Article: Leveraging hiring hackathons to accelerate recruitment

A Brand Reachout InitiativeRecruitment

Leveraging hiring hackathons to accelerate recruitment

In a recent People Matters and Unstop webinar, experts brainstormed how companies can leverage hackathons to gain strategic advantages and ensure they address their talent demands.
Leveraging hiring hackathons to accelerate recruitment

Recruitment and hiring professionals are essential stakeholders in driving business growth. Their role is critical in helping companies find people with the right skills and aptitude in a world with ever-evolving business conditions and rapid disruptions. In addition to meeting the demands of today, they have to keep an eye out for the future and ensure their talent pipelines help address the changing nature of skill demands.


Over the past few years, the renewed war for talent has put talent acquisition on the radar of business leaders looking for impactful hiring solutions.

But many challenges complicate hiring in the post-pandemic era.

Evolving employee preferences around employee benefits, flexibility, etc., have made recruitment highly competitive. In addition to this, technologies like AI, predictive analytics, and automation are developing, and their application is fast reshaping how the skill demands that companies face.  

While employers are fast responding to these hiring challenges, many require in-time recruitment solutions that help add value to their existing hiring efforts and provide them with impactful results. It is here that hiring competitions and hackathons help companies meet their skill demands. Companies get access to large talent pools and stand to hire better by assessing suitability and job fit through real-life scenarios. 

To deliberate this further and explore the opportunities that a successful hackathon provides, People Matters and Unstop (formerly Dare2Compete) recently curated a webinar where Strafford Fernandes, Senior Manager HR, University Relations, Flipkart; Ankit Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Unstop; and, Gangadhar Salimath Director Talent Acquisition, Walmart Global Tech India joined us for an insightful discussion. 

Scale reach with the right results 

For our panellists, hackathons provided them with an easy and seamless way to assess and hire in large numbers. In addition, hiring events like hackathons helped add to existing hiring efforts and provided companies with a talent pool of qualified individuals. This reach stood out to Strafford, who added that "hackathons help address the challenge of the scope of knowledge that an organisation has, and reach out to talent across the country. It also helps us engage with a large talent pool regarding hiring."  

The rise of the pandemic further accentuated the skill considerations for many. Gangadhar noted that "today's talent market is more complex and crowded than ever. Here, competition-based hiring is integral to our hiring strategy as it allows us to scale and connect with the right candidates. And at the same time, it also helps us get our total value proposition out there." Explaining how hiring competitions is an option that adds value to existing talent acquisition models, he added that "while we have strong relationships with universities and our campus recruitment is robust, hiring competitions gave us the added advantage in reaching out to the right talent and addressing our needs."

Along with scaling talent pools, such competitions also provide other strategic advantages to employers. Ankit noted how leveraging hackathon helps companies "save time, save money, optimise resources." Taking the example of traditional job boards, he explained how hiring was a long, cumbersome process involving sourcing, assessing, and hiring. "In the case of hackathons, from conceptualising to execution, the entire process is for over four weeks. So in a matter of 4 weeks, employers can go from zero to making 100 plus offers to candidates that fit their job requirements." The added advantage of hiring at scale also means that money and resources are optimised to get the best talent through their doors. "Companies paying a cost per hire would spend the equivalent of a candidate's monthly salary only on hiring a few candidates. With hackathons, companies get access to the right talent without incurring significant costs."

Tailoring the right candidate experience

Candidate experience has always played an essential role in influencing candidates' decisions. For Strafford, "hackathons were about showcasing the opportunities within Flipkart that candidates could explore and the kind of work-life we offer. These hiring competitions also help us provide mentorship opportunities where students are exposed to senior data scientists and software engineers who help give much clearer direction." He added how bonding with the client to create the right experience proved to be a vital feature of such hackathons. "Candidate experience is very important. If you are a recruiter, you need to manage the queries or questions that students may have. How you deal with questions that you feel are not very pertinent, is very important because it matters to the candidate. Having a partner like Unstop that helps you through the journey, helps create the right candidate experience," he explained. 

Gangadhar echoed the concern and added for companies to create the right candidate experience through hackathons, it is essential to "visualise the entire process. Because anything that goes wrong then directly impacts candidate experience, and by extension, the entire brand gets impacted. It starts with designing the assessment correctly, ensuring employers have invested time and effort into curating the right experience." He added how having platforms like "Unstop helped provide an exceptional experience. In a recent hiring event we did with them, the aim was even if the candidate didn't join, they would go back thinking, you know what, these guys treated me fairly, and they were prompt and accessible and I would want to work at this place." For Gangadhar, it was paying close attention to creating a good candidate experience and having the right partners, which were necessary for a successful hackathon. 

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Topics: Recruitment, Campus Recruitment, #Hiring

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