|Is India Inc. getting better sensitized on sexual harassment? | 13th Sep., 2018
|Exciting, but tough | 18th Sep., 2018
Start-ups are over that honeymoon phase where their mere mention would excite candidates on the other end of the spectrum.
Full Coverage:Exciting, but tough
|Job interview tips from Fortune 500 CEOs and top hiring | 25th Jan, 2019
Most people get nervous when it’s time for a job interview. Students, who are entering the job industry as freshers and are looking for a life-changing opportunity, need to focus on some ground rules while facing a job interview. The whole process of hiring isn’t about opting for a candidate with required skill sets; instead, it encompasses the overall personality and behavioural analysis of a person.
The interviewer always looks for perfection a candidate with the right knowledge, quality skills, discipline, presentation, positive attitude, and much more.
Some of the most important job interview tips from Fortune 500 CEOs and top hiring executives that can ensure you land the job are:
1. Do your homework well
Thoroughly research the company before your job interview.
This is very important. Just like in life, I think it’s very important to go well prepared for an interview. One of the biggest mistakes that I have often seen candidates make, is to go unprepared for the interview, thinking that it is a casual interaction and they are just going for an open conversation.
It stems from the fact that either they are not too keen on the job at the first place, or worse still, they want to explore more, but don’t have the time and inclination to research and find out more information.
Nothing puts off a prospective employer more than an unprepared or a casual candidate. Whatever your interest levels for a job are, it is very important to show the right intent.
And by homework I certainly don’t mean going through a few pages of the website (while it is
important as well). Make sure you have read up as much about the company, their businesses, P&L, read up their annual reports, went through the profile of the person(s) you are going to meet, read/ watch their interviews if they have done any.
Try and do a SWOT analysis of the organization. Find out what are they good at, not so good at and can be better at.
At senior levels, most of the interviews get decided by how well a candidate has thought on
these points. Most often, the job goes to the candidate who comes the most prepared, shows the right intent, has done his homework well and asks the right questions.
The job doesn't go to a candidate who may have the best CV and credentials but didn't invest enough time and effort to make an impression on the prospective employer.
2. Make a crisp introduction
Keep your interview introduction brief!
This is the most important point and most often decides the fate of the interview, and a point where 80% of the candidates go wrong. Everybody loves talking about themselves, but forget a simple fact, that most people are poor listeners.
A lot of interviewers will start the interview by asking for a brief introduction, but candidates
would go endlessly long in introducing themselves and telling right from the time they were born to the date today, trying to take them through to each of their roles at length and end up either consuming significant amount of time, or boring the interviewer to an extent that he is praying for you to stop.
Always remember to make a brief and crisp introduction about yourself, cover both personal as well as professional summaries, cover your key milestones, and leave the field open enough for areas where you want the interviewer to focus upon.
All this should ideally not take more than 1.5-2 minutes, so that it gives both sides the chance to open up the conversation and get into more details on different subjects.
3. Dress well for the interview
This is very important as well, and often enough, taken lightly by the candidates. Very often we hear comments like I will wear what I feel like, I will dress up just like I go to work everyday, or Who cares how one dresses up in today’s digital age.
Now, while for certain roles, especially in technology, this may be ok at times to dress up casually, but for most other jobs, it is important to dress well, wear your best formals and make a good impression.
We always tell our candidates to dress up well for an interview, and show that you want the job. Eventually, dressing up well will never harm, but may just help you get a job.
For men, it is always recommended to wear a nicely tailored formal suit (basic, solid and understated colors and not one of the brighter ones please), wearing a tie is recommended but optional, depending on your comfort levels, nature of the job being interviewed for, and some idea of the person you are meeting with.
In case you know the interviewer prefers wearing a tie, one must make an attempt to wear one as well.
For women, choice between wearing western formals or Indian ethnic like a saree always
exists. Wear what you feel is comfortable, and again some idea on the culture in the
prospective organization can give you an idea to choose between the two.
4. Wear a smile
The most powerful and evergreen accessory to carry along for an interview is a smile. Always remember to smile, when you meet, greet and even during the course of the interview -- just a little, and not a wide grin though.
It always creates a positive impression, and creates a lasting image. A person is always more than likely to remember a person who was pleasing and maintained a nice smile.
5. Ask relevant questions
Always remember to ask questions. Come prepared with a couple of questions that you would want to know from the prospective employer.
Most of the time, questions come at the end of the discussion and it gives an opportunity to make one great closing impression. This is a tricky one, and one needs to pay attention to this.
Interviewers love candidates who ask intelligent questions as it gives them a perspective on the way a person thinks.
At the same time, a dumb question, or an unrelated question, or a self-explanatory question can equally tick the interviewer off, and can undo all the good work one may have done in the entire length of the conversation.
It again boils down to how well have you prepared yourself for the interview, but nonetheless, it is always advisable to carry a few questions along and bring them at an opportune time, depending on the flow of the conversation.
Also, equally important is to keep it restricted to one or two key questions, and not barrage the interviewer with a flurry of questions. Remember, you are the one being interviewed, and not the other way around.
- Article by Agamjeet Dang, Managing Partner, and Executive Access (Executive Search
Full Coverage:Job interview tips from Fortune 500 CEOs and top hiring executives
|Mistakes CXO Candidates Make During Interview |28th Feb, 2019
While interviewing for CXO positions, the candidates need to avoid some of the common mistakes that can certainly bring them failure instead of success.
The C-level corporate executive positions are witnessing a drastic overturn as millennials are taking the lead and securing the top positions. They aren’t just attaining big positions with bigger responsibilities, but they also get a chance to explore their true potential and showcase their strengths. While interviewing for CXO positions, the candidates need to avoid some of the common mistakes that can certainly bring them failure instead of success. Some of these mistakes are:
1. First and foremost, candidates seek jobs when they think they need one. Remember the golden rule, you don’t choose your jobs when you really need one, instead, you choose jobs which are the best for you, in terms of competencies, culture fit, future aspirations etc. Great jobs don’t wait for you, and you have to
make sure you are going to the right one. And hence, it is important to view opportunities with an open mind, when you time on your hand, have a cushion of a job which you like and doing well at it. It’s important to play from a position of strength, and not from desperation. People make poor professional decisions, when they are desperately looking out.
2. Another common mistake candidates make is that they get swayed away by the brand perception of the prospective employer. I think sometimes we are too brand conscious, and we often go with the brand which is the most well- known. So many times, candidates reject great offers from brands which are relatively lesser known, in favor of companies, which may have a better brand perception, only to regret
later. Remember, “All that glitters is not Gold”, and even some of the best brands (so to say) may have a bad culture, and that too, what may work for someone else may not work for you, and hence one shouldn’t generalize that if the brand is good, the job would be good with them as well, as it is important to know the right kind of culture which will suit you the most. Also, referring Jim Collins (famous author of Good to Great), how many brands that we knew of yesterday, would still feature amongst the greatest organizations today. And worse still, how many of those, will continue to exist tomorrow. And hence, it is important to look at the role, and the content of the job, understand what will bring the best out of you, and then decide
for yourself, rather than be over-enthused with the brand of the prospective employer.
3.One bigger mistake that I have often seen candidates make is to go unprepared for the meeting/ interview, thinking that it is a casual interaction and they are just going for an open conversation. It stems from the fact that either they are not too keen on the job at the first place, or worse still, they want to explore more, but don’t have the time and inclination to research and find out more information. Nothing puts off a prospective employer more than an unprepared or a casual candidate. I often say to my candidates “even if you don’t think you are absolutely excited about the job in the first place, please make sure that you create 1/2 the best impression and show the right intent. Let the decision to accept/ decline the job offer be with you, and not with the prospective employer, who didn’t like you enough at the first place, because of a poor interview.” Let the choice be yours, and not turn into a story of “Grapes are sour”. Most often, the job goes to the candidate, who comes the most prepared, shows the right intent, has done his homework well and
asks the right questions. And not to a candidate, who may have the best CV and credentials, but didn’t invest enough time and effort to make an impression on the prospective employer.
4.Another mistake, though in continuation to the previous one, is that many times candidates feel it is not important to dress up well for an interview. And very often we hear comments like “I will wear what I feel like”, “I will dress up just like I go to work every-day”, or “Who cares how one dresses up in today’s digital age”. Now, while for certain roles, especially in technology, this may be ok at times to dress up casually, but for most other jobs, it is important to dress well, wear your best formals and make a good impression. We always tell our candidates to dress up well for an interview, and show that you want the job. “Eventually, dressing up well will never harm, but may just help you get a job.”
Full Coverage:Mistakes CXO Candidates Make During Interview
|Business World - Parameters of Choosing C- level hiring post lockdown | 27th April, 2020
The current scenario has led some companies to reduce/freeze hiring until the economic impact is assessed but several are continuing to recruit in a bid to reduce the pace of business
The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent country-wide lockdown has severely impacted India's economy. Due to the unprecedented challenges, most of the organizations are already witnessing a significant decline in revenues, falling demand and hence this is likely to lead to job losses. It has become one of the biggest threats for financial markets, taking businesses, startups, and employees across industries for a wild, and notably scary ride.
According to the United Nations Conference on World Trade and Development, the coronavirus epidemic might cost the global economy $1-2 trillion in 2020, which has already started to pinch several sectors. The industries world over are bearing the brunt including Aviation, Hospitality, Retail, Entertainment, Tourism, Logistics, and many others including Financial Services. Leading economists are saying that what lies ahead could be worse than the “Great Recession”, some go so far as to say- a depression lies in the near future. According to them, even if the COVID-19 cases decline, the effects of the 1/3 lockdown will continue for at least a few quarters and will take around 6-9 months for things to start normalizing. Increasingly, we will notice that businesses will not operate in the same manner and the period of uncertainty and challenges will remain.
The current scenario has led some companies to reduce/freeze hiring until the economic impact is assessed but several are continuing to recruit in a bid to reduce the pace of business slowdown. This said several companies who were not adequately digital-ready are keen to hire Chief Digital / Technology Officers or transformation experts at a quick pace. Hence, there lies an opportunity to be tapped.
The current situation is likely to change some of the competencies that companies will look at while hiring, namely:
Interviewers will increasingly try to look at EQ (emotional intelligence/quotient) far more than IQ (intelligence quotient) as that’s more critical and will be a key differentiator among candidates. The way you deal with the situations and take decisions calmly which are not only intellectually but also emotionally right will become more pronounced.
Courage of conviction
Organizations are likely to prefer candidates who display the courage of conviction, are calm and composed in their thought process, and don’t fear to make decisions. This time will expect leaders to take the bull by the horns and need to stay the course.
An often used competency, but is most critical at this juncture. As most strategic plans have gone out of the window and been replaced by business continuity plans and quarterly/monthly plans in some cases; leaders will have to be adept at managing change. Also, at this stage with several organizations laying off employees will lead to roles being merged. Hence, employees who can quickly adapt, wear multiple hats, and be open to change will be more successful.
Risk Management and Cost prudence
Leaders must understand how to assess risks and mitigate them. Along with it, they should also be sensible when it comes to being cost prudent. More and more decision making is going to be based on sound business fundamentals, sound, and traditional risk management fundamentals. At such challenging times, the businesses which will survive will possibly the ones who will have cash on their balance sheets. Companies having cash in their reserves will be able to tide through this storm more efficiently and are likely to be more ready when the times change for the good. At the same time, businesses that are over-leveraged may struggle to pass through the coming months and quarters, will 2/3 find it difficult to service the debt and many may actually fold down. The age-old advice of our forefathers, of conserving cash and building savings, and funnelling savings into investments may come truer than ever before.
Age is just the number
With so much happening all around the world and companies’ future at stake, it calls for extraordinary leadership skills on the part of C-level executives. Hence, we will see organisations throw the concept of age out of the window and paving the way for more experience. Summarily, as Shakespeare quoted in Julius Caesar said: “Experience is the teacher of all things”.
Full Coverage:Parameters of Choosing C- level hiring post lockdown
|The Statesman - : The challenging job of managing an organisation in the time of Lockdown | 29th April, 2020
We must understand that even after the situation becomes normal, the old way of doing business may not work and dealing with the new normal will be completely different.
We are living in unprecedented times, and no one has actually seen anything like this before, and everything else just pales in comparison. All logic, data, precedence is getting thrown out of the window. Not only has the world changed but so have the rules of doing business. Most certainly, the talent required to run business in these unprecedented times is very different now as the key business challenges have changed. Giving a cricketing analogy, just like you need a very different skillset and mindset to survive and thrive on spin-friendly tracks, likewise, it is an absolutely different ballgame to survive on green tops with swing and bounce under completely hostile conditions. It’s not easy to change one’s technique overnight, and it definitely requires some key characteristics to excel in diverse conditions.
Similarly, coming back to the corporate world, there needs to be a rethink, rewiring of talent, thought process and training to come out trumps and survive first in these 1/3 challenging times, as well as succeed in the post lockdown order. And, we must understand that even after the situation becomes normal, the old way of doing business may not work and dealing with the new normal will be completely different.
Universally, one needs to focus on the DNA of the candidate even more as neither have we been trained to work in this dynamic environment nor can we bank on old track record as the current business dynamics are completely new. Therefore, we do need to validate personal traits and mindset of a candidate far more. In my professional opinion, the following traits become very important.
1. Ability to work in ambiguity – This trait will become more and more pronounced. The business environment continues to become more challenging, and it is very important for the leaders to be able to work under ambiguity, with little or no precedent and be able to take decisions. While Indian organizations are generally better than Multinationals on this aspect, but we need to watch out for this trait more than ever in the leaders of tomorrow.
2. Quick decision making – Again, ability to make quick decisions, with little data, backing your gut, going by logic more, and not sitting and be found napping later would be the key in this new world order.
3. Out of box thinking – I think ability to come up with new ideas, out of the box thinking, spotting opportunities before anyone else does, will be of paramount importance. Need for creativity and innovation is always appreciated, and I feel it will be even more so in the times ahead.
4. Bottom line orientation as cash will be the king – Managing cash flows will be important, not only today but even more so tomorrow. We are already seeing companies with cash balances in the books sitting relatively better than the others. I think the need for a prudent leader, who is very strongly bottom line oriented, and does away with all profligate spending, someone who knows how to run a tight ship always, will be weighed in gold.
5. Calm demeanor – There will be more shocks and surprises as we go along so ability to stay calm and not panic is important. It is important for the leader to be calm under all circumstances with a balanced head, as people and colleagues will look upto the person to guide them.
6. Authenticity – I feel what will also test the mettle of leaders and companies more than ever will be authentic leadership. It will be important for the leaders to be authentic in their conduct, be open and transparent with the organization in terms of communication.
7. Execution Ability – Leaders will also be known for their relentless execution, staying the course and being constantly at it. I think the stamina, the stomach for a fight will be
tested for the leaders of tomorrow and one has to be up for it more than ever.
Full Coverage:The challenging job of managing an organisation in the time of Lockdown
|The Economic Times - Unprecedented Crisis calls for extraordinary leadership | 13th May, 2020
We are witnessing a time of tremendous change worldwide. With the continuous spread of novel coronavirus, countries across the world are grappling to curb its impact. The cascading effects of the global pandemic have shaken the global economy and businesses across sectors are bearing the brunt of market crash with some near to closure. With no clarity as to when normal course of life will resume, the situation remains gloomy.
Considering the uncertain times, there are two most likely possibilities. Firstly, the situation may remain bad for 3-6 months (in fact, may become worse in the immediate period), but followed by a quick “V” shape recovery, in which case, economy recovers quickly, businesses come roaring back and the consumers forget that all this ever happened, though there are less and less people optimistic about such a scenario happening with each passing day. Most of the research and experts are pointing towards the second scenario, i.e. the economy and society suffers through a period of six months, and demand starts picking up slowly after, people and businesses start resuming activity intermittently, and eventually in a period of 3-6 months from then, things start getting back to their normalcy. In which case, we are talking about the whole of this year, i.e. 20-21 being virtually written off.
Either of these scenarios would require leaders to stand out as there is a popular belief that the world may not be the same ever again. With so much happening all around and companies’ future at stake, it calls for extraordinary leadership on the part of CXOs to ensure that they not only survive first, but also tide through with minimum damage and with maximum possible chance of capitalizing when the economy recovers. Now, I know this is far easier said than done, and it is only prudent to talk about survival, and may be too fanciful to talk about building strengths and looking at opportunities, but this is what life is all about, isn’t it? Looking at opportunities when there exists none, and thinking differently than the herd.
Here are a few things that I would suggest that all leaders should keep in mind:
Bring down your cost structures
One need not over-emphasise the importance of this point. It is absolutely essential that the organizations and their leaders look at every cost very minutely at this time, and try and operate with as little as one can. Depending on whether you are manufacturing or a services business, your overall cost structure would be generally operating anywhere between 70%- 90%, and with revenues dropping to almost to half (even 80-90% in some businesses), one would need to look at each cost very minutely.
Start with your non-personnel cost first – rent, electricity, travel (anyways down to zero right now), marketing, business development and all such expenditures need to be relooked. One would have to look at personnel costs also carefully, as this will always be the highest for all organizations. Many organizations have already resorted to large scale layoffs for the non-essential staff or are resorting to deep pay-cuts. It is only recommended that the leaders look at it from a humane standpoint, and follow the mandate of the government in spirit. One would have to consider the implications of job losses and the non-availability of jobs in the market for the affected ones at this point. I am hearing a lot of positive stories of organizations preferring organization wide salary reductions, implemented in the top down manner (with the junior most given the least pinch) as well as covering for the barest essentials for the employees (school fees for children, rentals and other household expenses), and trust me that will win over your people for the longest time.
Drive operational efficiencies, build frugality
I have been saying this over and over again, and am a strong believer in driving efficiencies in tighter times. Generally, when the machinery is running full throttle, and growth is a given, it is easy to run a profligate business and not bother about efficiencies. But when the times are tough, it is all the more important to look at every business, every function, every process and look at efficiencies. It would not only help you bring down some of the costs further as I mentioned above, but more importantly help you run a far tighter ship, and make you absolutely ready and far sharper, when the iron is hot again.
It is also important to build a frugal mindset. Think of yourself as a business manager more than ever, and look at everything you do with that lens.
Build capabilities - will come in extremely handy
These are times when one has to keep the building blocks for the future in mind. This is why building capabilities for the future is more critical than ever. Now, there may be a counter argument to this that no one really knows the future in these uncertain times (eventually, who would have thought of Covid), but nonetheless, which ever business you are in, it is important to do a little crystal ball gazing, and use internal resources for building capabilities in key areas. Especially, if you have built reserves over the years, it is important to keep some of that aside and build strong capabilities in key areas. These will be weighed in gold when business activity picks up.
Plan for key skills now
In line with the above, it is a little bit contrarian, but important nonetheless to look at some key skills for the future as well. While it may be all doom and gloom at the moment, and it is only natural that organizations and leaders will try and preserve the existing, it is still important to look at what you have internally at the moment. There may be skills which were anyways not present yesterday, but may become absolutely necessary tomorrow, for instance CIO/CTO roles or digital transformation or analytics, risk, governance, fund raising and many more. You may be well advised to keep your eyes and ears open to such talent. There may also be good bargains available and you as a leader would be well advised to capitalize on this.
Keep a positive mind-set
Remember, you are not alone in this. What you, as an organization, as a leader and as an employee, are going through is not unique to you. Your industry may be slightly more impacted due to the nature of the business, but this pandemic has hit us all with equal force, across the globe, and no one is really spared. So, no point fretting about it or letting negativity creep in. It is important to keep a positive mind-set, and try and be of more use to your company and the leadership. One has to assume more responsibilities in these times, and the least you can do is to spread a little bit of positivity and optimism, however little it may be. As they say, “This too shall pass.”
Again, it is of utmost importance to be as authentic as you can be in your communication. I have been saying this aloud, but the need for authentic leaders is and will be felt more than ever. Be honest, transparent, but more importantly thought through in your communication. Your teams, subordinates will be looking up to you as leaders for communication, direction and way forward. It is in times like these that one gets the true test of leadership. It is in times like these that the “Men will be differentiated from the boys”. So, communicate as authentically as you can. Your people will love you and stand with you, even if it means making small sacrifices for you and the organization. In fact, you will ensure long term longevity and retention for your people.
Full Coverage:Unprecedented Crisis calls for extraordinary leadership
|ET HR World: Laying-off is not a 3-minute decision; it can have a long-term repercussion on your Employer Brand | 11th August, 2020
While layoff may be the only viable option for many companies, the way it is carried out plays a crucial role.
With first quarter growth set to decline by anywhere between 30-40%, and both India and world economy staring at a recession this financial year, doing business has never been tougher before. Most companies have de-grown in the first two months of the year, and many of them by as much as 80-90% in terms of top-line. It’s been a fight to survive, with most companies being forced to cut down costs by as much as 40-50%, and with employee cost being invariably the highest component, sadly, a lot of talks about lay-offs are doing the rounds, not only within the startup ecosystem, but across businesses and companies, big and small, Indian as well as multinationals.
Too frequently, we have seen companies firing hundreds of their employees over a three-minute zoom call or a mail. While layoff may be the only viable option for many companies, the way it is carried out plays a crucial role. It has been a phase of completely unexpected turn of events for most of us, but an important realisation is just how essential it is to support laid-off employees as they exit an organisation. If companies can spend big numbers on the hiring process, won't it be prudent to spend a small fraction on the layoff process?
The reality is that while organisations do take their hiring processes very seriously, and they feel it goes a long way in building the right employer brand, very few actually realise that conversely layoffs, if not done in a humane manner, can damage employer brand in the immediate as well as long run. Too frequently organisations do bad layoffs, do them for the wrong reason, or worse, do both that have lasting negative knock-on effects.
It is here that an expert in the form of an Outplacement service plays a very important role. It enables companies to gain expert advice before any impact and help train their HR departments and managers with best practices for handling the separation with empathy. Career transition experts not only play a key role in helping employees deal with these tough times, but also in managing employer brands’ goodwill.
Offering outplacement service resonates with employees letting them know that the company takes care of its employees even when they have to exit. This leaves a favourable opinion for the organisation as a whole, about their superiors and subordinates, promoting a great place to work image and thereby building brand value. Outplacement is a vital element of talent mobility. When the opportunity to redeploy does not exist, outplacement is the next natural progression. Organisations that focus on helping and supporting their employees while restructuring or doing layoff process enjoy better brand protection. It also gives a tremendous comfort to the remaining employees and goes a long way in ensuring their better productivity and long-term commitment.
Outplacement services can help an organisation with a lot more than they can imagine, resulting in a much superior and engaging process:
1. Helping organisations decide objectively
Layoff should not be a random decision made overnight. Such decisions are crucial to a person's career, and hence require a process. At no cost, this decision should be influenced by favouritism and biases. Having a clear methodology will allow companies to minimize the harm layoffs cause. Outplacement experts help address crucial questions? Who should I let go and who not? How do I deal with this objectively? How do I communicate and break the news? What should I tell the retained staff so that they remain committed? How will I be perceived in the market?
2. Effective Communication
How would it feel if someone calls you or mails you to convey that you have been rendered jobless? It can mentally break a person. Communication plays a key role in every organisational decision. Sometimes even best intentions are not communicated effectively. Specialists play an important role here. They can guide better on the process. Also, they can help employee absorb the shock. It’s understandable and expected for the affected employee to feel upset, angry, resentful, de-spirited and lost in the beginning. He/she needs a shoulder, a vent to let it out. First couple of conversations with the person are absolutely important to set the tone and help the employee realize that this is for real and help come to terms with the decision.
3. Broadening Horizons
The biggest worry for the affected employee is to understand where all could the skills come in handy. After working in a particular role or an industry for a very long time, employees tend to get straightjacketed in their minds in terms of possibilities. An outplacement / career transitioning coach has to sit the person down, and help the employee realize where all could his/her skills fit in, and help broaden the horizons.
4. Helping find the right match
Next and most critical step is to help match the skills with the available opportunities outside. Again, this is something which outplacement agencies are good at as they have visibility to roles outside, have the right contacts and relationships which can open doors for the affected employee, often resulting in a successful outplacement in 3-6 months’ time frame.
Summing It All Up
Finding a new job in the present situation will take longer and will require more flexibility, preparation, tenacity, and creative thinking from the job seeker. This means that companies in the unfortunate position of having to conduct layoffs must be sensitive and cognizant to the increased needs of affected employees and respond in kind by providing employment help and support.
Full Coverage:Laying-off is not a 3-minute decision; it can have a long-term repercussion on your Employer Brand