5 changes to expect in the new avatar of campus placement


Most organisations may have put their campus placement plans on pause this year but as the new calendar and financial year nears, many are already on track to resume hiring fresh talent from campus again, but, with a new approach.

Biplob Banerjee, chief people officer, ABD, and Ghananeel Kelkar, general manager-HR, Mercedes Benz, give HR Katha a glimpse of campus hiring in a post-COVID world and what’s changed about how recruiters will now assess candidates.

Upskill and upgrade

If you’re aspiring to land a job at a leading multinational company, once campus placement resumes, you had better have upskilled already. If you have not yet, itis time to pull up your socks. How you have utilised the limbo of 2020 is perhaps the primary criteria recruiters are looking to assess.

“COVID-19 gave everybody a huge opportunity to upskill and upgrade themselves,” notes Banerjee, “so how you’ve utilised this time and overcome the challenge are going to be huge assessment areas rather than just academic factors.”

Make sure you do not lament the lack of opportunities during the lockdown, because recruiters are having none of that. “They need to justify the value-add they introduced to their career despite the circumstances this year,” says Kelkar, who believes the year offered job aspirants the ideal opportunity to rework their skill sets. “It has entirely opened up the conversation about what skills one needs to build.”

Ghananeel Kelkar

“In the absence of in-person interaction, the selection committee does not have a holistic view of the candidates and their body language.”

Fast-thinking future leaders

It is no longer limited to a glowing mark sheet. Grilling candidates is set to go beyond evaluating academic and functional performance. “What kind of future leaders companies will look for has perhaps changed a little,” notes Banerjee. “It’s not just about academic performance or conventional high potential any more,” he points out.

Organisations will seek future leaders in candidates who rose to the occasion and braved the year’s challenges. Therefore, getting an insight into how they navigated these is one of the top agendas for recruiters. “It’ll help to analyse their personality and problem-solving skills. I foresee more of personal questions,” says Kelkar.

“Also, since it will not be an in-person interaction, the selection committee does not have a holistic view of the candidates and their body language,” adds Kelkar, “so they will make an extra effort by way of grilling on various personality aspects.”

Virtual quotient

With most of the world, including organisations, continuing to operate virtually in the near future, the candidate’s virtual compatibility will be put to test as well. Working with colleagues in the same office is one thing and operating remotely using digital tools is a whole other beast.

“The ability to show empathy and collaborate virtually needs a lot more refined skill sets,” says Banerjee, “so recruiters will be assessing how candidates, as leaders, can leverage this whole digital world.”

Tackling the unpredictable

Candidates who were looking to be placed this year but missed the opportunity, shouldn’t be disheartened. Recruiters are also keeping a hawk’s eye on how you took this setback in your stride and continued moving forward.

“Earlier, students only had a plan A or plan B. Now, they have to be ready with a plan C, D, E and F!” says Banerjee. This year has given new meaning to uncertainty. “Nothing can be taken for granted,” continues Banerjee. “Now, it’s all about performance orientation and students should be ready to take up new leadership roles.”

Biplob Banerjee

“It’s not just about academic performance or conventional high potential any more. recruiters ASSES how candidates, as leaders, can leverage this whole digital world”

Nailing video interviews

What candidates have to worry about most is “making an impact on a 4×4 inch screen,” points out Banerjee, “which is very different from the touch and feel of a face-to-face assessment”. “Whether the interview is happening on a laptop or mobile, they have to come across as future leaders. That is most important,” he adds.

A majority of our interactions may have been over video this year, but everyone is not comfortable with video communication yet. “Social interaction over video is different. However, when you’re facing an interview, there’s a lot at stake and it becomes a bit challenging,” says Kelkar.

“Candidates may be at a disadvantage because they may feel limited in expressing their personality on video,” he adds, and suggests working on your virtual presence.

Checklist for the perfect video interview

For a flawless virtual campus placement, Kelkar advises candidates to keep basic hygiene factors in mind. These may appear simple, but “can become one of the points that go against the candidate,” he adds.

– Ensure the best connectivity

– No distracting noises in the background

– Consider where you will set up the laptop

– Ensure an appropriate outfit and appearance

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