BFSI: Employees' skill sets are critical

CIOL Bureau
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Madan Padaki, Co- founder & Director, MeritTrac Services, who sees skill sets of service personnel as a critical component of BFSI, says even a single grade shortfall in skill rankings could mean substantial loss of potential sales opportunities and repeat business! He shares his views with B.V.Shiva Shankar in an interview. Excerpts:

CIOL: MeritTrac is into Skill Assessment from quite a long time now, which are the verticals that are on a recruitment spree? Has MeritTrac put together a customized Skill Assessment tool for these verticals?

Madan Padaki:
MeritTrac's team studies the latest recruitment trends across industry verticals & develops assessment solutions to meet the needs of these industries. Retail, BFSI, Manufacturing are just a few such industries that we can name where MeritTrac has developed tailor-made solutions of the various job roles that are being hired for with the guidance of subject matter experts from the industry.


While domain expertise is one aspect of efficient evaluation, the other side involves the possession of functional skills. Many of the front end functions, especially in an industry like BFSI require aptitude towards sales and customer orientation. These skills might seem hard to evaluate but thorough research by MeritTrac on job roles, customer expectations and psychology has managed to break down these skills on understandable parameters, which can be mapped through assessments. Specialized functional tests have been developed by MeritTrac's team to evaluate not just aptitude to these functions but also level of proficiency in these functions.

CIOL: The verticals like BFSI need specific domain knowledge to asses the required skills. Would MeritTrac's Skill Assessment tool evaluate candidates only on soft skills or also test their domain knowledge?

Domain knowledge is an essential part of any vertical with businesses getting specialized. MeritTrac's testing model has always been based on thorough research of industries and job roles within an industry to map level of proficiency required. MeritTrac's suites of tests are thus aligned to the testing requirements of a particular industry and domain parameters are an essential part of this testing requirement.

Tests are developed in constant interaction with Subject Matter Experts (SME's), which makes them relevant and customized to an industry specifically on domain parameters. Even in specialized industries like BFSI this model helps MeritTrac develop specialized tests and in a position to create new tests as per requirements.

But just research with a base of SME's does not translate into valid assessments. It requires expertise in the science of testing along with proprietary frameworks, understanding of job roles and test customization to make an assessment valid and reliable.


CIOL: Since BFSI vertical recruits candidates with various academic backgrounds like commerce graduates, post graduates, CA's, legal professionals etc. Is the evaluation tool different for candidates with different educational background?

MP: Evaluations in any industry are pegged not education specific but role specific. Candidates from any background need to perform on certain parameters to be productive and these are the parameters and skills, which are measured through a scientific assessment.


These being the case, assessments are also differentiated on the basis of experience levels. Higher experience levels require more stringent and holistic evaluations especially on domain and functional skills. Fresher are mainly evaluated on aptitude, communication and other foundation skills along with a basic knowledge of the domain.

CIOL: How can Skill Assessment help BFSI sector overcome bad recruitment cost?

According to a customer perception study conducted by MeritTrac to understand the current quality of service personnel in the BFSI sector & also map the skill sets that customers feel are critical, even a single grade shortfall in skill rankings could mean substantial loss of potential sales opportunities and repeat business! This proved to the industry that critically evaluating skill sets is paramount for recruitments in this people and service centric sector.

Studies have also shown that the cost of a bad recruit amounts to Rs. 3,00,000 for a single unfit candidate in hiring, salaries, training and admin costs. This places a huge onus on the recruiting team to select suitable candidates. Added to the business loss as demonstrated in the MeritTrac study, these issues can hurt companies in a major way and assessments provide the objective recourse to placing risky hiring bets.


CIOL: Most of the players in the BFSI segment prefer in-house evaluation for recruiting fresh talent? What is your thought on this?

The general industry belief was that candidate evaluations are better developed in-house than outsource. But the proper assessments involve more than just assembling a bunch of questions. A lot of research is required to develop frameworks for tests, which involve expertise in the science of testing. Any assessment needs to be geared to consider aspects of difficulty levels, topic coverage, questions patterns, testing formats to meet globally accepted standards for validity and reliability. These concepts state that a test has to measure what it has to measure and do so consistently.

CIOL: How relevant is Skill Assessment for lateral hiring in the BFSI?

With increased hiring action in the hiring market for the BFSI vertical and the attractive opportunities on offer, there has been an increased load of candidates vying to enter the industry. With such frenzy, it becomes that assessments are applied to select the best. On a second level, candidates with experience need to be rigorously and comprehensively tested on all parameters related to the job role as they present a bigger bet for the organization in terms of hiring. Assessments play a critical role in comprehensively mapping skills sets of experienced candidates and presenting an objective picture of them. With such comprehensive insights, interviews can be restricted to reconfirmation and for focused questioning.


Other aspects like the fake credentials issue also make assessments highly relevant in the lateral hiring context. With the fake cv assuming alarming proportions, it becomes important for companies to comprehensively measure skill sets to know the true worth of a candidates and assessments present the perfect antidote.

CIOL: Do your assessments also include psychometric tests?

MeritTrac offers the 16PFä tool and is a recognized partner of OPP Worldwide to offer the tool in India. The 16PFä tool is recognized globally as highly reliable and valid predictors of personality. Based on 16 researched personality factors, the tool presents interview inputs on the behavioral aspects of a candidate as part of the assessment process.

CIOL: How your test development & delivery and recruitment analytics are helping HR assessment processes, hiring strategies and training methodologies?

Content for the Tests are created and managed by MeritTrac. Developed while keeping in mind specific industry needs, MeritTrac's question bank with proprietary IP is tagged for difficulty levels, topic/sub-topic, proficiency levels, etc. and entered into our Test Content database. MeritTrac continuously updates its question banks by adding new questions and weeding out old ones that have been used several times or have lost relevance. Questions in new Subject areas or Industry verticals are added as they emerge.

Another interesting offshoot, which makes a company like MeritTrac, a valuable partner is the accurate intelligence on talent pool dynamics provided by us. With the experience of testing lakhs of candidates across sectors, MeritTrac is in the perfect position to analyze the first hand performance of students on various parameters and give the industry much needed inputs on the availability and quality of talent. These insights are extremely valuable for companies in defining their talent acquisition starategies, an essential for business success.