Recruiting 2020. Self-reflection

Abhishek Chatterjee
6 min readDec 24, 2020
Source: Unsplash

Disclaimer: Everything mentioned here are my views and doesn’t represent the views of my employer.

A year in which “unprecedented” might be the most used word to describe itself can’t be easy for sure. Welcome to the end of 2020. I really wish for an amazing 2021 for all of you.

This “unprecedented” year has been huge, giving me learnings for a lifetime. While not talking about the personal learnings here but would like to do a professional introspection of this year.

I am working for Udaan, a Unicorn, one of the fastest-growing B2B e-commerce company. The task was/is to build and scale the tech team. The numbers were daunting, the team very very demanding and a very high bar to maintain and raise further. From here I am mentioning everything I have learned this entire year. While reading this do keep in mind, no one is perfect and we have had our share of mistakes but we didn’t dwell on them we corrected and moved ahead. We are far from perfect or even good but we take feedback very seriously and will keep improving.


Source: Unsplash
  1. Brute force works darn good: This was a tough pill to swallow tbh. When we started the year, we weren’t in great shape. Not a lot of data to fall back on or to draw intelligence and we were seriously short on time. We as the team decided to put brute force to work i.e we will interview aggressively for the first 3 months with a heavy top-funnel before we can understand the trend and plan ahead for next quarter.
  2. Understand the impact of the role: At Udaan, at this point, we don’t have designations like SDE 1, 2, or Principal Architect, etc. There are two roles called Product engineers and Software engineers. Without designations and with a little bit of unconventionality it is impossible to talk to candidates if you don’t understand the impact of these roles.
  3. Better be good at Google sheets: Numbers are your friend but you can’t send a friend request if you don’t know to use Google sheets/excels well. As the numbers poured in from the first quarter, we used all the learnings that we could derive from those numbers and if you have dynamic data that changes every day to every week, it is imperative that you should be good at using these tools else you will not reap the values. (ATS’s can do this too)
  4. Define core metrics: There are too many things to track but you need to decide, iterate, and evolve on the metric that you decide to track. I sometimes see that teams try to get too overwhelmed with numbers and metrics but you really need to drill down on core metrics. Core metrics to be tracked should be decided with the hiring manager and the team.
  5. Start forecasting: Once you have numbers, start forecasting for the next months and quarters. Like we will interview these many and you can find out with respect to data how many you will offer and how many will come on board. Forecasting might be a little off at the start but it helps you to understand where your intelligence is going wrong and eventually you get better at planning.
  6. Continuous expectation setting: One of the most important learnings of the year. Expectation setting is one of the most important parts of recruiting. On the candidate side, expectation settings on the interview process, timeline, time to close the loop make your and candidate's life easier. Surprises are good but nobody likes them during an interview. Similarly, it is important to do expectation setting with the hiring manager as well and since we hire in a very dynamic environment, the expectation setting should be continuous.
  7. Candidature is never on hold, you are undecisive: We never tell candidates that the position is on hold or your candidature is on hold. We try to hire every good person that walks through the door even if that happens to be the first person we meet. Don’t chase that purple unicorn and set your own bar, someone passes then the person is good enough to hire.
  8. You are always as good as your team: This is a very loosely used phrase but this defines your success and failure. Recruitment is like sales, some quarters might be bad for you but if you have a team that backs you, working becomes very easy. I always knew this but the team I work with is amazing and reinforces my belief on this point.
  9. The intent is real, achievements can be superficial: When hiring for our team, we always looked for intent, not for past achievements. For our team, what you are willing to do is more important than what you have achieved so far. We try to look for intent when we interview for our team. We hired one member of our team because that person stays 30km away but said unflinchingly when asked could you travel every day and be here before the interviews start. The answer was “yes” and that was the only question asked.
  10. Keep asking for more: Udaan has taught this to me, you find it difficult to achieve few things but by pushing yourself hard you reach there and achieve it but you shouldn’t rest on your laurels else you enter the comfort zone and learning stops. You need to ask for more from yourself and the team.

Mistakes 2020

Source: Unsplash

All interviews should be tracked: I was once interviewing for our team, I gave the candidate an assignment and in the chaos of other interviews I almost forgot about the interview and that person had to wait for like an hour. The person is one of the best on our team, would have been such a loss if I would have lost that person for my inability to track all the interviews.

Making unfulfilling promises: Sometimes have come under a bit of pressure and made promises to candidates or hiring managers that shouldn’t have been made by me. This is something that needs to improve for the next year.

Didn’t celebrate small wins: Maybe due to the pandemic or the task that lied ahead we kept working this entire year and didn’t celebrate the small wins that we should have. This is important can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

Proud 2020

We have added 100+ engineers to the team, who will be building products that create a positive impact on Bharat’s economy and livelihood. BTW we have just started :)

Thanks 2020

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Thanks to each one of my team members. It is amazing to work with them. If there is one word to describe this team I would use “Trust”.

Also to all the hiring managers for teaching us so many things and pushing us harder, and believing in us more than we believed in ourselves.

Special mention to rahul2286. This is the third company we are working together and the friendship and synergy that we share are amazing and he makes working so much easier for me and everyone around.