“It took me quite some time to think and answer the questions,” says K. Sekharan, final year engineering student of Anna University. He is referring to experience of filling up a Personal Data Sheet (PDS), as part of a recruitment drive by an IT company.
The PDS, often a two-page document that IT companies ask their shortlisted candidates to fill up minutes before the interview, is becoming a much-discussed feature in the recruitment circle.
Besides usual queries on the candidate's background, sample questions to do with leading a team of engineers who do not get along well, dealing with a client who speaks only Japanese, and reacting to a colleague leaking sensitive information to rival companies are common.
“The most challenging, however, was writing the 300-word imaginary farewell speech that I would deliver after putting in 40 years of service with the company,” Sekharan says.
Experts say that this exercise helps the students obtain a fleeting view of team management and, ethical and attitudinal issues they might face in the industry. Besides helping the filtering process, it conditions a student to think in terms of long-term association with the company, they say.
“You also come to know how lucid the person's writing is, and approximately how his thought process works,” says Anand Venkatesh, a HR consultant with an IT major.
“Resumes are a thing of the past now, companies are more interested to know if you would fit their requirements,” says S. Selvam, Director, Centre for University- Industry Collaboration, Anna University. Campus placement procedures are done in a day or two; hence there is little time for analysing poorly written resumes, the ones that are copied or contain cliché or ambiguous content, he adds. Aspects such as knowledge of foreign languages, travel interest especially to countries where Indian companies are reaching out now and updates in specialised fields of technology, which are often overlooked by candidates, are crucial information for companies, says S. Muthukumaran, Dean-research, Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering.
Many IT companies outsource their interview process to consultancies and other firms that in turn design interesting and creative questions. “Over the years, companies have been making constant efforts to make their recruitment process short, less stressful and meaningful, and this trend goes with that,” says Chitra Mahesh, a recruitment consultant.
However, for candidates who apply to different companies outside the campus recruitment cycle, the resume is still a ‘knock-out' phenomenon, says K. Pandia Rajan, Managing Director, Ma Foi Group. Core companies such as L&T, Maruti, JGC and many others stress on traditional forms of resumes, with focus on domains of interest.
M. Ramashankar, final year mechanical engineering student of College of Engineering, Guindy, recalls his interview with one such company where the entire spotlight was on his interest in internal combustion engines that he had mentioned in his resume.
“Since these companies hire people in fewer numbers, they insist on knowing everything about the student's technical interests by making him/her draw diagrams or share his/her design ideas with them,” says Mr. Venkatesh.