The Mathematics of Recruitment - The Infosys case study

When you look at large companies with a workforce nearing the population of some small eastern European cities, we often forget the hard work of an HR team. And employees are a weird kind. They strive hard to get into a company and a few years later, the same company wants to make them leave. Handling this attrition also lands on the head of the HR department of a company.

It's a thankless job and it's degree of thanklessness is directly proportional to the size of the company. Take Indian tech behemoth Infosys for example. It has a whopping 160,000 people on its payroll. This IT services company made its billions by building software and it gargantuan workforce builds it, module after module, day after day.

But in the age of the millennial, such a job is known to become mundane after a certain point. If you're good, and lucky, you might be handed more interesting work, but the majority of India's IT workforce will spend a large chunk of their professional life doing mundane things like this. And that leads to attrition. Attrition that the HR team of the company needs to handle.

In the case of Infosys, their annual attrition rate is an alarming 18%. This means that 18% of Infosys's workforce leaves or retires every year. To put that in terms of the number of employees, that's a loss of 30,000 people every year. To put that in perspective again, Infosys loses the workforce of Facebook 5 times over, every year. (Facebook has about 6000 employees, as of 2014). It is up to the recruiters of the company to keep the number at a 160,000 and even to grow it.

That's 30,000 hires a year. 30,000 people who will sign that offer letter every year to join Infosys. Even startups, who hire comparatively minuscule numbers every year, find it hard to hire the numbers they set for themselves. 30,000 is really a big deal.

Let's get to the mathematics of this task -

  • The aim is to hire 30,000 people to stay at 160,000 employees.
  • Let's assume that it takes a recruiter to go through  20 shortlisted résumés to hire a person.
  • This means that to hire 30,000 people the hiring team at Infosys will have to go through 600,000 résumés 
  • These 600,000 résumés need to be assessed over a span of one year

And we're not even taking into account the amount of time and effort 30,000 interviews will take. HR is possible one of the most understated activities of a company, but without them, you would have no company at all. Even companies like Google have a team of close to a 1000 recruiters, working day and night to hire the best talent for the company and even they're only 50,000 employees worldwide. One can only imagine what the recruitment team of Infosys would be like.

There are many job seekers who're often disheartened and angry at the slow response times of companies. Yes, companies must value their prospective employees and respond on priority. But these numbers should help us think from their shoes too. After all, the next time you're applying for Infosys, remember that there are going to be 599,999 others in contention too.

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About the Author

Raghu Mohan
Raghu is an engineering grad handles Marketing at HackerEarth. Prior to this, he was an editor at When he’s not working, you can find him at the nearest music shop having a jam session.