Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You're Hired!!!

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
      I am a 27-year old Engineering graduate from Kerala. I was born in Kerala but spent my childhood in the Middle-East, (to be specific) in Oman. I did my Engineering from Kerala in Electronics & Telecommunications. I started my career with Aditi Technologies as a technical recruiter. Over the past 6 years, I've been moving up the ladder and currently work as a Recruitment Manager for Avvas Infotech, a newbie in the consulting industry. My strengths include strong communication skills (written & spoken English), an aptitude for technology and consider recruitment as an art. As an individual, I used to blow off a very short fuse but I have managed to mellow down over the last couple of years at the professional front.
     My hobbies include Reading books, watching English movies and following the EPL. I've been an athlete, cricketer and footballer for most part of my life. I have been active on my blog for the last few months and love listening to songs from the latest Hindi & Tamil movies.
     I could answer further questions about myself, my work or anything that is mentioned on my resume. And that's the least I expect from those who interview with me. I have interviewed at least 200 people over the last 3 years and my ratio is a miserly 1:15. Most of these people were interviewed to work with me, and there are certain benchmarks that have been set.
1. Communication: I expect the person to understand my question, and I would love to understand their answers as well. MTI is acceptable, but that doesn't imply that the conversation is rendered as a song-and-dance sequence. Moreover, spelling mistakes on the resume is a red flag. I had someone who wrote "Good dessision maker", "hared worker" & "proffessional."
2. Tell me about yourself: I am hard-working, dedicated and a quick-learner. At one point of time, everyone I interviewed (10 in a day) were quick-learners, hard-working and dedicated. I don't expect my team to work for 12 hours, rather I'd prefer smart workers who can manage their time well. When people come up and say they are dedicated, I ask them if they were dedicated to their studies. Since they couldn't muster enough dedication for that, it would be unlikely with work as well. I would love to ask the quick learners to try Euclidean Geometry for starters.  Other common strengths include go-getters and never-say-die attitude. I give random puzzles to the latter, and they say it's not solvable within 2 minutes.
3. Weaknesses: I appreciate people who actually know their weaknesses. Some of them walk into the room stating they don't have any, some others state that they wouldn't want to reveal it (right out of the HR gospels). Nobody is perfect is what one person told me.
4. Dress to the occasion: The freedom to choose their clothing doesn't mean that a pair of low-waist jeans and un-buttoned shirt forms the attire. Add to it an unshaven face and unruly, long hair. I'll ensure that the security doesn't let you in.

5. Attitude: I love people with attitude. As long as it stays beyond the first 10 minutes. If you manage to stay in the room for 10 minutes.
6. Honesty: 'The best part about being truthful is that you don't have to remember what you said." It might sound irritating for a genuine candidate but the best way for any interviewer is to ask the same questions twice during the interview.
7. Career plans: A candidate with an MBA in HR and loves recruitment (claims so);
Me: Where do you see yourself 1 year from now?
Candidate: HR Manager
Me: Great, and 3 years from now?
C: Businessman.
Me: Sighs.
8. Hobbies: Please do not copy paste this part of the resume from someone else. It's a humble request. I've spoken to candidates who claim reading as their major hobby. It's fine, even I like books. But, if you've read one book (5-point someone because my friend forced me to read it) in the last 5 years, mention it in achievements. Expect the interviewer to ask questions about the last book that you've read or the movie you've watched. I had one person tell me 5 hobbies. None of them were on the resume (he had no clue about the actual ones mentioned in the resume as if to suggest that I had put it up for him).
9. Reasons for change: Better growth. Totally understandable. Better work environment. True. But, not at the rate of 4 companies/year. Exponential growth is only in boardroom meetings, not career prospects.
10: Resume: A resume can tell you a lot of things about a person. And looking at it again while a person speaks about himself will tell you everything else that's left out. Prepare a concise, personalized resume. Moreover, ask about the job and how you would fit in the scheme of things.
11: Salary expectations: One wrong answer and one wrong question. Wrong Answer: Company standards. Your compensation is directly proportional to your ability, current salary & expectations. Think about your realistic expectations before attending the interview. Wrong Question: How much will you pay for this job? Read the above once again.
     Any Questions?

     I don't hire people based on their academics (few could have fared worse than me), family background, caste, creed or religion. There are 3 parameters that I try to gauge over the 20-minute period that I spend with them. Communication skill (as mentioned above), Attitude & Basics of recruitment (for freshers I would prefer some sort of creativity). I also check whether their nature would fit the work environment (I've had an unpleasant experience in the past). A great recruiter needs to reach out to the masses and the ideal candidate would love talking to people. Lastly, I let people know why they are hired or rejected from the company's perspective.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Romancing the language

"I know such English that I will leave the British behind. You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, I can run English, because English is such a funny language. Bhairo becomes Byron because their minds are very narrow. In the year 1929 when India was playing Australia at the Melbourne stadium Vijay Hazare and Vijay Merchant were at the crease. Vijay Merchant told Vijay Hazare. look Vijay Hazare Sir , this is a very prestigious match and we must consider it very prestigiously. We must take this into consideration, the consideration that this is an important match and ultimately this consideration must end in a run. In the year 1979 when Pakistan was playing against India at the Wankhede stadium Wasim Raja and Wasim Bari were at the crease and they took the same consideration. Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari, look Wasim Bari, we must consider this consideration and considering that this is an important match we must put this consideration into action and ultimately score a run. And both of them considered the consideration and ran and both of them got out."

      I'm bad with languages. Considering the consideration that I don't have the aptitude to add further languages into my armoury doesn't imply that I'm bad in English. Which further implies that I can only tick English in application forms which request for languages known, spoken, read & written. I can speak Malayalam & Hindi, but expecting me to script those fonts would be a harrowing experience, for the readers.
     Our story wasn't love at first sight. I would read countless books and hardly bother about the language. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an equal to Enid Blyton, and Hardy Boys shared the same shelf with Ivanhoe. The stories were my trapdoor to the world of imagination, and English was just another subject at school. When I moved to high school though, the first page of a long romance unfolded. I replaced Malayalam (my mother tongue) with an additional paper of English. Spelling buzzed a new interest and I would spent hours together in getting mine right. Over the next couple of years, I bagged every prize on offer at school competitions for English. Debates, essay writing, spelling-bee - English was a fascination.
      When my dad realised my new-found love, he called in for re-inforcements. Half-a-dozen books were shipped from India. Within the lot, two of the books stood out. The complete collection of Charles Dickens & William Shakespeare.
      Good books are like wine. Initially, we desist the taste. But the more we drink the more we appreciate its value. The books that I read suddenly got thicker. Reading changed gears from a hobby to an obsession. My craving for literature would have put most junkies to shame.
      And then my world turned on its head. We decided to settle in Kerala. Initially though, it seemed a pleasant change, the green environment replacing mounds of sand. To keep in tune with the surroundings I managed to beg/borrow a few books, mainly Sydney Sheldon & Robin Cook from a hapless cousin. But as time went by, I started feeling suffocated. I was swept into the dark realms of glorified Manglish. My English medium school renounced English speaking students and my peers mocked my accent. I wasn't willing to jump on the bandwagon yet. They could seal my mouth, but I was at liberty to write my thoughts. Over the next 5 years, my spoken English took a beating while my writing skills upped several notches.
      I started with poetry, spending hours at the Physics & chemistry labs rendering pen to paper. It would eventually be deemed boring, but I had made a start. I stressed on two things. I wouldn't compromise on spelling mistakes and would never resort to using abbreviations in my writing. This helped on greatly when I started writing professional e-mails to clients. I would write precise, personalized emails and Americans loved it. I spent hours in polishing my accent, and with time it recovered the long-lost shine.
      Like any other romantic story, mine has had its share of peaks & trenches (notable trenches included blood-baths slight disagreements with my English teachers). I could never differentiate between past-participle and present-continous. I could read through paragraphs, plot the mistakes and correct it. But, I would never be able to explain the corrections. Over time, my English gradually progressed from a classical act to a commercial one. My romance had evolved according to Darwin's theory; Survival of the fittest.

"I am not an artist, really not even a writer; I am a poet. One of my friends said about me that I think all sorrows can be borne if you put them into a poem or tell a story about them, and perhaps this is not entirely untrue. To me, the explanation of life seems to be its melody, its pattern. And I feel in life such an infinite, truly inconceivable fantasy..."


P.S: I know such English that I will leave the British behind.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Falling Grace

"It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy." - George Lorimer
     There are two remarkable junctures in my life. When I was 4, my parents sent me to a playschool. The playschool wasn't anything like the modern-day, well-equipped montessori. The teacher was our neighbour who taught young kids the foundation of alphabets and numericals. More importantly, she ensured that the values of integrity, honesty, loyalty & hard-work were instilled in us (I can't thank her enough for honing my English accent). Years later, when I started my career with Aditi - a few additional values were imbibed. Socially conscious, people-driven, intense, creative & ethical.  Over the next 5 years, I built my own castle ensuring that every brick in the wall had those values in them.
     I didn't realise or rather expect one thing. The world around me had changed over the last 20 years, especiallly in the last 5. Values were laughed at, in fact destroyed beyond repair. Kids today are taught from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." The spectra of values have been replaced by a globe of competition, breeding grounds for deceit, distrust & corruption. How do we acknowledge this change?
     Over the last couple of days, we have been interviewing fresh graduates. Since the turout was large, I was tempted to conduct group discussions. As an experiment, I provided one group with the topic "Corruption & India." As usual, the discussion started with the regular bashing of government officials & bureaucrats. But surprisingly, towards the end, the topic deviated towards corruption being a norm and part of our daily lives. One guy even insisted that it would allow us to save time by getting things done faster. I could only sigh. After all, the next generation sees the colourful illustrations of Suresh Kalmadi & A Raja stand out as role models. Steal enough, and then live comfortably in our secure jails.
     The basis for relationships seem to be following suit as well. A decade ago, friendship was built on trust. Today, it's meandering on the edge of partnerships. A favour is part of a deal, and sacrifices are good measures of bounty. We trade human beings on a day-to-day basis. As we pull the strings on others, we fail to realise that our strings are in the hands of a higher authority. Karma is re-defined as the price of our efforts.     The adornment of shame that hung on the shoulders of offenders has been encompassed with green, slimy sheets of paper that control our lives. I don't intend to change, but my values have left me confused. Do I remain a social outcaste, blind-folded as the world  around me surges to the depths of immorality? Or do I blink?? 



     "Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are "a pound of flesh.""


       

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let the Games begin

"I always turn to the sports section first.  The sports page records people's accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man's failures." ~Earl Warren

      If there is one thing in the world that wakes me up at five or keeps me awake till three, the answer is sport (did someone guess Sneha?). Over the last 5 years, I've watched the combined lot of sport channels more than the rest of the 270 channels I subscribe for every month. Cricinfo.com, Espnstar.com & Premier League.com flood my browsing history as much as Facebook & blogger. My leisure time is spent on Fifa, Football Manager, Ashes 2009 (the versions vary every year) and International Cricket Captain. So, what is the verdict?
     The best thing about sport (unlike life) is that our memories are short. Victories are savoured like yummy rasagullas, the sugary syrup trailing the initial saccharine. Defeats, on the other hand, linger only till the next victory. We forget, forgive and celebrate again. During my childhood, I'd spend hours together watching the Indian cricket team play on television. My uncles & elders in the house would chide me, "they'll play and make money, what will you get out of it?"
     I remember two instances, both semi-finals of the cricket world cup. The former in '96, when I cried at our exit. In 2011, there was a reversal of fortunes. We were out in the streets of Bangalore, celebrating with the masses way past mid-night. I had never seen so many people in my life celebrating a common cause (except at the metallica concert where most of them were high on dope life). We had overlooked the caste, creed and religion of the people who rubbed shoulders with us that night. For a single moment in my life, I could almost see the reel life reflecting in our lives. The one Chak De moment that sport had brought about.
     I've always held a special place for soccer in my life, right from the beginning of my school days. My favourite teams include the mighty Brazilians (for the flavour of football they play) & Arsenal. Over the past one year, my support for sport has extended to a higher level, at times on the brink of fanaticism. I've seen the depths of ignominy and shame for my favourite teams. I've also witnessed a few moments of delirium, almost childlike, supporting them till the end. It hasn't deterred my interest for the game, spending sleepless nights as a die-hard fan. At the end of the game, it doesn't contribute to a personal victory or defeat. But, for those few couple of hours, I live in a surreal world. A world that evokes the best of emotions within me.

P.S: I love Arsenal & any team that Tendulkar plays in (read Mumbai Indians, Indian Cricket Team).
    
"Sport is where an entire life can be compressed into a few hours, where the emotions of a lifetime can be felt on an acre or two of ground, where a person can suffer and die and rise again on six miles of trails through a New York City park.  Sport is a theater where sinner can turn saint and a common man become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can fuse with the present.  Sport is singularly able to give us peak experiences where we feel completely one with the world and transcend all conflicts as we finally become our own potential." ~George A. Sheehan

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Finger-licious

“When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger” - Chinese Proverb

     This is what happens when you don't listen to your elders. Almost a year back, I remember Mark Nicholas talking about Indian Cricketers making a foray into the glamorous world of Bollywood. He pin-pointed how Kohli had fast-tracked (the usage is so smart of me, no?) his way as a brand ambassador for sunglasses. His mom had mentioned on twitter (handle @I'mnotVirat'sMOM) how Virat loved movies, and would bunk classes to watch the latest releases. My trusted sources spotted him at the release of Patiala House (Dhoni has started getting him to bowl more often since then) & off-late for Rockstar. The way Ranbir wiggled his finger to the masses enthralled him, and Sydney proved the perfect stage to show-case his finger to the world*.
     Anyways, he joins an elite list of cricketers to be associated with Sydney. His expression almost said, "Have I made it large?"


P.S: After the mauling in the hands of Clarke & Co, Tendulkar's advice to Virat. “Your heart just breaks, that's all. But you can't judge, or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”
*Untrusted sources say that he was leaving the finger to dry after bowling for so long. We don't trust those sources

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dress me up!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
― Mark Twain

      Quite a pity that Mr. Twain lived in another era. An era sans Pamela Anderson or Sunny Leone (discount the fact that both appeared on Big Boss, they had more clothes on than most other times in their lives). Even now, I'd half-expect him to walk out of his grave and scrap this quote.
     The media has found their latest scapegoat, an ignorant minister who delivered a sermon on "provocative dressing" (the denial has followed suit as well - media coverage two-two times). Especially, at this time of the year when the annual moral-policing membership is up for renewal  (remember the case of the pink panties Chaddis). What do Indian women have to fear when their brothers & uncles are out to maintain their respectability*.
     Coming back to the original point. It's a farce that during the middle-ages, women were not allowed to cover the upper-half of their body as a rule (remember the movies that come at the stroke of midnight, we're not talking about those). And then we progressed to the next level. Celebrities played peek-a-boo with the media (lexicons terming them as "wardrobe malfunctions"), and our films and heroines grew bolder (boldness directly proportional to the amount of clothes shed). Nubile young women ruled the roost; Cricket matches peppered with glamorous foreigners in their skimpy clothes, Kingfisher calendars that adorn desk tops and walls, Television, media (Bangalore times rocks!), the internet. And yet, we were never "provoked".
      It was all supposed to be part of a shift in culture, to advance with the times. Upstream fashion designers found Mumbai & Delhi just like New York or Paris. The Indian woman could, and would break the shackles of an orthodox life. The saree & salwar would eventually be an anomaly from the daily Jeans & Tee. Sadly, society didn't follow suit. Our men who had salivated at the glimpse of foreign women in micro-mini skirts wouldn't accept a similar trend in their household. The hypocritical Indian was at his peak.
     Quite recently, a couple of teens were charged by the cops in Kerala for wearing their pants below the waist (almost at their knees), thereby exhibiting the branded underwear to the public. The youth were booked for displaying obscenity in public and totally deserved it. But more often than not, we tend to treat such instances as a restriction to our freedom.
     Similarly, a woman is free to chose an attire that suits her comfort & sensuality. But, at some point we would need to draw a line. I don't intend to say that our women-folk hide behind a Burqa or Abaya, but let's not forget the primary intention of wearing clothes, to protect our body from social and physical considerations. Being trendy does not necessarily mean that our modesty is exposed.
      Probably, in the future things might change. Clothes might end up as an option, rather than a priority. Till then, spare a thought for Mark Twain's words.

"Our minds want clothes as much as our bodies." - Samuel Butler

*Conditions apply. Conditions include walking alone without any male companions, even at the middle of the night. Moreover, the couple should not be siblings since they might get married off at the same juncture.


P.S: An interesting read from today's newspaper.
     "Welcome to another cycle of ‘Let’s blame the victim for the crime’. It’s a phenomenon that occurs everywhere in the world every few years, or months. It doesn’t matter that women usually know what clothing is appropriate for what company. It doesn’t matter if the victim is old or middle-aged. The onus is on the woman, not to inflame the passions of men. Never mind that this does not explain crimes against women committed in countries like Afghanistan, where no amount of traditional clothing could save Gulnaz, or the Quatif girl in Saudi Arabia." Read further.

Monday, January 2, 2012

परिवर्तन

"Tum logon ki, is duniya mein
Har kadam pe, insaan galat
Main sahi samajh ke jo bhi kahoon
Tum kehte ho galat, main galat hoon phir kaun sahi.."

     Happy New Year Folks! Hope everyone had a blast. I've been humming the song "Sadda Haq" from Rockstar for ever now. In fact, as I pen this post I'm listening to it. So, if the lyrics of the song irritates you, cover them with your palms (one above, one below; make sure that you don't do that with the content of my blog). 
      2012 is finally here. We're off to another year, a leap year - surely, we need to value the ones that come once in 4 years. It's also an Olympic year, with all the athletes (at least, the best ones; dope-free ones) headed to London.
     It's also that time of the year where we make those little promises to ourselves, the secret ones and post them on twitter, facebook & linkedin (most people can access only linkedin at work, suckers!). I intend to do that in my blog, my own comfort zone. Over the last few years, I've made some serious ones. The most prominent one includes restraint from biting my nails (2007). It surprised (read shocked) my parents, who had initially tried every trick in the book to rid off that habit.
Chiselling the fat
     This year, my resolutions are more creative & self-oriented (read selfish). Firstly, I will blog regularly, render at least one post a week and address a far larger audience.
Deep study
     Secondly, and most importantly, I'll get back to hitting the gym. It's been 3 months since I last walked into one and the effects are visible with the excess baggage around the mid-section. The other day, the mirror image depicted an anomaly, almost resembling a tree trunk. Phew! Scary.
     Thirdly, I'll read more. The last one year has been among the worst in terms of literary content in my daily schedule. At times, I wonder if its a recurrence of Bibliophobia (Ha, you thought I made up that one!). The last occurrence of the disease was during my college days. Symptoms include drowsiness, lack of interest & neck pain (books are rough pillows).
      As an afterthought, there's another one that I would love to add to my resolutions for the year. This one.

"...Marzi se jeene ki bhi main
Kya tum sabko arzi doon
Matlab ki tum sabka mujhpe
Mujhse bhi zyada haq hai
Saadda haq, aithe rakh"