9.50 PM: Jerin finished his dinner in haste and was getting up from the dinner table. His friends, who were still eating dinner, were surprised. Aakash enquired, “Hey Jerin, any problem? Why are you in a hurry?” Jerin paused for a moment and said, “Hey sorry man, just remembered that I have to call someone urgently. I will catch up with you guys upstairs! Bye all…” and sprinted upstairs. “Bye Jerin!” the girls from the hostel responded while the boys continued to eat. “Must be one of those things where he wants to do something of his own without letting us know”, Arindam whispered to Aakash, who also happens to be Jerin’s roommate. Aakash replied, “Goes without saying man…” They both smiled mischievously and continued to eat.
Jerin, Aakash, Arindam and everybody else sitting at the dinner table used to stay in a Hostel of a renowned management institute, where they were all 2nd year MBA students. They were all in the 4th and final semester of their management course. Campus placements were going on and the competition was getting on to everyone’s nerves. Jerin and Aakash belonged to the same specialisation, i.e. Marketing and were among 16 students from their institute, who had qualified for the Group Discussion and Personal Interview rounds, which were about to happen the next day. It was a pool campus, where students from 3-4 other colleges were also competing for overall 10 open positions with a renowned management consulting company.
Jerin entered the room and checked his phone. ‘Yes, you can call me any time before 11 PM’, message from Gaurav Sir read. Gaurav Sir was a faculty at the training institute, where Jerin got trained for MBA entrance test preparation as well as Group Discussion and Personal Interview techniques. Jerin wanted to speak to Gaurav Sir and wanted some quick tips to crack GD and PI which was about to happen the next day. He wanted to keep these tips and techniques to himself and hence wanted to get done with the call before everybody finishes dinner and returns upstairs. Gaurav Sir said, “For the GD, remember, all you have to do is SPEAK. Try and be the one to start the discussion in your group, it shows initiative! If you don’t know much about the topic given, hear the first one or two people, build upon it and speak. If you still can’t think of anything good, just speak anything about whatever is being discussed. But do not stay silent. It will show your incompetency to participate in key discussions at work place. Also, be aggressive. If you want to speak, make sure you put your point forward, don’t worry about the validity of what you want to say. Let the judges decide. Don’t forget, you are going to be judged for each minute of the GD”. Jerin listened carefully and made point-wise notes of the knowledge imparted by Gaurav Sir. Jerin further asked, “Sir, about PI, I wanted to understand if…” “For preparing for the interview, first understand the Job Description. Align your answers accordingly. Don’t expose yourself too much without being asked. It may go against you. And no stories, give specific crisp answers. It’s ok to fake it a little. Nobody will put you in jail.”
The day of campus selection process arrived. Rounds of group discussions and personal interviews happened and at the end of the day, results were announced. Luckily, Jerin and Aakash both made it to the list of selected candidates! Jerin and Aakash hugged and congratulated each other in excitement! While on the way back to the hostel, the following conversation happened.
Jerin: “Bro I am sure your interview was awesome, or else….. You know, right?”
Aakash: “Umm… I hope so. But I didn’t understand what you meant?”
Jerin: “Bro you hardly spoke during the GD. Just one point in between and then the moderator had to ask you to conclude the GD. Ideally, that’s not good. You have to say something… Anything!”
Aakash: “Alright… Sir!” and smiled.
Jerin: “Anyways, the good thing is that we both got through. Let’s celebrate that!”
Jerin yoohoo-ed, put his arm around Aakash’s shoulder and they headed to the hostel. That night in hostel canteen, all the hostel-mates were treated with ice creams and milk shakes by Aakash and Jerin!
Few months later, Aakash and Jerin joined the prestigious management consulting organisation and underwent a short orientation program after which, they were supposed to work with Khalid, one of the senior associates, for on the job learning and also had to report to him officially. Both of them were turning into these confident corporate professionals who started enjoying what they were doing and the ‘Salary Credited’ message that they were receiving on the last working day of the month, of course, was adding to the motivation!
The six-month probation period ended and it was time for management to float an internal feedback on performance of the newly joined management trainees to decide how their future in the organisation shapes up. Here’s a summary of individual feedback about Jerin and Aakash.
- Good Communication and product pitch
- Aggressive and conversation initiator
- Good in breaking the ice in conversations
- Extremely active and participative in break-out sessions and other HR activities in office.
- Keen to learn and grow
Areas of Improvement
- Needs to listen to the client carefully before giving a solution pitch and be a good listener first.
- Talks irrelevant at times, in internal as well as external client meetings, without catching the context clearly.
- Passes off information within the organisation, probably to break ice and to be in everyone’s good books.
- Good communication and product pitch
- Patient listener and even asks further question so that a more crisp and fit solution pitch can be given to the client
- Trustworthy partner to the client and a confidante for colleagues
- Always ready to offer a helping hand to colleagues.
Areas of Improvement:
- Can try and be more participative in office activities, break-out sessions and weekend plans.
- Can try and voice out his opinions more often in internal meetings.
- While not leaving his good basic traits, needs to learn to dominate an unreasonable client.
Result: Jerin’s probation was extended by another 3 months and Khalid was told to train and groom Jerin on priority, so that he eventually turns into a more reasonable and productive professional. Based on the feedback about all the 10 management trainees, the HR was told to create a more robust assessment process, which must be in line with the Job Requirements for which the candidates are being hired.
(End of Illustrative Story)
Yes, Assessment! This step of the Hiring process decides if the right fit has been mutually found.
Often, a candidate may be under-qualified for the job and sometimes, the candidate may be too good for the job; both scenarios land in a wrong hire! As a part of my job, I interact with HR guys on a daily basis and one common response is that organisations have opportunities, but availability of right skilled candidates is a huge problem. This either leaves the vacancy open for a long time or results in wrong hires, eventually leading to some extreme situation within few months.
A lot of institutes that groom students to get into MBA colleges inculcate skills in a way similar to what Gaurav Sir did in the above story. If we reflect on the last few meetings we have had, internal or external, many of us may agree that not all of them resulted in well-reasoned decisions. It isn’t necessarily true that the ones who speak up are the only well-wishers of an organisation. The ones who speak first in desperation, the ones who interrupt others and the ones who are able to prove their point (whether it may or may not be reasonable) at the end of their discussion may not be necessarily appreciated by all their colleagues.
Being a seller by profession, I have met a lot of people who work a lot on brushing up their sales pitches and take pride in just throwing it up in front of the customers. I have also come across sales guys who, if interrupted by the customer on a certain point on the slide, start from the point no. 1 on the slide to ensure proper flow. Not few, not many… all Sales people must possess the skill of listening first. Of course, there’s no rocket science, it just helps us give more focused solution pitches, right?
On a lighter note, how often do we see peaceful debates and discussions on our Indian television news channels, ending with an amicable and reasonable conclusion? The focus there seems to be who can dominate the debate better. Debate has become an extremely negative notion these days, which needs to change. Debates, in their right sense, are healthy!
In the last few years, many organisations have adopted Psychometric Assessments and Tech/Coding Assessments for organisational cultural fitment as well as role/skill fitment. These assessments ensure, to a lot of extent, a fair scale to measure required competencies of a candidate and have theories and models backing them. Coding Assessments are catching up very quickly and are being widely adopted across the industry these days. There’s immense competition among the Coding assessment players as well, since a lot of start-ups and product companies look to engage with and hire their target audience via Hackathons. Creation, seamless management and assessment of Hackathons is not something that every Coding Assessments’ partner is able to pull off.
However, for complete and fair assessment of a candidate, no written assessment and platform can be foolproof. Human intervention will and, I believe, should always be an integral part of the assessment journey of any candidate. That leaves a lot of onus on the competencies and capabilities of the Hiring Managers as well, so that organisations are able to identify their Aakash and Jerin pretty early on and avoid any unforeseen situations later!