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Assessments normally made in persons are to be replaced by AI-proctored online exams and other testing methods this recruitment season amid the spread of covid (HT)
Assessments normally made in persons are to be replaced by AI-proctored online exams and other testing methods this recruitment season amid the spread of covid (HT)

IT firms look at online means to help manage campus placements this year

  • Recruiters plan to use aids, such as artificial intelligence engines, to track student behaviour during tests and to test their ability to work with teams
  • Some companies have introduced game-based aptitude tests beyond general aptitude and coding queries which makes it harder for candidates to take screenshots of the test

This time of the year is marked by intense placement activities by companies across engineering institutions in the country, most of which conduct basic assessments through online tests across colleges, followed by in-person interviews.

However, this year, fresher candidates have numerous hurdles such as completely virtual processes, lack of previous years’ mark sheets and a job crunch in the market due to the pandemic, while companies face the challenge of ensuring that students aren’t cheating during virtual tests.

The few that have started placements are taking a fully virtual route with updated test formats to prevent unfair practices. They are using artificial intelligence (AI) engines to track student behaviour during the test and to test their ability to work with teams—assessments that are normally made in person.

While top recruiters are, so far, offering salaries at par with what what they normally offer, they haven’t strayed from trusted-partner institutes to open campus placements.

According to recruitment experts and companies, campus recruitment process will extend much longer this year, as companies will assess their employee requirements on the go, unlike in previous years. Non-IT sector companies are yet to start placements in full swing. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has shifted their nationwide placement process to October as institutes sort out their teething issues around delayed exams. Placements by companies such as Wipro and TCS are most sought after because they cover the largest number of institutes.

“The major challenge for all recruiters will be to avoid malpractices this time as tests are largely being held virtually outside proctored centres. Some companies, such as Capgemini, have introduced game-based aptitude tests beyond general aptitude and coding queries which makes it harder for candidates to take screenshots of the test. Earlier, only IBM used to introduce such gamified rounds," said Ajinkya Kulkarni, co-founder, Talent Battle, which is an online recruitment test training platform.

Kulkarni added that since many students are yet to clear their third-year exams, delayed by the lockdown, companies are making some exceptions for the eligibility criteria. Students are also being tested on their behavioural skills and team work abilities before the technical rounds this time.

So far, among the companies that have started conducting placements, such as Hexaware, Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI) and Capgemini, colleges have not seen any change in the compensation slabs offered. Many, like LTI are focusing on extensive pre-recruitment training and engagement programmes as well.

“AI-proctored reports of the candidates are available to help in conducting technical and HR interviews of these candidates. As of today, we have virtually assessed more than 60,000 candidates in over 150 colleges till now," Anil Kumar Singh, VP and Head of Talent Acquisition-India, Capgemini told Mint in September first week.

Senthil Nayagam K., Global Head-Revenue Assurance & Chief Learning Officer, Hexaware Technologies, said the company identified improvement opportunities and worked with assessment tool vendors prior to the placement season, with a focus to design and develop better assessment tools.

“We added an additional assessment to measure learning agility to find the best talent for Hexaware. By early Q2, we anticipated that campus visits for hiring may be difficult in the pandemic season and we were ready with digital solutions for remote proctoring and selection," said Nayagam.

To manage its campus placements programme, IT major Infosys has built capability to simultaneously test applicants across partner colleges in a proctored online environment and has also added AI into the assessment engine to identify unfair practices.

"We do not see the remote model as a barrier for hiring the best from campus this year, too. We will continue our focus on assessing applicants on learnability, consistent academic performance as well as ability to work in multi-cultural and diverse teams," said Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President, Head HR at Infosys.

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