India is still reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Colleges are shut and students are studying from home. However, one aspect that will test the skills of officials, candidates and company hiring managers is the placement process over the next few weeks.
Both engineering and management institutes across the country are gearing up for an e-placement process, the first-of-its-kind in the education sector. On the one hand, there are fears of corporates reducing the number of hires, while, on the other, there are concerns around whether the online interviews will proceed glitch-free.
Every year, close to 1.5 million engineers and 3,60,000 MBAs complete their courses. Of these, about 85 percent opt for campus placements while the rest either go on entrepreneurial journeys or higher education.
However, this year, the placement process will be very different and the advantage is that a student wouldn’t even need to step out of his/her bedroom to find a job. Moneycontrol gives you a lowdown on how the structure will work in the 2020-21 placement season.
Calling companies, based on choices provided by students
Every year, placement committees in institutes that have both student and faculty representatives draw up a list of companies that would be invited to the campus for the placement season. This list is based on long-term relationships between the institutes and the companies, and on the basis of the company choices provided by students.
Each student can provide three company options in writing as their choice of employer. Post this, the placement team contacts individual companies to gauge their interest in participating in the placement process.
This year, students have provided their choices via email to the placement team. Based on these preferences, calls have gone to company human resource teams. First preference will be given by companies to candidates who completed their summer internships with the firm in the previous year. This is called pre-placement offer.
A student can either accept the pre-placement offer (PPO) or choose to sit for other interviews. Placement officials said considering that the number of jobs available could be lower, students are being nudged to accept the PPOs this year.
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Dedicated platforms for company presentations
Whether it is a well-known company or a startup that is looking to hire engineers and MBAs, the first step is to make a company presentation in front of the graduating batch. This presentation gives a glimpse of the work culture and what will be expected from those joining.
Considering that institutes are still taking online classes, the presentations will be conducted live and students will be given a video link to watch the proceedings and also seek clarity on the job roles.
In previous years, one employer would have physically visited multiple institutes and made these presentations. However, this year, placement officials from across institutes will collaborate so that students could attend these sessions at the same time.
Secure login for placement day
Based on the preferences given by students, each candidate will be allotted a date and time slot for interviews with the companies. Since there won’t be any physical interviews conducted, secure logins are also being created for e-interviews between company HR heads and graduating students.
Unlike previous years, where MBA schools, in particular, would have interviews stretching into midnight, this year, the process will be completed in the day-time.
The placement coordinator at an IIM said that this year recruiters have also requested for shorter time slots so that they are able to complete multiple interviews in one day. The focus will be on gauging student interest and if he/she has adequate skill sets for the job role.
However, since no face-to-face interaction is possible, institutes are expecting a three-round-interview across companies as against the average single-round interviews.
The first round will look into whether the candidate will match the culture of the organisation, and the second round will look at the aptitude and skill sets. The final e-interview round will have team members from the company looking at whether the candidate will be the right fit and will be able to add value to the organisation.
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Use of artificial intelligence tools
Apart from how qualified a student is, interviewers also observe the behavioural aspects and body language of students during the interview process.
Since digital interviews will be the new norm for 2020-21 placements, institutes have been asked to take the assistance of third-party video-interview players.
Once the e-interview is held, the video interaction between the interviewer and candidate will be analysed and sent back to the HR team of the company for further analysis. This process will be done after every round of interview. Artificial intelligence technology is likely to be used to analyse the video feed.
Are there any advantages in the digital placements?
Companies have a definite cost-saving since the recruitment team doesn’t have to physically travel to the campuses for the placement process. Institutes are hopeful that the number of recruits stay constant since other administrative costs will be saved by the recruiters.
However, softer skills and behavioural aspects’ analysis through video interview process would make the 2020-21 placement process time-consuming. Institutes are keeping fingers crossed so far and hoping that companies which have promised to participate in the placement process keep their word.
For candidates, the interviews will be a first stepping stone into the digital workplace. Onboarding and initial days of work are also expected to be online, as reported by Moneycontrol earlier.
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