Letter writing tests, questions on programming, negative marking and increased cut-offs mean a more rigorous process

The campus placement season that began a week ago in many engineering colleges had a surprise for students. Many companies insisted students compose a letter to showcase their writing skills, as part of the eligibility test.

Increased cut-offs, negative marking in aptitude tests and questions on programming in the eligibility test were some of the other features that have made the placement process tougher.

Students who wrote the test conducted by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recently were asked to write an e – mail congratulating a colleague on her promotion or an apology note to a client over the delay of a project. In many cases, students were asked to use specific phrases and words appropriately. “Companies find their new recruits struggling over a mail in English. And, mails are an important medium of communication in IT offices,” said M. Kailasam, a consultant with IT companies.

Most companies have increased their eligibility cut-offs to at least 65 per cent in class X, class XII and in all eight semesters of college. “Companies that allowed up to 2 arrears until last year have not given that concession,” said S. Aramugham, principal of an engineering college. Similarly, companies used to exempt students with over 75 per cent from written tests. But this year, most companies have allowed only those with over 85 per cent to do so.

While companies such as Infosys have a technical interview, those such as Wipro have many programming-related questions in their test.

“Most aptitude tests have negative marking now and there is more focus on analytical questions. Even those who have prepared for a year for these tests had to think a lot as the solutions were not formula based,” said R.K. Sriram, a student of Anna University.

“Even the interviews are much more rigorous than previous years, as companies want to take in only the best,” said Samuel Rajkumar, placement director, VIT University. The deemed university placed over 3,000 students in the first week of campus placement.

According to sources, this year, most institutions had to agree to three companies sharing the first day of placement. “No company wants a second day slot because it is likely the best students would have already been taken,” said Sivagnana Prabhu, director, placements, RMK group of Institutions.

Anna University and VIT University saw dream companies such as Samsung, Cisco, Deloitte and Schneider recruiting their students. Companies such as Wipro, Accenture, IBM, Cognizant and Infosys are also in the race. But, sources said that only about 35 colleges in the State have placement plans charted out for now, as companies have sent out recruitment approvals to only the most reputed colleges.

“Both students and colleges are waiting for the schedules. The numbers are definitely going to be much lesser than last year,” said Mr. Aramugham.