Accomplishing ZS Associates: Placement Diaries
ZS Associates is one of the largest and most trusted consulting and business services firm in the world market. Being one the most sought after companies for students interested in analytics and business management, all interested students put in their best in its placement. At the beginning of the placement season of the academic year ( 2020-21), four diligent students of different branches were recruited in ZS Associates.
Team Monday Morning caught up with the recruits of ZS Associates as they share their preparation strategies and experiences.
DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
Honestly, I was more into the core sector and analytics was a backup. Since we were at home without much internship work and all, I spent that time-solving aptitudes and reasonings from India Bix and Parikshaa app. ZS was probably the first analytics firm to come for placement and I was shortlisted after the first 3 rounds of day 1.
For aptitude and reasoning, one can solve questions from Indiabix, pariksha and other free apps and solving them from CAT materials will be much beneficial. For the interviews, one must prepare guesstimates, puzzles, brain teasers and probability questions. For all these things geeksforgeeks is the basic platform and for the case study one should try to collect previous year case studies from seniors and one or two are also available on youtube. Apart from this, there is a video round, where they will show a question for 15 seconds and you have to immediately answer for 3 minutes. The questions generally include simple guesstimates, situation-based questions and HR questions. So kindly frame a simple way for you to answer and speak continuously at least for 2 minutes.
Personally, the experience was very good, the aptitude round questions were not difficult and then there was a business study which was also simple. The video round was sort of scary because responding immediately to a question that too in a video it's difficult but I tried my best to stay calm and answer them as good as possible. Then we got a gap of one or two days for the next round and that was very helpful for preparation. The case study was also not very much confusing all you need to do is, be relaxed and solve them quickly. Then he asked a few simple puzzles, pseudocode and a probability question and I was shortlisted for the final behavioural interview. It was more like an HR interview where he asked me to do a resume walkthrough and then a few basic questions, why ZS? why not core? why should we hire you? After that, he gave a probability question which I couldn't answer fully but he gave me hints and I answered. He further asked me to estimate the no of petrol pumps in Rourkela and revenue generated in a single petrol pump which I did decently and that was it.
Tips and Tricks
A very basic thing which everyone must do is to solve aptitude problems because it is essential for any exam you attempt in future. Further for any analytics firm one should check out Geeksforgeeks for puzzles and probability questions. For guesstimates, you just need to solve 15-20 guesstimates beforehand so that you will have a basic idea of approaching a problem. In the case study round, be calm and solve quickly and don't waste so much time just thinking about the questions even if you make some error, analyse it later and correct it in the case interview. For HR questions kindly check the information about ZS in their site, social media handles, youtube page because that will help you for sure and it's better if you have prepared the basic HR questions by writing them down.
In the interview if you are struck somewhere kindly converse with the interviewer and exchange your ideas .They will definitely help you and be calm and relaxed throughout the process.
A couple of my friends had participated in the ZS campus beats during March and were able to get PPO from ZS Associates. I contacted them and asked them about the selection process. They recommended practising questions based on aptitude daily and learn solving guesstimates. I started my preparation based on this. My seniors had already told me ZS is one of the premier analytics company and I was interested in getting placed there. They also suggested solving puzzles from geeksforgeeks.com. Their advice helped me a lot.
For practising aptitude, I would recommend indiabix.com. It's a very good site to practice aptitude based questions daily. It will also boost your analytics ability. Video conferencing round tests your speaking skills and your ability to respond to questions. I would recommend reading newspapers daily and watching English movies to enhance your speaking skills. For guesstimates, one can go through quora. There are many guesstimates present there but you have to be patient to search for them. I also referred to the LSC case test book which I found helpful during my interview rounds.
Honestly, I found the selection process of ZS quite lengthy but exciting. The online test consisted of an aptitude test, analytics round and video conferencing round. It was an elimination based online test i.e. if you mess up on one round, you get eliminated and don't qualify to proceed to the next round. I remember praying after every round, "Please, God!! Not this time!" Fortunately, I got qualified for the interview process. The interview process lasted for the whole day i.e. from 7.30 am to 5 pm. I never left it from my desk for the entire day. The results came out at 11 pm and I was very happy that my efforts finally paid off.
Tips and Tricks
Don't ever lose hope. No matter how tough it gets, your efforts will surely pay off. Always stay confident.
DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONICS AND COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING
Personally, I was preparing for GRE so I went ahead with the same while going through a couple of experiences mentioned in Quora so as to acquaint myself with the process.
The whole process of recruitment is broadly divided into 3 Steps.
1. Online Test
2. Case Study
3. HR Round
For the online test, they’ll assess you for your logical reasoning, quants, verbal skill and data interpretation. If you are preparing for CAT/GRE/GMAT, you can expect to have a similar level of questions for the online test as the difficulty is at a moderate level.
A part of the online test is also to have a basic online interview. In this section, you’ll record your answers based on the questions asked. You’ll get a couple of seconds to prepare and your answer can be up to 2.5mins long. For this section, just remain calm and keep only relevant points in your answer. Most of the question will be general type so as such no preparation required. A couple of examples:
1. A leadership experience from college.
2. A goal you worked upon that made an impact in your life.
For the case study round, you’ll be provided with a report and a question set based on the data enclosed in the report. You’ll need to generate optimal solutions based on the questions asked by relating various data tables provided to you. This section is more to test you as a candidate based on the kind of work you could expect in projects while you’ll be working in ZS. For the preparation of case studies, refer to “Case Interview” and a couple of YouTube videos so as to know what to expect. Since there is no definitive part to prepare, just keep in mind if you’re strong in data interpretation skills, you’ll race through this section.
Once you submit your solutions, there will be a one to one interview in which they’ll assess the answers and the methodology you have used to arrive at them. Also expect a couple of guesstimates and riddles towards the end of the interview. Be well aquatinted with your solutions and methodologies, if possible re-study them so as to have a better proficiency while explaining it to the interviewer. For guesstimates, check out a comprehensive guide on solving guesstimates by www.insideiim.com
Once you have cleared the Case Study round, you’ll come to the HR round. Here they’ll ask you questions from your resume and questions seeking your interest in the job and the company. Also, you’ll have a chance to ask your queries about the role and the company, do ask them! Also expect a couple of HR questions seeking your approach to problem-solving and stress management. Make sure all your answers are strictly based on moral ethic grounds and in no way you have any unethical approach to solving a hypothetical problem. ZS Associates gives a lot of emphasis on the applicant’s ethics and that too can be a deciding factor.
The whole recruitment process was effortless. The recruiters were transparent about the whole process and were available whenever there was an issue. An additional session was arranged clearing the air around the case study round and the interview schedule that was to follow. The interview rounds can be intimidating but remain calm throughout and don’t panic. Your confidence will also play a key role in your interview assessment.
Tips and Tricks
A major point in my profile was an internship experience in the field of Data Science that I did with Edgematics Technologies LLC, Dubai. The internship was based on developing forecasting models for a client for the upcoming financial year. HR questioned me a lot about the same where I got a chance to express my keen interest in data-driven technologies and my personal expertise in the same.
Good preparation for any of the following exams will help you clear Online Test: GRE/GMAT/CAT. A strong data interpretation and reasoning skill would be a must for your case study round. So do practice a couple of case studies to get a feel of what to expect.
As for HR Round, be clear about your resume and be as ethical with your approach to solving HR questions.
DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL ENGINEERING
The preparation strategy for ZS Associates was somewhat similar to that of other analytics and consulting companies. It consisted of Aptitude preparation, Case studies, Guesstimates and acquiring some technical skills like Python, SQL, SAS etc. Starting with the aptitude preparation, I would cover different topics in quantitative aptitude individually and make a note of the shortcuts and formulas and practice them from websites like Parikshya and IndiaBix. I made sure I practised enough aptitude before the starting of my placement season because I didn't want to miss out on any company in the starting rounds only. Then coming to the case study preparation, I referred to the book 'Case in Point' (one can also use Case Interviews Cracked book) and Victor Cheng videos from Youtube. I would also watch different case interviews from YouTube to get a fair idea about what to do in case interviews. For guesstimates, I made sure I practised them regularly. Those are available on quora and youTube, in abundance, so I made sure I practised them well. Moreover, I had to gain some technical skills related to analytics like Python, ML, SQL, SAS, Excel, VBA, Tableau etc. I enrolled myself in a Prepleaf Analytics Placement Preparation course, which is kind of a startup run by IIT Kanpur Alumni. It helped me cover most of my technical skills as well as other aspects of my preparation. It also provided me with some peers to practice my case studies and guesstimates with. Apart from these, I had some internships and projects related to Analytics on my resume. You can gain technical skills either from youtube or you can take up courses from Coursera or Udemy.
It was a pleasant experience throughout the drive. It started with a phase 1 round which consisted of aptitude, PSDD( a short case study, mostly qualitative and decision making) and a video interview. The aptitude questions were of moderate level. The PSDD round was a mini case study consisting of 5-6 questions based on a business scenario and involved decision making. The video interview had somewhat 8-10 questions, you need to read the question and you will be given 2-3 minutes to answer it. It is generally AI-driven and I felt they check your confidence and the clarity with which you speak. After getting through this there was a Phase 2 round, which involved a Case study, a Case interview and a fit interview. We were given a case to solve in 45 minutes which was mostly quantitative and required a lot of data interpretation. Then there was a case interview in which the interviewer asked about how we went forward with our case and how we solved it. Even some puzzles and guesstimates were asked in that round. After getting through this, then comes the fit interview where you get to talk to a ZS Leader. It's basically HR, they asked some situational based behavioural questions and there was a complete CV walkthrough, so make sure you don't bluff on your CV. They also asked some guesstimates and puzzles in this round. And then the results were declared and I have to say, everything was worth it.
Tips and Tricks
First of all, I made sure I have nothing related to my core engineering branch in my CV which showcased my interest to work in an analytics and consulting firm as everything in my CV was related to analytics. I had two internships related to analytics in my CV, one from Edulyt India and the other from Blitzjobs. I also had a project on SQL Query Application in Excel VBA. The interviewer spent a lot of time asking about these projects and internships, which I think definitely helped me a lot to ace my interview. The only thing to remember while making your CV for analytics is not to put any achievement related to core engineering in your CV, otherwise best of luck persuading them that you are really not into the core.
To all the upcoming aspirants, make sure you practice aptitude, case studies, guesstimates and puzzles well enough. And do try to acquire as many technical skills as possible, because they might not be a necessity for the process but they will definitely boost your CV and will give you an upper hand over your fellow competitors. If you have any internships and projects related to analytics then that's icing on the cake.
To achieve your goal, all you need is Luck, Labour and Chance. NIT Rourkela will provide you with the chance, you do your labour and leave everything on luck. You will definitely end up in a good place. All the Best.
Check out the Pre-placement journey of ZS Campus Beats Challenge winners here
Team Monday Morning congratulates all the four achievers for their success and wishes them the very best for their future endeavours.