Opening The Pandora’s Box – Placement Process At B-Schools
The choice of which b-school to choose for that coveted management degree might perhaps be the most critical decision that we take in the early part of our lives. Keeping aside the significant implications it has on our work life, in the long run, the amount of investment that goes in terms of cost (both actual and opportunity) and time is big enough to give sleepless nights to most. Terms like ROI (Return on Investment), assets, collateral etc. no longer remain unknown jargons and we are forced to quantify them on our lives. It’s not for nothing that we have a plethora of forums that try to make it easier for the candidates by providing them with any and every kind of detail that they might require in making that decision.
However, somethings are best answered by people who have actually gone through the experience and have run those nautical miles. As a one-time aspirant myself, and now, as someone who has completed his management degree from a ‘reputed’ (classification of this is again subjective and depends on the Key Performance Indices you choose) B-School, I know the primary concerns that a candidate faces and how it boils down to that one burning point – placements.
Well, fair to say, you will never get to know the exact placement figures of any college. All of them (no exceptions to the rule) guard their figures like the holy grail. The delusion notwithstanding, one can go through the numbers that are shared on popular MBA forums, bearing in mind that most of them are inflated. However, they help you know the ballpark in which the offers have been made. In this piece, however, what I want to focus on is the process that goes during the placements, the manifestation of which is seen in the form of the final CTCs offered to the candidates (the figures which you are likely to read in the news, particularly if they happen to be ‘earth-shattering,’ which is seldom the case).
Kindly note that the placement processes are mostly standardised across the institutes but there may be some differences. Use this piece for information’s sake and kindly don’t treat it as sacrosanct. The objective of this piece is to make both the candidates and their parents aware about how placements happen before they can set their ‘sky high’ expectations (this will also burst some popular myth).
It is a long read as I have tried to cover as many details as possible, but hey, when it comes to life-changing decisions, a few extra lines wouldn’t kill anybody. So, let’s get the ball rolling.
The placement process for most companies follows a 4-step structure.
1. Opening the ‘Sign-Up’ – Most companies share the job profile, their minimum requirements and the CTC (Cost to Company) that they are offering in the given campus. After going through the description, the candidate needs to decide whether he wants to appear for that company based on the information provided. If he does, he ‘signs-up’ for the company.
Note: Sometimes, representatives of companies come on campus to give a presentation on the company and the role being offered. Candidates shouldn’t take them at face-value and should get in touch with their institute’s alumni who are currently employed in the company.
2. Shortlists – Post the sign-ups, the company forwards the list of shortlisted students to the PlaceCom (Placement Committee) for the offered role. Now, this is where the mystery lies – on what grounds that list is created is known to no one. A lot of the factors like past academics, work experience, current GPA may or may not be considered. As a result, you will always (and I mean always) find a group of disgruntled candidates who feel that their candidature was perfect for the role but for some reason, their names didn’t figure in the shortlist. It becomes heartburn when it happens to be a dream company for some. While 500 candidates may sign-up based on the minimum requirements, the company can choose to shortlist all 500 of them or just 5 of them based on how whatever their criteria is and also how many people they are looking to subject to the GD/PI (Group Discussion/Personal Interview) process and the number of final offers they are going to make. Almost every company comes with a fixed quota of job offers and they very seldom go over their limit.
Note: The shortlist rejection is a hard pill to swallow, especially when it is your dream company. However, there is no point crying over spilt milk and wasting time pondering over the reason for not making the cut. Take it on your chin, move forward and focus on the other companies that are about to visit the campus.
3. Recruitment process – The shortlisted candidates are made to go through the recruitment process, which usually comprises of a ‘Group Discussion’ round followed by ‘Personal Interview’, with rounds being eliminatory in nature. The GD’s can be on general topic, abstract topic or technical topic, depending completely on the panellists moderating the GD. There can also be instances when one panel gets a general topic while the one immediately after it gets a technical topic. In short, it completely depends on your luck. As for Personal Interview, that again depends on the interviewer but subject knowledge in such cases is the least preparation you can do.
Note: Since there are so many other aspirants with similar profiles as yours, competing for the same role, luck plays a big role in determining who gets the job offer and who doesn’t. So, if you happen to be among the unlucky ones, don’t lose hope. I have known people who didn’t get through even after appearing for more than 20 interviews (the penultimate round) and are now doing very well in their lives. The idea is to keep pursuing.
4. The Job Offers – After a tedious and stressful process, which goes on for hours (sometimes it may run late into the night or even the next day), the list of candidates who have made the cut is announced. Certain companies provide merchandise as well to the selected candidates. The list is shared with the PlaceCom and the candidates are rendered OUT OF THE PLACEMENT PROCESS. Yes, you read that right! Most b-schools allow you to have only 1 campus offer and the moment you get it, you are out of the placement process and can no longer ‘sign-up’ for any other company.
Note: The one-offer rule is unknown to most, particularly the parents. Hence, it is very critical to be sure of the company that you are signing-up for because once you get the offer, there is no looking back as far as campus placements are concerned. And always remember the golden rule – campus placements are far far more easier than off-campus placements (And I again say that from personal experience).
You will seldom come across the academic topper of the batch getting the highest offer during the placements in a b-school. At the same time, you might come across the ‘five point someone’s’ going home with the highest packages. The reason for that is Placements in b-schools is like a Pandora’s box. What lies inside the chest, no one knows. There are a lot of uncertainties and external factors which are completely not in your control. There are a lot of elements (luck being one of them) that ultimately determine where you will get placed. So, if you are looking to join a b-school with a package or a dream company in mind, be rest assured, a lot of things will have to fall into place for that to happen and you might not happen to have control over all of them.
Hope this post helps in understanding how things work in professional institutes. While packages are certainly an important parameter, they shouldn’t be the only one since they aren’t completely under your control. Look out for the culture, brand name, academic rigour, infrastructure, faculty qualifications, alumni network etc. before finally making a call on any institute.
P.S. If you did find the article worthy of your time, kindly do share it on social media so that your non-MBA friends and parents can read the same (and not bug you once you get that campus offer). The reason I am saying so is because even though I have managed to bag, what my peers would call, one of the ‘dream’ jobs from the campus, I still haven’t been able to explain to my family as to why I didn’t get the highest package on campus and how I got lucky to get what I did. I failed but maybe you won’t!