Earlier, I'd blogged about how companies are increasingly using competitions/games/contests as a way to gauge the interest levels and quality of students on campus, while spending relatively little(for the amount of information they gather) money/resources. Read this earlier post for some background(http://iimaexperiences.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-corporates-are-using-contestsgames.html). Recently, I'd the privilege of participating in the BCG case study competition on campus, where one works on a past BCG client problem (suitably annoynmized) and proposes solutions to the same. Among the initial entries, some teams(10 in this year) were shortlisted for presenting their case to a Partner and a Project Leader of BCG, who travel to campus for that purpose.While my team did not win that competition, there were many interesting lessons from that competition.
While working on the problem, I learnt a lot about my interest and tolerance level for typical issues faced during consulting such as contradictory data, data mining, ambiguity, multiple facets of a problem etc. While the avowed aim of having fun was not truly achieved, I did learn a lot about the sector by arranging expert interviews, conducting secondary research etc. While BCG thankfully mandated keeping the use of outside data to the minimum(thus giving premium to analytics), the same was still needed to form a perspective on the industry, and help those new to the industry.
The final interview shortlists did reflect a slight bias towards those participating and getting shortlisted for the finals of those competitions. The conventional CV based shortlisting model(using academics/extra currics etc) was supplemented by using that competition as a tool. Even Opera Consulting had conducted a competition based on their work profile of 'Big Data', and gave a shortlist to some participants who would otherwise have not received a shortlist based on their CVs alone.
If we define the Moneyball approach as creatively using alternate metrics to analyze, then these firms deserve an A+. Participation(and doing well) in these competitions ensures students self select themselves for the roles, and give the firm a small work sample of how they would perform on the job. Hence, one must admire that. Other companies are also doing the same as evident in the large number of competitions by Pepsi/LearnwithFlip/Tata Business Leadership Competitions etc which offer preplacement interviews/interview shortlists to those performing well in those competitions. While campuses like IIM Ahmedabad do not permit contest based PPIs/PPOs to the winners, nothing stops those companies from coming down to campus and anyway doing the same.