Hiring or rather right hiring is one of the critical factors contributing to a startup’s success. I am sure there will be many out there who will agree with this. We have spoken to innumerable startups and most of them list hiring as their top most challenge. It is but natural when we met Mekin Maheshwari, President Engineering, Flipkart.com - we grabbed on the chance to ask him about what is the hiring strategy at Flipkart, they have been getting smart bunch of people from start and have a dynamic 150 member engineering team.Excerpts of the conversation with Mekin who has an uncanny ability to spot the right member for his engineering team and makes them excel consistently.
“To understand our hiring you have to first understand our foundation. Both the founders of Flipkart – Sachin and Binny Bansal are young and driven, they do not have years of work experience behind them - what they have is the ability, attitude and ample drive. In a country which has historically valued years of experience and grey hair, the founders here have displayed that It does not have to be just years, but your ability to add value and have an impact.”
So some of the key criteria that the Flipkart team looks at while hiring are –
1. “We typically don’t look at specialists to come on board rather we look out for generalists with the attitude to learn and adapt to the fast pace of growth we are chartering. Flexibility is the key consideration here. How flexible are you to the evolving requirements of the business and advent of new technologies is important.
May be you come with deep knowledge of an accounting software, but at the pace things are moving at Flipkart, every software we use has a good chance of being obsolete or completely change in 12 months. Similarly, if you are a "Java engineer" - you may not be able to evolve with the rapidly improving technologies. In simple terms - we look for creators: people who will be able to learn & use all kinds of new tools to create great software.”
2. “Everyone in the team on a collective and individual level needs to have a high sense of ownership. This is something which clearly differentiates a high performing organization vis a vis the others. While we ensure maximum independence of roles in the organization, there are certain practices that ensure that everyone in the team has a high involvement in what they do. For instance, an engineer will be prompted to work on the management systems, managing the warehouse and delivery mechanisms, take calls of the consumers etc. The idea is to get them involved in the thick of the things, experience the impact their work is creating and hence make them far more aware of what they are doing in the organization.For instance - Developers are responsible for end-to-end systems and have deep interactions with our customers. The entire warehouse management team was at one of the warehouses when we were shipping pre-orders for Chetan Bhagat's recent release - because the scale of shipments on one day was many times higher than we normally do. In general, they also spend time at the warehouse whenever we are productionizing a new system or process change - it helps them understand our customers better, and more importantly allows them to innovate and create solutions that nobody would have thought of."
3. Your hiring process is the best brand campaign for you - “Transparency in hiring is one of the best ways to attract the right kind of talent. If you have a fair mechanism of hiring then I have a strong belief that even prospective employees who do not make the final cut will become evangelists in disguise. They will know what the expectation of the organization was and how they at that point of time did not completely fit in.”
What Mekin has shared are real steps which all of us as Startups need to consider and incorporate in our hiring strategy.
Mekin also believes that it’s not high salary that drives the Indian youth today, what drives most young people is the ability to create an impact. The sense of doing something that brings a difference to the lives of people around you is a motivating career path for many. As the age old saying goes – if you enjoy what you do, money will follow. Holds true at Flipkart!
- Shradha Sharma