When you're building a start-up, every new hire counts.
So Katerina Schneider, the founder and CEO of Ritual, has one question she loves to ask to help her spot a good hire for her wellness company.
As a founder who was told "no" many times early on, even from an investor who told her she'd have to choose between starting a family and launching a company, Schneider wants to know that people who work for her have a specific response to rejection.
That's why she asks candidates: When have you been told "no"? How did you rise above it, and how did it make you a better employee?
The question speaks to one of Ritual's core values, which Schneider wrote with her team when they reached 50 employees. "That challenges the 'embrace the no's' value," Schneider tells CNBC Make It of her favorite interview question, "which I think is ultimately the most important one — the hustle and ability to turn something around."
Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma was famously rejected from a string of jobs, including one at a KFC and another as a cop, and was turned down by Harvard 10 times. By the time he founded Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba in 1999, he was used to hearing "no," but continued growing his company despite having no technical or business background. In 2005 , Yahoo bought a majority stake in Alibaba, and it issued a record-breaking $25 billion IPO by 2014. Today, the company has a market capitalization of over $396 billion, and Ma is worth $35 billion.
Schneider says she used rejection from investors, manufacturers and people within the wellness industry "as fuel" to continue building her company, which to date has sold 1 million bottles of multivitamins and has raised $40.5 million in funding. The company's growth and its ability to attract top talent from major companies helped Ritual be named one of LinkedIn's top start-ups in 2019.
Schneider also wants to know that people who come into Ritual are excited about its rapid growth, which is why she thinks asking questions about a company's future is a good trait in a potential hire.
Ritual launched in 2016 as a monthly subscription service to deliver a daily multivitamin for women. It has since expanded its product offerings to include a prenatal vitamin and has plans to release another multivitamin product designed for women over the age of 50.
"I love when people ask me the vision beyond vitamins — how do you grow from being a vitamin company to personal care [company] or broader than that?" Schneider says. She wants to know that people who join the team are excited about the company's growth and also have their own ideas to help it venture into new ideas, products and services.
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