Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thoughts on Interviewing Freshers

Uphill TaskTidbits of making sure that
● We get the future leaders of our organization.
● We get the right fit according to our organization's culture.
● We get the perfect match according to the nature of work we do.

Myths Busted
● Every other company claims they hire the top 1%. What about the remaining 99%? Do you believe they don’t get any work? And by the way, which company get the top 1%. What they really do to achieve this? When everybody is claiming that they hire the top 1%, the statement “We hire top 1%” looks like a myth. Or you can better call it a syndrome. A syndrome to live in fantasy land. Any good organization should not pretend, and believe in hiring somebody who will be happy embracing the culture of the organization along with having a potential to be REAL 1%.
● Every other company is hiring on the bases of what people have already done. And you believe you should also hire a fresher having a ‘real’ project to his credit. It’s a myth. A myth if you agree that our academic world is having some serious limitations in producing “Ready to be Productive” resources. The focus is more on theory rather than application. Their syllabus is not revised for long. And list can go on. I’ve met numerous good students, having a great potential, struggling to find a good break because they don’t have a ‘Real’ project on their resume. People are rejecting them because of that reason only. Sometime these struggling stars land up at sweat shops where people exploit them endlessly. Till the time we correct the system, believe in building the Fine Product out of good RAW material.

How to move ahead?
● Remember the Maruti Suzuki’s A-Star ad? A candidate bombarded with questions which he can’t answer. At the end he just stands up and question the interview panel whether they are interested in finding out what he doesn’t know or the things he knows. The real need is to listen what they know, not the things they don’t know. I’ve set in lots of interview panels where interviewer tried very hard to impress the candidates. It should be opposite, let them impress you.
● I ask you, The Mighty interviewer, to embrace one fact. Although a tough one, but it’s true that everybody does a variety of work, Boring and Exciting. Everybody, along with some pretty exciting stuff, does some boring stuff. Isn’t it a fact? Finding somebody, who genuinely believes that every interesting things has some boring part, is really tough. One of the nuggets I can share with you, to get the best match, is by having a look on their marks. If they have scored pretty well in the subject considered boring, along with the other subjects - considered exciting, chances are that you are closer to the right fit. So, if a guy tells you that he doesn’t understand why they teach a one semester Civil Engineering course but scored sufficiently good - give him an extra point.
● Believe in NEAR past over very OLD past. Remember the mutual funds ad, where in the end they say, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance”? Evaluate what they are today. But there is no harm in touching their recent past. Don’t go very far, but see what they have learned recently. Believe me if somehow we get everybody who has learned something constructive in the last 6 months and that too with fair degree of understanding, our job is done. Help them to figure out what they have learned recently. Also question how they have learned. You can push them to talk about the shortcomings they see in their learning and what they want to do the next.
● By now you are either liking me or hating me. And it is happening because I am able to express myself. I am able to share my thoughts and experience with you. Isn’t it a good idea to have the fair degree of communication skills in the candidate you are going to hire? If he has that, he will not create confusion by doing what you’ve never asked him to do. Ideally, he will never waste time, because he knows how to ask questions. He will help you to reduce the Re-Work (I guess 50% of our work is re-work, due to miscommunication happen at our workplace). Create a very abstract scenario, like, how the software of lift, elevator, works. Don’t tell him anything else; just see the quality of the questions and how he advances. See his capability of clearing the cloud of abstract. Uphill Task
● Am I suggesting that you should not ask the technological questions? No, no way. But here is what I want to say. Every technology is having some building blocks, some basics. Please help him to express his understanding. Like, what his thoughts on object oriented language, or how the polymorphism help a programmer. And please, please, no definitions. Cramming doesn’t harm but it’s not our intention to hire somebody for this skill.
● Figure out he is the guy with ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ or ‘Eyes Wide Open’. One of the key ingredients for any successful team is to re-invent itself from time to time. And it happens with having curious team members; people with ‘Eyes Wide Open’. It is important to know and UNDERSTAND what’s happening around you, both inward and outward. You may like to confide to your trade, if you wish; it’s perfectly alright. Check out if the guy hold any opinion about good or bad about something relevant? If yes, you spot on.
● Don’t you like to have a cup of coffee over micromanaging the things for your staff? Hummm? It can only happen if you pick somebody who can work independently and self motivated. I know, I know, that you know it already!!! O.K. here is one of my ways to figure out this; ask what they do in their leisure time…….can you figure out some constructive pattern?…….yes….again you are hitting the bull’s eye.


  1. I really like your post. If somehow pattern of taking interview is changed then any organization will have some good stuff. If you will pick someone who can think widely, who knows how polymorphism help a programmer then he/she will definetely gives better output.
    I think if pattern of interview is changed then student will also change their approach of grasping stuff. They will do more practicle rather than cramming.

  2. Very Well Said. Being good or very good in technicals may not work in long term. If one is good enough in communication, could cut overhead cost as well. Interviewer shouldn't test his/her experiences and knowledge while interviewing.
    If he had the work experience, he was not called "FRESHER".

    I agree the thoughts of yours.

    Few thoughts i liked the most like,,,,,,,
    “Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance”
    "Believe in building the Fine Product out of good RAW material"

    Pictures you used are again showing you love with nature and are as beautiful as always.(specially the middle big picture)

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks Prateek, I also like your posting. You are correct that the interviewer must understand who the person is that is being interviewed and how their knowledge, skills, personality and behavior can best fit into the organization.

  4. What I understand from this post is that rather than concentrating on Top 1% hire, an organisation should be concentrating on 99% people also who are really looking for good options.
    If your basics are clear, you can break the ICE anywhere, whether it is a Software trade OR a garment trade Or any other fied.
    It's all about keeping your eyes open & looking what's happening around you which can take you to achieve success.
    Thanks once again by sharing these thoughts with us.

  5. I think its all about haves and have nots.
    "Haves" forget that they were also once 'have nots'.And no one is a born rider .Some one very fittingly said'Girte hain shai sawar hi maidane jung me vo fitr kya girenge jo chadne se darte ho'.

    So it is very no extremly important to give one chance and see what one is actually capable of.

    Also believe most of us judge by 'face value' but often forget that 'looks can be deceptive'.

    The need is to cleanse the whole system because people who were once judged by others on certain parameters like ' earlier projects ' as Prateek mentioned are mostly the ones who were once selected by same procedure.And so the legacy passes from level to level.

    My only input to this would be 'Apni akal lagao Dikhawon pe na jao'.

  6. Its right that every company claims to hire top 1%. But, there is no certain methodology to identify the top merit. Maybe a meritorious student can get low marks in their subjects. Maybe the questions asked in the interviews are not relevant of his interest. Maybe his institutions are not up to the level.
    Companies should determine the proper interview guidelines. Interviewers should not strict with company policies because they are responsible for all 100% students.
    Thanks for sharing such thoughts Prateek.

  7. What is the best way to pick the real merit?
    Aptitude test containing some verbal and non-verbal reasoning, mathematics and grammatical questions with some tricky questions of C, data structure and SQL!
    Are these questions enough to identify spark and burning lights in a fresher candidate? Is it right to evaluate freshers of all stream with the same questions pattern? Is this interview pattern justify with their merit?

    Prateek, shouldn't we analyse and find some pattern which provide a protection to those candidates who aren't from computer stream?