Startups Install Hiring Alarms, Filters

CHECKS AND BALANCES An industry that is growing at breakneck speed needs not just the money, but also the right hires. To minimise the risk of hiring the wrong people, startups are using multi-level assessments, psychometric tests and roping in external partners

Hiring mistakes can prove costly given the fierce pace at which startups are scaling up. Swati Bhargava, co-founder of leading cashback site Cashkaro, learnt this the hard way when they hired a senior person for online marketing last year.
They faced various issues with the hire, says Swati, including overpromising and underdelivering on his part and management styles, which alienated other team members. “We had to let the person go in three months and undo and re-do a lot of work done by him. We realised in hindsight that it would have been better to wait and look for the right person than spend so much energy , time and resources on making it work,“ says Bhargava. In the process, Cashkaro estimates they lost out nearly Rs 8 lakh on salaries, training and the like.
As Bhargava learnt first-hand, the biggest challenge facing startups today isn’t getting funded ¬ it’s hiring the right people. Attracting good talent isn’t enough ¬ they need to be the perfect fit as well. That’s why a bunch of them, from Snapdeal and Vuclip to Cashkaro, Wingify and TastyKhana, are now deploying techniques like multi-level assessments, psychometric tests and roping in external partners to make sure they don’t end up paying a heavy price for quick, wrong hires.
“The industry is growing at breakneck speed. The margin of error of getting a wrong hire is minimal,“ says Saurabh Nigam, VP ¬ HR at Snapdeal. “We want to guarantee that our hiring is as scientific as possible.“
Recently, Snapdeal rolled out a three-level assessment test to get the right talent, in skills, aptitude, culture and fitment. There’s a standarised aptitude test with different benchmarks; after clearing which a candidate is tested on functionspecific skills. In the technology domain, for instance, Snapdeal has tied up with HackerRank to test candidates on coding skills.
The final stage involving psychometric tests is to gauge cultural and values fitment, and for that Snapdeal is speaking to multiple partners besides the likes of Aon Hewitt and Development Dimensions International. All this will be in place before the company hits campuses for hiring later this year.
Cashkaro’s Swati and her co-founder husband Rohan now extensively use numerical, written and psychometric tests to measure various parameters including analytical skills, communication skills, multitasking skills and the ability to function independently . “When it comes to recruitment, we can’t afford to get it wrong,“ says Swati.
Unlike large companies which have big training setups to train new joinees, startups want people who can jumpstart, says Varun Aggarwal, CTO and COO of leading employability solutions company Aspiring Minds, which works with nearly 600 startups. “They really want to avoid bad hires. For some, even one bad hire might be 10% to 20% of their total work force,“ he says.
According to the Indian Startup Study Report 2014 by the Hay Group, Indian startups face a high employee attrition rate of 17%, which rises to 21% in growth startups, says its director Debabrat Mishra. “More than the direct cost, it’s the cost to business that has bigger implications in case of a bad hire,“ says Anuj Roy , partner, digital practice at executive search firm Transearch.
Startups across the board agree that the success of their organisations hinges on the right talent. People who thrive in a startup are generally cut from a different cloth: they need to be goal-oriented, passionate, self-motivated, be able to handle uncertainty, think out of the box, be adaptable, open to chances and have the ability to exceed expectations.
Simulated tests of programming, personality assessment and those based on situation handling skills are very relevant for startups, says Aspiring Minds’ Aggarwal. Their technology and products are used in various combinations by customers according to requirements and include AUTOMATA (simulated test of computer programming), AM-Start (workplace competency test measuring traits like effective communication, team work, learning attitude, prioritization, etc) and AMPI (Big-five based personality inventory to measure goal-orientation, dependability, and so on).
In March this year, mobile video company Vuclip used psychometric tests at two campuses to filter through hundreds of resumes to get down to a set of about 30-40 candidates for in-person interviews.
“We assessed potential hires for what we call their `get-it’ ability as well as their other skills to help find the best functional and cultural fit. This is because we believe that a combination of natural intelligence (not just grades) coupled with a great attitude leads to amazing results,“ says Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO of Vuclip.
Candidates have mastered the art of cracking the interviews and hence, start-ups are using psychometric assessments to know their real self, adds Mohit Gundecha, co-founder and CEO of Jombay, a startup in the space of recruitments and profiling.
“Start-ups typically measure behavioural traits like stress tolerance, risk taking, adaptability, guilt consciousness and dependability of the potential hires,“ says Gundecha, whose clients include Vuclip and Pune-based food ordering startup TastyKhana. Jombay uses assessment and analytics to find the cultural fitment of the candidate to the job and the company.
Sparsh Gupta, partner and CTO of Wingify , says that they have used external agency tests to whittle down the number of applicants while hiring for customer happiness (support) engineers where the pool of available talent tends to be very big.
Overall, he says, the passion and the vision of the hires are hugely important. “Every product we design is like a baby. We nurture it, design it and spend months, even years, refining it.We need people who believe that we can become the next big thing and work towards making it happen.”

Date: 10th October 2014

Source: The Economic Times (Mumbai)

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