SAP Interview Tips and Tricks
An SAP Interview Process is no different from any other IT interview process. Depending on the type of job (Contract, Temp, Full time etc) the questions do vary though. As usual there are technical rounds, managerial rounds (if you are applying for an SAP PM role), HR round. Our focus through this article will be more on the technical and managerial rounds.
Technical interviews are mostly held by the tech leads, although project managers are part of the interview sometimes. When I mean technical, it could be for an SAP functional position, ABAP, Basis or other technical positions. Not all types of interviews have all of the following phases. For eg., a full time position or a contract-to-hire will involve more general questions, his/her project/achievement related questions activities etc while a contract position will involve more focussed questions on the module/specifics for which he is recruited for.
This is just immediately following the initial meet-and-greet and offers for coffee. You will be asked questions mostly on your project history. This phase is to just assess your areas of strength. Do not panic if you are asked questions that are much unrelated to what you might have done in the past or come out-of-the-blue in terms of technology. The interviewer is just doing an initial assessment on where your strengths are and how you might fit the requirements. Sometimes your resume might not be touched either just yet. You will be explained the project scenario, what their short term and long term goals are. Once again the idea is to let you know about the back ground and to prepare you in general on the spate of questions that are going to come your way. Most of the time the people interviwing you would be either a technical lead or the project manager or both. If you are interviewing with a consulting company, sometimes managers from the client side would be present as well. For non-native English speakers, talk slowly and clearly. The process of interview almost always leads to speeding up your words. This needs to be cautiously and consciously avoided.
- Come early to the interview site or to the conference call (if it is a telephonic interview). Try to follow the generic directions and smile a lot. Try to go to the rest room (interviews can last for an hour followed by another round with you sipping coffee/water in between ) required before the interview so that you can concentrate well in the interview without interruptions.
- Project your actual strengths
- Have a positive attitude and be very confident even if you are not 100% sure of the technicalities involved.
- Ask specific questions regarding the project/company that you are sure will project your knowledge in a positive light.
- Talk slowly and clearly
- After meeting your contact/interviewer outside, do not be on the phone with somebody else at any point before the actual interview has begun.
- Do not project fake skills in this phase and get into trouble. They might not need them.
- Do not try to steer the interviewer in the direction you want the interview to go just yet.
- Do not loose confidence even though you hear or are asked questions on terms that you might not have heard of.
- Do not get into an argument when asking questions or answering them. Just nod or say “I see” and smile when you find things that are wrong with the project being discussed.
- How do you rate yourself in XXX ( An area of an SAP module, sap SAP Pricing) ?
- Have you worked on XXX (An area of an SAP module) or YYY ( A specific business scenario, say data migration of live Purchase Orders ) ?
- Give a brief about your experience? ( First and most asked question )
This is the toughest round and what you have been preparing for all along. This round can last pretty long and if you are interviewing for a big company this phase could be done with multiple teams for multiple hours. Normally you will not be asked to come in for a technical round the next day, but during the same day, there could be one round with team A and another round with team B. 80% of the time the focus would be on your resume and the achievements you mention in your resume. The questions would not go much beyond the first and second project unless they find something interesting or something they could relate to in your 5th or 6th project. Also the type of technical questions would depend on if you are applying for a Jr., Mid-level or Sr Consultant position.
- Prepare your resume well. You are what your resume is. If you can mirror your resume in the interview you are all set. That exactly what the interviewer is looking for. Resume preparation is an art in itself. Spend considerable amount of time tweaking it
- Prepare your resume for the job. This applies mostly to contract jobs. This might actually sound bad but works out well. Do not present the same resume for all the jobs. Modify it to suit the requirements of the job.You do not have to go over-board with it. See if a couple of modifications here and there might increase your chances. For example, if the job requires that you know “SAP Credit Management” and if you have done credit management (although not your strength) try to expand on it. Try to do some reading if required or brush up your skills on the system. If possible try to dig out your old documents or notes that you might have. This kind of flexibility on your part can go a pretty long way in getting you the right job.
- How to project yourself –
- If you are applying for a Jr. Level position, project yourself as a eager enthusiastic and quick learner. Show your aptitude along with your SAP knowledge. They already know that you do not have much skill – They are just looking for somebody who is willing to learn and be flexible enough.
- If you are applying for a mid-level SAP consultant position, project yourself as a go-to guy for specifics. You are required to solve specific problems. Your technical experience is what is being sought after. Specialization is the key.
- If you are applying for a Sr. Level position, show your broad exposure and tell them about project experiences, methodologies,( Not just about specific checkboxes ). Broad-based exposure is key.
The questions could vary depending on the style of the interviewer.
Style 1 – Based on your Resume – This is how most of the interviews take place. Since you would have already sent your resume to the team there (they have pre-screened you and said YES for an interview ),they already know that you have the skills required for the job. So its mostly a matter of convincing them that you really have it in you. If you have prepared your resume well, this interview style will really fetch you.
Style 2 – Based on current Project Situation – Some people concentrate on their current project requirements or what they have been doing for the past 1 year. These are actually the toughest questions to answer. It is actually a very bad interviewing style but you just have to take it in stride. These people are the hardest to impress. But remember, everybody who has come to the interview will face the same challenge as you do. It happens very rarely that the candidate being interviewed is very well versed with the specific topics that the interviewer is asking questions on (without referring to your resume.
Style 3 – Management style Technical questions – Sometimes project managers ask technical questions. This could be a tough call. You would have to base your answers by first judging the type of questions that he is asking. Some project managers come from a technical background and ask very relevant technical questions that test specific skills as well as overall understanding. These people cannot be fooled easily and if you have the right skills, these interviews are easy (the key to impress them easily is to explain specific project related incidents and how you have handled them, both from a project management perspective and technical perspective. These folks look mostly for a go-getter attitude). Some project managers come from non-technical background and still do the technical interview. They ask questions that are mostly related to administration (Landscapes, transports), current business scenarios and QA.All they look for is your over all confidence. You just have to say “YES I KNOW” (in other words, sound knowledgeable even on things you might not know) to all their questions because they do not know the answers themselves.
- Concentrate 60% your technical preparation on the first and 20% on your second project.
- Prepare your resume well and prepare well for it.
- Be aware of every line of the first 2 pages of your resume.
- Explain specific instances where you have faced or solved problems.
- In your project summary try to list specific customization scenarios. Do not just list standard customization scenarios too much.
- Try not to say “I don’t remember” atleast to questions in the first project.
- Do not ever talk too much about standard functionality. This gives them an impression that you are a trainee and have not done much customization.
- Technical questions in the subject area of expertise ( Functional/ Technical/Administration/ PM ).
- How do you solve this scenario? ( They will give you a specific scenario and ask for your approach to solve the problem )
- Specific customizaion examples (How to set seasonality in credit limit or how to enable line-item level view in G/L master etc )
This phase should actually be a breeze. The key is to understand that the interviewer in this phase WANTS to take you in. It’s yours to loose. This phase could be done by any of the following group of people
- Project managers/ Program managers
- Project sponsors
- Steering Committee
- User Community
- Clients ( In case you are interviewing for a consulting company )
This interview could happen the same day or the next. This phase might or might not happen for contract jobs and even if it happens is more of a formality. But for full time employment, a management round is almost mandatory. This round as you might have guessed it just a matter of showing your soft skills. If you take out all the fluff, it boils down to the following.
- Do your medium/long-term goals align with what the team/manager/company envisions for a person in that role?
- Do you have what it takes to work with a team/Users?
- Are you accomodative?
This round applies only to Full-time employees ( Since the contracing company takes care of the contractor’s background ). The HR primarily plays 2 roles here.
Investigator – employer history, background verificatin, criminimal history verification etc.
Bargain Master – Salary negotiations, relocation allowance, bonus etc.
There is a ton of information on the internet on hwo to face HR rounds and the caveats involved.