AI cannot replace the human element in Talent Acquisition.

Parul Kataria is a Vice President Talent Acquisition at EXL with a demonstrated history of working in the outsourcing/offshoring industry. Parul is skilled in Management, Interviewing, Recruiting, Human Resources, and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). She is a strong HR Leader and a Certified Recruitment Analyst from Carlton.

Before assuming her current responsibility, Parul kept enhancing her professional stature at HCL Technologies in the capacity of Senior Manager- Leadership Hiring; at Infogain (I) Pvt Ltd. as Executive-HR; and Dnet Consultants as Executive-HR.

Parul holds an MBA- Human Relations degree from Symbiosis, Pune.

 Thank you, Parul, for giving your valuable time to this interview. We look forward to your candid responses.

Let’s start!!!

We would be pleased to learn about your professional journey from the beginning. So, please share with us about your first job interview. 

Post completing MBA-HR, I had an interview with an IT company. I was excited, thrilled and because this was my first formal interview, I did a lot of homework.

I was full of confidence, determined to get that job, performed really well during the interview and my confidence got me that Job!

It is important to know that precise knowledge of self and precise knowledge of the threat leads to victory. You should not consider the interviewer an enemy; however, it is a perfect metaphor for an interview.

As the first job holds a special memory, let’s discuss your first year at your first job. How was your experience? What were your expectations of your employer and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What did not coincide with your expectations? 

As a young employee, I was full of energy and carry an enormous passion for my work.

The initial phase was struggling for me but with time, persistent efforts, and a positive attitude I became successful in creating my visibility in the organization.

As young blood I had a lot to learn so I did not have many expectations with regards to specific work that I performed, nor did I compare or paid attention to myths.

One important thing that I learned was irrespective of your level in the organization, the result is always an outcome of good Teamwork.

Do you think workplace mentors and coaches play an important role in settling fresh graduates in their first job? How was your experience? 

It is paramount to have a mentor/ coach during the initial few months. At the same time, not necessarily people will fail without mentors, as one is responsible for his /her success or failure. Right guidance is of great value and nourishment during early days for a fruitful career, but I was mostly on my own, I did things differently instead of following the old ways of Recruiting and that worked well for our organization. Some of the hit and trial methods became part of our Recruiting Process.

Often the Fresh HR Graduates tell me that they would like to work in the core-HR and show less interest in the recruitment domain. What do you think could be the reason to disfavour recruitments? Why did you choose recruitment as a career?

Each domain has its charm; fresher candidates have heard these names and often place these domains in some fancy conclusions, which is a result of ignorance and lack of knowledge.

Some may disfavour recruitments because of the targets assigned; on the contrary, these targets keep me alive and motivated.

According to you, what are the FIVE critical traits of a successful Talent Acquisition Leader or Headhunter?

  • Direction with Vision
  • Fearless and ready to confront when needed
  • Great communicator
  • Great negotiator
  • Up to date on industry trends

As the saying goes,” You have 8.8 seconds to impress with your CV”. You might have come across tens of thousands of resumes in your career. What, in your view, does a recruiter evaluate in a resume in those 8.8 seconds and decides to accept or reject it? Please elaborate.

The hardest part of recruitment is screening candidates from a large applicant pool and deciding whether a candidate is qualified for a role based on his/her resume. If the format of the CV is readable then quickly getting to understand the below parameters helps in taking a decision.

  • Experience/Skill
  • Salary
  • Qualification

What is your take on “Career Gaps”? We come across many people who are forced to hide certain aspects of their employment history because organizations do not shortlist their profiles because of career gaps. How do you address such cases?

Career gaps have never been a rejection criterion unless that is a client requirement. What matters is the reason for the gap, if the reason for the gap is justified and genuine then we hire such people if their skills are relevant to the role. But if the information shared is found to be incorrect then this is considered as integrity issue and such candidates are not taken forward.

For example, there was a case wherein a person deliberately hid the short-term stint with the organization as the person was asked to leave due to disciplinary issues. During the interview, it was caught, and the candidature was dropped.

What are the primary challenges of sharing interview feedback to candidates?

Recruitment digitization is a solution; this will make possible the interviewees with real-time updates. When you are handling large volumes manually, it is practically impossible to connect with each candidate.

Not every candidate accepts the job offer. Please share experience, if any, when a top candidate rejected a job offer. What did you learn from the situation?

I cannot think of any recent case but while working with HCL Technologies (almost 10 years back), we offered a candidate for VP role and the person was promising about the joining and was in regular touch with us but on the Date of Joining, he did not turn up. The market is dynamic and unless you have the person on-board, you cannot be sure of his/her joining. Recruiters need to be proactive in their approach and should always have a backup ready.

What do you think about Talent Shortage? What are a few practical tips you want to give to CEO’s and Hiring Managers to manage the challenge of Talent Shortage?

Hiring the right talent has always been challenging for the skills which are new in the market or niche in nature like Digital Skills (UI Path, Blueprism, NLP, etc)

Mitigating the talent shortage might require organizations to shift their focus from solely recruiting to training, upskilling, or reskilling workers. This tactic could require hiring candidates who might not have all the desired skills and qualifications, but who could perform the job well with appropriate training. And we adopted a similar strategy for set up the Digital capability. In addition to this, it is equally important to have a retention strategy in place.

How AI is changing the world of HR practitioners, particularly Head-hunters and Talent Acquisition Leaders? 

AI cannot replace the human element in hiring. Talent Acquisition leaders should design their strategy by ensuring they are making the best use of their resources – recruiters empowered by technology. AI technologies can increase the efficiency of recruitment processes, improve employment branding, bolster recruitment marketing, improve the hiring experience for both candidates and hiring managers, optimize sourcing and enhance the quality of the candidate pool, all while driving down costs and streamlining repetitive tasks.

What is something you have achieved that you are most proud of and why?

Being recognized in the organization of 60K+ employees, an Outstanding Performer for consecutive 6 years and being awarded by the CEO of HCL, Vineet Nayyar is something that I am really proud of and it was the result of hard work and passion that I have for my work.

A short video that was shot by HCL Technologies can be viewed here

Link : #womenempowerment#throwback2011

And, the last question, how social media has changed the landscape of Talent Acquisition?

With social talent acquisition technology, the world has become smaller. It is important to recognize new technologies to help find talent easier, social media is also making candidates even more segmented. In turn, the role of a “Sourcer” has evolved to that of a marketer, technologist, detective, and the best salesperson at the company.

The use of social media as a recruitment tool throws up some opportunities and challenges for employers. Social media potentially offers speed, efficiency, and the ability to target and attract specific, particularly suitable candidates in the recruitment process. For candidates, it potentially offers multiple sources of information about the employer and the possibility to get in contact with existing employees, to gain a more realistic job overview.

Thank you, Parul, sharing wonderful insight. We appreciate it.

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