Human touch is very essential in HR profession as we deal with human beliefs, values and emotions

Shoba Konidala is a seasoned recruitment professional currently working as an Executive Search Professional specializing in Non-IT recruitment. She has over 10 plus years of experience across Executive Search, Recruitment in the global organization as well as boutique recruitment firms. She is a motivated team player with strong commitment to quality and stick to deadlines. Able to handle stressful situations by able to identify the problem and resolve at the earliest. She has experience in established firms as well as start-ups. In the past worked into Corporate Communications as well as Business Development executive.

She was associated as Service Delivery Specialist with Standard Chartered Bank. Her earlier professional stints were at Randstad India as Senior Delivery Lead; Longhouse Consulting as Senior Research Analyst; ROBERT HALF JAPAN as Recruitment Specialist; Ingenium Ltd., Japan as Recruiting Resources Cholamandalam Finance part of Murugappa Group, Chennai as Corporate Communications Executive; Cybervision Solutions, Chennai, as Business Development Executive; and NIIT Ltd., Chennai, as Career Counselor

Shoba is a PGCHRM from XLRI, and holds Master of Arts in Communication, M.O.P. Vaishnav College affiliated to Chennai University; Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Anna Adarsh College affiliated to Chennai University.

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

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

 My first interview happened with NIIT Ltd., which was a veteran in Software training prior to the Internet boom. I was given an aptitude test followed by an interview. The questions asked were more to know about my strengths and weakness. The questions were around overall communication and presentation skills, and how to manage the expectations.

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 from your first job and your role? Were they all fulfilled? What didn’t coincide with your expectation? 

Of course, it is a special memory. No doubt as there is a lot of curiosity and looking forward to learning new things and grow. I have learned a lot of things on the job as it is a different experience working on the job vs. learning from the books. I learned to negotiate.

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

Yes, it really helps. I remember there was an instance wherein one of the Freshers had an issue with her immediate boss and she was able to speak it with her mentor and was able to solve the issue without making it a big issue. In the first job, sometimes people get emotional and also being practical in the job is very different than being a student. It takes time to settle. So, it is always better to have a mentor or Coach.

You began your career as a Career Counsellor, then moved into Business Development, Corporate Communication and then into Recruitments. Please share the journey of your transition and the challenges you faced.

Being a Postgraduate in Communications helped me handle different roles by wearing different hats and by having commonality as Communication. Each role has been an experience in itself. If you ask me what the best role for me would be, I will say Corporate Communications/Brand Marketing and so on. I had to move into Recruitment due to language problem in Japan and then had to continue with the same as I had already been doing it for 7 years in Japan. With so much experience in Recruitment, I decided to continue with it. In Japan, I had to face a lot of issues communicating with people, cultural issues and so on.

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 disfavor recruitments?

Recruitment is a thankless job. It is a never-ending job and highly stressful. We have to be able to manage the interview schedules, be willing to work off-hours when candidates would be available to take calls. The last but not least managing the joining of the candidates and offer dropouts is one of the crucial parts and then needs to look for backup candidates. In a Generalist role, you get better visibility by being closer to the management.

From profile sourcing to the issuance of the final offer letter, organizations put candidates through multiple filtration processes. What is your take on using “relevant industry experience” and “excellent academic record (first-class and above)” as filtration tools?

Some of the companies use Academic credentials as the key filtration process. Of course, some of the tier-1 schools train their students to handle any situation. Industry experience and excellent academic record filtration tools are useful. Though sometimes we might lose out some good talent who may not have scored academically they may be a better manager.

What attracted you to the recruiting profession? What aspects of recruitment do you find most challenging?  What is the role of education (being an MBA) in becoming a successful recruiter or a headhunter?

I happened to become a recruiter after moving to Japan due to language problem but then once I got into it, I really enjoyed working as a Recruiter as it gives a sense of achievement and has given me immense knowledge and exposure.

According to you, what are the FIVE critical traits of a successful Recruiter/Headhunter?

  1. Market Knowledge is essential
  2. Having a good understanding of the industry and what are the new technologies prevailing in the market.
  3. Having end to end recruitment lifecycle management experience
  4. Strong negotiation and convincing ability
  5. Good Stakeholder and Candidate Management

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 first and foremost, the format and how well have you summarized your experience in the opening lines. The most important element is the key skills that you possess needs to be captured in the resume. And, how well can you describe yourself along with your key skills and areas of knowledge and expertise in a nicely defined way.

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

Most of the time companies are not sharing the Interview Feedback unless asked. I think the companies are too busy looking for more candidates and, in the process, don’t pay much attention to inform the candidates. But when ATS is used we try to update the status and the candidates can log-in to check their application status. At least that way they know the status.

What do you do if a candidate unexpectedly rejects your job offer?

First, I try to understand the reason why he/she is rejecting the offer. If I feel it’s because they don’t understand the role that we are offering because it was not communicated well or they have few clarifications required which need to be addressed then we can ensure we do our job right and try to motivate the candidate to take the offer. But if we think there is something that we can’t really do about it, then we can ask them to make their decision.

You have worked in Japanese companies. Please share your experience of working with them. What are the similarities and differences in the hiring processes of the two countries?

Japan is overall different experience. It is a candidate-driven market and most of the time the candidates don’t open up by disclosing their expectations. The sourcing is also mostly through networking. We keep meeting a lot of people.

What are your thoughts 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?

To manage the Talent Shortage, we need to retain the employees and ensure that we have proper Employee Engagement and provide the benefits to employees and also upskill them for managing the challenges. Proper training should be in place and Employee retention is one of the key elements.

HR is at the crossroads, yet again. According to you, what will be the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots, etc. on the future of HR Function? Please also highlight how social media has changed the world of HR practitioners? 

AI has the latest technologies. However, human touch is very essential especially in the HR world as we deal with people who have emotions and can’t just only depend on Technology. Social media has improved the networking space and we are able to use it effectively to get the right candidates, as well as the reach, has increased, and we can save a lot of time and money.

Lastly, what is your message for fresh HR Graduates? How should they prepare themselves for a career in HR?

The fresh graduates are more highly Tech savvy. They have to keep their eyes and ears open to the available opportunities in the market. They have to do a lot of networking, need to attend all the possible events and stay abreast.

Thank you very much for sharing wonderful insight. We appreciate it.  

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