McKinsey India seeks to bypass traditional IIT hiring

08 January 2016

McKinsey has been accused of undermining the Indian Institute of Technology placement process for graduates by asking them to apply through its traditional recruitment channels earlier than the placement date. The move will, according to the IIT, undercut the process as other firms might also seek to compete for students independently of the procurement process.

McKinsey & Company is seeking to change the traditional method for gaining access to top talent from India’s Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses. Formally, the consulting firm would take part in the annual placement process, which provides a tertiary institution a controlled environment in which students seeking placement are connected with offering firms. However, McKinsey is now proposing that students seeking a placement at the firm do so directly through its alumni network, website and social media.

McKinsey India seeks to bypass traditional IIT placements

The move is being criticised by IIT officials as they fear that the allure of McKinsey to graduates will start to undermine the long traditions of placement process at India’s premier engineering institutes. McKinsey’s motivation for the move, according to the IIT, is to give them an edge of the competition for top students from the IIT by getting to them early. This may create incentives for other firms to follow suite, beginning the slippery slide towards irrelevancy for the placement process and the traditional benefits of equality among firms it provides.

Equality, or lack of it, is however one of the issues that McKinsey cites for it moves away from the current system. By creating a channel through which all campuses can supply candidates (if they apply through one of the firm’s recruitment channels), a more diverse pool of people can seek a placement at the firm. The firm also wants its partners to meet all the candidates before making an offer, something not possible within the traditional system. “We want to be inclusive. This process enhances diversity of candidates and ensures proper calibration across candidates of a similar profile,” says Sasi Sunkara, McKinsey Partner. “It also helps us meet 100% of our shortlisted candidates and conduct the complete interview process.”

Competition for talent

Competition for talent
The competition for talent has been heating up in recent years among strategy consultancy leaders. Sources cite that the Boston Consulting Group may already be offering students at IIT Kharagpur and IIT Guwahati placements through unofficial channels; even while it continues to participate in the placement process through the official channels.

McKinsey is standing by its decision, and maintains that IIT grasps the reasons for the decision. Sunkara explains that, “Our batch day interviews will also have segments such as liberal arts colleges, CAs and fresh graduates from institutes abroad. In some undergraduate colleges we will retain the flexibility to visit if required, but not in the case of the IITs.” Indian Institutes of Management and Indian School of Business will continue to see the firm use the traditional processes.


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