Sunday, March 15, 2009

Handling a company under trouble?

Recently my company had gone bankrupt and sadly all the employees were out of job. Our great CEO screwed up things and absconded with millions of money and that's how our company was declared bankrupt. So how was the news broken in our office. Here it is, all of us were called into the meeting room on that fateful day and our VP of Indian operations was over Polycom from Delhi. Not even a single person had any idea what is gonna happen. And the news was broken that our CEO has absconded with millions of dollar and the company has been declared bankrupt. It was a blunt announcement. No feelings, no sympathy nothing. The way it was conveyed was really bad and blunt. When your in the top management there is some sort of expectation. When something of this magnitude happens please treat it as extraordinary and convey it with some sympathy and empathize with people. These things go a long way in making people think the company is caring about them and is fully empathizing with them. Ok the news is broken now what?

Everyone in the management started their own process to rescue the company. Come on man, where is the so called team work gone? Only when it comes to the work of the subordinates these people talk about team work and how a team should be. When a crisis is staring right in their face there is no team work. The ideal thing to do during these kind of situations is to form a team to face the crisis.

The team should comprise of the best in the business. A person to tackle the employee related problem. This person in turn can have his own team to come up with strategies on how to handle people related problem. Another person to interact with the media and outside world. We know the media can blow anything out of proportion, so an apt person should be appointed to act as the one point communication to the media and others outside the company. Care should be taken to keep the employees and their families out of media focus. During these crisis time employees and their families exposed to media can be very dangerous, for rumors can fly and can mentally affect the family.

Another group headed by someone to see the possibilities to revive the company. This group plays a vital role. This group should have the best from the company, like the best person who can give an excellent presentation. If he is a techie guy well and good if not the presenter should be backed by the best techies of the company. A presentation template and format must be prepared and should be reviewed and presented to the crisis team. The crisis team should evaluate and approve the presentation. When the presentation is given to prospective buyers, one or two members from the crisis team should oversee the presentation and come up with recommendation for improvement if any.

And finally there should be a person who should oversee all these. He should call up the meeting of the crisis team, preferably twice a week, track the progress, discuss and share with others what is happening. Once the meeting is done the information can be shared with the employees. I would say it should be. This can convey that the management is caring about the employee and they want to keep everyone into the loop on what is happening. If this doesn't happen, this can cause gossips and all shorts of rumors will fly. Giving updates to the employees can do wonders to an already ailing company.

That was about how the crisis team should be. Did this happen in my company? I don’t think so, may have happened but not to my knowledge.

Some of the positives which happened and which I would like to appreciate is that one of the top C level executive was sitting through the crisis and helping investigators and others to find solution. Also during these trying times he sent out mails to most of the employees personal mail ids apologizing with them for what had happened and also gave some sort of assurance that he is trying to save every job possible. That's a true management guy and gem of a person who even under such bad situation is thinking of the good of others. My salute to such a great soul. I don’t have words to explain my admiration to such a person.

I kept on thinking how come in the presence of such a able person the chaos ensued? The reason can be, that others were not supporting him. I am sure he may have tried hard but due to lack of support from others he would have been helpless.

Also our local office did many excellent things though there were many things which were not so great as well. The not so great stuffs dwarf away when compared to the extraordinary things. Following are the things which were positively taken care.

  • Employees were given one month salary in advance so that all of them get enough breathing space to find an alternative. With the provided salary employees were getting nearly 2 months to find a job.
  • The paper works and everything was done in a very effective and excellent way. There was no hassles what so ever.
  • Employees were allowed to use office premises for nearly one month. The intention was to make employees stick together and be supportive to each other. This way the tension can be relieved and shared.
  • Also the employees stuck together and supported each other which helped in taking out pressure. I would say many of us didn’t feel the pressure of not having a job. Each one of us jostled together as a team and were discussing what can be done next. Excellent piece of team work.
  • Also the local management supported us in every way possible, by providing us access to systems, networks, printers and every other possible help to find a suitable alternative. Kudos to them for being so considerate.

So that was my experience with my previous company where I met many great minds and people.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My interview experiences

This blog is about my experience with job hunt. I had to look out for job due to some unfortunate incident in my office. I started my search by December 5th 2008 and within 2 or 3 days I got this call from a consultant that there is an opening with Logica India' Chennai branch. On enquiring with the consultant whether it is a scheduled interview or is it a walk-in, the consultant confirmed that it is a scheduled one and it will not take more than 2 or 3 hours. So after getting confirmation I went ahead to attend the interview. When I reached Logica, to my surprise there were 100s of others waiting for the interview. Just to meet the numbers the consultant just puke anything which is pleasing. These consultant just want to pump numbers and get some hit out of huge numbers. My intention of asking whether it is a walk-in or scheduled is to plan for the whole day or only for few hours. All consultants out there please maintain some ethics.

I went ahead and submitted my resume and started waiting. An office boy came and gave coffee. Then I came to know from someone sitting near to me that, first, people who have come to take the interview need to go through an English test. OK, I thought that's good, at least someone is looking into the communication aspect of an interviewee. So my turn comes after waiting for nearly 2 hours for the English fluency test. I was taken to a room where this lady wearing a specs was staring at me suspiciously. She asked me to tell something about myself. So here I go. I have got this bad habit of talking too much. So I started talking and talking and talking. Finally the lady said I was given only 5 mins per person to test their English fluency and you have nearly eaten up 20 mins. I can see she was pretty much impressed on the way I was blabbering about myself. :) I was through with the English test. My wait for tech round started. While waiting I could see many finishing the interview and being asked to leave by some HR (I guess) guys.

After nearly 30mins of waiting I was called for the tech round. I was led to a room where in front of me a guy, around 30 or something, was sitting. He asked me about my last project and I started explaining about my project. While I was explaining about my last project the interviewer abruptly stops me and asks “what viewstate?”. I was taken aback with the lack of grammar in his sentence. I thought it may be one off instance. But as the interview proceeded further the guy sitting in front of me was not able to properly frame a sentence in English. I was thinking, what the hell is this?. Before sending me in for the interview I had to undergo an English test and the interviewer who was sitting in front of me, cannot even frame a sentence in English. What the #@$#@$ is happening in this company? I could relate my situation to a famous comedian, Vadivelu, in a Tamil film where he says "Enna vechu comedy keemadi onnum pannaliye" (I hope you are not making comedy out of me?). This company is doing exactly the same, making comedy out of me, not only me but out of everyone who has come for the interview. Pure mockery of the interview process. To top it all the interviewer was a team lead. The interviewer not even once allowed me speak completely. He didn't had the patience to listen to whatever I knew. If you are not interested in hearing the answers then why the hell you are conducting interview?

My recommendation to the HR team, do a review of the tech interview. The HR person can sit through the interview along with the technical person and once done could give feedback on the areas to improve. In this way there can be some control to the mockery happening in the name of interview.

I was done with the tech round and I was shortlisted for the next HR round. A guy comes and introduces himself. He takes me to another room and talks to me about the package and what is my expectation? He says he can give me max of 20% and that also because I am a special case. Come on man, me being a special case ahh, you would have said this to all the persons who would have come to the interview. Anyway after agreeing on 20% he explains me the hierarchy, to whom I will report, and that in addition to work related supervisor I will have a mentor. Also he explains to me what employee benefits Logica provides and other blah blah stuffs. After completing the HR round I was asked to provide a passport size photo of mine which unfortunately I didn't carry with me. So they used a digital camera to take my pics and told me we will get in touch with you. Out of the hundreds I was among the selected few who went through the HR round and people waiting for the interview were surprised to see the guys taking my photo. One guy came and congratulated.

After finishing the rituals, while coming out of the office entrance, another guy barges and asks me can I have a few mins of yours. I just went along with him to another room. There this guy asks me whether I am interested in working on contract basis. What the heck, how come this guy knows that I am through with the tech round? I saw his ID card and he was not from Logica. I was thinking is there any nexus between the HR and these guys from other company. I would recommend the management to have a look into these kind of unscrupulous activities. This is just a guess from me. This guy has the potential to take away some great resources at the expense of Logica which spends so much money to conduct interviews.

I waited for some reply from the HR of Logica but after 2 or 3 or even after weeks I am yet to get any response. Another great drama played by the HR team who took me through the whole HR interview and spend their energy to bargain with me on my pay and here I am without any news from them. Making the whole interview process a filthy process. I would like to plead with the HRs of logica, not only Logica HR but all other HRs out there, please don't make the interview process a drama and also please don't give hopes to persons if you are not capable of fulfilling the hopes. You are playing with the careers of innocent people. Luckily I was not affected badly by these unprofessional people. But who knows there may be many who would have been badly affected. HR work is the most difficult one, if proper resources are not recruited then the so called HRs can spoil the image of a company as the HRs in Logica are doing. Pathetic...

My worst Interview experience with CSC Chennai

After the experience with Logica I had another worst, more worst experience with another big MNC, CSC. The experience with CSC is far worst than that of Logica. The reason for my worst experience is the HR from CSC. The body language and other mannerism of this HR made me feel that he may be one of the worst HR I am gonna face and my fear was spot on. To know my worst experience with the HR of CSC, read on.

I had an scheduled interview with CSC and luckily this was a scheduled one. There was not much of rush. In that way I was happy. I was greeted by the HR. No smile nothing, the expression in his face says, oh another moron has come for the interview. I didn't take that seriously thinking this guy is busy with work and that could be the reason. Within few mins I was taken to the tech round. A techie greeted me. It seems he was 2 or max 3 yrs experienced guy. He asked few questions which was just a cake walk for me. But oh, boy this guy had nearly 4 or 5 calls in between the interview. And don't these people have the courtesy to keep the mobile in silent model? This guy excused me and went on to attend the call 4 or 5 times. Huhhh professional ethics at its best. I was through with the first round and I was asked to wait.

After few mins of waiting I was guided to another room where I was met with another techie guy. He seemed more matured than the previous guy. He asked me some tech questions. Again nothing of rocket science questions. I was through with the second round also. Again I was asked to wait.

Next I met a senior guy and the same, some tech questions. I was through with this also. Then I met another guy, he was not a techie, I think so, as there was no technical question. Just general discussion. The guy was pretty much happy with the discussion. After the discussion I was informed that I can now have the final and last discussion with the HR. It was around 4.30 in the evening. Almost 7 hours of interviews.

While waiting for the HR round I was gauging the environment. I saw the HR chatting with the second tech guy. He called him by snapping his fingers and was conveying something. I was thinking what the %#$&&%# is this HR doing. Is the tech guy a dog? He is calling a human being by snapping his fingers. I never expected this from an HR. Then the HR came to me and took me to a room for a discussion. He asked me if any of my previous companies is not functioning now? I said, yes, one of the company has closed down the shop. He asked me do you have the offer letter, relieving letter and salary slip of the company? Unfortunately I had only the relieving letter. On hearing this, HR said, oh then I cannot consider that as an experience. I was just literally shocked. How dare you can say that? I was thinking in my mind. Didn't I work there or what?

Then he saw my profile as if to find some other short coming. He saw that in the beginning of my career I was working as a trainee programmer. Here comes my second shock of the day. The HR says I cannot consider your experience as trainee programmer as well. I have question whether all the developers in this world directly became developers without being a trainee? With this he brought down my experience of 5 + years to 4 years. I was in a complete shock. This is really absurd, I was thinking why the HR, is behaving like an idiot. Then the HR says, I cannot give you even the current salary you are drawing, with 4 years of experience. He asks me “tell me what should I do?”. Now the picture is clear, to cut my package this retard is doing all this. I was furious and I said its up to you, you decide whatever you want to do and let me know. No news from then on till now.

I want to ask everyone one thing, is everyone born professional or what? Did guys like CSC HR didn't had any HR training in their initial stages of their career? I don't think there is any profession in this world which doesn't have a training included in it. The training is the time where you learn the trick of the trade. Even during your schooling days if you want to get admitted to class one you need to finish nursery, LKG (Lower Kinder Garden) and UKG (Upper Kinder Garden). You learn the basics, in a way your trained, in these initial days of schooling. Now if people like the HR’ of CSC are heading a school then he will not give admission to those who have gone to nursery, LKG and UKG.

My humble request to these kind of unprofessional and unethical HRs, who don't care for quality resource and come up with all crooked ways of bargaining, is to show some professionalism. This is not your normal fish market where you can bargain. Yes, in a fish market you can say all sorts of stupid things and personify your stupidity, but the end result is that you will end up with a rotten fish. Don't show off your filthy fish market bargaining prowess when you are dealing with professionals. We are not fish, but professionals with great skills which will definitely come at cost. If you are incapable of paying the price for quality, at least don't degrade our profession and capabilities. Just put yourself in others shoe and think before behaving in such unprofessional and unethical way. You are playing with the sentiments and career of people which I think is not a trivial thing. Don't treat professional like fish, give respect and take respect.

My recommendation to management, review is the most important part of any process. So review your HR process and see how they carry your company' reputation on their shoulders. HRs meet thousands of people and with their conduct they can make or break the reputation of a company. Word of mouth is a very powerful means of spreading news and it is the most trusted source. So if anyone asks me how is CSC? My answer would be if you respect your self esteem and consider your dignity very important, then CSC is not the place. The HR, who should teach how dignified one should be, doesn't know how to respect others dignity then how can you expect the environment will be a dignified one.

My Best Interview Experience with ThoughtWorks Chennai

The above two experience were the bad ones and this experience with ThoughtWorks is the good one. I had this interview scheduled for a Saturday. I was there bang on time. I had some difficulty in finding the office but not a big deal. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist and she gave a call to the HR. I was greeted warmly by the HR. I was briefed about the interview process, first an aptitude test, followed by a code pairing round, where a developer from ThoughtWorks will run through the code I had sent already, and then finally two guys will do the technical round. The whole interview went for the whole day, nearly 9 hours. First the aptitude test was for 30 mins. The questions in the aptitude were very good and needed lots of thinking. You believe it or not, for the first time in my life I had headache in 30 mins by solving an aptitude test. Huhhhhh….

After finishing the aptitude test I went for the code pairing round where I was greeted by one of the developers, don’t remember the guys name. He had a look at my code and asked me the logic behind the implementation. Then he gave me the second part of the problem and sat along with me and solved the problem. The way the code pairing went, it was great. After finishing the code pairing we were provided with Pizza and coke. Once the lunch was over, HR came and informed me that I will be having the next and final round shortly. After some waiting I was greeted by two developers and  they  had a discussion with me for another 1.5 hours.

Once the final round was over, HR came and sat along with me and asked me how was the interview process. Is there any scope for improvement and other stuffs. He gave me feedback on what the interview panel thought about me. After this he informed you will have discussion with the last round interview panel and they will tell you the plus and minuses. Once the discussion with the technical team was over on my plus and minus, HR came and told me you did very well in all the rounds but in the last round the two people are divided so you are not through in a slight margin. Since this is a special situation and case you need to reapply within a gap of one or three months.

So here I am after spending nearly 8 to 9 grueling hours of technical round I came out of the company very happy and cherishing each and every moment of the interview. Wow, what an experience! Interview should be conducted in the way they do it in ThoughtWorks. From the HR to the technical team everyone is so cordial it cannot be explained in words, it needs to be experienced. Though I was not selected I still cherish the experience. If someone asks me I would recommend everyone to just go and attend the interview at ThoughtWorks to know how best interviews can be conducted.


My recommendation to people like the HR’ of CSC is to learn from companies like ThoughtWorks, how to conduct interviews and how to interact with people. Even though there were many people for the interview, HR of Thoughtworks made sure that everyone was comfortable. Time and again he went and interacted with each candidate and asked them whether they are comfortable and even sometimes apologized if a candidate is waiting for long.  Though it is a small gesture but it goes a long way to make you comfortable and make you feel that here is a company which cares for its employees.

So you have seen my experience with both good and bad ways of HR behavior. If one wants to feel worst ways of an HR then please don’t think twice, just barge into CSC Chennai and meet the Chump at CSC and feel why the hell you went there and if you want to feel some good HR ways just drop into Thoughtworks and meet the HR and cherish the experience for long. Two extremes, ahhhh!