Case Study: Interview and Selection


Prof. Dileep Kumar. M

Prof. Ramarajan is working as Professor in HR in Institute for Research Management and Administration (IRMA), one of the prestigious institutes in Pune. He had a track record of 12 international publications, 24 national publications, one book, 10 research projects, vast experience in corporate training and teaching. His area of expertise is widely acknowledged in the teaching and training areas of Human Resource Development. Since his family settled at Hyderabad, he would like to switch over to one of the best institute in Hyderabad.

Quiet fortunately, he had seen an advertisement in the times of India, in the month of May 2006, inviting faculty positions in the MSCI (Management Staff College, India), Hyderabad. Quiet enthusiastically, he applied for the post of faculty in HRD in MSCI. He came to know that MSCI has been all along engaged in imparting training for IAS, IFS, IRS, like professionals and the industrial managers. The institute is engaged in research and training, at large with the public sector industrial organizations and currently running programs in the areas of health management like MHA (Master of Hospital Management), PGDHA (Post Graduate Diploma in Hospital Administration and many certificate programs like, Urban Management, rural management, Water Management, Waste Management, Public Administration etc., for governmental staffs and the public sector managers etc.

In the month of May 10th 2006, Prof. Ramarajan had applied for the post of faculty in MSCI. After two months, in July, he got an interview call letter from MSCI, indicating that he has been short listed for the post of SRF (Senior Research Fellow). Looking at the interview call letter he became quiet surprised and annoyed. MSCI has called him for SRF position, which is far below to his present position of Associate Professor. Since the interview call letter was sent by the Asst. Registrar MSCI, Prof. Ramarajan has tried to make a telephonic interaction with him. Prof. Ramarajan informed the Asst. Registrar that last 10 years he has been working as Assistant and Associate Professor of Human Resource Management in the Institute for Research Management and Administration (IRMA) in Pune and by getting a Salary of 35000/ with free accommodation and other allowances. The Asst. Registrar replied him immediately that they made a mistake in his case. He suggested him to send a concern letter to his office on the same day. He promised justice and fairness in this case by taking steps to forward this matter to the Director MSCI. As per his direction Prof. Ramarajan has forwarded a letter of concern to the Director MSCI.

On the other day he received an e-mail from the Asst. Registrar MSCI stating that he is invited for a presentation on 7th August and followed by that an interview with the MSCI board members, on 9th August, for the post of 'Faculty'. The e-mail communication asked him to report on 7th August 2006 in the MSCI, Bella Vista, Hyderabad. MSCI had made entire arrangement for his accommodation in the Centre for Management premises at Banjara Hills. He got a full furnished, air-conditioned-twin sharing room. The food and accommodation facilities were good enough to praise the organizers.  Prof. Ramarajan came to know that for all of the candidates, accommodation arrangement has been made in the Centre for Management hostel itself. He gets into friendship with many candidates. There were candidates from IIMs, SP Jain, MDI, Symbiosis etc. He realized the severity of acute competition in the interview and presentation process. All of them were but anxious about the expectations of the institute, since there is no MBA program run by the institute, either for the corporate executives or for the students.

On 7th August, 2006, as per the directives, MSCI has sent a vehicle to pick up three of the candidates, including Prof. Ramarajan from the Centre for Management hostel. The MSCI Bella vista campus has shown its majestic through its traditional buildings, infrastructure and elegance. As and when they reached, the Asst. Registrar welcomes all of us. He directed us to common hall and asked us to wait there. The first activity he did was distribution of travel and expenditure form to all of the candidates that to fill it and return to the administration for travel claim. As soon as we started form filling process, the IIM faculty got the first presentation call. He went on for the presentation. His presentation took almost 45 minutes. Every one sitting in the common hall was waiting him to gather information about the presentation. When he has come out of the board room, we observed his disappointed face. We enquired about him about the presentation. He told others that the board conducted both presentation and interview together and the questions asked were not related to his academic expertise. The IIM fellow has shared with others some of the questions that he recollected, which include,

1. Have you had any experience in corporate training and consultancy?

2. How much money you can pool from corporate training to the institute?

3. How much money can you can pool from research project to the institute?

4. How much money can you pool can from corporate consultancy?

The IIM faculty added his personal comment in between that 'he don't know why the panel asked such kind of questions to a faculty who came from the prestigious institute of this country.'  It is widely known factor that majority IIM faculties have been engaged in training and consultancies, in addition to teach their individual courses. He shared his apprehensions that MSCI do not have any plan to start MBA program here in Bella Vista and they required only people who can 'pump money' to institute.

The second candidate has called for the interview soon after the IIM fellow. He was from one of the IBS, Tamilnadu. His interview took about 40 minutes.  He also mentioned that the 'presentation has little importance' in the interaction but they give more thrust to the 'interview,' which was not intimated in advance. The board asked him:

1. How much you are getting from ICFAI?

2. What are the functions you have to perform in ICFAI?

3. Do ICFAI conduct any training and development program?

4. Do they engage MDPs?

5. How much the institutes get from MDPs?

6. Which are the companies ICFAI consulted so far in Training and Development and Consultancy work?

He told us that there was no question from the power point presentation or from the academic expertise. They haven't asked any question from his international publications or from the teaching field. All others understood from his interaction that he became so disappointed with the interview experience.

With all these information, Prof. Ramarajan became so frustrated. But he didn't lose his confidence. The Director gave warm welcome to Prof. Ramarajan. Before he starts the presentation, the Director appreciated Prof. Ramarajan's the qualifications and credentials and requested him to shorten the presentation, since they were running short of time. He told Prof. Ramarajan that the presentation is only for the analysis of communication skills. He further asked Prof. Ramarajan to finish it by 10 minutes. But Prof. Ramarajan felt bad about the request and resisted. He informed the board that if they could have intimated it in advance he could have reduced the number of PPT slides to the minimum. Though with disagreement, he followed the request of Director and started the presentation. But, within five minutes the interview board asked him to finish his presentation and sit for interaction.  They started the question answer session.

1. How you comfortable with training and development?

2. How many MDP program you have conducted in the last one year?

3. How much you would charge each individual participant in training?

4. To what extend you would share MDP amount with the institute?

5. What about research projects?

6. How many research projects you carried out in the past years?

7. How's the money-sharing proportion with the institute, on research projects?

8. If we appoint you as faculty, what would be yours revenue sharing mechanism to the institute?

Reaching any where, the interaction ended up with 'warm goodbye' from the Directors part. Prof. Ramarajan became so annoyed about the presentation and the interview. The experience of him was not much different from that of other candidates. He came out with disappointment. All the other candidates circled him and enquired about his experience. He replied them that the experience of him was not much different from that of others. Both presentation and interview has over.

By having a disturbed mind, the Prof. Ramarajan floated many questions in his mind;

    • why these people couldn't mention these requirements in the interview letter.
    • If they would, we could have prepared better or avoid this much of travel.
    • If they need trainers and consultants that indication should be mentioned in the advertisement or the interview call letter.
    • The decision whether to attend or not to attend could also have been taken, without loosing these five man-days, if things would have been clear in the interview letter and the advertisement.

He concluded his interaction with others indicating that the institute objective of more on 'resource mobilization,' specifically 'fund mobilization,' than teaching.

The Asst. Registrar asked the all of the candidates to wait till afternoon for the final result, giving a ray of hope to attend the final interview. Mean while one old person;  an HR consultant, has gone for the presentation. When the other candidates were discussing their indifferent experience from the board members, they observed quiet unusual incident that within a period of 10 minutes the consultant HR, came out of the presentation hall and went out without even looking at us. His face was so much angered and irritated.

The Director came out of the board room and called the Asst. Registrar. After having three minutes discussion with the Director, the Asst. Registrar, took all of the candidates to the Cafeteria. He talked with us very enthusiastically and shared lot of information about Hyderabad and several tourist locations within the city limit, for visit. The interaction with Asst. Registrar had given better hope to them that they would be selected for the final interview on 9th.

After lunch he took us to the Office of Registrar.  He paid us the travel expenses incurred. Prof. Ramarajan got 3613Rs, The IIM faculty got 3659Rs and the ICFAI faculty got 2900Rs. Soon after, he led us to the taxi stand and arranged a vehicle and driver to drop us to the Centre for Management, Banjara Hills. Meanwhile, the IIM faculty enquired about the result of the presentation. Having a smile and satirical reply he informed all of us that 'no one has selected in the presentation for the final interview.' The news became shocking to all of the candidates.

With anxiety, all of them asked the Asst. Registrar that as per the call letter, they booked their tickets on 10th August and till that day where they would lodge?  The Asst. Registrar replied that 'see the interview has been an ongoing process…. just like you people, we have already interviewed 113 candidates in the last one month. No matter, you can stay at Banjara Hills, in the Centre for Management Hostel room as long as you want. Enjoy the rest of the days with some site-seeing. Hurriedly, without looking at their face, he gave a big hand to the candidates and paved 'good bye. 'They further heard his direction to the taxi-driver that 'bring the other four candidates from Banjara Hills for after noon presentation, when you return.'

The car started moving… carrying the 'three unfortunates.'

Discussion Questions

    1. Discuss the importance of unambiguous interview letter.

    2. Discuss the institutional objectives of presentation and interaction.

    3. Discuss the ethical stand of board members in the presentation and interaction.

    4. Discuss the attitude of candidates on the presentation and interaction.

    5. How far the institute is conscious about cost of interviews?

    6. Discuss the importance of right HR practices that facilitate better administration?

Prof. Dileep Kumar. M

Source: E-mail September 11, 2006


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