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PlaceKode with Kriti Gupta placed at Dell

Uthaan is back with a very new edition of PlaceKode where we have Kriti Gupta from IPG-2016 batch who not only tells us how can we eliminate the fear of NOT getting selected in an interview but also tells us about her programming and development journey, how she made a balance between these two and those “smart work” tactics that she followed to crack not one but two renowned companies Make My Trip and Dell .

How fascinating does it feel to get selected from such a renowned company like Dell? What was your immediate reaction after this?

I’ve got two offers, the first one from Dell, which came from campus placement, and the second one was a Pre Placement Offer from MakeMyTrip, which got confirmed after two-three months from the offer of dell. So this was my first offer, and as I remember, Dell was the second or the third company which visited our campus. I was happy and relaxed at the same time because I got placed quite early and at such an excellent product-based grade-A company.

Could you briefly outline your work profile at DELL?

I’ll be joining Dell as a Software Development Engineer-II. I’m currently interning with Dell and most probably I’ll be joining as a Software development engineer in the same team. I am a part of the Support Assist Enterprise team.

Take us a week before your interview. Were you having any kind of checklist for last-minute preparations? What were topics that needed more attention?

Dell conducted an online assessment, and after two-three days, I got a confirmation for the interview. So basically, there were two days left for me to prepare for the interview. I went through the “must do” and “company specific” coding questions mentioned in Leetcode, InterviewBit and GeeksforGeeks, and it’s a good practice to brush up our previously learned concepts before appearing for the interview. I also went through my data science projects and revised all the concepts like the implementation part and the algorithms I utilized in them.

For data science part, as I was too lazy to prepare notes, I had bookmarked important articles on medium earlier while studying. For core subjects like Database management systems, Object-oriented programming systems, I reviewed my notes which I made during my GATE preparation. I followed videos on YouTube, especially of Ravindra Babu for these core subjects. So when you have notes prepared, articles marked and also when you go through these specific coding questions , it just takes two- three days to revise everything. So yeah, that’s my checklist.

Engineering students prepare for almost 4 to 5 years, which is approximately 1600 days. Hence it’s challenging to showcase your 1600 days of work in just one day of the interview. Could you express your state of mind on the interview day? How did you retain your thoughts centered considering the tense environment around you during the interview?

Yeah, it’s a tough task to showcase all your knowledge in just one day because things don’t always go in your favor. I gave various interviews before that particular interview and that was one of the reasons why I was quite relaxed before my interview at Dell.

I resolved to keep giving interviews with full confidence, and it’s my motto, “do the best and leave the rest”. I don’t like to have many expectations before my interview because when you keep a lot of expectations, you are bound to get nervous. And when you get nervous, you won’t be able to give 100%. Also I don’t think much after giving the interviews too, even if my interview goes well, as there are certain factors which would affect your chances of getting selected and those are not under our control. I just think that I have to give my best in that particular interview.

Now comes the most critical part, your interview. Give us a brief description of the interview process round by round? What were the questions in each round, and how did you handle them?

For MakeMyTrip

It was through the off-campus placement. My resume was shortlisted, and I directly got a call for the interview. It was for a data scientist’s profile, and I had just one round in the interview. You can have second round of interview too depending on your performance. If you perform well in your first round, there won’t be a need of second round.

Coding questions

Count the total number of pairs in an array with the given sum.

https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/count-pairs-with-given-sum/

Data Science questions

Questions related to Project

My project was based on “Image captioning system for the Hindi language,” they asked questions based on that, implementation details, the algorithms I used for it and the preprocessing steps as well.

Then apart from my project, there were some very general data science questions too. They asked about my favourite classification algorithm in ML to which I replied ,“decision trees” and then, there were some questions based on that topic.

Coursework questions

There were questions based on normalization from DBMS, some complex queries from SQL , also they asked me to explain the different types of joins in SQL. There were questions from Operating Systems about the concept of paging and the difference between paging and segmentation.

For DELL there was an assessment round for dell consisting of 3 sections.

MCQs were based on core subjects like DBMS OS, CN, OOPS, and C++ in the first section.

In the second section, there were questions related to code debugging. Those questions were quite easy. You just had to select the language you are most comfortable in to debug.

And the third section was related to coding, and they had two easy and fundamental questions.

Then there were three rounds of the interview out of which two were technical and third was HR round.

For the First technical round, they asked me about my favorite data structure, to which I replied, “Linked List”, so they asked me two coding questions based on that topic.

insertion after a node in the doubly linked list,”

https://www.javatpoint.com/insertion-in-doubly-linked-list-after-specified-node

Given only a pointer to a node to be deleted in singly linked List, then How would you do it?” (in O(1) time)

https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/in-a-linked-list-given-only-a-pointer-to-a-node-to-be-deleted-in-a-singly-linked-list-how-do-you-delete-it/

They also asked some subjective questions like

Advantages of a doubly-linked list over a single-linked list,

The best sorting algorithm for sorting in an almost sorted array.

And then, there were questions related to data science. So they asked me about correlation matrices and then asked me to define the difference between false positives and false-negative and derive the formula for them based on the correlation matrices. There was another question about the difference between Precision, recall and accuracy and when to use which.

Then there were questions based on my project, and I had used CNN and RNN, so they asked me to describe in brief the working of CNN and RNN. My project was based on an Image captioning system for Indian languages. Therefore they also asked me how would I extend my project to work for blind people? I waited for one hour and got a confirmation call for the second round with the team manager.

In the second round, there were two coding questions,

rotate the linked list to the right by three places,

https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/rotate-a-linked-list/

reverse the singly linked list.

https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/reverse-a-linked-list/

Subjective Questions:

Advantages of heapsort compared to the merge sort and quick sort.

What are the characteristics of a good program, and how would you ensure them in your program.

There was also a discussion around another project of mine “recommendation system for movies” so he asked me to explain in detail about the algorithms used in it, like nearest neighbor collaborative filtering, content based filtering methods, Matrix factorization method.

Then he asked some general questions like How many programming languages I know and with which language am I most comfortable? And if given a choice, which team( Web development, Data Science, Data Engineering etc.), I would like to join. And then I got the confirmation call for the HR round in 15 mins.

The HR round was simple, where they asked about myself, my childhood, my confidence level, my mistakes in life, my best decision in life and why I wanted to join Dell?

They wanted me to keep speaking, think aloud. They were interested not only in the solution, but also wanted to see my thinking process.

What were the study materials and resources you followed for Both Software Development Engineer and data science? How should we use resources precisely to uplift ourselves?

Initially, I was involved in competitive coding and made my account on multiple websites like CodeChef, HackerRank, etc. I practiced coding on all these platforms during my first year, but when the first year was about to end, we had a session on data science which I found interesting, so I started to explore this field also along with coding. You should always start with machine learning, don’t go for Deep learning in the very beginning. Firstly, I followed the ML course by Andrew Ng. After watching those videos, I also studied in depth about the various algorithms like classification and regression algorithms, and I marked the articles related to them. Time passed by and I got more interested in deep learning, so I switched to it . I have done multiple courses like Byte-Sized-Chunks: Recommendation Systems, Deep Learning: Advanced Computer Vision course and another course on NLP, Hands On Natural Language Processing Using Python and I made notes while going through these courses for revision before interviews. Then during my final year, I brushed up my knowledge through company-specific coding questions on the websites like LeetCode, InterviewBit GeeksforGeeks, etc.

What should we do if we are puzzled about a topic?

A very important tip, “you should watch editorials for all problems”. It doesn’t matter if you solved that question by yourself or got stuck because of some issue, you should always refer to the editorial. Editorials help you to troubleshoot when you get stuck on a problem. Also, at times editorial may have described some optimal approach or a new concept which would definitely help you to learn something new. Our purpose is to learn new things, not just solving the questions. One more thing after going through the editorial, make this a practice to reattempt the question or questions similar to it-trust me it helps a lot! If you are stuck on some topics related to machine learning or data science, you will find the solution on GitHub or Kaggle or even medium, some other person must have done that before you and it’s always a good practice to refer to some other person’s code if you get stuck!

What role do communication skills and personality advancement play in the interview, and how can one improve them? Do college ventures help for the same?

Communication skills play an essential role in presenting yourself in the interview as well as in the corporate life ahead. Participating in college activities and proceeding forward as a volunteer for the college’s fests would help you go out of your comfort zone and prepare for such skills. When I entered the first year of college, I was also not very confident, but when seniors motivated us to participate in such activities, I gained a lot. I gained confidence through it, and in some ways, it helped me for my interviews too. So one should get actively involved in various clubs, activities conducted by them and also volunteer in college fests because it will carve you for the corporate world.

What, according to you, is the best counterbalance between coding and development?

You should be equally good in coding and development. Coding and development go hand in hand. Both are not separate, and knowledge of only one aspect can’t fetch you a job. Development is a necessity in a coder’s life, and it is something you will be doing for the rest of your life. Coding, on the other hand, is an essential requirement for it. For example, you will learn data structures and time complexity through coding, which become very useful in development because in the corporate world the code needs to be crisp, short and precise and to make the code like that you need to come up with a better algorithms, feasible data structures while solving and optimizing problems which you learn while you code!. If you have a balance of both on your resume, it will make your profile healthy, making a positive expression on the interviewers.

Last but not least, Any recommendation or suggestion to your fellow juniors so that they can also achieve something unique like you?

So finally, stating as a summary, focus on smart work. Try to manage your time wisely. Academics, coding, development, club activities, participating in fests and making friends are essential and can be handled by having a proper balance among all. The overall motive is personality development, not just securing a good job. Try to explore all the fields, before choosing your interest, whether it be machine learning or web development or cloud computing, etc. You can start with competitive coding in the first year. Also, try to make notes for whatever you study to refer to those topics if you forget something in the future. For the core subjects like DBMS, OS, OOPS, you can complete it with your academics or there are various excellent instructors on YouTube as well who can help you with it. Start training yourself through regular practice for the near corporate world, and if you are preparing well with all the resources available with you, you are bound to crack any interview. And again, “Do your best and leave the rest.”

Interviewed by Akash Gupta and Ujjawal Gupta

Coordinated by Soumya Singh

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Uthaan IIITM

Uthaan IIITM

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Uthaan is the Journalism and Recreational Club of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM) Gwalior.