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Post placement, IT firm throws a googly

Vasudha Venugopal
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HCL Technologies asked 6,000 recruits to clear another test, only 1,300 passed exam

Now, a campus placement offer and acing the final exams are not enough to secure a position in a top IT company.

Engineering graduates in the State are learning it the hard way. Nearly 6,000 students offered jobs by HCL Technologies were asked to write another test called the Front Runner Programme (FRP), almost a year after they were recruited.

The students were looking forward to joining the company after their course when they received instructions on the test. According to sources, only around 1,300 students managed to clear the test. Those who failed to clear the test are anxiously awaiting further instructions from the company.

“HCL sent a mail recently asking us to begin preparing for another FRP test in January 2013. But, if only 20 per cent can clear it, there is no use waiting for another year,” a student said.

The FRP test, according to students, was a thirty minute test full of technical questions. “They told us the results would be declared in a week, but it took more than a month,” another student said.

A placement officer of a city college said, “College officials were kept in the dark about this change in recruitment policy. Many of our students who received other offers, chose HCL because the company offered them choice of location of work.” The company has 26 offices in Chennai alone.

The students from core engineering streams such as mechanical and civil engineering were tested on a few programming languages and data structures while the ones with an IT background had questions from a variety of topics in data structures and advanced programming.

“We did not even know about the test until a month prior to it,” said a student from a college in Karaikal. The company recruited over 3,000 students from several self-financing colleges under Anna University, Dr. MGR Educational & Research Institute University, Saveeta University, Annamalai University and several deemed universities.

HCL officials said the induction and on-boarding process is spread across twelve months, and the FRP test is meant to sequence the joining schedule. It would not lead to revoking of recruitment, an official said. It was conceived post the campus placement as a meritocratic method to provide students a view of their learning needs and accelerate their on-boarding process, the official said.

The principal of a private engineering college in the city, said, “Generally, IT companies conduct tests as part of the recruitment process but this is the first time a company has opted to filter candidates after recruiting them, without an induction.”

Most worried of the lot are students from core engineering streams. “The company asked a few students from computer/IT streams to join in June, but not any one of us,” a student said.

HCL is not the first company to delay joining dates. Recently, Infosys and iGate Technologies said they would postpone the joining dates of freshers to as late as mid 2013. R. Sivakumar, an HR analyst with a software firm, said the job growth in fields like software development and testing had slowed, of late.

“IT companies are coping with project delays and weak economic sentiments in the US and Europe. They plan campus hiring based on the expected demand for IT services and project flows but the economic environment may force them to rethink. The best students can do is to acquaint themselves with better technical and communication skills, because during times like these, only quality matters,” he said.

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