Cisco Interview Experience for Data Analyst
I am an Electrical & Electronics Engineering student of the 2022 batch and I recently applied at Cisco as part of my campus placements. They have 2 business tracks for hiring for different roles, and my pick was an SCO (Supply Chain Operations) Business Track position, as a Data Analyst intern for 5 months starting February 2022. Round 1: Online Test
There was an online test about 4 days before the interview, on 23rd August on the platform Hackerrank, and the 25 questions were a mix of aptitude problems and CS problems from Networking, Operating Systems, and DBMS and some programming questions. There was also 1 coding problem.
- In this test, I solved most of the MCQ problems, but I left the coding problem due to a lack of time. I still passed the test and was shortlisted for the interview. A total of 33 applicants were picked for Supply Chain Operations roles, and 8 of those were Data Analyst candidates. This was my first interview, over the entire placement season, and ever for an internship or job, so I also made a few mistakes along the way.
- On 27th August, our interview was scheduled. There were 4 rounds to go through:
We were divided into 4 groups of 7-9 people, and within that, we were to discuss a topic that was given to us, followed by 2-3 minutes of time to prepare.
- My group’s topic was “Globalisation & Localisation for the Indian Economy”, which is a topic where you can argue both sides quite well, in my opinion.
- I participated well in the group discussion, contributing to the agenda at hand, and also staying on-topic while trying to drive the conversation forward as much as I can.
- We were on videoconferencing (Webex, Cisco, of course), and everyone tried their best to not interrupt each other, but you had to speak up after someone’s done and put your point forward.
- Cisco after this round put out a list of people who got eliminated from the GD round after all groups had gone through with it, and this whittled us down to 16 people, so there were 17 eliminations from my count.
Round 2: Technical Interview(45-50 minutes):
- My technical interview was hosted by 2 interviewers, but one only re-entered the meeting halfway through. It started with some coding problems, and I was screen-sharing a notepad window to show them my work. The problems seemed to be primarily a test of algorithmic thinking and optimizing:
- The first problem was to take a decimal number and find the number of non-trailing zeroes in their binary form. I am familiar with Python, and I used that to solve it. Although I was asked to use pseudocode, I couldn’t help but use python directly most of the time, I am not used to writing pseudocode and end up writing proper code most of the time.
- The second problem was more complicated: rotate a number matrix by 90, 180, 270 degrees, and so on. I was only given a 2*2 matrix as my test case though, so the problem was much more simplified. I still couldn’t express it in pseudocode/code form, and around 5-7 minutes in, my interviewer asked me to just explain my thinking, which I did, and he quickly moved on to problem 3.
- Problem 3 was to find the leader numbers in an array but only in O(n) time. I used python’s reversed() function to traverse the list, and it was a satisfactory answer for the interviewer.
- Moving on from there, the second interviewer asked me about my familiarity with OS and Networking technologies. I admitted I haven’t been formally educated in it, and I have prepared them very little just for interviews. They asked me how I would rate myself, and I replied “less than 5/10” to that. They asked me a few questions (for example: “What is UDP, and how do you see it in operation in real life?”), and I couldn’t answer it.
- To that, they asked if I am an EEE student to which I promptly said yes, and I believe they wanted to play my strengths, so they asked me questions about electronics and hardware. I had mentioned on my resume that I have interned with a content outlet that writes about news concerning computer hardware in the past, and it’s one of my main interests outside of Data Science, and they asked me several questions, which I answered reasonably well.
- They then tied those questions back to some OS and networking-related questions, and I could answer those too, from my knowledge about hardware. The interviewers seemed convinced that I do know more about these topics than I initially admitted.
- I was frank about my lack of knowledge of any topics, but when I was talking about something familiar, I was very straightforward and quick to reply. And for the most part, that was the interview.
- When asked to ask any questions I have, I asked what a data analyst at Cisco would do, since the job brief details day-to-day tasks in a diverse list, but the overall picture is unclear. I was given a really detailed answer, and told to come in with an open mind, as well as that one skill won’t get you too far, but several different ones you need for your task at hand, will. I asked for any feedback about myself at the end, and I was given a positive response, with no criticisms from either interviewer.
Round 3: Managerial Interview (40-45minute)
- There were more eliminations after the technical round, and since there were some other interviewees also eliminated in the same list, I can’t give a proper count of how many people remained for this round.
- Getting to the managerial interview was a little surprising for me, and I made the mistake of telling my interviewer that very thing when the interview began. Please don’t do this.
- I was asked several questions here about my motivation to work at this company and my role. And I was told to explain all that with my resume so far in mind. This was a very heavy grilling of my answers, which felt very flat because of a lack of preparedness for this interview, and I didn’t have anything practiced that I could recall and answer in a good way.
- I was asked to also rephrase an answer because it came off too generic, according to one of the interviewers (there were 2 here too). I did feel down after this one, and the feedback I got from them was to not underestimate myself and sell myself short; I did that in the beginning when I told the interviewer that it is surprising to be past the technical round. I thought this would be the end of the road for me, but there was no eliminations list this time.
Round 4:HR Round (5minute)
- After a lot of delays (the organizers were having technical issues and such), we had the HR round for some candidates.
- Again, the candidates were mixed up between Business Tracks, so I cannot give the exact number of people in SCO who were being interviewed for this.
- This round only dealt with our willingness and preferences to relocate to their 3 locations (Bangalore, Pune, Chennai), and they gave us info on the working tenure of the internship, as well as information about our internship stipend and the on-conversion CTC (the breakdown of this cost).
- Some people who were not told to leave the Webex group (thus not eliminated) were not interviewed by HR, and upon requesting clarification, Cisco said that they have interviewed everyone they had to, and the results of these interviews have been sent to our college’s placement department, who will intimate us further. Since this was late in the night, we didn’t get the mail confirming our acceptance or rejection right away.
- All in all, it took 13 hours to get through all these rounds from 8 AM to 9 PM, with the HR round happening around 4 hours after the managerial round, due to the delays.
- The next morning, we got the email about Cisco’s final picks. There were 3 picks out of the initial shortlist of 33 in the SCO Business Track, and one Data Analyst among them.
Verdict: Internship as a Data Analyst at Cisco India offer received. 5-month internship starting February 2022, with the chance to convert it to a full-time offer.
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