The Walmart Interview

Now that you are reading this, I’ll assume that you are someone looking for an opportunity of placement or an internship. Go ahead and read. You have a long journey to cover.

I was offered a job of statistical analyst at WalmartLabs. Let me guide you through their placement procedure. Sometime in October, we had the Pre-placement talk (we call it PPT here) where we were introduced to the company’s fundamentals, its businesses and some awesomeness of Walmart. The guy presenting the PPT looked geeky without paying much heed to if we were at all listening. But frankly, he had covered almost everything.

A month later, we had the online test which was based on statistical questions covering mostly topics such as:

  • Hypothesis Testing
  • R square
  • Regression
  • Basic probability distribution functions
  • Confidence interval

It also had 2 coding questions out of which I somehow managed to write the logic of one of them. The duration of the test was 90 minutes. I had started with statistical questions first and later moved to the coding part. My friends who had started with the coding questions were not able to attempt some very easy statistics questions. My advice to you is, go for the objective statistics questions first.  I managed to attempt some 17 questions out of a total of 23 questions. Based on the performance in the test a further shortlist of 7 students was declared. Needless to say I was one of them.

So I was selected for the personal interview of WalmartLabs. A lot had to be done. I didn’t know where to start. The first thing I did was to talk to one of my seniors, Manikanta Dinesh. His advice and suggestions helped. A lot. I kept myself surrounded with books for quite a few days. I had interviews for a few other companies as well. I couldn’t put all my energy to this one company.

“Don’t keep all your fruits in one basket. Diversify.”

It was day 1, 1st December. I was selected in only one company.  CGPA plays a crucial part. If you have a low CGPA, chances are that you will see students getting shortlisted and your name won’t grace any of the lists. I know that feeling. You see, CGPA plays its part. A strong one.

Next day, Day 2, the only company to appear for – WalmartLabs. So I took all the interview funda from a friend, actually a mentor, Tushar – well, he knew more about interviews at that time, Day 1 placed at Credit Suisse. Having all well-prepared, suited up, drove my cycle to Nalanda Complex. On my way, I kept blabbering and preparing my answers, mostly the introduction part. You see, how you open the interview is important.

Though there were 2 HR guys from Walmart, the 1st round was a Skype interview. I had the experience of talking to my girlfriend at Skype. So 1st round well. That was just said in jest. The 1st round lasted for some 50 minutes. I was asked mostly about my internship at IDRBT. (http://www.idrbt.ac.in/) A few puzzles – 3 doors puzzle or the famous Monty hall (http://www.mathsisfun.com/puzzles/monty-hall.html I checked it out later). I was able to answer almost all the puzzles. The interviewer was a CS graduate from IIT Bombay working at WalmartLabs for the past 6 years. How do I know? You ask. Well, I had asked him about it towards the end of the interview where you get to ask questions to the interviewer.

“Never miss this opportunity. Always ask questions. Period.”

So the 1st round went well. Two of my friends couldn’t make to the 2nd round. This round was a Skype interview as well. This guy, the interviewer was a dude. We talked – I didn’t feel like it was an interview for some 90 minutes. Some very basic concepts of statistics were talked about. Some of which I recall:

  • How would you explain probability to your grandmother?
  • How would you teach statistics to a layman?
  • What are assumptions of linear regression? What are their implications?
  • A few puzzles.
  • Explain your work at CRISIL Ltd.

Confident of my grasp at Statistics, the interviewer moved towards courses like Real Analysis and Measure Theory.

Question: Tell me about Cauchy’s law of convergence?

– I was blank. Total blank. Few seconds passed. I muttered a few words vaguely. Finally I reiterated confidently. “Sir, I don’t remember this as of now. I didn’t like these courses much. But if you want me to know these subjects, I can very well be versed in them given a day or two.”
Guess what? He was impressed by my say. He said – “Not a problem Manish! I was just curious. You are good in Statistics and that is what mostly matters here.”

The 3rd round started with only two of us in the game now. The interviewer was a senior executive from US. He asked some general questions from my CV. No more puzzles. This round too lasted for some 50 minutes. Finishing this round, I expected they would announce their result. But they had more in their basket. The other friend of mine couldn’t clear the 3rd round.

The 4th round was an HR round with one of the 2 guys who were present there. This lasted for some 15 minutes. By this time, I was determined – determined to be selected. Cleared it with a smile.

Yes there was a 5th round –a telephonic interview with the senior HR, Bangalore office. Again a 30 minutes interview. Some of the questions I recall:

  • Why Walmart?
  • Who is your best buddy? Worst buddy?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Any questions you would like to ask?

The time now was 7:00 p.m. I was waiting for the result of longest interview of my life, walking restlessly outside the room. Waited for some 15 minutes. I could see the HR guys talking and discussing intensely over phone. A few more minutes passed. The wait was getting heavy now. The HR guy finally came out and with a broad smile, he said –“Congratulations! Welcome to the team.”

That moment I knew what success tasted like. I was happy, excited. Overwhelmed! All of a sudden, I felt like a hero. They clicked a photo of me wearing the Walmart cap. They gave me a bag of gifts as a sign of welcome. On my way to hall, I gave a quick call to my father and then to my maa –She said she had been worshipping the whole day. Her prayers had played their charms and she was thankful to her Gods.

Reached my wing, told my friends and then they congratulated –GPL. The night was great. It called for a celebration. We headed to the bar. Time for some drinks.

One final thought:

Ek din hota hai, ek job hota hai aur ek tum hote ho.”

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