Network. Talk to neighbors, to your gym buddy, and have those general cafeteria discussions. You will be surprised by the flood of opinions sans any vested interest that no internet search will ever give you
A standard question that I ask on campus is, “Tell me three things you would like to have ticked off in your to do list, three years from accepting this job.” The answers say a lot about what the candidate’s priorities are
It’s 2:45pm. I am on my fourth interview for the day. And I start the probe again. “What have you heard of MphasiS?”
“You are an over a billion dollar company, with a global presence. Your CEO…”
“So why do you want to join MphasiS?”
“It is a great company...employee first culture… wonderful policies...”
“Tell me some not so nice things you have heard of MphasiS?”
“Huh? What?! (Sheepish smile -- are you for real?? Rise of eyebrows, and post some major brain wracking)... Actually it’s the fact that MphasiS is performance-driven (What??!)…more insane explanations…yawn… I am ready to sleep… sorry, move!
I just played back in my head the 40 interviews over the last four weeks that we’d conducted in the best campuses around the world. Yep! Its campus time again and I love it. Every year I meet bright, talented and “hungry” students looking to make a name for themselves in the world. And for the most part, I always walk away feeling proud of today’s youth and a little paranoid about how much time I have left in my career before one of these bright sparks knocks me out!
But every year, I find it a little disappointing that such smart people, who take so much time on their betterment – whether it is through education, adaption or compromise – fail to spend even a little time in getting to know about “the other side of the table”.
My yawn moment was these three stock questions that I asked the prospectives for this prestigious program! My objective was to find out how much they think through their important decisions.
For a moment, let us forget about jobs. What would you do if you were buying a new phone?
- Decide what you want the phone for: calls and text? Office emails? FB and videos? All of the above? If you are like my friends Lui or NN (all real names, much to the glee of their spouses), you just want change, and the only constant is how to convince the spouse!
- How much are you willing to pay? An equivalent of a night out or ‘an arm and a leg’?
- Once done with this, you zero in on options.
- Now what? Research:
- Talk to people who are already using the phone
- Google like your life depended on it, to read all reviews from CNET to Mouthshut.
- If you are not confused by all the data, you buy the phone, and hopefully you are happy.
If this is what most of us will do for a phone, then why not for a job you would spend most of your waking hours in? I don’t know the answer for that, but I know the answer for what happens when you don’t!
You have to look at this question or answer in the context of where we are in the job market! The world around us has dramatically changed. The corporate life style is no longer categorized by cushioned entries, ensured promotions, and the inevitable onsite opportunity. Every level of the corporate pyramid has its own set of woes. The cost of a bad decision can mean a few years of derailment, disillusionment, and missing out on the fun of working in a place you love, with people you enjoy, and doing the work that makes you feel good even if it is 80 hour weeks!
To help you make the right decision, research is KEY. Here are some research tips.
- Reach out to your alumni. Trust me, alumni allegiance runs deeper, and you will get honest feedback.
- Ask the right questions for you! A great place for someone may be hell for you. Instead of, “Are you happy”, ask questions such as, “How do decisions get taken around here? What work hours do you keep? How flexible is the organization?” The questions should be designed to get the data you want.
- Check the internet. When I posed this question on twitter and FB, Gautam Ghosh (@gautamghosh) promptly responded with check glass door. Spot on, and he should know! But be cautious here: I recommend this not to take your decision but to frame your research and your questions.
- Check their Senior Management. Rahul Anandani (@rahulanandani) from Deloitte had this to say on Twitter: Check out their profiles on the website, Google their names, and dig deeper on LinkedIn. You will get a feel of how the company functions, and what drives them. The same thought was echoed by Sumeet Salwan of KPMG on Facebook. Go beyond the obvious. For instance, a company that frequently changes their Head of HR, or has their CEOs through revolving doors may ring some alarm bells.
- Network. Talk to neighbors, to your gym buddy, and have those general cafeteria discussions. You will be surprised by the flood of opinions sans any vested interest that no internet search will ever give you.
Of course, all this research would have been for nothing if you don’t know what you want. If you want just another job, don’t waste your time. A standard question that I ask on campus is, “Tell me three things you would like to have ticked off in your to do list, three years from accepting this job.” The answers say a lot about what the candidate’s priorities are. You must ask yourself the same question as you start the search. By the way, this is not just about external job searches. Given the size of some organizations, this holds good even for an internal move!
Good luck and as always would love to hear your feedback. For those of you gearing up for the interview season, I recommend you also check out my April 2011 column, ‘An Interviewlogue: No Method In The Madness’