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MUMBAI : India Inc. is on a hiring spree, but it is falling short of interviewers who can ask candidates the right questions. The rare shortage is even forcing some companies to outsource their recruitment needs.

The scarcity has led to hiring delays, as trained interviewers find that the number of interviews they have to conduct has more than doubled. As a result, companies are now outsourcing their interview needs, paying as much as 1,500 to interview a junior-level candidate and up to 10,000 for a CXO.

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“For the kind of hiring frenzy that is taking place, there aren’t enough interviewers to process the resumes, select the candidates," said Shiv Agrawal, managing director at recruitment firm ABC Consultants. He said the company would start a separate business by July, where consultants and freelancers will be hired to conduct interviews for clients at a specified rate.

The hunt for interviewers coincides with a surge in hiring. Over the last three quarters, several Indian companies have been expanding their workforce frenetically. Potential employees are flooded with multiple offer letters and often hop from one job interview to another before taking a call.

“There is a 50% dropout rate, which increases the number of interviews an interviewer has to take for his company. Compared to pre-covid levels, the number of interviews that each panellist has to take has gone up by 150%," said Kamal Karanth, co-founder of the recruitment firm, Xpheno.

For CXO-level recruitments, an outsourced interviewer can charge as much as 10,000 for an hour of questioning, Karanth said. Typically, a candidate goes through a minimum of three interview rounds, which test domain knowledge, personality fitment and a final round with the manager. It is the rounds related to domain knowledge that are getting outsourced.

With the pandemic accelerating a shift towards digitalization and companies venturing into new sectors, domain-specific knowledge is often unavailable in a particular company, leading them to look at new hires.

Firms such as Flocareer Inc., which is tapping this growing need, have seen the number of interviews being conducted per month jump to 25,000 currently from about 10,000 three quarters ago. On the interview outsourcing platform, client companies can send their resumes and have someone from a team of 400 interviewers handle the first few levels of filtering.

“About 800-900 interviews are conducted during the week, and during weekends, it can go up to 3,000. We get interviewers from job portals, and some are freelancers," said Mohit Jain, co-founder and head of India Operations at Flocareer.

He said clients are charged between 1,200 and 1,500 per interview, mostly for junior and middle management. “About 50% of our clients are tech firms who want to shortlist candidates proficient in skillsets like Java and Spring Boot. There are also demands coming in from captive units of banks and retail firms," Jain said.

The dearth of interviewers is also because incentives for managers to conduct interviews with potential employees have dried up. Saran Balasundaram, the founder of tech recruitment firm HanDigital, said that hiring managers at companies would get weekend allowances for interviews prior to the pandemic. But that stopped with the coronavirus outbreak.

“Now companies are asking interviewers to select candidates without any allowances. With more senior managers on notice period, the number of people available to conduct interviews has also gone down," Balasundaram added.

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