Understanding Target Interview Process for fresher Software Engineering roles

Arijit Tarafdar
Arijit Tarafdar

Mentor Shamik discusses the work culture and the Target interview process for fresher software engineers. All expert tips and resources are included!

Understanding Target Interview Process for fresher Software Engineering roles

About Target Corporation:

Target Corporation, commonly called TARGET is a company focused on general merchandise retailing in the United States of America. Their services range from online stores to full-scale department stores. They also manufacture a range of brands that cater to different areas of consumer needs in the modern market. They have continuously recorded great numbers in terms of revenue with the last recorded figure -93 Billion USD (2020). Target is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA its hometown since the first Target store opened in 1962 under the name- The Dayton Company.

Target Corporation logo
Source- WWD

Apart from their core sales services, they are also known for their global online clientele. They currently have more than 1900 stores in the US and 20 global offices that cater to clients from all US states and many countries all over the world. They currently have offices in Bangalore, Dhaka, Delhi, and a dozen other locations around the world.

Working at TARGET:

Target currently employs more than 350,000 people around the world with 3000 workings in the global capabilities center (GCC) at Bangalore, India. They hire in all profiles ranging from Data Scientists, Software Engineers, and Analysts to Sales and Marketing roles.

Target’s offices hire people from all cultural backgrounds and they are avid advocates of equal pay and equal employment opportunities. The workforce works in teams and is known for delivering promising results continuously. They are known for offering student career opportunities as well as internships and semantic roles in marketing and sales, throughout the year.

Target Corporation Office Bangalore

Rated as one of the best places to work, Target is the ideal place for people starting their careers or looking for a change of role. The growth opportunities are quite good and the work culture, as with most MNCs, is brilliant and the workflow, efficient.

The interview process for Software Development Engineer (SE-I) roles can be quite challenging for a fresher right away. Though there is a lesser number of interview rounds and assessments, the interview is no cakewalk.

That’s where we can help :)

Recently, we reached out to Shamik Mukhopadhyay, a Senior Software Engineer (SE-II) at TARGET Bangalore who was delighted to explain the intricacies of the Target interview process for SE-I roles at his office and also help us add general tips, resources, and strategies for all fresh graduates to follow.

The role of a software engineer at TARGET:

Software engineers are involved with projects from the very beginning where they have to interact with clients and stakeholders to understand the required features and functionality of a new system or software. Their work may not be as coding intensive as software developers but involve the crucial monitoring of the product or systems post-launch.

Software engineer working on a computer

Basically, software engineers apply engineering principles to a product/system to ensure its viability and efficiency in the market. They need to have thorough knowledge about computer systems to recognize hardware limitations that can impact software design.

Moreover, they are also tasked with identifying and improving, and making recommendations of existing applications by designing implementing systems.

Prerequisites for SE-I roles:

Graduate/Fresher roles typically require:

  • 2.1 Bachelor’s Degree from a STEM subject -some roles may specifically ask for a computer science or software engineering degree whereas, under some circumstances, recruiters will accept candidates with 2.2 degrees in non-STEM subjects as well.
  • Knowledge/experience in Java, C++, C#, MATLAB and Python, and object-oriented programming.
  • Knowledge of technologies like SQL and .NET (there are on-the-job pieces of training in these aspects as well).
  • Thorough knowledge of algorithms and data structures.
  • Strong analytical and reasoning skills (to be shown through your projects and tested through skill assessments)
  • Knowledge of application architecture and design patterns.
  • Foundational knowledge of software development.
  • Knowledge/ experience in the development of distributed/scalable systems and high-volume transaction applications.

TARGET Interview Process for SDE-I roles:

For many candidates applying through college or university right after graduation, the interview process comprises 4 rounds and takes around 2 days. However, before everything starts, there’s the small matter of getting your resume or CV shortlisted :)

CV/Resume Shortlisting:

In this round, the resumes/ CVs of all the candidates applying through job postings or referrals will put through the ATS tools. Further, the sorted resumes/CVs would be carefully looked at by the recruiters who will match your experience, projects, and skills with the job description. Your social profiles also play a major role in shortlisting so, having a perfect LinkedIn profile becomes important.

So, what do interviewers at TARGET look for, in resumes?

Shamik explains that whenever they look into any resume or CV, relevant skills and projects or a lack thereof, always stand out. The formatting of the resume is also taken into account. He recommends that candidates use numbers to quantify their projects and their results. He further adds that a properly formatted resume is key to making a great first impression on the interviewer.

Check out this brilliant example prepared by the team at Zety:

Software engineer resume example
Source- Zety

Want your resume to be looked at?

Join us for a 30 minutes consultation session or get on a call to discuss more option

1st Round- Online Test or Coding Assessment:

Shamik explains that when hiring from colleges or when hiring a fresher, typically an online test is conducted. It consists of 30 sectional MCQs that test the basic concepts of algorithms, data structures, networking fundamentals, and Database management systems (DBMS). MCQs include questions on aptitude, the expected output for a given code snippet, expected errors in a system design, whether there is a segmentation fault or on Compile-Time Errors, etc.

In most interviews, a coding question accompanies the online test. This assessment is viewed at testing a candidate’s grip over algorithms and data structures in under 60 minutes. The structure of the assessment looks something like this:

  • 5-minute introduction with your interviewer
  • 10-minute discussion on the approach towards the answer
  • 45 minutes to write the code and optimize before submitting

From the candidates that pass this round, a few batches of 30 candidates each will go through the second round. So, to be among those selected, make sure you practice coding assessments and other questions regularly.

2nd Round- Technical Interview:

Usually a panel of two, the technical interview lasts for about 40-50 minutes. At first, they go through your resume in great detail. You will need to explain projects that you worked on during your engineering and about your projects at the previous company (if any).

Expect questions on Data Structures like reversing a linked list or about sorting algorithms. You could also be asked to write a query to assess your proficiency in DBMS. So, make sure you are well prepared for these rounds by regularly revisiting fundamentals and practice answering regular interview questions.

Here’s a resource that might help :)

3rd Round- Managerial Interview:

Again a panel of two, this segment goes on for about 30 minutes. The line of questioning is around your previous team/batch mates you worked for developing your projects (this is to estimate your collaborative skills and conduct). You could be asked about a problem you faced in your daily life and what measures you took to solve the same. Expect a set of behavioral questions that are specifically asked to test whether you’d be a good culture fit for the company. The round ends with a project discussion and what benefit TARGET stands to gain by hiring you.

4th Round- HR interview:

The HR manager or a team member would be asking you questions about your background, a field of interest, and details about your academics. Expect the question- Why TARGET? Make sure you answer it honestly and list out the goals you stand to achieve by working at the said company. This 15 minute round should be fairly simple and will test your effective communication skills to an extent.

Preparing for the TARGET Interview rounds:

Shamik suggests that:

  • Candidates should keep practicing their skills consistently utilizing platforms like Leetcode where you can find assessments ranging from easy to more difficult levels.
  • Set realistic goals which you can reach easily with little effort.
  • Keep revisiting fundamentals and try to keep your concepts clear from the get-go.
  • Make use of MOOCs to develop new skills and projects that can be added to your resume.

Can mock interviews help?

a person giving a mock interview

Shamik makes it a point to familiarize yourself with the interview rounds by giving mock interviews regularly. They not only help you prepare for the real interview in a better way by simulating the interview rounds.

They also help you build new skills with regular skill assessments and provide you honest feedback as well. Moreover, they help you in building a resume that gets shortlisted and stands out wherever you apply. To learn more about the befits of giving mock interviews check out a complete guide, here.

Software Engineering interview coming up?

At Preplaced, we give you the option of choosing your own mentor in your targeted domain to help you in throughout your interview preparation journey.

Common mistakes made by candidates:

Lack of effective communication:

During the coding rounds, you are given 10 minutes to discuss your approach to solving the problem with your interviewer. This does not mean that it ends there. Thinking out loud becomes really important as constant communication ensures your interviewer about the command you have over your skills and the problem. You can build the solution by opening a two-way dialogue with the interviewer (they usually try to give you hints and nudge towards the solution so, make use of that).

Lack of follow-up questions:

When there is a system design round in some of the interviews for higher roles, candidates will be presented with a vague prompt like build an interface like WhatsApp. The key tip here is to keep asking follow-up questions on what features to add, what sort of architecture they are looking at etc.

These questions will only help you gain clarity about what is asked. Without clarity, you will be confused on what approach you need to take from thereon and there will be a far lesser chance of failure. So, keep asking questions!

General tips for all candidates:

  • Have goals that are accompanied by strict timelines to achieve said goals.
  • Utilize mock interviews and online courses/videos/resources to build new skills or work on the existing ones.
  • Research the company before or after applying for any role and note what they are exactly looking for in a candidate.
  • Stay confident and honest about yourself and do not try to use unfair means to skip to solutions as the interviewers are always looking at what you are doing and more so, how you are doing it
  • Don’t get bogged down by failures and use them as a learning curve.

Hope this helps, good luck!

Get to know Shamik Mukhopadhyay:

Shamik has been working at TARGET Bangalore for the last 4 years and as a Senior Software Engineer for 1 and a half years. There he works on designing and building - scalable, robust, highly available, and reliable distributed systems. His responsibilities also include delivering proof of concepts on technologies contributing to technological and architectural decisions. He is particularly skilled at Java, Springboot, RDBMS, NoSql DB, Docker, and Kubernetes.

He graduated from BITS Pilani in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 2017. At college, he interned at Hedge Quants Capital Advisory LLP working on various trading algorithms that were viewed at optimizing stock portfolios with the highest returns.

Before joining his full-time job at Target, he also interned at Myntra where he worked on developing a cross-platform desktop application as a member of the Systems Engineering team which provided a production-like environment on development machines using containerization.

As an established software engineer, Shamik is an avid speaker in this space and is keen to mentor fresh graduates and youngsters to land their dream jobs. Here is a highlight from our conversation with him recently:

Reach out to him on his LinkedIn profile or have him as your interview preparation mentor, here.

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