Turnover: Rs 46,323 crore (NTPC Net sales for 2009-10)
Employee strength: 24955 as on 31.03.10
No. of power plants: 26. New projects at 17 locations
NATIONAL Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) scours India’s top engineering colleges to take only the best. On an average, each year more than 1 lakh applications are screened and only around 800 or so candidates are taken in. Of course, the company wants the finest engineers but with some preparation and sensible planning getting into NTPC can be made easy. Yes, here too, there are two entry points for engineering graduates. One is through campus placement and the other, through off campus.
Qualifications: Not less than 6.5 CGPA for general and OBC category. Not less than 5.5 CGPA for SC/ST
Branches: Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and Electronics
Openings: around 400
NTPC goes to around 33 engineering colleges to select students through campus recruitments which include all the IITs and National Institute of Technology (NITs) and other premier engineering colleges. The selection process starts a year before in the month of June when NTPC writes to these colleges for participation. For example, to recruit graduates for the year 2010, the process started in June 2009. These colleges then send a Job application form (JAF), which asks for details such as salary, perks, disciplines from which students would be considered.
Once NPTC fills in all the details the institutes then send a list of interested candidates with their CGPAs to NTPC. Based on the CGPAs of the students, the company prepares a final list of students that it would like to interview and a date is decided when the NTPC representatives would come to the institutes. Although the minimum CGPA is 6.5, company officials say as most of these students are from good engineering institutes the qualifying CGPA doesn’t go below 7.5.
The recruitment process is spread over three months, from July to September. Only in the case of the IITs the recruitment process starts a little later, usually in the month of December. Several teams, each comprising five to six members, go for campus recruitment. One member is usually a retired chairman of a PSU, one expert on either of the engineering disciples and the HR head. Usually students from the core disciplines are considered, but depending on specific requirements, students from other streams are also considered. For example, last year NTPC took students from the mining branch.
After the 15-20 minute pre-placement talk with students, the selection process starts, which is just a one-step selection process: the technical interview. In the interview, the candidate is judged on his/her understanding of concepts, practical application of those concepts, communication skills and presence of mind. In fact, since the past few years, NTPC has always been sending IIT alumni to the each of the IITs for pre-placement talk.
Post the interviews, and after final discussions, once all the NTPC recruitment teams come back to the headquarters in Delhi, letters of intent are sent to the placement in-charge of various institutes. By September, selected candidates have an offer letter, but as they are still in their seventh semester, the appointment letter is only offered after the candidates send across their final exam mark sheet/grades. Those who fail to achieve the minimum CGPA in the final exam are dropped from the selection list.
But those who make it proceed for the medical test.
Off Campus recruitment
Qualifications: 65 per cent for general and OBC. 55 per cent for SC/ST. Along with fresh graduates, graduates of the last two years can also apply. In the case of SC/ST category, graduates of last thee years can also apply.
Branches: Mechanical, Electrical, Civil & Electronics
Openings: Between 300 to 400
The selection process is slightly different in that there is an entrance test which is prepared by senior academicians of top engineering colleges. For off campus recruitment, NTPC advertises early in the year either in January or February in all the national dailies, Employment News and on its website. Although, the company accepts applications from engineering graduates with two years of experience, it prefers fresh graduates.
Interested candidates have to fill up the application by logging onto to on NTPC’s career website. There is an application fee of Rs 500, but candidates from SC/ST category are exempted from paying the fee provided they send a caste certificate. The application fee is to be deposited in any one of the State Bank of India branches in an account number provided by the NTPC. Once the application is validated by the company, the admit card is put up on the website and also sent as a link to the candidates’ email ids. Please note that admit cards are not posted to the candidates.
The entrance exam is conducted on the same day across all its centres. It’s a two-hour, paper-pencil objective type test. The candidate has the option to choose between Hindi and English medium for the test. The test comprises two parts: Technical and Aptitude. The technical part assesses the candidates’ understanding of concepts, its application. In fact, an indicative syllabus is hosted on website. The Aptitude part includes quantitative test, English, general awareness and data interpretation. Until last year, candidates had to attempt 170 questions in two hours but based upon feedback NTPC this year changed its exam format, and has brought down the number of questions to 85, but then level of difficulty has increased a little. Yes, there’s negative marking of 1.25, so be careful.
The entrance test carries a total of 85 per cent weightage, five per cent is given to Group Discussion and 10 per cent to the Personal Interview. Test results are sent three weeks after the exam. And around June 15, short-listed candidates receive interview call letters. Group discussions and interviews are conducted at NTPC’s Power Management Institute (PMI), Noida. Travel fares of candidates are reimbursed by the company. This time round, the company has given candidates to select an interview date from a set of dates it has decided. Soon after the GD, which is judged by a team of two psychologists usually from Delhi University, candidates proceed for the interview. Here, again the candidate is judged on technical prowess, understanding of concepts and communication skills. The qualifying percentage for GD and interview is 40 per cent.
Clearing the entrance is a rigorous process. This year, in 2010, 93,000 students applied, but the company will shortlist only 1500 and finally take about 400 students. Last year, in 2009, Of 86,249 students had applied, only 2,100 were called for interview and out of which around 350 students were selected. At times the number of openings goes up when NTPC’s joint venture partners also include their vacancies.
Selected candidates then proceed for the medical test.
Medical test and induction
In the medical round, candidates can be rejected on two counts. One, if they are colourblind, and two, if they are diabetic. Being overweight is also a matter of concern. Overweight candidates are normally asked to cut down their weight before joining.
The induction programme, which takes place in the month of July, is conducted at PMI, Noida. It’s a week-long programme to welcome executive trainees or selected engineers and introduce them to the company. After the completion of the programme, executive engineers are sent for a 6-month classroom training in any of the 10 on-going projects. Based on the performance of the candidates, they are given job postings in of the NTPC power plants. During the one-year training, trainees are given full salaries.
Salaries and bonds
During the training, candidates get a pay package of around Rs. 35,000-40,000. The basic salary is between Rs 24,900-50,000. With this during training, the candidate gets Dearness Allowance (which varies each year) of 30.6 per cent and 27 per cent as cafeteria allowance. After the completion of the one-year training, the cafeteria allowance goes up to 47 per cent. In addition, engineers are entitled to free medical check-ups, free accommodation in NTPC’s residential quarters; in metros the lease rent amount offered is Rs 20,500, in small cities, Rs 15,000.
But after the completion of the one-year training, engineers have to sign a three year bond. A fine of Rs 2.5 lakh is levied if a candidate belonging to general/OB category leaves during the bond period. In the case of SC/ST category, the fine amount is Rs 1.5 lakh.
NTPC has tie ups with IIT for MTech and Doctoral programme and with Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. NTPC sponsors the candidates’ fees for studying in these colleges. Besides, an NTPC engineer can take study leave after five years of working.
It is important to have one’s concepts clear as it is seen students from top colleges flounder when it comes to concepts and its applications. Communication and presentation skills are important. But most important is when you are asked in the interview what you know about NTPC. You ought to be able to answer that!