The results were amazing in the sheer volume of the offers that were made in Slot 1 this time. But, even as I stood there, listening to the last of the names being read out, while enveloped in the euphoria of knowing that I had achieved what I myself had considered very doubtful at the beginning of the placement season, I happened to glance at the face of a person I know very well.
Smiling and congratulating another person, X looked just like one of the other people in that room; celebrating what I call the raison d’etre of the IIMs and all B-schools, Engineering colleges etc. in India. It was a sight that immediately took away the emotions I had been going through and replaced them with the thought that life is indeed so damned unfair.
Come to think of it, the entire placement process is very unfair and frankly, very silly. Let’s see how a typical multinational bank that wants to recruit people for its Treasury function recruits. They shortlist the top 40 students or something in the batch and then subject them to that arbitrary horror called the Group Discussion – the habitat of the terrifying GD-killers, the loudmouths who seemingly know not that a Group Discussion by definition should have more than just the one person speaking!
I would really like to question the very basis for the existence of this phenomenon. Just why does this GD exist? As per the panellists of course, it exists to illustrate just which people ‘can work well in teams or groups’. What a load of crap! Having been through a fair number of these, I think I can say with a fair degree of confidence that all that a GD does is weed out the people who are not too fluent in English, not too aggressive, not too damned loud and essentially the ones who are content to discuss rather than fight! Seems rather to defeat the purpose it set out to achieve, when you consider that last point in particular!
I, personally have failed just once to clear an elimination GD (in five attempts) and this is something I put down to the fact that I generally bide my time and speak but little, preferring to think up a point that nobody else has brought up and bringing it in nicely at the point that even the panellist will notice that I contributed quality rather than quantity. I do this twice and then remain silent unless the panellist decides to ask everyone to conclude in turns or asks me to summarize.
Yet, I have to admit that this is in no small part also attributable to luck! I have never applied to the FMCG companies; and those that have assure me that those firms never fail to select solely those people who never stop talking, preferring a fish-market scenario over allowing the others a chance to speak. This though, is not just restricted to FMCG companies it would seem.
Banks somehow seem to have acquired this fetish (so to say) as well! In today’s day and age, most if not all, banks recruit for multiple functions spanning both consumer banking as well as corporate banking, the former being more of a Marketing job with little or no Finance knowledge required and the latter being the opposite. Now, I really fail to understand why a candidate applying to the latter really has to demonstrate how good he is in a GD!
Why should communication skills and teamwork be qualities you look for in a person, who is after all, just going to pore over numbers and figures all day, compute solutions to very complex equations and all in all, work individually to reach certain objectives? Just why should this person be great in a GD or exceptionally good in his fluency in the English language? Why should he be the sort who is necessarily grammatically correct all the time and who speaks accent-less English?
A number of people say about me that once I get a shortlist for an interview I will almost certainly clear it. I do take this as a compliment, yet I do not consider this to be a reflection of my true abilities. I take it purely as acknowledgement of the fact that I am perhaps more fluent and more ‘glib’ a talker than several of those around me. I do not for a moment though, believe that these qualities will in any way enable me to be superior in my work to those around me who are not so good on those parameters. Far from it, I believe that a number of them are in actual fact, far better equipped than me to excel in most fields! Through hard work, dedication and knowledge of the field, all of which I sorely lack.
It sickens me to think that the person that taught a number of people Finance could fail to reach the interview stage for any of the major banks on campus in Slot 1. Yet, the way things are structured in the placement process, this is a very real possibility. It sickens me to contemplate that one of the most intelligent people on campus could be rejected in interviews for Treasury and Corporate Banking roles because his communication skills are not ‘up to the mark’. Just what is the mark? Work skill? Or glib talk?
These people are too good to not get jobs. They are too good to not be the top performers among their peers within the next two years. There is no doubt that they will indeed be the stars that shine brightest in a very short while. Yet in the meantime, I must say that their loss is also the industry’s loss and in particular the loss of the organizations that choose façade over matter, style over substance and glib talk over real knowledge.
Yet, this thread is about more than those few. This is about those that somehow fall through the holes in that web called luck. Through no fault of theirs but merely through that fact that is fortune. There are those that somehow are missed because they state plainly who they are, rather than type the same in words designed to mislead. To those that have qualifications that set them apart from the rest in terms of true knowledge who are still considered as being not good enough to merit an interview as the course is not one that requires the top percentages.
At the end of the day, what will show is just true ability. So X, this one’s for you dude…
I chased what could do without,
You follow with the blade landing on the thorn,
You saw it not; you’ll see it once more,
The blind can’t be warned; wisdom’s never inborn