Mercari India Hiring Drive

Introduction

This is Jatin from the People & Culture team at Mercari, currently involved in setting up the HR function for Mercari India.

Mercari decided to set up its technical center of excellence in India early 2022 and since then, I have been working on the hiring strategy and operations along with our consulting partners. Mercari India wishes to create independent technical teams that would spearhead the development of our services in Japan or any other part of the world where we expand. For this reason, the initial hires in the organization become critical as not only they would be required to work independently with uncertain requirements but also mentor and nurture the future hires. 

Context

We started hiring for the Backend Engineer and Engineering Manager roles and gradually expanded to other engineering functions. In doing so, we essentially followed the same selection process and hiring criteria as Japan, but realized soon that we needed to tweak a few things to customize for the Indian market. One of the major issues we were facing was the time to hire – India being a much more competitive market for experienced software engineers, we were losing out candidates during the selection process to other companies. On digging deeper, this was caused due to basic things like scheduling issues between interviewers and candidates, time taken to put the evaluation and candidates not relating to our brand.

It was around the end of October 2022 that Mohan, the head of engineering at Mercari India came up with the idea to do a 1 day hiring drive for the SE, Backend position. The purpose was to complete the selection process of as many candidates on a single day by getting all the interviewers on that day. I was super excited for this as it would not only accelerate the hiring speed but also add to the excitement and motivation of the stakeholders involved in the India hiring.

Preparations

As the purpose was clear, we started brainstorming the conduct of the hiring drive. Assuming most of the candidates would be available during the weekend, we thought a Saturday would work the best and decided 19th November as the date since it would give the team 2-3 weeks to prepare. We decided the mode of the hiring drive would be hybrid as some candidates and interviewers won’t be able to come down to the Mercari India office. 

Finally, we set our target as processing 30 candidates on the day as that was our maximum capacity (Go Bold). All these candidates should have passed our technical screening interview by the hiring drive day. On the hiring drive day, they will be taking 3 interviews – with an engineer, a manager and a director/VP and we’ll come up with the decision to make an offer or not.

When the basic things were decided, we started to work on the detailed planning for the day that included.

Preparing candidates
Sourcing candidates to interview during the drive was the biggest challenge. As I mentioned, our target was to process 30 candidates on the hiring drive day. The recruiting team worked relentlessly to source these candidates. Whether targeting the candidates affected by the lay-offs or contacting passive candidates, they did everything to ensure we had a solid pipeline before the hiring drive. The sourcing pitch was also changed to emphasize that we will be complete the selection process in 1 day and that the candidates will be able to see the Mercari India office and meet the leadership.

Preparing interviewers
Preparing the interviewers for the day and letting them know of the expectations was the next step. Most interviewers were based out of Japan and had never experienced a hiring drive before. We had to explain the purpose of this activity and convince them that it would be much more effective if some of them are able to visit the Mercari India office physically. Finally, give them a heads up that each interviewer can expect 4-5 interviews on the day and they will have 30 mins between each interview to write their evaluation of the last interview and prepare ahead for the next one. We also came up with the custom evaluation format for sharing quick feedback to the next interviewers/HR team.

Preparing Logistics
Once we had a better understanding of the interviewers participating online and from the office, along with the approximate number of candidates and whether they’ll be joining online or coming down to the office, we had to prepare for the logistics to support each type of interview. 

A total of 6 interviewers decided to join from the office and 1 conference room was assigned to each of them. Out of around 30 candidates, 8 of them chose to come down to the office. We had to prepare online booths and PCs for them where they could take online interviews with the interviewers based in Japan. Besides, we prepared some cool direction boards, swags and snacks for the candidates so they have a great experience if they are coming down to the office.

Scheduling Interviews
Scheduling interviews was critical as we had to ensure that all 30 candidates are processed on the same day as well as both the candidates and interviewers have a great experience from this hiring drive. The interviews were supposed to start at 9:30AM and complete by 6:30 PM India time (1PM-10 PM Japan time). Each interview was supposed to have a 30 minute break so that the interviewer could write the brief evaluation and message for the next interviewer and the next interviewer could prepare themselves. We came up with this kind of shared sheet to schedule all the first round of interviews. If someone passed the first round, the recruiters would schedule the next round depending on the availability of the interviewers. We wanted to ensure that if some candidate is coming down to the office their interview should be scheduled with someone present in the office.

Operations on the day
Given that we would process 30 candidates in a period of 8 hours, time management and hiring operations were really important on the day of the hiring drive. We spent a lot of time a day before the drive to come up with the exact operations and perform role plays. With 5 recruiting members including myself, we assigned 6 candidates to each member, who would be responsible end to end for their hiring process. To start with, each recruiting member would get in touch with their candidates early morning on the day to check if they are on track with the schedule. Next, they will guide the candidates to the right room (online/offline) and ensure the interviews start on time. After the interview is over, they will get the feedback from the interviewer and if positive, schedule their next round and get back to the candidate and the next interviewer. Finally, if the candidate goes through all the interview rounds, they will share the positive news with the candidate and inform them to wait for the formal offer. 

The Hiring Drive Day

Finally the day of the hiring drive arrived! All the interviewers, recruiters and supporters gathered at 8:30AM at the Mercari India office. We had the first candidate came in 30 minutes before the interview time, and in some time everyone got busy with their tasks – interviewers in India and Japan taking interviews, recruiters managing the operations and other members from the office communicating with the candidates and making them feel comfortable. Things went smooth, and finally as the last interview ended, we realized that we had pulled off our very first hiring drive – 8 hours, 30 candidates, 18 interviewers, 56 interviews, all in a hybrid setup! 

As a result, we gave offers to 8 candidates from the hiring drive! We are hopeful that most of them will join soon!

This hiring drive wouldn’t have been possible without our interviewers, who took back to back interviews in a very short time, along with providing the evaluations. We had an “otsukare-sama” party to celebrate the success!

Thank you for reading till the end. We are currently hiring for a TA Specialist & People Partner position at Mercari India! If building an organization from ground zero interests you, please check our job description here: https://apply.workable.com/mercari-india/j/B6F04EDD52/

Check our careers site for more open positions: https://careers.mercari.com/hello-india/

 

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