Wednesday, 16 January 2013

It’s recruitment time on campuses. How does one decipher the DNA of a good placement interview? What is the dilemma of recruiters and what does it mean for the candidate?


As the placement season in professional colleges heats up, so do does the growing concern of the recruiters about choosing the right fit. Interview process is a defining moment not only for the candidate but also for the corporate. Of the different parameters of evaluating a prospective candidate for a chosen position, the PI (personal Interview), holds paramount significance owing to various reasons:

The last phase of the selection process

Allaying apprehensions on the part of the recruiter for investing – his ROI

The extent of a candidate’s capability to deliver on promises

The cost of a wrong selection is high and the recruiting personnel are held accountable too. The real interview opens up new vistas of learning experience for the recruiters as well the candidates and falls into different phases. Recruiters are constantly on the lookout for candidates with the right attitude, yearning, who will be accountable, capable of shouldering responsibilities, willing to learn and deliver results by sharing the mission and vision of the organisation. Hiring managers synchronically opine that job candidates’ “manners have deteriorated significantly and a high percentage of them are displaying a plethora of bad behaviours.”

Your attitude

What happens is different. ‘Many candidates pretend to share the organisation’s goals and obstinately craft an impression about their sense of commitment during the campus recruitment. But they stumble at the first quarter of their career’, says a head-hunter from Mumbai, who recently recruited from four southern states in the country. Most of those who face such career staggering soon quit, hardly deciding on the next grazing avenue.

Many of the candidates crack the interview code, but not the career code. These syndromes persist transcending the limits and creates a lose-lose situation for the candidate, corporate and also for education institutions. Slated reasons for this premature employee turnover are many. The ostensible reason being attitude of the new generation, including inflated ego, inability in assessing one’s potential, inadequate self-awareness, lack of proper training, guidance from mentors, unrealistic corporate expectations and a labyrinth of similar issues. Subsequently, interview trainers come up with new formulae for cracking upcoming interviews and the vicious cycle continues. Recruiting managers these days prefer graduates to post graduates for the obvious reason that they can be hired for their attitude and trained for their skills notwithstanding the cliché.

However, the personal interview continues to be a major phase in evaluating a prospective candidate for a chosen position. The recruiters make a final decision on the selection of the candidate invariably after the personal interview. An expert interview panel can easily evaluate the candidate and decide if it is worth investing on the candidate in tune with the organisational ethos.

Everyone undergoing the recruitment process is familiar with interview techniques. This familiarity ranges from a set of readymade FAQs to advanced questions prepared for parroting in the T-20 format. An often ignored fact by candidates at this stage is recruiter’s expertise for deciphering the employability of the candidate which surpasses a set of questions and answers. Placement interview is a platform and a type of formal communication in general and employment related communication in particular, where the candidate markets himself and gets assured of his selling points. Mostly, these selling points are skill sets in the form of communication, team working, problem-solving and the technical skills. Of late, it is well acknowledged that employers are looking for more than mere technical skills and knowledge, a degree provides. Hence job applicants who ‘willingly’ demonstrate that they are adept at effective communication, team making, good at problem-solving, along with corporate adaptability have the real advantage. But, the hard truth is that a skilful interviewer, can unmask the pretensions unless the allured attributes are demonstrated convincingly, which requires systemic modulation of the personality.

Hence, the big question each candidate should ask himself is: Why should I apply? The least acceptable, but the oft-repeated answers are: brand name, reputation, glamour of the designation, peer pressure, parental coercion, mere liking and compulsion from the college. But if the candidate rummages his mind to know if he fits the bill, then these answers can be enablers or drivers when applying. To put it specifically, the candidate should question himself ruthlessly by asking, How will I fit in? Can I really do the job? Can I find a way for differentiating myself? and What are the alternatives available? It is the company of my preference, but am I their kind of person?

Secondly, it is fundamental that the candidate is expected to know the recruiter, their requirement, the trends in the sector, the recruiter expectations, etc. Recently a leading South-based Private Sector Bank interviewed 210 candidates and finally had to be content with only a handful of them. Candidates should also know the basic set of skills and terminology with each domain and be proficient in at least the relevant areas. These are necessary but not sufficient to navigate an interview.

Effective communication

These days job seekers are aware that prime importance is given to communication but they are little aware of the nuances of effective communication. For some it is the exhibition of verbal jugglery, for others it is concealing the real self and for yet another lot it is the use of fillers. What is required is speaking with conviction, clarity, straightforward language and tone supplementing with non-verbal cues. A candidate who succeeds in convincing the board of his personality which comprises the attitude, behaviour, confidence, competence and courage gets the right reward in the form of the aspired job. A clear mind that displays the inner urge to unlearn, learn and relearn devoid of all apprehensions about oneself and the opposite entity enables one to assure himself a stay of longer duration and trust in an organisation.

Prospective candidates should also understand that once the initial round of firing is over and the candidate emerges unhurt, it is then his turn to steer the process. Interviewers will only be happy to let go of the steering wheel at the hands of a genuine and worthy candidate. This provides him an opportunity to chariot the limits of visualizing his prospective role and his designs of delivering his responsibilities. The diligence with which the dialogue progresses, determines the success of both the proponents.

The more the round of interviews the stronger will be the strengthening of ties by improving the chances of mutual acceptance.

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