This post is not going to talk about which book to follow, nor am I going to be talking about which questions were asked from me in the interviews. There are two reasons, first I believe you will get that kind of information everywhere else too. Also, I have only sit in two companies till date, so I feel I am not experienced enough to do it.
There have been many debates on "how to hire the best candidate for your company" over the past few decades. Also, there has been a proliferation of guides and books telling you how to ace an interview. But in my limited experience as a job hunter and some of my friends' experiences, the one thing I can tell for sure is: "there are no tried and tested methods". So, with this in mind, I set out to asking other people – Why Should a company hire you? I am sharing the same here now.
Companies have their own methodologies, like Johanna Rothman or one of my entrepreneur friend who advocates a week long project instead of an interview to check the viability of a candidate as a potential employer.
The responses I got from the job seekers were varied, but I will try to document them under categories and add comments from various people as we move along:
Enthusiasm: The one quality which sets you apart. You might not be the smartest, but you are enthusiastic and eager to learn. You cannot fake this easily. Either you have it or you don't. It gets reflected, in the way you solve technical problems, the questions you ask during the interview when an interviewer asks you a puzzle, and the final question that you ask from your interviewer at the end of the interview.
My friends describe it to me as – right day, luck and attitude. But one of them used an interesting word for this – "Innovation" and then launched into the problem he solved during Atrenta exam which was really a brilliant solution.
I will give you an example, one friend of mine got through in Cisco, after getting rejected by 6 companies, 4 of them in the final stage. And when I asked him how did you get selected today, he replied – "I did everything right today by God's Grace". But, the thing which he attributes to God, was actually his enthusiasm. This is his dream company, he has worked on Computer Networks for the past 2 years.
Hard Work: Apparently, this is one of the most obvious qualities to the students. One of the guys who got through in DE Shaw summarized it as – "techinical proficiency, for a tech job ie coding, algo thinking capability".
You demonstrate your hard-work by your academic performance, projects and performance in written tests. These things are always taken into account and we always lament when we miss out on any of these.
Ethics: This I found to be one of the most overlooked quality by students. But this is something, an employer values the most. He might be looking for Humility or he might be looking at Honesty. What do you think an HR Round is for? These guys know all the right answers, they distinguish people on the basis of their honesty and not the supposedly "Right" answers as advertised in guides.
So for instance, I was asked a programming Problem at Microsoft, for which I knew the answer before-hand. I told the guy: I know this. He was impressed enough to hire me. Don't try to fake, you will get caught and you won't even know why you were rejected?
Communication and Inter-personal Skills : This is mostly the reason why some people get rejected again and again, in spite of being brilliant technically. You are of no use to me, if you can't communicate that brilliant idea in your head to me effectively.
But many employers feel that if a candidate is good in first three, they will be able to teach him the fourth effectively.