal ability of students in the exam besides their technical ability. Though I had experience with aptitude before, the pressure of technical questions and aptitude questions was over-whelming. I almost thought of giving up, but later decided that I won't go down without a fight. I studied everything what I could in the short span of time and hoped that it was sufficient.

The D-day finally came. Dressed in formal clothing, wearing polished black formal shoes, my friends and I were ready for the interviews. I couldn’t believe that we were the same students who hang out at our department parking, bunking classes. ;)

The placement process of Capital IQ started with a pre-placement talk about their company. In this presentation they explained us about McGraw Hill companies, about Capital IQ and their work culture. They introduced the various work positions that were available at their company. They gave a clear view of what each job profile does and asked the students to make their choices. I felt that this concept was very good as they allowed the student to decide what he/she wants to be - Developer (Software Engineer), Database Administrator, Business Analyst, Quality Analyst and System Administrator. I was certain that I wanted to be a Developer, but as I had some amount of exposure to Databases, I thought I might be able to do justice to the role of a DBA too. They also mentioned that they primarily work with .NET and SQL Server.

The selection process started off with a written test which consisted of a lot of technical and aptitude questions. One boon was that there wasn't a verbal section. The paper was segregated into five sections - the first one was completely to test the quantitative ability of the student. It was reasonable and for students preparing for management exams, it was a cake-walk. Then there four other sections which tested programming capability; SQL and database concepts; the ability to comprehend and explain business requirements; and the ability to generate test use-cases. That’s one section for every job profile. This was a great approach as it would indicate the strengths of a student.

They eliminated a few students in the written round and proceeded to the next round – Group Discussions. This was where most of the screening was done. They divided all the shortlisted students into 3-4 groups and gave each group a topic to discuss on. The topic which I got was - "Has the Satyam scandal tarnished the image of India". I always believed that it hasn’t and supported my viewpoint.

After the group discussions, the technical rounds began. I went through two technical rounds at my campus.

In the first round, I was asked mostly about Data Structures, SQL and OO Concepts. They also asked me a few basic questions about AJAX and ASP.NET as I put them in my resume. There was also an analysis on a few questions from the written test.

The second technical round was with Mrs. Nalini, a senior architect at Capital IQ. I concentrated mainly on my 3-2 project - "Synchronous and Asynchronous Database Replication" in this round, emphasizing on why it was done and its modular approach.

That was the end of Day 1. They didn’t announce the results that day. 4 days later, i.e. 17th August 2009, they informed the placement office that around 7 of us were shortlisted for the next rounds which were to be held at their campus on 19th.

19th was a big day for all of us. Initially there was a technical interview with Mr. Krishna Kant, the director of Capital IQ, Hyderabad. This time I started off with my projects and gave a brief overview on my 3-2 project and my 4-2 project - "Cloud Computing Portal for SMEs". The interview also stressed on why I wanted to be a developer and the various small tools I built before.

Finally, there was a video conference with Mr. Jeff, a senior employee at Capital IQ, New York. This was a new experience as I was never a part of a video conference before. However I quickly got tuned to it as it was pretty similar to a telephonic conference. Here, I was asked about "Service Oriented Architecture" and my presentation at Transition '09, the technical event of CTS and my experiences as a Sun CA.

So finally, after a written test, a group discussion, three technical interviews and a video conference, the good news rolled in on 9th September.

I was delighted to hear that I got into Capital IQ as a Software Engineer, but at the same time was sad that only two students from my college were placed into Capital IQ. However I am glad that as of today, the placement season is on a full swing and almost all my friends have been placed.

Along with me, V.V. Aishwarya, a classmate of mine was also selected as a Software Engineer.

Honestly speaking, I never expected that I would get into Capital IQ in the beginning of this process. But at the end, it was a pleasant surprise. :)

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