How do job interviews look in Germany (4/4)?
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12. Field Application Engineer, NVIDIA (Munich, Bavaria)
Language: English (Call from Santa Clara, CA. So the interview ).
Telephone interview: He shortly introduced what kind of things I would use, like machine learning and deep learning, Linux OS, SDK, Linux kernel, driver, business area (Europe).
— If your customer has questions and you don’t know the answer, what would you do?
— Which project you did were using C/C++?
— How much do you know about NVIDIA? Do you know what we are doing?
— Why would you like to work in NVIDIA?
— How do you learn new things? For example OpenMP?
— How well do you know about this position?
After around 30 minutes, it was my turn to ask questions. Totally, the phone interview was lasting 50 minutes. The interview was very excited for me because I prepared this interview a bit longer than others. I did some research about their products from NVIDIA’s website, watched some product demo videos on Youtube and asked my friend who worked at NVIDIA Taiwan about the company and their outlook.
13. Software Engineer for Automotive/Software Developer for Connected Electromobility, MAGNA Telemotive AG (Munich, Bavaria)
I applied the position of Software Engineer for Automotive online, while they wrote me an E-Mail that another team had also interest in me which is about the connected car. So they invited me directly to the on-site interview with two team leaders.
First on-site interview:
— HR presentation: She had PowerPoint and talked about the MAGNA Telemotive AG which is a subsidiary from MAGNA Steyr.
— Self Presentation: This self-introduction was very similar to the IBM assessment center in Böblingen, which is 15 minutes for preparation and 10 minutes for the presentation. I did not speak for 10 minutes. That was too long and it does not matter actually.
— Questions about my CV (mostly about my Master’s thesis, C/C++, parallel computing, etc.)
— The two team leaders explained what they are doing and described which tasks I will deal with and check which direction I am interested in.
— HR then talked about the benefits of the company such as vacation days, company events, etc.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer always asked if I have any question. I already asked during the interview. So this section I just said no. But it would be great when I could ask more interesting questions. But I still got the invitation to the second on-site interview. I think it was fine when I said no in the end.
Second on-site interview:
The second interview was not about me but more about the project and taking a look at the office. There are a boss and an interviewer. The boss, who did not see me before, want to get to know me more. So I briefly talked about myself again. After that, they shared some experience about software-development on ECUs and the task of ECUs diagnosis. Then, the interviewer brought me to the offices where people were working on their stuff. For example, one guy showed me the software CANoe for test and analysis of ECUs. Another guy showed the DaVinci for code generation. He promised the feed in a week. But it was late. As they asked me for more patience, I told them that I have decided to accept another offer.
14. Embedded System Engineer, Mixed Mode GmbH (Munich, Bavaria)
The first contact with their HR was on the career exhibition at the Technical University of Munich in Garching campus (It is called IKOM.) It is very helpful when we can directly give them our CV personally. The HR quickly looked at my CV and asked me about my Professor who collaborates closely with them. It seemed that this reduced the distance between us. The first impression plays an extremely important role!
There were a business leader and two team leaders. The typical prelude: the interviewers introduce themselves and I myself, too. First of all, the business leader had only 30 minutes for me. Therefore, he asked more about my personality and a little bit my thesis. He wondered why I finished my Master’s thesis at ETH Zürich, while I had a supervisor from TUM because my professor from TUM collaborate with them closely and he was curious about how it worked between TUM and ETH Zürich. Then, he asked other questions like:
— How does your room look? What would I see in your room?
(Raspberry Pi 3B, Swedish, Monitor)
— Which software did you install in your laptop? (I do not really know what the purpose of this question is. But I answered something like MATLAB, Eclipse, Visual Studio, Linux, Virtual Machine. Those are relevant to software engineering).
— Fixed-point arithmetic (Q Format)
— Hobby: music, play the guitar, movies(marvels), hiking (Walchersee, Tegernsee, Nördlingen, Rothenburg ob der Tauber), FPGA/Hardware/or which direction.
— What do you think about our motto: “Technik.Mensch.Leidenschaft” (Technique.People.Passion).
Instead of technical knowledge, it seemed that it is more important if employees could be integrated into the team. So the boss would like to know more about my hobbies. After the boss left, the technical part came. The questions are mostly from a table including all relevant skills for the embedded software. They only asked what I marked “fundamental knowledge” or “advanced knowledge”.
— CANBus, I2C/I2S, OOP concept
— const/volatile keywords(where to store the volatile variable)/static, pure virtual
— Oscilloscope (current, voltage), software debugger, hardware debugger
— Coding test on a whiteboard: Sort algorithm in C (without performance constraint.)
In the end, I asked them about the feedback to the interview. They were positive about my technical knowledge. Only a few are missing. My German language skill was still a vulnerable spot which is very common for non-German speaker. When meeting the customer, language skill is very important. The certain language level is necessary. But for those non-native speakers, do not be frustrated! It is very common and many other people are also the non-native speaker. They just speak and do not care about grammar. It is more important to understand each other than to speak a perfect language.
15. IBM Graduate Program — Cloud Application Consultant, IBM Germany GmbH (Ehningen, Baden-Württemberg)
Telephone interview: As I took part in some meet-up events (like Microsoft Azure in Munich), I started to apply for a position like Cloud application, although I did not have any experience of Cloud.
— How do you deal with the negative feedback from your boss?
— How do you meet the strict deadlines from the customer?
— What is your 5-year plan for your career?
— Success/failure experience?
— Analog Circuit Design Project/ Conflict? How to organize? Which role did you play in that project?
— Master’s thesis would always be asked.
— How is your Cloud knowledge? (How big is the course in edX?)
As Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud currently dominate the Cloud market, I was curious about IBM’s strategy to the market. One of their business area for Cloud is to provide Multi-Cloud solutions for their customer as IBM’s website said.
Although I did not have any Cloud experience, I still got a phone interview which surprised me a little bit. This really encourages me to apply the positions that interest me. They were also very efficient and called me in the afternoon that they have to reject me because of no experience. Sometimes I wondered that if experience really matters this position, why they still interview applicants without any experience which is obvious from their CV.
After looking for a job several months, I definitely experienced frustration, no confidence, hopelessness. I started to doubt my life. “Ende gut, alles gut”, a German phrase which means that all is well that ends well. The process is a landscape while the result is a postcard.
But This Is What Our Life Looks Like, Isn’t It?
Imagine that if everything goes well, is our life still enjoyable? Somehow we have to find our own ways to overcome challenges. At the age of the second half of my 20s, we are not supposed to accomplish all of our goals. A Latin aphorism “Carpe diem” which means “seize a day” influenced me in these days. We tend to see the achievement but not the arduous process. Be prepared and be organized every day so that you could achieve a big thing. Time is your best asset at this age.
Furthermore, I like another saying from one of my best friends:
“Maybe you get into a frustration right now, and you think that you would never get out of it. But there is no wound which cannot be healed. If you still doubt that you can’t do it, please believe me first that you are able to recover from the frustration. Your parents, friends, and lover are always there and you are not alone.”
To those who are still looking for a job:
“You will be fine and just keep going. It is nothing but just a process.”