How freshers should prepare for Information Technology company entrance exams?
If you are in 3rd or final year of your B. Tech. or B.E. degree programme (or MCA), then you probably are anxious to get a placement in a good company. If your branch is IT (Information Technology), or CS (Computer Science), then naturally you will be aiming for software companies.
Even students from many other branches (such as Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Electronics, etc.) sit for entrance examinations of these companies, especially in in-campus drives. Many software companies do allow students from other branches to sit in their entrance exams.
Whatever be your engineering stream, if you aim to get into the silicon world, we are here to guide you to attain that dream of yours.
If you are doing your engineering from a good college, which has an active campus placement department, then many software companies will visit your campus for placement. That is, HR employees and technical experts from software companies will conduct their entrance exams, and then GD, interview right there in your campus. You won’t have to run from pillar to post to get a job.
Getting a job offer in in-campus drives is easier, because many of these software companies recruit en masse, and the competition is lower. You just need to compete with the students of your batch/year.
Also, many colleges have a policy of “one job for each student”, till all are placed. For example, I was selected in Perot Systems (an American MNC) in the third year of my B. Tech. itself. Then I was not allowed to sit for other companies. Though I sat in an off-campus entrance exam in Delhi, and was selected there too.
Off-Campus placement drive is nothing but a placement drive that is not happening in your college or university. In an off-campus placement drive students from many colleges will appear and so competition will be much higher. But if you are good in aptitude, technical aspects and soft skills, even it will seem easy to you. We will cover all these aspects in this article.
If you want to get a job offer in a good IT company, then you must be good in the following areas:
- Aptitude Skills – It’s especially true for freshers. Aptitude skills are just the measure of your learning skills, i.e. how good a raw material you are, how easily can you learn new things. To test this, you will be asked questions from Arithmetic, Reasoning, English, etc. Aptitude test will mostly be in written form, where objective questions will be given to you. However, you may be asked some puzzles and lateral thinking questions in HR interview too.
- Technical Skills – Of course you will be checked on your technical skills. Some companies grill candidates more than others.
- Soft Skills – Working in IT company means you should have decent soft skills, as you will be dealing with people from all over the world, and maybe even go out of the country. This will be checked in GD (Group Discussion) and HR (Human Resource) interview round, and maybe by using some English questions in the written aptitude exam.
- Resume – You must have an attractive resume too, with all your USPs (Unique Selling Prepositions) mentioned in them. If you are good, and know your strengths and weaknesses well, you may influence the direction in which the interview goes, and force the interviewer to ask the questions that you want him/her to ask.
Let’s go into details of these now.
- How to prepare for aptitude test for software companies?
- How to prepare for technical questions for software companies?
- How to prepare for GD and Interview in software companies?
- Some good IT companies
How to prepare for aptitude test for software companies?
Though technical knowledge is essential to get into IT industry, being good in aptitude will allow you to go to the interview round more often. More the chances you get, more the probability of you getting a good job. Good aptitude skills will provide you those chances.
In Aptitude tests of IT companies (whether in-campus, or off-campus), you will encounter following sections:
Arithmetic and DI
Questions will be asked from topics like Percentage, Ratio, Profit and Loss, Interest, Mixtures, TSD (Time, Speed, Distance), Work & Time, Number System, Simplification. And maybe some other topics too, e.g. Geometry, Mensuration, P&C (Permutation and Combination), Probability, etc.
Generally, questions from these topics are not asked – Calculus, Complex Numbers, Vectors, Trigonometry, etc.
Focus here should be on speed and accuracy. Attempt the easier questions first. Do not waste time in any difficult question. You can always solve them later on, if time is left.
As far as preparation is concerned, you can take any good aptitude exam preparation book, or refer to any such website. For example, Quant book for CAT written by Arun Sharma, Quant material of TIME coaching for CAT is considered pretty good (supposedly better than that of CL and IMS), etc.
As far as Data Interpretation (DI) is concerned, no book or material is good enough. Best way to prepare for DI is to give some mock tests – either of IT companies, or MBA exams. Have a look at their explanations. You will learn a lot from there.
Also make sure to have a look at some of the previous tests conducted by the company that is going to visit your campus. You will find many of these sample tests online, on sites such as:
Many a times questions are repeated. Also, if a particular company has visited some college before coming to yours, then contact some students in that college. They will give you a good idea of the kind of papers that company is setting. Some test papers will have more of Arithmetic questions, some focus more on Reasoning, etc.
As far as Reasoning is concerned, you will get questions from topics such as, Calendar, Clocks, Blood Relations, Dice, Cubes, Series, Coding-Decoding, Puzzles, etc.
For Reasoning too, you may read material of any MBA coaching, e.g. TIME, Career Launcher (CL), IMS, etc. You may also give some mocks tests for this purpose.
When Infosys came to our campus in 2005, we started studying puzzles by Shakuntala Devi, because some of our friends told us that Infosys asks such puzzles in written tests, as well in Interview. We completed it within 2-3 days. So, if you have some idea of the paper pattern, it will help you do some targeted preparation.
Some companies will also check your English skills in written exam too (apart from your communication skills in Interview and GD). You may be asked questions from Grammar, Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension.
- For Grammar, Wren and Martin should be enough.
- For Vocabulary, you can read Norman Lewis, and/or Baron’s guide for GRE exam.
Though the best way to improve your Vocab, as well as English Comprehension, is to read extensively – be it novels or newspapers.
As you would have guessed, the best way to prepare for aptitude exams of IT companies is to prepare for MBA entrance exams, such as CAT, XLRI, GMAT, etc. You should ideally start from 2nd year itself. If you will prepare for MBA exams, you will find cracking entrance exams of IT companies a piece of cake. That’s what I did!
Four companies came to my campus in 3rd year of my B. Tech. course (CSC, Infosys, Newgen and Perot Systems). I cracked written aptitude exams of three of these companies, and was selected in the fourth company. The fifth company only came 3 months later, after the summer vacations. It would have been a long wait. I was lucky!
Later on, it will also help you to go for an MBA degree after gaining 2-3 years of experience in software industry (if you want to).
If you want help in this regard, you may refer to our online Aptitude guides:
Aptitude test is more significant for freshers. If you have some experience under your belt, i.e. if you have been working in the information technology sector for some time now, then you probably will not be asked aptitude questions.
Experienced people are directly called for interview rounds (both HR and technical). You will be grilled much deeply on your technical skills, and the projects you worked on till now, what your responsibilities were, etc.
Though some good IT companies do ask aptitude questions from experienced candidates too, e.g. Google.
How to prepare for technical questions for software companies?
The most important subjects when it comes to Technical paper of IT companies are:
- Operating System (OS)
- DBMS (Data Base Management System)
- Data Structures
- Software Engineering
You will also be asked about one or two of your favourite subjects in technical interview. So, make sure you are an absolute expert in at least couple of the subjects listed above. Also, have a look at some of the frequently asked questions from these topics.
Also, you should be good in at least one programming language: C++, JAVA, Python, etc. You may be asked to code in written exam or during the interview. These guys are not interested in programming language as such. They are more interested in the logic and algorithm that you are using. Very often you will be given a choice to code in a programming language of your choice.
You will also most probably be grilled on your final year project, or any such software project that you have mentioned in your resume.
Though, you may not be asked to code in every interview. In my Infosys interview, I was not even asked any technical question, leave alone coding.
I was asked about my favourite subjects in couple of technical interviews. Mine were Data Structures, Networking, and C++.
But in the interview I finally cracked (for Perot Systems Company), I was grilled on one of my projects that I made using .NET. They asked me questions on it for almost 15 minutes – the logics involved, some coding, etc.
Though you may like a particular language while you are in college, it’s not necessary that you will get to work on that in the job you get into. It depends on a lot of factors.
For example, I really liked C++ in college. JAVA not that much. However, me and some of my friends had worked in a .NET project too and participated in a competition organized by Microsoft. In my in-campus interview I was grilled more on my .NET project than on C++. I learned about the reason later on – there was no C++ project in my company.
Then during 3 months of training in Noida, I was trained in JAVA. However, for the next 6-7 months I was just doing testing (no coding). Thereafter, I was assigned to a project for an American hospital. It was based on ESQL, a technology I had not even heard of before. Only a handful of companies work in this field. On the other hand, one of my batchmate got a JAVA project straight-away after training as one of his uncles was working as a senior manager in the company. So, these things happen, and sometimes you are not in control of your destiny. Office politics is real guys!
But if this is the case with you, keep improving your skills – in the technology you are working in, as well as the technology you want to work in. And switch the company or the project as soon as possible. The more time you will work in a particular technology, the more difficult it will be to make a change later on. Whenever you will go to an interview in a new company, you will definitely be asked about your current project. And if you have not worked in a live project in the technology of your choice, then you may be treated as a fresher. For example, one of my friends was working in mainframes, but he wanted to work on .NET. He got the right company and project after a year, but he was considered a fresher, and not given any salary raise.
How to prepare for GD and Interview in software companies?
There are a few software companies that won’t even check your technical skills. But they will definitely check your soft skills – that is, communication skills, team skills, thought process, debating skills, etc.
Though it also depends on the people conducting the interview. For example, in my Infosys interview that lasted for a mere 10-15 minutes, I was not even asked a single technical question. There were two elderly guys and they grilled me on the possible uses of a pen cap for 5 minutes. I was not able to satisfy them till the end. I know they were checking my lateral thinking skills, and my response under stress and pressure, but that was a weird experience. I was not selected and I still do not know the reason why. That’s how it is with these HR rounds.
The best way to prepare for Group Discussion (GD) and Interview is to practice – give mock interviews, participate in group discussions, and debates, give speeches on stage. If there’s no such programme in your college, you may join any advanced batch of a Spoken English Institute – make sure you join a batch where you get to participate in group discussions, and to speak on the stage.
The first goal is to remove your stage fright and shyness. Then you should focus on smooth delivery of your ideas. As you will keep gaining control over the language, you will get more and more confident. It will definitely reflect in the way you speak.
At home or your hostel, you may practice in front of mirror, record yourself using a camera and then see how you are performing, make a group with your friends and family and practice. Just do it for 2-4 months. The changes will be drastic. Believe me!
- In HR interview of CSC, I was asked to speak for 2 minutes on any topic of my choice.
- In HR interview of Infosys, I was asked some puzzles, e.g. various uses of pen cap, and a few more puzzles like this which I do not remember now. I remember the pen cap question, because it messed up my interview.
- In GD of Perot Systems, we were given a topic of “Should Elections and Politics be allowed in Colleges?”
If you think that all people in an IT company are involved in coding, think again!
If you have studied your Software Development Models thoroughly, you must be aware of the various phases in the development of a software – planning, creation of functional specifications (FS), technical specifications (TS), coding, testing, maintenance, etc. Coding is in fact only 20-25% of the work.
So, a major part of software development is talking to the clients, understanding their needs, communicating those to the team, etc. All these require people with good soft skills – good communication, ability to work with other people, etc.
As a software engineer, you can grow your career in two directions:
Project Manager – You join as a software engineer, and then grow as a Module lead, Team lead, Project lead, and so on. Of course, you must be aware of some coding. Afterall IT industry is a knowledge-based industry, and in such industries people with knowledge have all the power. But to become a Project Manager, you must have people skills, capability to work in teams, and good communication skills (both written and verbal). Most of the software engineers opt this career growth path, as it’s a bit easier than the other one. Also, do get an MBA if you want to go down this path – it will hep you immensely. Even an executive MBA from colleges like FMS-Delhi, IMT-Ghaziabad, etc. will do just fine. All this is considered in promotions, or when you are making switch to another company.
Project Architect – If you are a coder at heart, then this is the path for you. An architect and the main coders in a team decide the technology to be used, the layout of the project, language to be used, etc. But you need to have awesome technical skills to become the main coder of your team, and thereafter an architect. If you will visit any software team in an IT company, you will find that only 20-25% people are really doing all the coding. Rest of the people are more invested in documentation, testing, client-management, etc.
Some good IT companies
Though there are multitude of IT companies in India and all across the world. But let us list down a few for you. This list is a very small subset of the universe of software companies out there.
- Wipro – An Indian company, which often recruits students in large numbers from campuses.
- Infosys – An Indian company, which often recruits students in large numbers from campuses. Their training is considered pretty good. And their Mysore training centre is considered state-of-the-art. I went their once, as my friend was in Infosys. It was awesome.
- TCS - An Indian company, which often recruits students in large numbers from campuses.
- IBM – It has three branches in India – one deals in services, one deals in research (IBM ISL), one other deals in embedded systems (IBM E&TS). I have friends working in all these branches. There’s one IBM BPO too (IBM-Daksh), but engineers do not generally prefer to work in BPOs, for obvious reasons.
- Dell – An American company that took over my company Perot Systems in 2009.
There are two major types of Software companies:
Service-based: Such software companies take projects from various clients and develop software for them, i.e. they provide software solutions to their clients. Thereafter, they also train them, maintain those software, make upgradations in it, etc. So, they are basically servicing a client. For example, I used to work for a client in Ireland (Bank of Ireland). We used to make their website, test it, etc. Some famous service-based software companies are Infosys, Wipro, TCS, etc. You will find many more service-based companies out there, than product-based companies.
Product-based: Such companies make a product on their own depending on the requirement of people in general or those of businesses. Then they sell those software products. For example, Microsoft sells Windows, Adobe sells various software like Adobe Acrobat (for PDF reading or editing), Adobe After Effects (for making motion graphics), etc. Generally, getting into product-based companies is a bit harder, and they pay a bit better too. Most product-based companies have a R&D (research and development) branch too. Software engineers working in these branches are considered the best of the best – tip of the sword!
We hope all this information was useful. We wish you best of luck. Do let us know the company you finally got into, once you do. Your first job!
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