Test the talent when you hire off-campus

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Aug 14 2012, 01:55am hrs
The fresher hiring beginning next month by the $72 billion IT industry is expected to take a different route this year. Driven by slowdown and not very robust quarterly results, the off-campus hiring shall reach 30% of the total freshers hired, as compared to 10% last year, believe human resource (HR) experts and IT companies. Amidst this major shift from on-campus to off-campus, assessment tests like NAC-Tech by Nasscom, IRIX by Pearson-PurpleLeap and eLitmus are expected to gain more relevance among IT companies. This will even give an opportunity to students from tier II and tier III colleges to compete at the same level for a job in top IT companies like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant or HCL Technologies.

Nasscom launched NAC-Tech, a common assessment test for engineering graduates in 2008 and is expecting that this year it will have greater influence on IT companies. Sangeeta Gupta, vice-president, Nasscom says, September will be the testing period for us. This time as top IT companies Wipro, Infosys, HCLhave decided to go off-campus for hiring, they will give more weightage to these tests. This is the first time that the leading five or six IT companies have decided that they will be considering NAC-Tech while hiring freshers. Prior to this, it was majorly mid-sized companies who opted for these tests.

Naveen Narayanan, global head, talent acquisition, HCL Technologies notes, We will be using NAC-Tech as a primary input and we will custom our assessments which complement NAC-Tech. It will be used for calibrating and comparing the same with our own tests at HCL selected colleges. NAC-Tech is a robust mechanism to scale up the talent pool availability and is helpful in assessing the candidates skill-set.

Almost 50,000 students have taken NAC-Tech in the last three years. Thus, the scores provide IT companies with sufficient database which helps them in hiring. Sangeeta stresses that this test will enable students from tier II and III colleges also to apply in bigger companies.

Pioneer in the testing space is eLitmus.com. It feels that off-campus hiring has been happening for quite some time now. Aseem Marwaha, director of eLitmus says, Companies like Sapient, Cisco, Mcafee, Samsung, SAP Labs, Oracle have been hiring through us. They have been reducing presence on on-campus in the past. For the last two years, 1,00,000 students have been taking our tests each year. Each candidate pays R750 as fees for this test.

Amit Bansal, CEO at PurpleLeap, an Educomp and Pearson joint venture also talks about IRIX tests, a pilot launched by Pearson and PurpleLeap last year. PurpleLeaps Pan-India IRIX (Industry Readiness Index) test is not a paid test and is in the pilot stage. It took 20,000 tests last year and 20,000 in the year prior to that. We are only concentrating on the tier II and tier III colleges as we feel that the big companies already have a chance to go to the top colleges, Bansal says. He also explains that these tests will be of great help to companies as they will get a ready made assessed database when they opt for off-campus hiring this year. The database would work the similar way a job portals database works.

Nasscom shares that through these tests, the smaller colleges can assess that what are the skill-sets that their students lack in, based on each one's score. It could be analytics, communication or technology. On the other hand, even companies can pick and choose the students as per their requirements based on scores in different criteria. Being a common test, this treats every student at the same level.

Definitely the picture is not all rosy when it comes to these tests. Bansal gives a broader perspective, At present none of the companies are willing to say that they will only consider a particular assessment test while hiring. They are complimenting it with their own tests. Moreover the fees of these tests is R450 to R750. Most of the colleges and students do not want to pay this, as these tests are not the sole criterion while hiring.

Bansal explains that the bigger challenge in fresher hiring is that how do colleges train the students better to get them employed rather than how to assess them better. However, as the hiring season begins, hope all the engineering students score employable percentile in these assessment tests.