Tech companies like Flipkart are famous for their tricky yet unique job interview processes, followed and modified by many other such companies. These interviews comprise of stages that test your intellectual acumen, your job skills and general aptitude.
They do this by using a set of tricky questions and tasks that range from behavioural questions and, problem-solving assignments to brain teasers and quantitative questions. Preparing for all these different sets of rounds can be a tough ask.
Don’t worry, we have got you covered!
Recently, we reached out to Abhinav Gupta, an SDE 2 at Flipkart Bengaluru. He was happy to share some valuable insights into the interview process at Flipkart. He also added a few extra tips and suggestions for good measure.
Here's the YouTube version of this blog, just in case you don't feel like reading :)
In case you are still here with us, let’s get going.
The Role of a Software Development Engineer:
An SDE-1 (A fresher Software Development Engineer) is primarily tasked with building cross-platform applications and software systems. They also get to write, modify and debug software for server applications and code to create multi-threaded networked server applications.
Abhinav explains that as an SDE-2 (A senior Software Development Engineer), there are multiple things on his plate. There are certain projects an SDE 2 has to oversee along with their work in data processing, distributed storage, and software development applications. Normally, the work involves the use of platforms like Spark, Hadoop, Edge base and Five, on a day-to-day basis.
SDE-2 members are also assigned to the hiring process along with Hiring Managers and Human Resources. Therefore, interacting with different teams and mentoring SDE-1 team members also form an important part of the work.
The Pre-requisites to applying for an SDE 1 role:
It was mentioned to Abhinav during his interview that previous knowledge of any programming language would suffice.
He further adds that normally, SDE roles at top companies require the candidate to have:
- Deep understanding and knowledge of Algorithms and Data Structures
- Proficiency in one low-level language – C++ or Java.
- Object-Oriented programming.
- Thorough understanding of concepts in Computer Science.
- Analytical and Problem Solving Skills.
The Interview Process at Flipkart:
1. Resume Prospecting/Shortlisting:
This part is initiated based on either an internal referral or direct applications for a job. There are many aspects of a resume that are considered and factored into shortlisting candidates for the job.
Prospecting also involves doing basic background research on the candidates (ideally through LinkedIn). Therefore, a robust LinkedIn profile and a decent resume certainly helps!
Abhinav explains that there is a multitude of aspects of a resume that are looked at by the recruiters:
So, what do recruiters look for in a Resume?
- Relevant software development work experience or Automation
- 1-2 years of experience in the relevant field (for SDE-1 roles)
- Educational background
- Proficiency level and experience in job-relevant skills
- Current Company and the teams one has worked under
- Whether the resume is concise
Refer to our work on 8 powerful resume tips for more elaboration on this aspect :)
2. Initiation of the interview rounds
After the initial stages, the shortlisting round begins and the relevant applicants are then lined up for interviews. This happens in one of the two ways:
- All the interviews are lined up on a single day
- The interview takes place one-by-one in a round-wise manner
Abhinav mentions that the progress of a candidate to the next round is not dependent on clearing the previous one. The rounds take place one after the other and at the end, there is a Debrief round where the recruiters note all the pros and cons of all the candidates.
The Hiring Manager and the HR join the interviewer and they go through the current experience and provide interview feedback to the candidate then and there.
3. The Interview Process for SDE-1
1st round- Machine Coding:
This round involves the testing of object-oriented programming concepts.
It could involve something like designing a low-level design problem, designing a parking lot or even designing a book my show type of design. No high-level knowledge is tested in this round.
There will be a question prompted with around one and a half hours to code your solution after which you have to submit the solution to get this round started. Your machine code review will be done by an interviewer who will assign your score.
In case you are not rejected (called a Loop-cut), you will progress to the next round.
2nd Round- PSDS (Problem Solving Data Structures)
In this round, your grip over a programming language of your choice is tested. This goes for all PSDS rounds unless it is team-specific hiring.
In the case of a team or project specific hiring, there could be a programming language constraint.
3rd Round- HM (Hiring Manager Round)
There is a possibility of two things happening:
- The hiring manager goes through your current work experience in sort of a behavioural round. They try to figure out why you are leaving your current company, why you want to join this company, and a few circumstantial questions on pressure handling and problem-solving.
- The hiring manager winds up the behavioural questioning segment in 15-20 minutes and then moves on to the PSDS line of questioning. This type of round happens rarely but it is a possibility.
The Interview Process for SDE-2:
The first three rounds are mandatory for all SDE hiring levels. However, for a Senior Software Development role, you need to go through an extra round.
4th Round- System Design
This is an addition to all the aforementioned rounds for SDE-1. The system design round is specifically for SDE-2 applicants where they are given a problem statement without an initial time mentioned (unlike the Machine coding round for SDE 1) as it will be a direct interview.
SDE interview coming up?
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What are some common mistakes made by candidates and how to avoid them?
Jumping right into answers:
In the PSDS round, sometimes, when the candidates get a question that they have seen or practiced before, they directly jump to the solution. This is not expected in a PSDS interview round.
The interviewers expect the candidates to ask multiple follow-up questions as well.
Lack of follow-up questions:
In the system design round, it is expected that the candidates ask a lot of follow-up questions. This round is all about case-specific designing and the follow-up questions are to be asked to get clarity into the number of users, the geographical locations targeted, etc.
Abhinav provides an insight into the recruiter’s mind. He says that a recruiter rarely has the time to go through long resumes and might miss important aspects of the resume. So, the candidates should prepare a clean 1-page resume so that they can highlight their experience and projects in a better way.
Lack of effective communication:
Abhinav mentions that most candidates can find the solutions, pass core skill assessments and develop projects but, lack in terms of communicating their thought-process correctly.
He recommends that going through a few mock interview sessions can help adapt to the interview scenario and develop essential soft skills like effective communication and adaptability.
Tips for Virtual Interviews:
In these unprecedented times, interviews are happening virtually. Here are some basic tips for easing through the interviews:
- Most interviewers might ask you to share your screen (present) during the interview. The key here is to keep all the required files and tabs open and ready to be shown. All the file editing and structuring have to be done before you start presenting.
- Have a backup Internet Connection, just in case your primary connection causes any issues.
- Headphones with a good microphone for clear audio
- Dress professionally under proper lighting and a clear background.
- Research the company a bit- What they do? How they do it? What are they looking for?
- Keep your answers simple and to the point.
General tips for all students and freshers:
- Be open to learning new programming languages all the time.
- Learn to adapt to new systems and managing your workflow in a better way.
- Try to build an in-depth knowledge of a particular technology while focusing on developing other skills as well.
- Build projects to practice and enhance your skills.
- Upskill with relevant courses from time to time.
- Practice for interviews regularly with your mentors through mock interviews or consulting sessions.
- Practice answering common questions fluently.
- Build or be involved in lots of industry-related projects.
- Try to apply for summer/winter internships regularly. If you get them, make sure you utilize your time there not just focusing on building your resume or getting a certificate but, on attaining the knowledge.
- Follow-up with the interviewer a day or so after the interview.
Get to know Abhinav Gupta:
Abhinav Gupta has been working as a Software Development Engineer (SDE) at Flipkart for more than 2 years and was happy to share with us some brilliant job interview insights. He explained the specific interview process at Flipkart and provided some key tips for all job seekers to follow.
He graduated from BITS-Pilani, Goa Campus in 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Engineering (B.E.) Hons.-Electronics and Instrumentation. He also interned at major tech companies and start-ups starting as a winter intern at Tech Mahindra followed by his internship at Finrsch, Hong Kong.
Abhinav started his first full-time job at Oracle Bengaluru as an Applications Development Engineer and worked there for more than 1 and a half years and then ultimately joined the Insights Team at Flipkart Bengaluru in 2019.