It’s been 100 days since I started working at Headphone Zone. How the time has flown! I’d like to recount my experience here; talk about all the things I’ve learned in this time, and about the people I’ve met here. Let me share with you how I came land my job with Headphone and my reflections on the time I’ve spent here.
An Interview Like No Other!
Straight after graduation, my first job was at an HR Consultancy firm which counted as my only professional experience and I very quickly realised that it wasn’t my calling and just had to quit within a few months. One evening, while looking at my Facebook newsfeed, I came across Headphone Zone’s recruitment ad, something instantly clicked, and I didn’t hesitate while putting down my name.
Headphone Zone’s recruitment strategy entails the targeting of people that share similar interests in things like TV shows, music, and websites. When I found out about this, most of my friends thought that was pretty new and surprising. I t’s probably because they’re used to working at serious corporates, formidable multinationals and other large companies. But to me, it’s just common sense to hire people you know you may get along with well.
Anyway, the very next day Raghav Somani, the CEO of Headphone Zone, called me up for a phone interview. The call started off with him asking me general questions about me. Soon, the conversation became all about the various reasons why I would not want to consider working at Headphone Zone. The personal interview was scheduled for the same afternoon. I also asked Raghav over the phone whether I would be required to dress in formal wear for the interview, to which he said, “The CEO is calling you for an interview, what do you think?” Having had little experience of how an ideal interview should be conducted, I was very nervous before I went to the office for the interview. Raghav seemed very intimidating on the phone. I convinced myself that it would be one of those hard interviews where I would be grilled with difficult questions.
I showed up that ver y afternoon at the office in my favourite Warli printed kurta, and was surprised to see that there wasn’t any division of rooms or desks for the various designations. I instantly got a vibe of it being a collaborative, young and casual work environment. Everyone there was dressed in work casuals and they all welcomed and greeted me at the same time as I sat in a chair facing the entire team. I was made very comfortable and I realised it was an interview in the true sense of the word: with either me asking questions as them. As the interview progressed all my nervousness just disappeared, and I felt pretty stupid to be as apprehensive.
Unlike most of interviews, I met all the people with whom I would be working with; all the people who run this business. The team at Headphone Zone believes that the new recruit should be able to get along with everyone. And the group interview allows the candidate the opportunity to get to know the team to see if he or she can get along them. During the interview everyone talked about their roles, asked me where my interests lay, and what my hobbies were. We also talked about many other things but none that that related at all to the job they did or the job I was expected to do. It hardly seemed like meeting a group of interviewers, just regular people. The interview lasted for 90 minutes where I was made to think of any questions I may have had to ask to the team. A lot of emphasis was placed on me asking questions to the team instead of the other way around. That’s another unique thing about the interview process at Headphone Zone.
Settling In At Headphone Zone
After the interview was over, Raghav called me within the hour to inform me that I could start working for a few days to see how it went before officially joining in. This is actually a fantastic way to recruit someone because there is no pressure to commit to something without knowing what it was. I also wan’t required to sign or submit any documentation.
I started working with Bhavika on the ecommerce side of the work, where I understood the daily activities of how a business actually runs. In a week I learned so much about the products we sell, how many orders we receive, how we receive those orders, and finally how to pull some strings to get the product to the customer as soon as possible.
Bhavika has the most powerful memory in the world. She remembers the tracking details of some of our shipments! We have this common love for swings, watching the moon and the stars and share a common dislike for certain people. She expects perfection in every task which I totally understand considering one small mistake and the result is one unhappy customer which goes against our customer delight centric mission.Our team is strongly inspired by creating “WOW experiences” for our customers. Another thing that I admire about Headphone Zone is that we believe in Ritz-Carlton’s service motto of “We're Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”. What that means is that we do not tolerate behaviour from anyone that is less than gentlemanly or ladylike. Any discretion and the customer is banned for life from the website.
I love discussing subjects like world history and geography with Raghav! It is one of my favorite things to do. He just has a way of saying things and knows so much about everything! We discuss issues like the French-African colonies, the Greek Crises, the architecture of Mumbai, and places I could travel alone. As someone who strongly hates 'baingan', I attribute my new found love for Aubergine Parmigiana all to him.
Kamna was on a vacation when I joined but we used to talk on our In-House WhatsApp group. She is so full of new ideas. She has this unique idea of creating new emojis which I didn’t think anyone could have thought about. Blessed with a beautiful voice, she entertains us by singing and cracking silly jokes. We have similar interests like the TV Show ‘Downton Abbey’ and classic literature like the book ‘Gone With The Wind’. At some point of my life I want to study literature, and Kamna shares the same goal. It is so nice to have similar people around you so you can talk about things that you are excited about and just knowing that the other person is, if not more or less, equally interested in the same things is amazing.
Two weeks in, I knew what everyone’s routine was, except Ahsan. Ahsan is the in-house expert of headphones and the social butterfly of the office. He introduced me to Joey’s Pizza and it is one of the best things that has happened after I’ve joined. Every Saturday we're always up for indulging in some Joey’s. He likes to annoy me too! Obviously, he has faced serious consequences like a few punches here and there because of that! Then there is Nausheen . Nausheen was there only for a month after I joined in, and then she went on a study break. Nausheen is a complete a football buff and as a walking talking dictionary, is able to churn out content for our website even in her sleep. Shanika is the quietest of all. Most of the time, she is quite indifferent to all the goofiness all around her. Recently, she has started taking part and sometimes understands Kamna’s sense of humour. The people I have met here, I am so sure that they would be my friends even if we did not work together.
Reflections From My First 100 Days
Every morning we have a meeting to discuss the work for day. The division of work is similar to a buffet system where anyone can take responsibility of the work they would like to do. Everyone has to feel ownership and accountability for the work they take up. We all work in close quarters together from our small office here in Mumbai and run this business. It is not just work though at Headphone Zone. We all work really hard but it is so much fun. We joke around all the time, we sing, play guitar; make goofy faces, talk funny and have lot of pizzas.
On paper it seems that we just sell headphones but it is not so easy; there are so many things that are to be taken care of to ensure smooth running of the business. To make sure everything is in stock, the prices are appropriate, figuring out the logistics and running the right advertisements.
We work on Saturdays also and when I joined I was not really happy about it but as I started working, I really feel like coming to work on Saturday I understood the importance of working on a Saturday plus it usually is a light day with pizza!
I have learned so much about the world by just being at work, absorbing like a sponge, everything I hear every day. I also got to know about so many movies and books that I wasn’t aware of. Being the youngest here I look up to everyone in my team. They are just 23 and running a business and I feel proud to be part of that team. The work culture and environment we have is very different from any other company I have heard of and it is hard for many people to understand the way we work. We laugh so much and are so funny and goofy that a new person would think to themselves, “How do they manage to work and run this business?” But everyone works so hard and is so smart that we manage to run it despite all our goofiness.
During my three months at Headphone Zone I have met so many smart and intelligent people. Most of them are Raghav’s friends who have their own businesses running. Most of them are on our Board of Advisors. In just one meeting I have been inspired by them. Their approach and thoughts towards the work they do is so impressive and so very new for a person like me who is just out of college.
My horizons have broadened by just being there at office, the curiosity I have for various random things has increased and I am really happy about that. I can ask any random question I may have from the top of my head, and there will be someone here who will know the answer.