Cracking SAP Labs: Placement Diaries
As the tenure of one’s college life reaches towards the end, it demands focus and hard work to secure placements with lucrative CTCs. To turn your perseverance consequential with utmost motivation, Placement Diaries continues. SAP Labs is a German software company that primarily makes enterprise software for businesses of all sizes. It’s an MNC with more than 1,00,000 employees in more than 70 countries worldwide. Lately, SAP has also become one of the market leaders in the cloud. SAP Labs is a specific organization under SAP that handles R&D.
Work Profile (Short Description): Software Developer
Team MM interviewed Harsh Srivastava, Harsh Mohan, Sasanka Sekhar Sahu, and Hemalatha Alapati, the four recruits in the company during this year’s placement drive to get an insight into the core of Sap Labs recruitment process and the righteous preparation strategy.
Harsh Srivastava (Computer Science and Engineering Department)
I first did an internship at SAP Labs from June to August 2020 and then got a PPO offer from them based on my performance and two interview rounds that were taken. I had put a lot more effort into getting the internship than I did to get a PPO. My preparation strategy for both the internship and placements was to solve as many questions as possible based on Data structures and Algorithms. It is the most important topic for technical interviews, and then revise the ones I had done previously.
Solving multiple questions helped me to apply those concepts to any questions I encountered. There is a requirement to understand the core basics like SQL, ER diagrams, functional dependency, and normalization. Subjects like OS and Networking should also be reviewed. I practised and revised Java fundamentals and Object-Oriented Programming concepts as well.
Resources for Preparation:
For Data Structures and Algorithms, the best platform is Geeksforgeeks. You can go to the ‘Practice’ section and solve questions on different topics and under different difficulty levels. You can also solve questions that were previously asked in different companies. ‘Interviewbit’ is also a great platform where you can solve these questions under time constraints.
For OOPs, you can refer to Geeksforgeeks and Youtube tutorials. Knowledge Gate Youtube videos are great to study DBMS and OS. For networking, Neso academy can be referred to. The only secret here is to make your understanding of all the basic concepts clear.
Tests and Interviews(PPO):
There was no OT for the PPO process. We had a technical and a managerial (mostly HR) round. For the technical round, I prepared by revising all the questions I had solved on GFG. For other subjects, I did not have a lot of time to revise them, so I randomly searched questions online and tried to find their solutions.
In the technical interview, I was first asked a DSA question where I had to check if one string is a substring of another. I solved it using the KMP algorithm. Then the interviewer asked me to find out the output of a Java code snippet. I was asked some basic questions on DBMS. Then he asked me questions from the OS (mostly on virtual memory). We had a good 20 minutes long discussion on that topic. Overall my technical interview went well.
The managerial round happened the next day. It was like an HR round. The interviewer asked me to introduce myself and asked me about my hobbies and other activities l liked. He then proceeded to ask how my project, which I had mentioned, would help in real life. Fortunately, he was also interested in International Diplomacy, and he said that he loved interacting with young people interested in these topics. There were a few more questions, and finally, I asked him about his SAP experience, and the interview ended.
I had done 2 personal projects and one project during my SAP internship, which I had mentioned in my resume. The first project was a ‘Cab management DBMS project using JAVA and Oracle’, which I did in my 2nd year. It helped me to gain important knowledge on how to design the backend for a system. The next project was a ‘Real-time categorical tweet analyzer’, which I had done with a good friend, Roshan Kumar Shaw. We used NLP concepts to create a model which categorized a tweet as positive or negative. I was asked questions on this project in my managerial round, and the interviewer was focused on real-life applications of this project.
The final project was my internship project, in which I had created a tool for the upcoming release. I used technologies like JSP, JSX, and spring framework. Apart from these projects, I had been doing many small projects in my spare time. I had attended the CRIO Launch in which I did 3 projects which provided me with lots of knowledge in JAVA Development.
Piece of Advice:
For the upcoming aspirants, my first advice would be to take full advantage of their summers, whether they are doing any internship or not. Try to solve as many questions as you can on Geeksforgeeks and Interviewbit. Write all the code from scratch without copying. You can use a whiteboard for practice if you want. Topics like DBMS, OS, and Networking may seem boring at times, so make sure that you at least know the basics. One good way to make coding easier and fun is to participate in coding contests on Codechef, Hackerrank, and HackerEarth. A good project helps in the long run, and efficient communication skills are a must. The final tip would be to stay confident and think that you are worth it.
Harsh Mohan (Computer Science and Engineering Department)
Usually, people undertake internships during the summer after their pre-final year. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case since mine had been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. This, on the flip side, provided an opportunity for me to prepare for the upcoming placement season. Previously the internship season has not been the best for me, therefore utilizing the summer to prepare was the best strategy I derived. Primarily I focused on preparing for the coding questions and aptitude for the online round.
Resources for each subject matter:
Coding Questions: Abundant coding sites are there and are known to peers like Geeksforgeeks, Interviewbit, Leetcode, HackerEarth, Hackerrank, etc. I usually followed a topic-wise approach - preparing for a particular data structure or Algorithm at a time and then practising questions on different sites.
Aptitude: Again, there are several sites and books. I used RS Agarwal to prepare for a select few topics in which I was weak.
Coming to core CS subjects, my focus was on three subjects apart from Data Structures and Algorithms - Object-Oriented Programming(OOP), Operating Systems(OS), and Database Management System(DBMS).
- OOPs- I revised the basic concepts from youtube videos followed by applying concepts in a particular programming language of choice.
- OS- Youtube Videos
- DBMS- Revised the Theory part from youtube videos and SQL from hacker rank track.
Tests and Interviews(Placement):
There were 5 rounds of tests and interviews - Online round, Peer Coding round, Technical Interview, Managerial Round, and HR round.
I was terrified about the online test since that itself had been my roadblock during the internship season. However, this time I was more or less confident, and fortunately, I could successfully solve all the coding questions completely and answer most of the MCQ questions correctly. The shortlist came out in the evening. For the peer coding round and technical interview, I revised some of the course concepts of the above-mentioned subjects, and things went fine.
As the rounds progressed, I was more confident that I would crack this. This was the first company that came for the placement season, and for the first time, the drive was being conducted online by both the company and the institute; nevertheless, for me, things went very smoothly. The managerial round consisted of situational questions and discussions on projects, followed by the HR round, which was more of a discussion about the company.
Projects and Internships:
Apart from projects on MOOCs that I did as part of my internship during the summer of my sophomore year, one project on COVID - 19 went down particularly impressive in my resume. After the institute closed down and the covid pandemic was on the rise last year, I designed a Machine Learning(ML) model that predicted the number of cases expected in the coming days. It was a rather simple implementation of linear regression; however, the thought and impact of the project considering the situation of the pandemic were what impressed the interviewers during the technical as well as managerial rounds.
Piece of Advice:
For any product-based company, including SAP, one must be prepared and should be able to code on both a computer and pen and paper. Be prepared with that, and you will ace them. As a concluding remark, I would like to mention one thing about internships and placements - failures. However prepared and good you may be but one thing that will play its role is luck and fate. Failures will knock you down, sleepover them, and rise up the next day and fight again.
Sasanka Sekhar Sahu (Computer Science and Engineering Department)
I applied to Sap Labs through an internship that led to a PPO offer. I prepared for coding questions from Geeksforgeeks & Leetcode. I just practised a lot of questions, and it was done. For Core Subjects, semester exam preparation helped a lot. Company-specific preparation required practising the previous year's questions at geeks for geeks.
Tests and Interviews(Internship):
The online test was of 60 minutes. There were 15 MCQs & 2 coding questions with a sectional cutoff. The first technical round focused on basic programming & Core Computer science subjects, whereas the second centred around projects, core Data Structures & Algorithms, and some puzzles. For the online test, I solved around 10 MCQs out of 15, and in the coding section, I solved one question completely & one question partially.
In the technical interview(first), I was asked to code a system using Structures in C and a question on strings. Then a question from binary search was asked and then a complex SQL query. A parenthesis checker program and the round were done. Hopefully, I was able to solve all of them. In the technical interview(second), a moderate-level bit manipulation coding question was asked. A major part of this interview was focused on my project, which was in Django(Python), so he asked me many questions on it. I was able to solve the conceptual questions from the project pretty convincingly.
The HR interview was a sweet 10-minute discussion about my likes, dislikes, SAP choice over Google, higher Studies Plans, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Tests and Internships(PPO):
The selection process for PPO posed two more rounds - Technical & Managerial. Technical was of 30 minutes, consisting of a brief discussion about the SAP project followed by some technical questions. The Managerial Round was 1 hour long and consisted of various questions among HR, technical, puzzles, etc.
Technical: I was involved in a project which involved OOPs, Databases, APIs, Web Development & Game Development. So I was asked to explain every module of my project in depth. They also asked about the scope of improvement and similar concepts.
Managerial: The purpose of this round was to test whether I could become a leader at SAP in the future. Companies often tend to hire people they believe will be a useful asset, so I was judged. The interview was taken by a senior Vice President at SAP and focused on a diverse area.
Piece of Advice:
A lot of it is just sheer luck. I have seen a lot of talented people losing out on easier companies and later acing the difficult ones. Don’t lose hope after a few rejections. Keep giving your best and one day, luck will favour you.
Hemalatha Alapati (Dual-Degree: Computer Science and Engineering Department)
I thoroughly went through the Placement Manual of the last two years to get a clear idea about all interview process rounds. Also, I watched videos by youtube channels like Rashmi Bhandara, Coding Blocks, where people share their interview experiences. These give you an idea of how to plan your schedule for preparation. I practised coding every day and clarified problems with friends or through youtube channels. I faced problems in solving Dynamic Programming, Recursion questions. Aditya Verma's videos on dynamic programming, stack, heap, and recursion helped me understand the concepts. Specifically for SAP labs, online test questions may come from arrays, dynamic programming, recursion. Be clear about concepts in your favourite subject, Database Management Systems and OOPS.
Resources for Preparation:
Geeks for Geeks is good enough for Database Management Systems, Operating Systems. For revising Programming, check out Tutorialspoint, Studytonight websites.
Tests and Interviews(Placement):
Online Test: It had two coding questions and ten MCQs on aptitude, data structures and algorithms, Java basics. The Platform for the online test was Hackerrank. The time limit was one hour. I got coding questions from Arrays, Recursion. Subject questions in MCQs are based on simple concepts.
Pair coding: The following questions were asked:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about the projects you mentioned in your CV.
- Finding alphabetically largest substring.
- A string was given, and I have to find the substring whose rank is high (according to the dictionary). E.g., If a string is 'abcdeaed', the output is 'ed'.
The platform for this test was also Hackerrank. Throughout the coding process, I discussed my approaches. The interviewer also gave hints and checked the way I wrote the code.
Technical Interview: I was asked about projects and my favourite subject, which was Computer Networks for me. The following questions were asked:
- How is OOPS different from Procedural Programming?
- Discuss public, private and protected access modifiers in a class Bank.
- Questions about Machine Learning (ML).
- How can we apply ML with sensors?
- Tell about the TCP/IP model.
I answered all questions, but my confidence was a bit low. So, I improved it for later interviews. The Platform for this interview was MS teams.
Managerial Round: The following questions were asked:
- Tell me about yourself, hobbies.
- Discussion about things mentioned in the CV.
- Are you familiar with Java?
- How would you complete a project if your teammates aren't working and having fun?
Some further basic questions like-
- Is SAP your dream company?
- Why not other companies?
- Will you pay a challan of 5000 or give 500 to traffic police if you didn't wear a helmet?
- Will you speak the truth always?
One of my projects is detecting fake messages. So, he asked which social media is safe. Also, about the hack of Twitter handles of millionaires that had happened at that time. The Platform for this interview was also MS teams.
HR round: Interviewers are friendly and cooperative. These were some of the questions-
- Tell me about yourself and your family.
- Your interests, other than studies.
- Difference between Developer and DevOps.
- He told about the work culture in SAP and its locations.
I enjoyed being a part of all the rounds, specifically the Managerial and the HR round. The Platform for this interview was also MS teams.
Projects and Internships:
My projects are based on Machine Learning and Cryptography. An internship at DRDO involves a project on Cryptography. As a part of the curriculum in my third year, I did two projects on Machine Learning.
Piece of Advice:
Practice Coding every day! Be clear about your projects and subject matters. Be confident and cool when you answer. Be honest with the interviewer. If you don’t know the answer and try to blabber, they can easily understand that you are not clear about that concept. Try your level best and don’t lose confidence.
Team Monday Morning wishes them the very best for their future endeavours and hopes that they keep growing forever and reach the acme of success.