How Wattpad hires amazing talent

Wattpad head office entryway

Since its inception in 2006, Toronto-based Wattpad has grown from a simple mobile reading app into a global multiplatform entertainment company, with a total monthly audience of over 60 million.

We sat down with Wattpad’s HR manager, Meghan Scott, to talk about cultural fit, fostering creativity, and finding the top talent the company needs to continue to grow and evolve.

Workopolis: Tell us about your hiring process.

MS: I would say that every role has a unique process here at Wattpad. But one of the things we do for every position is that all the key stakeholders are involved and are able to interview the candidate. As well, we try and keep the interviews to no more than four.

Four is the number we found that works well for us to really get to know the candidate – assess their skills, competencies. For them to be able to get a really good vibe of the office, see our culture, meet some of our folks here. But that also respects the time of the candidate and also our time as well.

Another unique thing that we do here at Wattpad is that every candidate has a final interview with our CEO, Allen Lau, before we present them with an offer.

We feel it’s important that Allen has that final check for culture and company fit. It also shows that are very invested in the candidate because the CEO is taking the time to meet with them and they’re able to just have that final meeting to talk about vision and all the cool things we are doing here at Wattpad.

Do you have a go-to interview question?

Because Wattpad is a storytelling platform and we’re a community of storytellers, I like to ask a candidate to tell me a story that has had a big impact on their life.

I’ve gotten some good ones. I hear Harry Potter a lot, I’ve gotten the Bible, some people are more business-oriented and they’ll talk about business books that have really impacted them in their life, or autobiographies, things like that. It’s a little window into their personality.

Wattpad head officeCan you speak to cultural fit at Wattpad?

Here at Wattpad, we feel that diversity is our strength. We really value the different backgrounds, voices, and perspectives that make up both our employees and also our community, because we are a worldwide platform in so many different languages and available to a community of people all over the world.

We have taken a leadership position on creating a culture that really values diversity.

So for us, culture fit means celebrating those different perspectives while also maintaining our shared values across the company. We really believe that diversity of thought helps us to challenge one another to think big and think differently.

Is your hiring more focused on cultural fit, or is it more about skills fit?

I definitely think it’s both. We wouldn’t compromise one over the other. I mean, culture fit is obviously an extremely important and something we check all throughout the process.

But at the same time, we’re a start-up. We move quickly, we’re working with lots of new technologies and we need to hire people with the skills to be able to help us achieve our goals and to advance our business. So, it’s definitely that balance of both the culture and skills, and competencies.

Wattpad is all about using data to increase the success rate of entertainment. Is data a part of your recruitment and hiring process?

We absolutely use data in our hiring. Our people team is small but mighty, so we need to leverage every opportunity we can to be more efficient and more effective. With our ATS, we’re able to track some really specific metrics. So, for example, we look at time-to-hire and we’ll benchmark roles against one another so we know which roles take longer to fill and we’re able to get on top of those at a quicker pace.

We’re also able to see where candidate falls off during the process. So, for example, if we’re hiring for a technical role and we’re noticing that candidates are falling off at the coding challenge, we’re able to dig in and do some investigation to make sure there’s nothing wrong with that piece of the process.

And also during the interview we use rubrics to measure candidates on their skills and competencies and we find that data gives us a very objective touch point to complement the cultural fit that we’re looking for.

Wattpad head officeHow do you entice people to Wattpad?

At Wattpad we have a very high hiring bar, so people are excited by the prospect of working with other top talent in the industry. Additionally, we’re a very welcoming company and we want to create a true culture of inclusivity, which really resonates with candidates.

People recognize that commitment and  how important it is, particularly in technology. We’re also a very mission-driven company and our products touch millions of people worldwide, so people get excited just to work on the scale that Wattpad operates on.

But on top of the amazing culture and shared values we have at Wattpad, we also present compelling offers. Employees receive stock options in Wattpad, benefits from day one, and a transit pass.

This is a very experimental company. How do you encourage your team to stay creative and be constantly thinking outside the box?

One of our core values here at Wattpad is to be a trailblazer. We’re always challenging ourselves to be innovative and to lead the evolutions of storytelling. So earlier this year we launched Wattpad Labs, an innovation lab to cultivate that passion for storytelling and to create the next breakthrough storytelling product.

With Wattpad Labs, we are able to engage the team in new and different ways and they’re able to work on new products, new coding languages and things like that.

The company is continuing to grow. Do you anticipate having to adapt your hiring process to higher numbers?

Like Wattpad as a whole, our people processes are always evolving. Because we’re on the cutting edge of storytelling and entertainment, we’re starting to use a lot of new technologies like AR and VR. Since these are younger industries, the talent pools can be particularly small and really competitive.

As a result, our CEO and co-founder Allen Lau has been an advocate for changing the current immigration system to be able to bring in new skills to the Toronto tech ecosystem. We’re also a designated partner of the new Global Skills Strategy and that’s really opened up doors for us to have conversations with candidates from all over the world who have a skill set we can’t necessarily find in Toronto.


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