Interview for a job or for market intelligence: Venkatesh G.
A few days ago, one of my friends (a security surveillance expert) attended an interview with a second rung Bangalore-based developer with a supposed turnover of more than Rs 1000 crores. The HR executive called him on the phone mentioning that he had found my friend’s profile on “Naukri” and enquired whether he was willing to attend an interview for a role reporting to the Executive Director. However, he did not mention the position but insisted that he would arrange an interview shortly. The position was for an affiliate firm of the developer that had branches in Middle East.
A week later the HR executive called my friend and informed him about the details of the interview schedule. An email also was promptly sent by the HR executive.
On the scheduled day, my friend was made to wait for 2 hours in the developer’s office in Bangalore near Outer Ring Road. Finally, at 1030 am, my friend was led to the interview panel where three gentlemen were seated. One was an elderly gentleman who was presumably a consultant who was working in the firm post his retirement from a well known MNC. Another burly gentleman called himself as the Executive Director and the third gentleman was introduced as Vice President – HR.
In the next one hour what followed was a mockery of an interview process. It was a sham. All the questions asked by the interview panel were focused more on the organization where my friend was working. The so-called consultant who seemed more voluble of all the three was firing irrelevant questions throughout.
“Are your COO and CMD related?”
“Who are the senior people left in your organization? Can you give me their names?”
Almost 80% of the questions asked by the interview panel were centered on information about my friend’s organization. The Executive Director even commented about the place where my friend was born commenting wryly that it was near the Koodankulam project.
As expected, at the end of the session, the panel informed my friend that they would revert back. It was clear to my friend that they were not interested in hiring him but were keener in extracting information about the organization. It was also sad to hear the consultant (a senior citizen) make disparaging remarks about the organization where my friend was working. Interestingly, the interview panel was not able to specify the role for which they had called my friend even after the interview was over.
Completely exhausted, my friend returned to his office only to be bombarded by calls from a Mumbai-based head hunter saying that there was a vacancy in the same organization! The head hunter later on revealed that the CEO of this organization had put in his papers and the organization was trying to poach candidates from competitive firms. The organization had used devious means to seek information about its competitor in the guise of conducting an interview with my friend. My friend is still fuming.
So, how does a candidate handle such a situation? Mumbai based HR consultant G Dharmarajan says, “ The candidate has to be alert at all times. If he finds that the interview is veering towards the wrong direction, he can always put his foot down and politely excuse himself”. Adds Ramanth Tuteja, another head hunter based in Pune - “It is sad that all this tamasha happened in front of the HR Manager. But with the real estate sector, it is futile to expect them to follow basic etiquette for conducting an interview. The so-called consultants who work in such firms (post their retirement) do more harm than good due to their loquaciousness and the tendency to put their foot-in-mouth”.
This is the reason why many promising candidates shy away from jobs in the real estate sector. Manoj Tewari, who recently quit a real estate developer after working there as GM – Business development, says, “The problem with real estate sector is the absence of scruples. When the going is good, it is too good and when the going is bad, it is too bad. Despite the so-called brand value of some real estate firms, the truth is that candidates who have experience in the real estate sector find it hard to find jobs in other sectors”.
The experience of my friend should serve as a warning to other candidates who may fall into such a trap unwittingly. However, the one positive outcome of the incident was that soon enough my friend landed a job in a well known MNC in UB City, Bangalore which is world famous for its innovations. All is well that ends well !