Prepare to run the race

One of the major reasons for pursuing higher education in our country is to make ourselves employable. Most parents expect their children to walk out of college with a job in hand, ready to take on life. Even selections of colleges are made on the basis of their placement figures — how many students secured jobs by the time they graduated? This being the situation, placements become crucial for both the college administration and the students. One of the best ways to prepare for the challenge is to first understand the placement process.

Facing the challenge

Every college has a placement cell, with a designated placement officer. The college sets up the required infrastructure — a seminar hall, group discussion rooms and interview rooms.
Then it uses its academic record, alumni and corporate connections to attract companies to the college to recruit students. Today, the concept of nodal placements is also gaining popularity. In this process many colleges send their students to one nodal college where the placement drive is conducted. By doing so, organisations save on the need to visit individual colleges while at the same time, they get a big student pool to choose from.

The placement process

Typically, the placement process starts during the final year of college. If companies are visiting a college, they usually inform the institution well in advance. They also specify the qualifying criteria for the students. This is usually a minimum percentage of marks.
On the day of the placement drive, companies normally present a pre-placement talk. The students are provided with an introduction to the organisation, which includes the organisation’s domain of work, its clients and the salary package it is willing to offer the selected students. The pre-placement talk gives the students an insight into the company’s working and helps them decide whether they would want to work in the organisation.
This is also the forum for students to clarify doubts and ask questions about the company.

Written tests

Once the college provides a list of eligible students, the students are put through a written test. The written test usually consists of technical questions, aptitude, logic and English. The test varies from company to company. There are pre-defined minimum marks, which an organisation expects a successful candidate to score. Many companies also have cut-off marks for each section and negative marking for wrong answers.

Group discussions

Students who make it through the written test are then put through a group discussion. They are divided into groups and instructed to discuss a topic within a given period of time. They are observed for their team skills, communication skills and other behavioural traits.

Interviews

Students who clear the group discussion are interviewed. Most organisations have two rounds of interviews — the technical interview and the HR interview.

The anti-climax

The most important part of the placement process is the way students handle failure. Given the fact that there are a lot of expectations on each student, everyone is bound to be under tremendous pressure.
Not everyone gets selected in the first interview they attend. It is also possibly the first of failures for many of them. Students must learn to accept failure and move on.
The experience of seeing you friends move ahead of you is certainly not easy. But it is important to take failure positively and learn from every such experience.
Remember, there is a job for everyone; we need to just prepare and patiently wait. The wait might be frustrating but in the end it’s worth the wait.


Tips


The entire process of placements is very strenuous. What can the student do to ease this painful process? I suggest the following:
*  Start your preparations early. Remember that your marks count. Try to maintain a certain percentage through out your course.
*  Introspect and try to figure out where you would like to work.
*  When you find out that a company is visiting your college, try to get as much information about it as you can. You can find loads of information on the internet. Friends and college alumni also come in handy when you are gathering information.
*  Pay attention to the pre-placement talks. Clarify doubts before you get on with the placement process.
*  Many companies need joining students to sign bonds as a means of reducing attrition. Be informed about such clauses and clarify doubts with the company representative before you appear for the tests.
*  Be informed about the placement procedures in your college. Many colleges have rules which do not allow students who are successfully placed to take another job interview. Find out about such restrictions from your college placement officer before deciding if you want to attend the placement process of a company.
*  Prepare yourself for the written tests, group discussions and interviews.  Colleges normally offer training prior to the placement season. Attend the training and acclimatise yourself to the placement process.
*  Practise to overcome nervousness; try to participate in mock group discussions and mock interviews to gain confidence.

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