08 Nov 2016 20:07 IST

How to land that dream job

Plan and prepare well for placement interviews

Goals are a great thing; they help us aspire for more. But then, life becomes an endless pursuit of goals and achievements. Endless because, no sooner we reach one goal, than we strive for the next. If we `rest on our laurels' we fall out of the race, miss the bus and eventually face career stagnation. Abraham Maslow very succinctly propounded in his theory `the hierarchy of needs', this innate human behaviour that constantly keeps striving for achievement. And, securing admission in a top tier business school either in India or abroad is a great accomplishment -- it is the culmination of 17-18 years of rigorous academic pursuit starting from early school years till college completion.

The common admission test (CAT) which helps gain entry into elite business schools in India has over 200,000 applicants every year -- and the acceptance rate is approximately 1%! This top ranking 1%, upon entering the most sought after and prestigious B-Schools, move to their next goal -- getting a dream job! Thanks to the campus recruitment programs offered by many business schools, the recruiters visit campuses to handpick good students who have the potential to meet the organization’s resource requirement. It's a deja vu experience for the students as they need to once again enter the competition arena to go through a gruelling set of placement interviews.

Spoilt for choice

Students in good business schools are spoilt for choice as a wide range of companies across sectors visit the campus. IT companies recruit in big numbers, FMCG organizations offer jobs in sales and marketing and branding, consulting firms are constantly in need of smart business graduates -- the hunt for talent is equally competitive. Many core sector companies hire students for areas like Production, operations management. Professional services companies emerged as big recruiters in the campus. However, the two perennial favourites amongst the students are strategy consulting firms and international investment banks.

How does one define 'a dream job'? Tough question indeed as it is highly person centric. Some freshers opt for the big international investment banks as they pay top dollar with excellent year-end bonus. The techies will like to work in a technology firm at the cutting edge of innovation. There are others who want to work with strategy consulting companies where one gets to interact with the Board and or Chairman of a multimillion dollar enterprise thereby participating in shaping the strategic direction of the company.

Consulting firms

There are many instances of consulting firms working with Governments in drafting new policies or leveraging IT to provide services to citizens. It is a great opportunity for young graduates to work on such initiatives in their career.

Irrespective of the choice, proper planning and preparation is required to achieve the goal of landing the job of your dreams.

How do you secure the dream job? Lauren Rivera of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in her new book Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs, identifies a few points which will help an up and coming professional.

Recruitment process

Know the recruiters and the process . The recruitment teams that visit campus are mostly staffed by line managers or as we refer to in consulting parlance -- billable partners. They are not professional recruiters. They neither have the training nor the inclination to do a thorough selection job. There will be a nominal HR representation in the team, but more often than not, the key decisions will be made by the more senior line managers. In many campuses the placement season almost resembles “speed-dating sessions” where both the recruiter and the candidate need to make critical decisions under intense time pressure.

First impression matters

This is very true in an interview setting. There are several tools available for recruitment: namely written tests, group discussion, psychometric profiling, assessment centre, reference checking and personal interviews. The most widely used methodology is interviews, even though studies indicate it is the least reliable method of selection. Interviewers subconsciously make the crucial hiring decision in the first few moments of the meeting and the rest of the interview time is used to look for evidence to validate their decision.

Subconscious choice

There are instances where a candidate is mentally hired or rejected even before he/she starts speaking in the interview! Going all out to make the great first impression is most important. Do bear in mind you have to impress, but also come across as a genuine person,

Company fit and chemistry: Senior managers who are part of the hiring team are evaluating the candidates for the right fit. Now this is a hard to define quality. In simple terms they are looking for people who are personable and easy going and who will fit into a team. In industries like consulting and investment banking, people work in teams and they spend long hours both in office and during travel, it really helps to have pleasant colleagues with a very positive attitude to help tide over nerve racking deadline situations.

Prepare, prepare and prepare

Try to know about the business as well as the culture of the company as much as possible. Sources like contacts in Linked-in or friends or alumni of the business school can assist in a big way. Assimilating all the published and public information is important but vital insights can be gleaned only from trusted sources.

The final key to success is to turn your interviewer into a champion who will act as your ambassador.

Summary note

In summary, students in top-notch business schools are known for their brain power and this today is almost a hygiene factor. The differentiating edge the recruiters in these elite firms seek is self-confidence and poise. Let’s cultivate this assiduously!

So, learn, plan, prepare and perform to make your dream job a reality!