Even if we were to search around the world, it would be a truly difficult job to find someone like Naveen. As a Computer Science Graduate of IIIT – Bangalore, he successfully bagged job offer from Bloomreach. We at TopTalent.in spoke to Naveen from IIIT Bangalore about the Bloomreach Interview Process, how he managed to crack it and what are his suggestions for aspirants looking to achieve something similar.
TopTalent: How do you feel on achieving this rare feat?
I feel absolutely great. Very few words can truly describe the high you get when your name is called out at the end of a long, tiring day filled with interviews.
TopTalent: What other offers did you get apart from Bloomreach?
As part of our curriculum here at IIIT-B, we have a 6 month long internship. I’ll be interning at Dreamworks India as part of the internship.
TopTalent: Can you brief us the interview process?
The interview process for Bloomreach was very interesting. Firstly, we had a pre-interview round where we were given an open ended machine learning problem to implement programmatically, as well as explain logically. The basic idea was to test the different ways in which a single problem can be approached. As the question was open ended, there were many different techniques people used to get equally valid answers. This round was meant to stress on the open ended nature of most questions being solved in industry. The concept of bounded rationality almost always applies for these questions. Post this, we had an online programming round followed by multiple rounds of interviews. Each interview focussed on optimization. In no round was my answer accepted without having gone through multiple iterations to improve the time/space complexity.
TopTalent: Can you give us a brief account of what you felt was the toughest interview?
All the rounds of interviews were of a very good level. None of the rounds had the (relatively) simpler questions from placement preparation sites like GeeksforGeeks. All rounds were more logic oriented, and majorly focused on data structures and algorithms. The toughest round for me was a round in which there was a strong mathematical basis. I’m not really that strong with Math, so I found this round particularly challenging. The central problem asked in this round also used a different number representation system than what we usually use and that made it all the more confusing. I was given time to understand both the question and the representation. The interviewer was very supportive of the attempts I was making and kept providing hints on what direction I should be thinking on. It took lots of scribbling on papers and white boards before the problem was finally solved to the interviewer’s satisfaction. Needless to say, finally getting to the (near)optimal answer was an awesome feeling. This was also the round that took the longest time (or atleast felt like it :P).
TopTalent: Can you brief about your profile which Bloomreach offered?
Bloomreach works with a large amount of data to generate insights into data that are next to impossible to manually generate. I will be working mainly in the fields of Web Information retrieval, large scale Data mining and Machine learning, and implement algorithms to extract meaningful information from crawled web pages. Generating models that can be used for querying/prediction purposes is another area I will be working on at the company.
TopTalent: What was your preparation strategy?
Honestly, my preparation is very minimal. I didn’t really have a preparation timetable. I avoided spreading myself too thin by trying to study everything and mainly concentrated on the fields of Algorithms (both basic and advanced), Data Structures, Operating Systems, Compiler design and read through a couple of other resources. I’m a complete code-monkey and code for an hour or so every day, and that also became part of my preparation.
TopTalent: What kind of skills do you think helped you getting this job?
Computers have been a core part of my life for well over a decade now, so I’m naturally fascinated by most things computing related. I code regularly and contribute to open-source projects as well. I’m a HackerNews (a technology news site) addict , and try to stay in touch with as many latest trends in the world of tech as possible. I’ve burnt motherboards and RAMs attempting to overclock systems. I’ve bricked systems, I’ve modded systems, I’ve broken systems. I’ve coded on and off in over half a dozen programming languages using different paradigms, and many more libraries/frameworks. I’ve played around with practically every component of a computer system, both on the software and hardware side. So I know what’s going on not just from a technical standpoint but a practical standpoint too. The main “skill” is simply being inquisitive about and innovative in the field of Computers, which is pretty much a no-brainer. It is truly an amazing time to be in the field of Computer sciences, with it’s far reaching effects.
TopTalent: What resources did you consult? Where did you practice problems from?
I’ve used a couple of books and lots of online videos for understanding different concepts. CLRS, Knuth, Sedgewick, Vazirani are some of the names at the top of my head. It would be great injustice not to mention all my Algo/Advanced Algo faculty: Prof. Laxminarayana, Prof. Prasanna, Prof. Murali and Prof. Raghavan for doing a brilliant job clearing the concepts of algorithms for us. I used to sit with a couple of friends to try to solve some practice questions. The source for these questions ranged from CareerCup to TopCoder. I’ve been active on SPOJ as well, and that’s helped develop a coding mentality.
TopTalent: Were grades a factor in you getting selected?
My CGPA is what most would consider slightly above-average. I don’t think grades are a good measure to judge anyone anywhere, let alone in a field like Computer Science where some of the biggest names are people who didn’t fit the mold of traditional education. Thankfully, most big companies also understand the same.
TopTalent: What’s your advice to students who are aiming for similar placement offers as yours?
The biggest mistake that people make is “preparing” for placements. I’ve never really understood the concept. College life is a one-time opportunity to explore the world, and most importantly, yourself. Don’t “prepare” for something which really doesn’t determine your life (contrary to popular thought). Prepare for your life up ahead. Don’t be afraid to fail when you try something new. Keep doing new things. Keep learning. Make the best use of your college years to gain as much knowledge of the world as you can. As cheesy as it sounds, the Baba Ranchoddas’ “gyan” gets it perfectly right: “Success ke piche mat bhago, excellence ke piche bhago, phir success jhak marke tumhare piche bhagega” 🙂
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