(Avadhesh Dixit is Head HR (India Region) at Moody’s corporation. He is a global HR leader who has led HR function at GE Capital, TCS and CMC Ltd both In India and outside India.)
There is one question that is always lingering in the minds of each and every student who is waiting to take a plunge into corporate life. This is also one universal question that I get asked irrespective of which Engineering or Management campus I visit.
What is it that Corporates are looking for in fresh campus graduates?
I am not surprised with this question as this is exactly what we as MBA students used to ponder about when we were graduating from Management Campus. Not that I know the perfect answer but let me share some insights based on my own HR journey of hiring thousands of engineering and management graduates and what I learnt from other HR colleagues in various organizations.
While each company may have different view but there are certain aspects that are quite common and cut across industries and companies………here you go!
- Show Energy and Passion:
This is the basic of it all. You need to be enthusiastic and passionate about the company and job for which you are appearing. The energy should be visible in your body language and preparedness about what you know about the company and job at offer. Being lazy and slow or not being prepared shows lack of interest in people sitting in front of you and the company they represent. I as interviewer will surely expect my candidates to know about my company, what we do, how we make money and the value system that we represent. Good news is that the expectation on this front are moderate if you are appearing for junior roles. However, even if fresh graduate, not being prepared about the company at all is a nonstarter. Same goes for the job and role for which you are appearing. It’s also okay to clarify the role if you do not have full understanding.
- Communication with specificity:
Many times we confuse good communication skills with fluency at language say English. This is far from the truth as Communication is all about being precise and logical in what you want to convey to your audience. Beating around the bush or being too verbose does not help here. I have seen candidates who will answer everything else but the question asked. You can build the context to the answer but can’t lose sight of the core question and its intent. Another critical dimension of communication is listening. Answering questions without fully listening or comprehending is not going to go well.
- Demonstrate keenness to learn:
At this stage of your career, you are not expected to know everything and more so if you do not have any prior work experience. So what matters is how you demonstrate keenness to learn in new organization and how you can convince that you have learnt in the past applied the same in different settings. No one is expecting you to be a master of everything but not keen to learn is not acceptable. And yes its okay for you to say that you don’t know something that is being asked. This will not go against you but beating around the bush will!
- Critical Thinking:
This one is the most crucial one in my mind. This happens to be one such great skill that is mantra for success in all kind of professions. Ability to reason out critically and draw valid and coherent conclusion is something so missing in many candidates. This skill can be assessed through giving you some situations and then asking you about Pros and Cons of taking a particular position. Example: what’s your view on impact of social media on students’ concentration and their academic performance? How you logically you approach the said subject will demonstrate your critical thinking side. We do encounter candidates who are all over the place and can’t even defend their won simple prepositions with facts and logic. In these cases one wonders how he/she is going to build and defend simple business cases in highly consensus driven decision making.
- Master only a few subjects and better prove that you are a master at them:
This one is my favorite practical tip to students who are aspiring to get into the corporate world. Most of you will be asked about subjects or areas that you like as a student. This question is your golden opportunity to prove your knowledge and dedication as a student. Talk about 1-2 subjects that you really like and you have mastery over them. The catch here is that when you say I love some subject/topics then you better know them well. Since you have self-selected the subjects, you have no excuse but to know them well. The same applies to your summer project. I have seen many conversations that last only around summer projects. If you have done a good job of your summer project then that’s an opportunity to keep the conversation around it. Again spending too much time on summer project that is poorly executed could go against you. More than your knowledge these questions also demonstrate how seriously you pursue and seek knowledge for things that you like. You like something and not know it deeply is almost a sin at these interviews especially when the choice is exercised by you.
- Humility in action:
The final one is being humble and showing it through your conversations. All of us are blessed with some skills that make us unique. Interview is a sales process but overdoing it works the other way. You cannot afford to display over confidence at any stage of the process. Remember that you will be surrounded by people who probably know more than you and who have seen it all. Your best chance is to join them and learn and grow with them.
Overall, it’s all about who you are as a person. Knowledge and skills are a key differentiator but they are not the final deciding element. There is more to finding right people and your communication skills, listening ability, humility, critical thinking and mastery over what you like should get you there!
Happy Career Building!
If you wish ask to any question to Avadhesh then send the same to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to answer in the next edition.