Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies...

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ex-kgb
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Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies...

Postby ex-kgb » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:30 pm UTC

Does anyone have advice for what aspects of computer science to study to prepare for an interview? Does anyone have questions I work out to practice for the eventual interview questions? What are your experience with interviewing for software engineering jobs/internships?

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Yakk
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby Yakk » Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:24 pm UTC

I don't think I've studied computer science for an interview. Any studying I'm doing at that late of a date is going to be ridiculously shallow, and general last minute studying isn't going to make a difference.

"Some tech companies" is ridiculously general. Are we talking about contractors who maintain databases for a government? Security validation professionals? Business logic custom app builders? Custom OS writers? Web page creation consultants? Cancer research support specialists? PC application development? Microcontroller microcode authors? Graphics pipeline professionals? Games programmers? Distributed application development?

There are very few things in any of the above cases where I'd bother brushing up on the same kind of subject. The language of choice is going to change significantly.

Now, simple problems -- reverse a singly linked list in C, what does the virtual keyword mean, etc -- might be asked to keep people who are actually illiterate in the language from slipping through.

What is your level of expertise? What is your level of education? And, as you are applying for an internship, can you make coffee?
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markop2003
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby markop2003 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

There are questions available online and i think Wrox has a book of such questions, the vast majority are concerned with logic not any particular language. Also you seem to be forgetting that just because its a comp sci internship that dosn't mean they'll avoid the generic questions.

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TheAmazingRando
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:45 am UTC

If you're competent enough at programming to actually work as a programmer, any programming questions they ask you should be trivial. A job interview isn't really the kind of thing you should be studying for. With logic puzzles, the point isn't to hear you give the right answer, it's to see the process you use to solve it. They want to see that you're capable of critical thinking, nobody cares if you're good at memorizing.

The most important part of the interview is to be relaxed, friendly, and talkative. Make it clear you know what you're talking about. Don't drop buzzwords, describe the process/concept/language/etc like it's something you're familiar with. If they ask you about a particular language or design pattern, don't just give statistics about it, talk about what you like and don't like about working with it. Share anecdotes about projects you've worked on. You want to demonstrate your experiential knowledge and your ability to solve problems, but you also want to show that you're a good person to work with. It's an internship so they know you probably don't have much experience outside of the classroom. Don't try to hide this, just try to show that the experience you've had is sufficient.

Make sure you know what you're actually applying for as well. Internships range in quality, you'll want one where you're actually working on the team and making meaningful contributions, because that's the kind of experience you need, and that's what will look best on your resume. Plus, the pay is usually better when you're doing real work.

markop2003
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby markop2003 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:13 pm UTC

They may have logic/math puzzles and the like but the ones i've looked at like to put that in the online application or at an assessment centre so they filter more people out prior to the interview. If you want to do some revision just read over the CV you sent them and the recent tech news/company news.

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zed0
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby zed0 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:56 am UTC

It probably depends on how into buzz words the company is but I've found that almost every company I've applied for has asked about the principles of object oriented programming.

Duban
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby Duban » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:26 pm UTC

I've been interviewing for a job as a CS graduate lately and you can expect to be asked two of the following questions.

("What can you bring to the company?" OR "Why would I hire you over someone else?")

AND

"Why do you want to work for our company?"

You should prepare thought out answers for those questions before every interview. Other than that; just be honest about your experiences in college and be ready to talk about projects you have worked on recently. There's not much you can do if you're underqualified for the position, but if you follow the above advice you won't lose a job you qualify for because you were underprepared.

edit: Just noticed this was dated Nov 23 and not Dec 23 lol.
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davdigsb
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby davdigsb » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

Duban wrote:("What can you bring to the company?" OR "Why would I hire you over someone else?")

AND

"Why do you want to work for our company?"

These are the hardest questions for me. I don't know how to intrigue a prospective employer

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firer
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Re: Applying soon for an internship at some tech companies..

Postby firer » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:16 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:If you're competent enough at programming to actually work as a programmer, any programming questions they ask you should be trivial. A job interview isn't really the kind of thing you should be studying for. With logic puzzles, the point isn't to hear you give the right answer, it's to see the process you use to solve it. They want to see that you're capable of critical thinking, nobody cares if you're good at memorizing.


Unless the OP is applying for some competitive/"famous" SWE internships/job positions like Facebook or Google. Then showing some fast problem solving ability is essential (and I say fast because time during an interview, under pressure and having to think aloud, runs way faster than in other occasions). IMO, solving problems (or analyzing situations) in the restricted timeframe provided during an interview is way easier if you (a) already have some experience and (b) have all basic problem solving techniques "cached."

From this point on, my post focuses on interviews for internship or entry-level positions at companies like the ones cited above. Specific companies have some specific quirks: Google emphasizes more theoretical CS questions, like pure algorithm design for logical problems (if you tick "algorithm" as one of your strengths) or how, from a high-level point of view, you would take a specific algoritm and parallelize it (if you tick "distributed systems"). These are examples. Facebook, on the other hand, really focuses on fast coding: you are expected to be able to code, for example, the entire algorithm to solve the knight's tour in your favorite language and without blatant mistakes in an interview timeframe (15~20 mins if exclude the other questions). Other companies might also have their own specificities during their interview processes.

So practicing helps. Asking your TA for some assistance, or even applying for other companies with the same kind of interview might help you do well at your target company. Of course, you shouldn't forget about the general questions: you should show interest in the job, and I think you should actually prepare questions for the interviewer about the company beforehand if you have difficulty coming up with them on the fly.
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