Ever wondered what is it that is keeping you from rising up the success ladder in your organisation? Parul Banka a Human Resources and Training professional finds out more about the traits companies look for in freshers.
Srinivas is a senior manager working with a leading IT organisation in India and comes with over 13 years of experience across a large gamut of functions in the IT industry.
He spoke with me and listed out the traits he feels are absolutely indispensable at work.
1. Willingness to learn
"What are the main qualities that you look for when you visit college campuses for recruitment or hire freshers? These people have no prior work experience to corroborate if they would fit into your profile? What helps you to make decisions?" I asked, Srinivas.
Srinivas: "I would look for attitude of the person. The first one is: Willingness to learn. It is the inclination of a person to take up new tasks involving skill sets s/he isn't already aware of. While the person may not have corporate work experience to support the answers, the experiences from college or extra-curricular activities could be used. "
Parul: "Correct! I had a batchmate, Anil, in college, who did not know English. Since, his education was not in English medium, he could read English but could not construct even two sentences correctly.
When he joined college in Mumbai, communicating with others was very challenging for him. People in class spoke English most of the times and professors spoke in English only. In the beginning of the term, we had a session wherein more than 100 students were present.
We were doing a team exercise and after the task was over, we were asked to share our experiences. Anil wanted to appreciate a lady colleague but ended up saying something else that turned out to be very inappropriate. The lady flushed with embarrassment and all the students started laughing.
Unfortunately, Anil did not even understand what went wrong. I still remember his face clearly, looking confused, embarrassed and guilty.
While his mistake made him a laughing stock that day, he decided to learn what he lacked the English language.
He went to our 'Communications' teacher and sought her help. She guided him and he worked hard.
The result was that with incessant practice, he picked up the language well in 1.5 years and was ready to face placement interviews with as much command on the language as anyone else was.
This, I believe, is a perfect example of attitude to learn. No wonder, he is one of the most successful people today from our batch.
Moving back to the discussion about a person's attitude, what is the next trait, you would look for?"
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
2. Learn to be patient
Srinivas: Patience is the second trait I would look for.
Parul: How would you adjudge if a person is patient or not?
Srinivas: The way a candidate listens to your question and answers can give you a hint. How patient is he in listening to your question before jumping into answering it.
If it is a situation-based question regarding problem solving, say put them into a situation and ask them how they would deal with it, the response gives a fair idea.
Parul: Yes, but practical solutions might not always be the right solutions. Giving such an answer could get tricky for the candidate. What kind of a response would be acceptable to you to demonstrate the 'practical' aspect of personality?
Srinivas: Example of a situation where you have been in a difficult situation and how you devised a workable solution to that situation. It helps to demonstrate understanding of the real world instead of giving hypothetical ideal answers.
Freshers/students can cite such examples from their college life. During one of the interview discussions, I met a student who was a member of the annual function organising committee in his college.
He narrated his experience of how he went about arranging sponsorship for the event.
It was the year 2001 and because of recession, organisations had cut down such extra expenses.
He had to work hard to get the required sponsorship and make the event successful. He would not have been successful, if he were not patient.
Parul: Yes, I am sure that he would have worked really hard for sponsorship in a year when the budgets were slashed off. Lot of times, young employees get impatient as they want to progress really fast in the corporate world.
It is important to be driven and ambitious but they should have patience to learn the current domain adequately before moving on to the next one. What is the next quality that you would look for?
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
3. Always, always keep a positive attitude
Srinivas: Positive attitude definitely would be the next trait. Anil's example not only shows his willingness to learn but also his positive attitude.
While he was learning the language, he would have made mistakes and must have been laughed at many times but he did not give up until he succeeded."
Parul: Yes, I completely agree with you. So, what comes next on the list of desirable traits of a candidate?
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
4. Ask yourself if you can make a difference
Srinivas: Intent to make a difference comes next.
Parul: How would you differentiate between people who are just big mouths versus the genuine folks? This one can be really tricky to judge.
Srinivas: It is challenging but usually asking questions based on what is written in the resume gives an idea.
People who are genuine usually speaks quite passionately about the work they've done, others just skim through. If you probe a candidate based on what he says, you can mostly find out if he knows the subject or if he is trying to talk you into it.
Parul: What is one thing that you always consider while recruiting? I ask this as you have reputation of picking up the best of the candidates.
Srinivas: My gut feeling. Usually we ignore instincts and personal feelings at work thinking that we have to be logical in business.
But business is always personal as it is largely about managing relationships with people. Of course, experience helps to get the gut talking in the right manner. (Smiles)
Parul: Thanks a lot, Srinivas. I hope that both our candidates as well as recruiters would learn a lot from this article.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier