We live in turbulent times. The life of an undergrad neither stands still nor does it wait around. With each passing set of assignments, sessionals, and end-sems we slowly converge towards the crowning final year of college life which leads us to
jobs placements. MTTN brings you a review of LoT’s workshop on ‘Simplifying Placements and Group Discussions’.
The workshop kicked off with a few speakers (in their 8th semester) sharing their whole placement experience and then going on to give out pointers as well as other do’s and don’ts of the entire procedure.
The topic of discussion is introduced to the students in their 6th semester, by the university’s head of placements (HP). Each class is then individually addressed by the HP and the entire process is outlined. Around this time the students are introduced to a portal which would be a student’s go-to regarding anything related to placements. Using the online portal they are allowed to submit their CVs, their Preference Companies (PCs) and other complementary information regarding the same. This is the foremost step on the long road that is yet to come.
Before moving onto the technicalities of the placement procedure, the speakers underlined some general pointers to be kept in mind ensuring the best use of the crucial period before the placements itself:
– The time before the placements is critical and not to be taken lightly. Use this time to the fullest in figuring out which way you want to be heading and in making sure that you are indeed working toward that path.
– Once the placements start it is going to be a frenzy of chaos and unpredictability and therefore to do whatever it takes to make sure that the factors that you can influence are completely under your control.
– ENSURE that you are proficient in making a superbly attractive CV as well as a LinkedIn account as these are the two tools that are going to speak volumes about you as a candidate.
– NETWORK with your seniors and alumni groups for help, questions, insight or whatever else it may be to help further your cause as a candidate.
– The GMAT/GRE scores are valid for five years and therefore doing them early is not a bad idea at all, rather than to keep them for your final year and running the risk of it interfering with any placement prospects.
– Work on factors that affect your opening round of the placement process such as personal aptitude and IQ, body language, ability to work with others, etc.
– RS Aggarwal’s book on Quantitative Aptitude and indiabix.com for logical reasoning and general aptitude can be practiced.
– ambitionbox.com is a great website to help further prospective candidates with interview insights, company information and mock tests to ensure preparation to the fullest.
The placement process itself is majorly divided into three parts, an Aptitude/Technical Test (which works as a general screening), a group discussion and finally a personal interview to seal the deal. The highlight of the workshop, which was the group discussion, is what the topic of interest was. Here are some of the key points to be taken away from the seminar.
1. What are Group Discussions (GDs)?
Group Discussions are a new trend that has come up in order to evaluate student personality. A group of participants are made to discuss on a topic or subject for a limited time and then assessed accordingly. It is a chance for you to be more vocal and portray how you as a candidate can work in a professional environment.
2. Advantages of a GD:
It helps in shedding away the shyness of a candidate and bringing their viewpoint amidst all. It stimulates thinking in a different, new way and helps the candidate in understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.
i. Try and speak often with the aim to go for frequency rather than length, stick to 30 second concise and organized inputs.
ii. Be aware and adapt to the tone and direction of the topic of the discussion.
iii. Maintain a moderate tone and address the others politely and respectfully.
iv. Use formal language and proper procedure as the discussion entails a professional environment. For example if you disagree with someone let them know in a courteous and respectful manner.
v. Be confident, not dominating. Try and lead the argument towards a solution rather than just issue facts and opinions.
vi. Maintain strong body language which projects confidence and strength.
vii. Be a good listener as well as being accepting of others opinions in a manner that emphasizes team work.
i. Even if the topic is one that you may not be proficient in, try not to remain silent for the entirety of the GD but instead try and adapt to the flow of conversation and offer some input.
ii. Narrow down the ambit of the topic or go off on irrelevant tangents that have no substance in relation to the topic of the discussion.
iii. Allow the topic to get you aggressive or emotional if it is a topic of personal or moral significance. This clouds your bias and may cause you to think differently of a person or opinion which could cost you points in your discussion.
iv. Address or communicate with the moderator, he is only a silent adjudicator observing the candidates from a distance.
v. Attack a speaker personally or specifically adjoin blame, if you disagree with another candidates views bring it to their notice in a respectful and formal manner.
vi. Try and bluff the group with false information to further your cause. If you are unsure of your facts maintain that stance without giving numbers or specifics which may be used against you or which could lead to you being caught in a made up fact.
vii. Go back on your stance, or allow yourself to crumble if somebody challenges your opinion. See your views all the way and provide solid ground for your perspective on the argument.
viii. Try to dominate or control the group, instead lead it towards finding a solution.
5. Body Language:
i. Enter confidently and demonstrate a strong personality as first impressions do last.
ii. Use hand gestures to help articulate your input in a comfortable manner without being aggressive or overly articulate.
iii. Maintain eye contact and address the room as whole as this exhibits confidence and helps you connect better with your audience.
iv. Do not fidget, stretch around or show visible signs of discomfort or boredom during the discussion.
v. Be aware while listening and show that you are indeed interested and following what the other candidates have to say regarding their input on the discussion.
Here are some frequently asked questions submitted by candidates of the workshop itself, answered by senior members of leading companies like Tata Group and Reliance Industries.
i. How do group discussions work and what do you look for in a group discussion?
The involvement of a candidate in a GD, the leadership qualities to lead a team, sharing credit with team members or not, focus and command on the subject, are some of the benchmarks on which a candidate may be judged.
ii. How do you evaluate students during a personal interview?
Personal interviews are where candidates are completely scrutinized. This is where we require them to be completely honest as usually students tend to fake their achievements. What they need to understand is that their adjudicator has had years of experience in scrutinizing thousands of others like them, and that trying to put something past him could really hurt your chances.
The questions asked depend on the HR procedure for that particular company but the essence of the interview remains the same, here at Tata we try to assess candidates by asking them questions oriented at testing their patience and problem solving attitude in person.
iii. What are things one should keep in mind for an HR oriented interview?
Versatility, flexibility, focus and most importantly human touch. Candidates should not be artificial or inarticulate in their responses.
iv. What is the one thing you look for in someone sitting for an interview?
Demonstrating that you are up for a challenge and accordingly following up in the correct manner with the employer to seek more information.
v. What is the one thing that sets apart ideal candidates from others?
The personal skills and uniqueness whilst answering questions in an interview, thereby creating his own brand, makes a person emerge distinct from the rest.
7. Questions from a Candidate’s Perspective that can set you apart:
i. Can you describe a typical day in this type of role?
ii. How long have you been at the company and what drives you to stay?
iii. What are the common attributes of your top performers and how can I strive towards them?
iv. What is the most frustrating part of working here?
v. What new skills can I hope to learn here?
vi. What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easier decision?
vii. What kind of career opportunities may open up for a person starting out in this type of position, assuming they perform well?
viii. How would you describe the work environment and the culture?
The event boasted of some amazing orators, and the effort they had put into organizing the slides as well as presenting the matter was impressive. However a slight rearrangement of facts and details to make it more presentable wouldn’t hurt. There was a whole lot of detail, spread out a tad bit haphazardly. Nevertheless, the workshop was much needed, a first-of-its-kind, and saw a turnout in great numbers.
All this said and done, there is no recipe for the perfect placement and the road that follows isn’t going to be easy. You can only hope to instill these qualities and focus on portraying yourself to the best of your ability. To all those awaiting placements next sem-
Talent will get you in the door, but Character is what will keep you in the room.
–Yohaan Markose for MTTN