Bangalore: Chastened by the economic downturn, India’s organized temporary hiring industry, or temping, has made the screening of employees more rigorous.
Candidates on the rolls of temping companies such as Teamlease Services Pvt. Ltd and the Indian arms of foreign staffing firms such as Manpower Inc. and Adecco SA have to go through multiple rounds of assessment to land jobs that last just a few months.
These staffing firms provide employees on a short-term basis to companies in sectors as varied as telecom, retail, consumer durables, banking, insurance, financial services and manufacturing.
Industry experts said the economic slowdown not only gave companies time to rethink their hiring process, but also made them realize the need for better skilled personnel even in temporary positions.
Karthik Raithatha of Teamlease, for instance, went through four levels of screening in December to get a six-month contract with a Goa-based copper manufacturer.
The 24-year-old chemical engineer first took a 45-minute online aptitude test, which included logical and mathematical problems, vocabulary and situational tests. This was followed by a 30-minute technical test, in which he was quizzed on chemistry, fluid mechanics and machinery.
The metal firm’s managing director then grilled Raithatha for 20 minutes on his industrial project. Finally came a 10-minute interview with a human resource executive at the firm, who asked how he would deal with a recalcitrant factory worker, among other things.
“The job screening was on a par with the screening for a permanent job,” said Raithatha, who joined the firm, which he did not want to be named, as a factory production supervisor.
He speaks from experience; he had landed a permanent job offer in 2009 while in his final year of studies at DY Patil College of Engineering and Technology, Kolhapur. But the company later refused to honour the offer as business prospects dimmed.
Before the downturn, there would have been just an interview to select a temp, said Rajesh A.R., vice-president of Teamlease, which has 65,000 temps such as Raithatha on its rolls. “Now, companies want to test candidates and know how does he stand on aptitude, behaviour, skills etc.”
Of course, permanent hiring, too, involves more rounds of interview than before, as companies want to be doubly sure about who they hire.
“Earlier, companies just wanted a set of hands and legs. Today, they want a brain along with it,” said Rajesh.
Abhinav Dhawan, joint director (staffing) at the Indian arm of Manpower, which has 18,000 temps on its rolls, agreed with Rajesh.
There was a mad rush to hire when the markets were going up, he said. But companies now feel it is better to hire the right people than just fill in positions.
This is helping the 10-year-old, 400,000-strong temping industry in India become more mature, said Dhawan, who estimates at least 30% of the market is getting screened more closely than before.
Indeed, an intensive selection process could be even more crucial for temps than for permanent employees.
Temporary hiring is short term in nature, and companies want immediate results, said Sudhakar Balakrishnan, managing director of the Indian arm of Swiss staffing firm Adecco. “These companies are now looking to hire people who can be productive from day one.”
With 76,000 temps on its rolls and clients such as telecom operator Reliance Communications Ltd and the Indian arm of German pharma Bayer AG, Adecco claims to be the leader in India’s organized temping market.
Dhawan of Manpower now plans to bring more assessment tools from its global suite of products to India over the course of this year.
Balakrishnan of Adecco said he hopes to earn revenues from assessment tools in the next one to two years as the market matures further.