Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some time back I was in one of India’s premier b-schools, for conducting summer placements for my organization. The first such experience for me- on the other side that is, and I got to experience and appreciate (not sure if that’s the right word to be using!) first hand the madness that’s a (premier) b-school placement process!
I being a creature of such a premier b-school myself, the external manifestations of the process were nothing new for me- in some ways it was even a déjà vu, so to say! Those crazy days and nights, with some 40 companies compressed into 3-4 days, last-minute shortlists, checking out your name in the lists and trying to gauge by which day you will get out of this crazy process, and return to a life with a semblance of normalcy. Then of course, those fun-filled 4 days, wherein you are pushed and pulled in and out of processes even as you struggle to remember which company you are appearing for and try to think up some high-sounding fancy about why you want to join the company and how till now every moment of your existence has been spent in ensuring your dream of joining company XYZ comes to fruition. All this even while you try to prevent yourself from blurting out in the Pepsi interview “I want to join Coke because…” (this has happened to someone I know!)
All this brings me to the point I wanted to bring forth and which has been in my mind from the day I was involved in that process as a recruiter. Why have a process compressed in 3-4 days at all? Why cant the entire placement process be spaced out over a period of say 1-2 months, wherein we would have separate companies coming over on separate dates, and students will be able to choose their favorite companies in a saner manner, and be able to perform better! I felt this most acutely while looking at the stressed out, tired and sleepy faces of the students when we were conducting the GDs and interviews! One guy we interviewed, mentioned they had been assembled in the auditorium at 4.30 in the morning, and here we were interviewing him at 2.30 in the (next) morning, almost 22 hours and running for the guy, through which he would have been shunted in and out of countless processes, being part of multiple GDs, some of which he would have cleared and some not, some interviews which he didn’t clear- so here was a tired, stressed, sleep-deprived bright 20-something sitting in front of us well past midnight, and we were expecting him to give of his best! How?? Is this another way to test how an individual performs under stress?? And is everyone really getting the best guy/guy they wanted? I don’t know.
The same process which seemed so exciting and adrenaline-filled as a student, suddenly didn’t feel so much exciting as a recruiter. And then you of course have the senior students acting as company contacts who also feel their share of the pressure having trying to juggle between the multiple (and many-a-times, king-sized) egos of 10 companies all at a time, all of whom want the best candidate, and invariably, there will be a missed feed here, and a resultant bruised ego there. To what avail?? And to imagine- this was just the summers, I could not fathom the amount of stress we make the students go through in the finals, where often a job in a particular company is seen as a make-or-break for their lives (at least on campus, though the fact that that’s not the case is only realized once we come out into the corporate world!)
I understand and appreciate the complexities for an institute involved in such a process, having to manage several high-profile companies and ensuring all of them have the satisfaction of being able to look at the top guys (that doesn’t always happen- that’s another story!). However, that I feel is a small price to pay compared to the monstrosity that we subject our young students to! And everything needs to be got used to- once a new system is put in place by all premier b-schools, all companies will get used to this in a matter of time. Students will also be better able to think logically and exercise their choice as to which companies to target- and not end up in a bank when they wanted to join an FMCG or vice versa(no disrespect to anyone here). We can even have sector-specific days- say 4 days dedicated to the banking sector only, if it gets too difficult to manage company X and convince them to come a day later than company Y! And have only those students interested in banking to appear during those days. Sounds difficult, I know, but why not give it a try?? This might also help in companies actually getting someone eager to join them, and consequently someone who sticks for a longer time.
Currently, I feel its all a result of the competition within our institutes as to how quickly the students can be placed/cleared, but someone needs to call time to this system! After all, wont we all want a win-win situation where the student gets to choose his/her favorite company/sector to sit for, the company gets the right candidate to interview and the student gets to really give of his best performance in the interview, instead of drearily waiting for the next feed and yet another process at 3 in the morning!!

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