ION Group | Interview Experience

Position: Software Developer (DEV Profile)
Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh
Mode: Pool Campus Drive
Year: 2020

ION Group visited our campus for pool recruitment in the month of September. Through this article, I would like to share a detailed description of the process followed, right from the application to the final HR round. [Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire process was carried out virtually.

About the Company

ION Group is a privately held, global financial software and data firm that provides technology for trading and execution, risk management and position calculation, connectivity to exchanges and markets, and technology for middle and back-office processes.

Application Process

The entire process was carried out within a week (the first week of September) and comprised of 4 stages. Two profiles were offered — DEV (Software Developer) & CS (Technical Analyst).

  • Stage 1: Academic criteria
  • Stage 2: Role-specific Test
  • Stage 3: Technical Interview
  • Stage 4: ION Day

Academic Criteria

Students with a basic cut-off of around 60–65% throughout with no backlogs were considered and interested candidates were required to fill a form with basic details and preferred profile.

Computer-Based Online Recruitment Test (AMCAT)

In the first round, all the shortlisted candidates (based on profile) were supposed to undergo the AMCAT test. This test consisted of English, Quantitative Ability, Logical Ability, and Programming sections. The sections appeared in a fixed order with a specific time limit for each. All questions were to be answered mandatorily i.e. skipping a question was not allowed. Personally, I believed this test was of easy-medium difficulty level.

Technical interview

Platform: Microsoft Teams [virtual]
Duration: 60–75 minutes
No. of Interviewers: 1

The online test results were announced a couple of days after the assessment, and around 85 students (52 DEV) were shortlisted for the next round — the technical interview round, which was scheduled the very next morning. In the short period that I had, I revised OOP concepts (most frequently asked subject) along with preparing my resume and skimming over my projects and some puzzles.

My interview commenced with the interviewer striking up a casual conversation regarding the pandemic situation and how I was dealing with the lock-down. Since, at the time, I was interning with a small startup, I mentioned it and he asked me a couple of follow-up questions regarding the same. I believe this helped calm my nerves as it was one of my very first FTE interviews. He then gave a quick introduction about himself, followed by the typical “Tell me something about yourself” question.

Moving on, he asked me to solve a puzzle (some variation of the three-thieves-crossing-river puzzle), which initially took me a few minutes but I was able to work it out. Next, he asked me to design an algorithm using the most suitable data structure for a music system playlist like Spotify with few common functionalities (add a song, remove a song, previous, next, etc.). He encouraged me to share my thinking and kept on counter questioning me every now and then. The main purpose of this question — or so I felt — was to gauge my knowledge of various data structures and their time complexities (as he specifically asked me the complexity of every data structure I thought of!)

He then moved on to OOP concepts, beginning with the most basic question— “What is Object-Oriented Programming”. As soon as I completed my answer, he asked me to describe the four pillars of OOPs (Abstraction, Encapsulation, Inheritance, Polymorphism) in-depth with real-life examples. Fortunately, I had prepared well for this and was able to explain each concept confidently with relevant (real-life) examples. He discretely focussed on run-time and compile-time polymorphism, and subsequently asked me to write the code for the same. He also asked me a couple of quick questions here and there regarding the code and that was that!

Before finishing the interview, he allowed me to ask him any questions I had. Since there had been no pre-placement talk, I asked him to acquaint me with the job requirement, which he gladly briefed me about. This concluded the interview!

ION Day

The technical interview round results were shared the next day with 25 students (19 DEV) qualifying to the next stage — ION DAY, which was scheduled to be held the following day. The ION day commenced with a half an hour induction presentation/pre-placement talk at around 8 in the morning. Since it was a pool campus recruitment, candidates from another college were also a part of the drive.

Round 1: A case study
My first round kicked off late in the afternoon (after almost a 5-hour wait!), with a basic introduction from the interviewer and my side, after which he headed over directly to a case study. The situation presented to me circled around the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the Hotel and Tourism Industry. The problem statement was somewhere along the following lines:

The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected the hotel industry. You are part of the strategy team of some xyz hotel. Suggest some innovative ideas to attract people to visit your hotel and boost your revenue.

Certain categories were also provided, namely — Townhouse, Leisure, GoldenKey, Corporate Business, etc, which were to be targeted. The entire interview revolved around this discussion with the interviewer giving me time to organize my thoughts from time to time as well as agreeing with me/questioning me wherever he felt necessary.

I was able to cover a wide range of areas and present innovative ideas — which, I felt, was the purpose of the interview. However, I also believe that my suggestions could have been better structured. I realize how important it is to calm yourself and take some time to brainstorm and structure your answers correctly in such interviews.

The interviewer further gave me the chance to ask him questions and also vaguely mentioned that I had majorly covered all of the points — which was a huge positive for me!

Round 2: HR Round
Having not received any feedback from the HR team for almost half an hour, I felt dejected and disappointed (since almost all the candidates making it to the other round were informed within 5–10 minutes). But things turned around for me as I then received optimistic feedback from the HR team.

After another hour or so of wait, my second round began with the engineering division's VP. He was friendly and made me feel at ease from the outset. He started with a small introduction and asked me to do the same. Having mentioned it in my introduction, he further asked me to share my experience of working as a part of a team with the company's senior management. My answer prompted him to ask more such HR questions, regarding leadership qualities, personal achievements, etc.

After this, he showed me 2 images and asked me to draw some conclusions from them. Both the pictures primarily revolved around SDLC concepts. I explained my interpretation of them systematically and assertively and tackled every cross-question with good enthusiasm. All the points I made were authentic, rational, and most importantly, correctly described the images. This seemed like more of a rapid-fire interview.

I felt it was quite obvious that I was enjoying myself during this discussion. He also asked me to then explain various SDLC models (Waterfall Model, Agile Model, Iterative Model, etc.) He seemed satisfied with all my answers and informed me that the HR team will be contacting me with the further process shortly. As this round concluded, I was over the moon!

Round 3: Interview with country head of ION group
Before appearing for this round, the recruitment team required us to fill out a form consisting of basic HR questions — general questions aimed at getting to know more about the candidates (challenges faced, achievements, innovative ideas, etc). Immediately after submitting the duly filled form, my last round began. This was a team round, ideally with 5–6 candidates, with the country head and a member of the HR team.

Again, a quick round of introduction from all of us, followed by questions from the form earlier submitted. The country head was extremely humble and down to earth. He inquired about my passions (quilling, doodling) and even asked me to show him one of my creations that I had gotten framed and hung up on my room wall. I was pleasantly shocked! It felt more like a casual conversation with a friend than an interview with the company’s country head!

The discussion continued well with him asking us some generic HR questions as well as specific questions from our responses in the form. As with all the other rounds, we were given the opportunity to ask any questions we would like. As an ending note, the country head congratulated us for making it this far and wished us luck for the results. And with this, the ION Day came to an end!!

Result:

A little bit of nervousness started pounding in as there was no response from the company’s side for the next couple of days. The results were announced three-four days later via the TPO of the college. Only 3 students were selected from my college with only 1 for the DEV profile (ME! :D) and 2 for the CS profile. After finding out the results, for a moment there, I was awestruck and couldn’t respond to it. I was humbled and overwhelmed at the same time! I can surely say that it was a great experience with a lot of positives — something I will cherish for the rest of my life!

Suggestions/Tips:

  • Prepare your resume well: Thoroughly go over your resume, do not exaggerate if you can’t cover it up!
  • Think aloud: Keep interacting with the interviewer about the approach you are thinking of.
  • Do your research: Read about the company and prepare basic points you can use for questions like, “Why do you want to work with us?”
  • Quote from real-life situations: Whenever presented with the opportunity, give references to real-life scenarios that you have come across to establish your credibility.
  • Acquaint yourself with OOPs and SDLC concepts: The technical interview is primarily based on OOPs (with real-life implementations)
  • Solve a few puzzles: If time permits, brush over common puzzles/riddles.

Thank you for reading about my experience! Hope you found what you were looking for. For any further queries or feedback, feel free to comment or connect with me over LinkedIn. I will be happy to help you out. Good luck!

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