I had an interview with Analog Devices Inc. on Tuesday. The couple days prior to it I was somewhat anxious because of the potential technical questions. I haven’t been grilled by technical questions in any of my previous interviews (all two of them) so I was nervous, especially since whenever I come across a brain teaser, I usually can’t figure it out. I figured that I didn’t need to study analog circuits since they are relatively fresh in my mind (which turned out not to be true as I found out later at the career fair). Thus, I decided to research technical questions/puzzles online to warm up my brain for “thinking outside the box,” rather than reviewing digital logic or HDL’s (hardware description languages). Here’s pretty much what happened:
Ok so it wasn’t that bad because the guy from ADI was nice and understanding of the fact that I hadn’t touched Verilog in a year. My “verilog” up/down counter turned out to be more of a C-style counter, but at least I knew what an up/down counter was. All in all, a much better interview than HP.
Onto the career fair! Sensata, a company that designs sensors and other feedback type components, was basically giving interviews on the spot. They asked a couple behavioral questions (“Give me an example of when you were working with a group and your ideas disagreed with everybody else’s, Tell me about a time you had to make a hard decision with a limited amount of information, etc), and then some technical questions. I was asked basic circuit stuff like finding the current through a simple resistor network, identifying a lowpass filter, and some other stuff. Even though they were all easy questions, because I didn’t understand the material that well while I was learning it, I know I got some of it wrong. I remembered how to draw a circuit that has arbitrary gain using an op amp, but I forgot how to derive the gain (“Um…I know it’s the ratio of these two resistors…”).
The worst was nVidia. I told them I was more interested in digital circuits and was given a mini-test accordingly that I had to sit down and work through. I hadn’t touched digital logic in a year and so I forgot a lot of the methodology and stuff. I couldn’t fully answer any of the questions except one or two (Draw the diagram for a CMOS AND gate at the transistor level). I wanted to quickly hand in the test and run away. I ended up going over my meager answers with a recruiter so he could see my thought process (or lack thereof).
On top of all that, I didn’t get any cool free stuff
Moral of the story: if you’re an ECE or EE and looking for a hardware position, don’t waste your time trying to do silly puzzles and brain teasers (some of which are admittedly interesting though); review material in courses you’ve taken and are relevant. That seems pretty obvious enough; don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a software or consulting or financial position, make sure you’re good at “thinking creatively” and develop a knack for probability and brain teasers.
Personally, I think the worst thing that can happen to me in an interview is if the interviewer gave me a Rubik’s cube and asked me to solve it.
Blah…I hope I find something.