Interview preparation for a VLSI design position

Some people believe that explicitly preparing for job interview questions and answers is futile. Because when it comes to important matter of job interview, what counts is real knowledge of the field. It is not an academic exam, where text-book preparation might come handy. You just have to know the real deal to survive a job interview. Also it is not only about the technical expertise that gets tested during job interview, but it is also about your overall aptitude, your social skill, your analytical skill and bunch of other things which are at stake.

Agreed, that it is not as simple as preparing few specific technical questions will lend you the job. But author’s perspective is that, one should prepare specific interview questions as a supplement to the real deal. One has to have the fundamental technical knowledge, the technical ability, but it doesn’t hurt to do some targeted preparations for job interview. It is more of a brush up of things, revision of old knowledge, tackling of some well-known technical tricks and more importantly boosting your confidence in the process. There is no harm and it definitely helps a lot to do targeted preparation for interview. Not only one should prepare for technical questions, but there is a most often asked behavioral questions set also available. One would be surprised, how much the preparation really helps.

It really depends on which position you are applying. Chip design involves several different skill and ability area, including RTL design, synthesis, physical design, static timing analysis, verification, DFT and lot more. One has to focus on the narrow field relevant to the position one is interviewing for. Most of the job positions tend to be related to ASIC design or the digital design. There are a few position in the custom design, circuit design, memory design and analog or mixed signal design.

What helps is having CMOS fundamental understanding. More than you might realize. Secondly you need to know more about verilog, as you will be dealing with verilog as long as you are in semiconductor industry. Next would come the static timing analysis. You need to know about timing also as long as you are in semiconductor industry as every chip has to run at certain frequency. Knowing about DFT is very crucial as well, because every chip designed has one or the other form of testability features, because in submicron technology no chip is designed without DFT. Basically focus on verilog, timing and DFT and fundamentals about MOS is what you need to begin with.

After having done the de-facto preparation of VLSI interview questions, you can focus more on the specific niche or the focus area that you are interviewing for, which could be verification, analog design or something else.

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