" We’d rather have a hole in our team, than a bad fit. "Prasad Dhumal

All of us who have ever dreamt of starting our own ventures have been faced with one recurring nightmare – where and how will I get the right people? But I’ve come to realize that within this challenge is the biggest opportunity for all us entrepreneurs. At Wunderbar Kids, we decided to approach talent with a completely different outlook.

Here’s what we believe in.

Having awesome people on board makes a huge incremental difference. It is the difference between a good company, and an absolutely fantastic one.

We need ANY number of awesome people, because there isn’t any limit to what we want to do.

We’d rather have a hole in our team, than a bad fit.

I repeat these mantras all the time. And it works.

Given these three fundamental pillars, we’ve gone out to get the best talent, the brightest people and as many of them as possible to build this company from the ground up.

When we envisioned Wunderbar Kids we were very clear from the start that we didn’t want the company to be a reflection of Amrut or me. Wunderbar Kids needed to be much bigger than us, if it truly was to have a significant impact on India’s education problem. Since neither of us were Steve Jobs, we knew that it  would be the team we built that would make or break the company.

So, from day one, we were obsessed with getting the right people, with the right attitude, with the right values, with the same dream,  and who were looking to join us for the right reasons.

It seems to have worked for us because now, over two years later, we have a team of extremely talented people from some of the top institutes in both the country and the world!

Some highlights our Talent acquisition Manager – Tanaya, likes to boast of:

  • 6500 applications to join Wunderbar Kids
  • A few lakh views on our iimjobs posts to date
  • 90% of the candidates who’ve been made offers, join us
  • We’ve got over 300 applications from the top 5  B Schools in the country, and over 50 applications from the big 3 consulting firms in the world and about 40 applications from the leading FMCG companies
  • We’ve been invited to campus placement for 7 of the top 10 B schools in the country!

While all this sounds great it didn’t happen by accident (or by our sheer brilliance :)).It happened because we invest a lot of time in the design and the implementation of our recruitment process.

It all starts with a transparent, heartfelt letter, that replaced a standard (read boring) Job Description. This really helped people get a clear insight into who we are and what we have set out to do. People could self-select themselves for the role. Additionally, instead of sending us just a CV, we asked the candidates to do a small assignment on a topic relating to the role they are applying for. This ensured (a) that only really interested people would apply (b) that we could judge people by what they can do as opposed to how their CV reads.  We then have an intensive recruitment process that can span months sometimes. We ensure that our candidates interact with a lot of people from the company – not just the founders – but also the academic team, the operations team, the principals and the teachers.  Many of our candidates have attended our meetings, brainstorming sessions, training sessions and sales events. They visit our schools and spend days with our teachers.  In some cases, they’ve even been brought on board for a part-time project for a couple of months before we decide to work together.

What happens in this process is that the candidate has a first- hand view of the company, the people and the culture. It ensures that further self-selection happens, and that candidates who aren’t the right fit realize this fact along the way. Also, we know from internal discussions, that most of the people who’ve joined us, have joined us because they’ve realized that they would love to work with this team of really cool people.

One of the other things we do differently, is our attempt to give candidates a first-hand view of the industry. It isn’t an easy industry to work in, and while some of our candidates have a prior exposure to the industry, many of them don’t, and we try to ensure that they will understand if the cause is something that they would feel passionate about.

To handle this, we’ve developed a process that’s known internally as ‘The Challenge’. Very simply, we provide our candidate with live data and live problems from the field, and we ask them to fix it. While working on the challenge, we give them the freedom to work as though they were already a part of the organization – i.e: They can call us up and ask us for information, data or other resources. They’re welcome to go on field and actually solve problems, or talk to people. And they’re given ample amount of time to actually complete ‘The Challenge’. At the end, they’re expected to submit a document that outlines their proposal, and they’re subjected to an intensive discussion and scrutiny of their challenge. This process has many benefits, proven many times over now:

  • It helps us get a glimpse into the candidates thought process, particularly their problem solving ability rather than base our decision on what he can say in an interview
  • It helps us gauge cultural fit
  • It gives the candidate a sense of familiarity with the organization

And most importantly

  • The candidate gets to work in the industry first-hand, actually experience it and then take an informed decision.

I like to think that we learnt many important lessons along the way, with many applicants teaching us as much as we taught them through the process. However, I know that any good process evolves and I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Email me at Prasad@wunderbarkids.com if you want to share your own hiring, tips, insights or suggestions on making our process even better than it is currently.