ION Group Interview Experience for Rotational Product Developer
Recently, ION Group came to VIT to hire final years for their company. They offered two roles – an SDE role and a Client Service (CS) based role. The SDE role is referred to as a “Rotational Product Developer”. Additionally, the company only offered full-time placements and not internships to the selected individuals. So in this article, I hope to give the reader further insight into the selection process of ION and improve their chances of getting selected.
So in total, there were 5 rounds, each round filtering out some students from the process. The first round was common for both the SDE and the CS role, but the further rounds differ in the type of questions asked and approaches. Overall, the process was quite rigorous with each interview round lasting at least 30 mins with multiple questions asked. The level of questions asked was from easy to hard as well. Here is a breakup of the rounds.
Round 1: Competitive Coding Round
- In this round, all the shortlisted students sat a test containing MCQs and 2 coding questions. The MCQs were related to DSA and general C/C++ syntax and code. The first coding question was an easy question related to arrays and sorting. The second question was a harder question that involved the use of DP.
Round 2: Technical Interview
- This was an interview round. Around 400 students were shortlisted for the interviews and it went on for a whole day. The interview was taken by 2 senior analysts at the company. It started off by them introducing themselves, then me introducing myself. After introductions, I was given a puzzle to solve.
- If you have a block weighing 40kg, how can you divide it into 4 smaller weights such that you can weigh any value less than 30
- The interviewers were patient and listened to my approaches while I attempted to solve the problem. It took me around 10 minutes but I ultimately arrived at the right answer which is 1, 3, 9, 27.
- After this, I was asked concepts relating to CS fundamentals. One of the interviewers asked some questions related to OOPS, then gave me a problem and asked for the appropriate SQL statement, then some Data Structure related questions. Then I was given a problem “What data structure can be used to store a phone book to allow easy search”. I Answered with Trie, after which he asked a few questions related to the Trie structure. Finally, I was asked to design the Class Structure of an HR department. That was it for the technical round.
After interviewing around 400 students, they selected 39 for SDE and 37 for CS for the next round which was the ION day.
Round 3: ION Day (Case Study Round)
- This round was a 1v1 round with an engineer from the company. I was presented with a scenario and a problem. I was given 15 minutes to think and come up with an argument as well as a solution to the problem statement. After 15 minutes, I had to present to him the arguments I collected and the conclusion I made. The gist of the scenario is :
- The short-rental sector in India is growing rapidly, which is competing fiercely with the hotel business. However concept of short-rentals, although more lucrative, has many downfalls and dangers for residents of the rental. In comparison, hotels are much more stable and have safer options. The Government of India is in efforts to make a decision over the regulation of such short-rentals. As a consultant of the GOI, what are your opinions regarding the scenario, and what regulation advice would you give?
- I took 15 minutes to come up with a cohesive and strong argument that I presented to him, which he found impressive. My advice for this round is not to focus too much on trying to find more arguments to present. Pick a few strong ones, and expand on those while talking – even provide some real-life examples from your personal life or a known person’s life. Most importantly, speak confidently and continually.
Round 4: Managerial Interview
- This round was with another senior engineer at the company. It started with him talking about his role at the company and then asking questions about me like “What do you do in your free time” and “Which 2 achievements of yours are you most proud of”. Then he asked me some resume-based questions. I had done an internship with a start-up in the summer, so he asked me what I did during my internship and asked more questions based on my answers.
- After that, he asked me to talk about anyone project that I had been a part of. Since ION was a fintech company I chose a fintech application that I had worked on for a hackathon. I explained the problem and the use case of the application. I talked about the use of NLP and NER in the project, and how the server architecture was on AWS. Based on this he asked me sub-questions on the architecture, the use of NLP in the project and AWS questions like “What is the use of lambda and why did you use it”, What is the concept of server-less”, and “Which ec2 instance type did you choose and why”. Finally he asked the question “What were the 2 biggest problems you faced, and how did you overcome them”. I wasn’t asked system design questions since the interviewer used this project as a context to ask system design-related questions.
- Then he moved on and gave me a scenario upon which he asked some questions. The scenario was related to the Dynamic Flight Pricing on sites like MakeMyTrip. After talking a bit about the scenario, he asked me “What are the factors that might affect the price of the flight”. The 3 main factors he expected were demand, availability of flights, and capacity left. The next question was “What data structure would you use to store data like the number of bookings per day to analyze the data” – while many answers were appropriate, I chose to go with a map from the date to the booking data so you can get date ranges with ease, additionally the same can be converted into a prefix sum array. Then he asked me to come up with a naïve price calculating algorithm based on the earlier factors.
- After this, he showed me a picture for 10 seconds and asked me what I inferred from the image and how it related to software development. The image was of a man offering circular wheels to another man pulling a cart with square wheels but refusing the circular wheels. I explained how it portrays a common scenario where someone who is accustomed to using a certain project or programming paradigm/language is reluctant to change even if it is much better and would help them more.
- That was it for the managerial round. The interviewer was so impressed with my answers that he himself told me that he was planning to send me through for the last round!
Round 5: HR interview with the Indian Head
- This was a group meeting consisting of the head of the Indian division and 4 students. He talked a little about the company and his position and asked us about ourselves. Then he asked us about our preferred work locations and why we preferred them. Then he asked us why we chose to sit for the ION placements and what about ION we were attracted by. After that, the rest of the meeting was informal and became more of a casual conversation. Finally, he told us he would pass on the details to the recruitment team and we would get to know the results by the next day.
- They finally took around 20 students from the college and I was lucky to be one among them! I feel like the main reason I was able to clear the interviews was due to my oratory skills. Even when I did not know an answer completely, I was able to explain it in a way that seemed like I did haha. If you’re sitting for ION interviews remember to be confident in speaking! If you’re reading this before your interview, good luck!
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