While making our first hires five years ago, we had one thing in mind – focus on identifying and hiring the right people. Of course, like all startups, getting the right people on board has been our biggest challenge. The growth of the business, the personality of the brand and the firm’s culture all depend on the people who work with you and carry things forward. The team we have right now is our biggest achievement and scaling it up – an even bigger challenge. We’ve always had two areas where finding great people hasn’t particularly been a cakewalk – tech and leadership. So rather than sticking to traditional methods for hiring, we decided to experiment a little. We came up with two programs to scale this wall ahead of us – Trial Week (for tech) and the Leadership Program (obviously, to find leaders).
Our Call for Leaders focuses on getting in touch with people who have founded and led their own ventures in the past. It’s simple – entrepreneurs develop a unique skillset, which makes them solution oriented, focused decision makers, and highly adaptable. We’ve hired entrepreneurs in the past, and it’s worked very well for us. They’ve experienced ups and downs, and they understand what it takes to overcome challenges. The rarely complain about stuff, and are always in the state of fixing things which are broken.
Each new market presents predictable tasks- hiring and managing a team, finding office space, sorting out regulatory paperwork, etc. But, if that was all that went into building our business, we wouldn’t have to set the bar so high for our team. Each new market requires a leader with the mental flexibility to problem solve any and every challenge set before them, whether it is tailoring our product to different cultures or aggregating millions of data points around restaurants during monsoon season.
Our other hiring challenge- getting the best and brightest in tech. Over time we realised that a 2-hour interview may not be the best way to test an engineer’s technical skills (or the culture fit).There is only so much you can learn about someone during an interview and time is limited. It’s not unusual for qualified candidates to panic, and ultimately we end up missing out as much as the candidate does.
We thought of a “Trial Week” to solve this issue. The program is mainly geared towards students, although graduates with a serious passion for engineering could also apply. Selected participants were invited to spend one week working with our tech team in Delhi on live projects. We made the program accessible to all by taking care of their travel, their stay in Delhi, and, of course, their food 😉
This trial works both ways- it’s the best way for trialists to experience the work culture at Zomato firsthand and it allows us to see who can solve real problems in a fast-paced work environment. The trialists we see fit, in terms of skill and culture, are offered full-time positions at Zomato.
Even with these new initiatives, hiring the right people still isn’t easy. We will continue to innovate our hiring methods as we scale. There’s a lesson in it for all of us – when you’re up against a wall, you break through it.