Random Reflections!

thoughts, views, news and plenty of rants

theory on placement interviews …

Posted by nixbert on February 19, 2007

So …over the past two months I’ve spent about 20 days living on ISB campus. During the course I’ve had plenty of discussions, chit-chat and other spaced out banter with several dudes at ISB. I will try and put the more interesting ones here. Do take these with a pinch of salt.

So, yesterday we were generally discussing interview trends and stuff companies are looking for when hiring on campus. One theory (henceforth refered to as the ‘Gupta Theory’ in honour of its talented author) that gained currency in our discussions was that interviews are, more often than not, a hygiene factor. The shortlist, that an organisation comes up with, is often a fair indication of what a given company is looking for and the recruiters already have a fair idea about the candidates they want to hire. From then on its more a question of fit, how a candidate thinks, his approach to problem solving etc. Case in point being that ISB’ians were required to crack several cases as part of interviews and there were many who failed to solve them but they were still hired. On the other hand few others who aced them were not picked up. It must be noted that I am using the term ‘fail’ very loosely here – all it means is that one candidate sometimes lost out on some particular detail or needed nudging in a general direction before getting closer to the eventual solution while another dude got it right all on his own steam. So interview was just a data point in the entire process, instead of being a make-or-break event many think it to be.

This was further supported by the fact that the term ‘relevant experience’ was thrown about in every which direction and played an important part in the entire process. So if a candidate had atleast some experience which matched a profile required by an organisation then it was bit easier for him/her to secure an offer.

A prime example of this theory is my childhood friend at ISB. He had two rounds of interviews (more than 2 for other ppl), each lasting appx 10 mins (atleast 15-20 for others) and was asked the same question in each of them (ok granted – variation of the same question – tell me about yourself, why are you here? and Walk me through your resume?) while others were even asked to solve a case. He was told by the interviewer that he had more than 90% chance of bagging the offer even before 5% of candidates were interviewed (he was one of the early birds).

Needless to say it was known beforehand that he indeed was a great fit for that profile


2 Responses to “theory on placement interviews …”

  1. lurker said

    hey nixbert,
    the childhood friend, was he of the AWESOME/OVER-ACHiever variety (like the class topper– always), one of those, who are a great fit for nearly everyone and everything? or were things more specific?


  2. nixbert said


    well yes, he was academically brilliant however that’s not what made the difference. He had taken an off-beat path, which turned out to be great fit for this organization. Completely unplanned but it fell into place like a piece in jigsaw puzzle.

    To explain further, even though he was an engineer he chucked his job in manufacturing sector after just one year and joined a small start-up where he handled business development and media publicity for his firm. Eventually that firm went bust in recession (2001-ish). Dejected he sought further education in humanities focussing on Indian social structures and their history and also worked with an NGO. As it turned out, the media company which employed him loved his profile since he had great context for the kind of diverse media engagements that the company was involved in.

    So no he would not have been a good fit in most companies. But in hindsight, it is now hard to imagine a more logical turn of events.

    Hope this helps.

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