Saturday, September 20, 2008

Interviewing at the Indian Institute of Science

I spent most of Thursday interviewing job candidates at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc). The dynamics were completely different than interview dynamics in the US, and some of the rules of the interviews help me understand why there is such job churn and turnover.

The organization with jobs to offer pays a fee to reserve a day for interviews. The placement office collects resumes from interested candidates, and provides a list of their names, majors, and GPAs, along with the stack of resumes.  The organization makes a presentation with a question and answer session. At this point, or even before the presentation, some firms will give the candidates a test.  And then the candidates mill around and wait to be called for interviews. It's not clear who is supposed to make the interview schedule, as you don't really know who will show up or not. In our case, we had 28 candidates on our list, about 18 or so attended our info session, immediately afterwards we had only 5 that were interested in talking to us (!) but by the end of the day we had interviewed about 20 candidates. However, at least 7 or 8 or them had not attended our session, nor were on our list of pre-candidates.   The oddest part of the process for me is that the rules of IISc recruiting is that you need to make the offers at the end of the day, and let the selected candidates know what their compensation package will be.  No call backs, no "let's see how the candidate blends in with the other personalities." Once a candidate receives (and presumably accepts) an offer, then they exit the pool of candidates.

Some things about these rules seem fair -- you avoid everyone chasing a few (generally the best)  candidates that you get in US schools, you help everyone get allocated through the process -- but it seems like a rushed process which leads to suboptimal matching. No wonder there is such turnover in the formal job market, there is insufficient time for exploration and matching of skills, interest, and approach -- on both sides.

Perhaps we had a batch of unrepresentative students, with all the stars already taken, but no one asked us a substantive question, no one appeared to have visited our web site before to get a better sense of who we were, no even even asked if we worked on Saturdays! 

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