Online courses have erupted all over the internet because of the huge demand for new skill-sets. Some of these courses are short, over 11 or 24 hours long, and come with the promise to equip the learner with all the tools and techniques necessary to woo the interviewer. However, are they as effective as short they are or are they just farce?
Today every individual is in a rush to acquire as many qualifications as one can to print out a shiny CV laden with certifications. Due the over-the-counter nature of these courses employers may be skeptical about the value they hold as a result of which, it might reflect on whether or not a candidate coming in with such degrees gets hired.
The psychology of human hiring is that we always tend to think better of any course that is long and extensive even though the person designing it might have done a less than adequate job. A short term course, designed well, can give as much bang for a buck as an extensive one
While articles on the internet might express concern regarding such qualifications, it might not be necessary to dismiss all such courses as holding little or no value.
In fact, whether or not they do, boils down to what kind of role is one hiring for and how good of an interview process does a firm have.
Manish Majumdar, former head-HR, Novo Nordisk, explains that it depends on the type of the course and the number of hours that needs to be invested in a certain area. If an interviewee comes in with 10 hours of learning in a subject that needs at least 10 days, then of course, there is reason to be skeptical. “In India, there is a problem of skill to talent match in hiring. More often than not, people with mismatched skills or those who are over-qualified are hired. Therefore, the main question to ask is what one is hiring for.”
The value should be determined by the expectations from the person coming in for the role. If a subject expert is needed, then it calls for in-depth learning. However, if one is hiring for a managerial position then maybe such courses can be given a chance
To take an example, if a candidate comes in with 10 hours of learning for a job that requires expert understanding data science, then they will definitely not meet the cut off for qualifying. However if the candidate completes a 40-50 hour course for the same, then the interviewer might expect the candidate to have a peripheral understanding of the subject at the least.
Rani Desai, managing partner, COSM, former chief learning officer, Deloitte, agrees with Majumdar on this. “The value should be determined by the expectations from the person coming in for the role. If a subject expert is needed, then it calls for in-depth learning. However, if one is hiring for a managerial position then maybe such courses can be given a chance.”
Another thing to factor in is whether or not the hiring process if good enough to ascertain the capabilities of a candidate. If the interviewer can determine whether or not a potential employee has the skills needed for the job, regardless of the number of hours of learning, then it might do justice to the candidate. “A person doing a fly-by-night course may have equal knowledge of the subject matter and the capability to execute but it depends on whether the hiring process is adequate to ascertain that”, adds Majumdar.
Karan Sandhu, EVP-group chief learning officer, Jindal Steel and Power, shares an interesting insight about the psychology behind the hiring process in India. He says, “The psychology of human hiring is that we always tend to think better of any course that is long and extensive even though the person designing it might have done a less than adequate job. A short term course, designed well, can give as much bang for a buck as an extensive one.”
In India, there is a problem of skill to talent match in hiring. More often than not, people with mismatched skills or those who are over-qualified are hired. Therefore, the main question to ask is what one is hiring for
What does this mean for hiring in the future?
If the above holds true that it falls upon the hiring managers to be in a position to understand the value of the courses. This might hold very true when hiring for skills of the future.
It has been contemplated that the future might require new skills sets we are not aware of yet and will see the dawn of new job roles which we have not even thought about.
Therefore, with the evolving set of skillsets and changing job roles it might not be possible for the people sitting on the other side of the table to be aware themselves about the value of such online courses, whether short or long. The constant need to reskill will ensure that such courses only increase in the coming days to see. Moreover, the skepticism for such courses can be understood especially since nowadays one can get a certificate for just turning up.
If the psychology of human hiring holds true for the future, then probably organisations will need specialists while hiring. Sandhu adds, “Hiring managers, if they are not proficient themselves, might get taken for a ride and realise their folly only later. If there is a well-designed process to test the candidate’s capabilities, then the course, whether short or long, does not matter.”
As for the state of online courses today, it might be said that they do hold value. More importantly, one should look at the job requirements and the expectations from the person.