29 June 2015 15:12:35 IST

'Those who can handle technical questions well, impress in an interview'

Working for Microsoft is about increasing your employability: HR chief

Rohit Thakur, Head of Human Resources at Microsoft Corporation India, who was present at SHRM’s HR Tech Conference held recently in Mumbai spoke to BLonCampus on the company's campus hiring process. Excerpts:

What are the skill sets and qualities you look for in fresh MBA graduates?

We hire about 300-400 people every year including engineering and management graduates. I think the key component for hiring — campus, non-campus — is the organisation's values. It is important to look if the individual's values [are] in sync with the organisation's values — that's one level. The second part of the campus level is academic excellence. In a competitive ecosystem if I ask about the previous work experience from a working executive, I will ask about what he/she has studied in his/her subjects from a fresher. People who can handle those questions well not just from a theory perspective but also from application perspective are the ones who would impress in an interview.

A lot of things have been said about the industry and academia gap. Do you think the gap exists?

At a college or at institutional level they teach you concepts, and I do believe in the importance of concepts because those are a backdrop to the things you learn in the company. Now, let's talk about other countries for instance, industry interaction in the US, which is higher than when compared to studying in India. But again, a lot of colleges in India are realising the importance of such interactions. The professors are doing lots of projects with organisations, and organisations are funding chairs or buildings to give that practical element as well. So, I would say we are on a positive trend towards bridging that gap.

I think there has to be a balance. If I make working too conceptual I will lose the practical part of what actually happens when I talk to an individual or what happens in a sale. Similarly, if I make academics too practical, I will miss the elements of building certain foundation blocks in my mind or concepts that will make me practice in a different way.

What should fresh graduates expect from Microsoft when they join the software giant?

The first thing is 'learning', which I think is a very important part for anyone who is coming to work at Microsoft. It is about how you can increase your employability. Your skills, your learning, your networks and discovering different ways to do a thing as opposed to what you have learnt. Learning from peers, and the element of contributing to others is one thing you can learn in a very open culture and environment.

You are free to express yourself. You are exposed to how technology can be seamlesly used in a normal day-to-day working be it marketing, HR or Finance.

You can really work in a global company which really wants to empower you to do the best. All these things have made us one of the best companies to work for many years now. I think the culture part is something we have constantly focussed on.

Can you think of any trends in the making in the field of HR?

Real-time (performance) feedback is one trend to catch up fast. For example, if we talk about quality control v/s total quality management v/s Six Sigma — getting quality checked in the process of making itself is the trend. I look at performance management systems getting in a similar domain.

Earlier, as an employee you would have waited till end of the year to know you made a particular mistake in the first month. But all employees want to give their best, and all companies want to get the most from you everyday. What we are looking at is a seamless way of converging these two and that will have the maximum impact on the company and the employees. And that's what performance management is — a transparent, open, as objective as possible process.

Is Microsoft India planning to scale up hiring?

We are in process of blue-printing; our hiring starts from July to June, so the details are being finalised. Microsoft India is definitely looking at growth. Growth from revenue perspective, impact through Microsoft perspective. The overall sentiment is positive and government is really focused on Digital India. We want to work with other IT companies and in different parts of India to help grow the entire digital India vision. So, yes we are anticipating growth.