Article: How HackerRank uses coding challenges to find great developers

#TechHR'18

How HackerRank uses coding challenges to find great developers

HackerRank replaced the pen and paper test which generally students and companies struggle through during placements and built automated Coding Challenges, helping organizations in finding great programmers.
How HackerRank uses coding challenges to find great developers

Vivek Ravisankar and Hari Karunanidhi, two students at National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli saw students struggling during campus placements and losing hours and days sitting through various stages of selection. They realized the need of a more efficient process to save the time of both candidates and companies. That’s when they conceived the idea of automated skills-based coding assessments to cut thousands of hours in tech recruiting collectively and HackerRank, formerly known as InterviewStreet was born in 2011. 

Back then, their innovation earned a spot at the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator program, thus becoming the first Indian company to do so. This is where and how HackerRank received its first funding of $200K. In the same year, it was also backed by Khosla Ventures which invested $3.5 Mn in the HR tech startup. 

Hari Karunanidhi, Co-founder and CTO, HackerRank shares that in the initial stages before 2010, both he and Vivek started with a different idea. Their original idea was to help candidates with mock interviews and tests. For this, they built test modules which they later utilized for companies as well. During the beginning phase when they were searching for clients, the feedback and insights that they gathered helped them in improvising their product later. 

Hari says, “The companies wanted multiple other features which would make their lives easier. We put all that feedback into building the product and created a roadmap for next one year.”

Soon after a bit of hardship, a very small startup called Wisdom Tap came on board and became their first customer in 2010.

Hari shares that back then they didn’t even have any pricing strategy. “We asked the client to put a worth on the product and he soon came up with a number which he felt demonstrated value.”

But, interestingly, the HackerRank duo instead of taking the payment, asked the person to email everyone in his contact about the product. And, one of the people that he wrote to was Mekin Maheshwari who was VP of Engineering of Flipkart at that time.  This is how through word of mouth they got Flipkart onboard as a customer. 

This incident was a turning point in the lives of co-founders, Vivek Ravisankar and Hari Karunanidhi. From this day till now, they have only looked forward and worked on making their product better and smarter each day. 

Here’s how HackerRank’s skill-based assessment platform is helping companies hire great developers

HackerRank provides a solution to the hiring managers and recruiters to conduct their online assessment in an easier way. It provides a platform where people can actually write code and the code then gets evaluated on multiple parameters such as is it secure, is it handling all the constraints that it is required to handle, is it written in a neat or clean fashion, etc. Through a common platform, multiple programmers can be evaluated and people with the best skillset can be identified. 

From a crowd of programmers, one can easily identify who codes better or who can write optimal code. The hiring manager creates the tests or the coding challenges and the recruiter shares it with the potential candidates. This helps them in identifying the technical competencies of the candidates, making the recruitment process more effective and timely.  

“HackerRank is an integral part of our tech recruitment. We have been using the platform extensively on campus and it has helped us in identifying the top programming talent in an efficient and timely manner,” says Prasad Kuchoor Rao, Director of Talent Selection at Adobe. 

The platform also provides the candidates the option to choose from over 40 programming languages. Hari says, “To provide a great candidate experience we do not limit the environment, there are no challenges in terms of language.  If someone can code in Java or Pearl or any language they prefer, they can.”

Just like any other startup, the journey of HackerRank was not that smooth, they struggled with some initial product challenges which eventually helped them in making their product better.  

Initial Product Challenges 

Some of the initial challenges while developing the platform were around security and scalability. The team had to ensure that there were systems in place to handle high traffic and a high number of applications coming in at the same time. Also, as these codes were running in a different content environment, security was also a concern. Since then, HackerRank has ensured that the platform is robust in terms of security and that the platform can handle high traffic with ease.

Moving ahead from all the challenges, hits and misses, HackerRank recently in February raised $30 Mn in a series C Funding from JMI Equity to accelerate its growth in the enterprise segment and expand and support its community of over 3.5 Mn programmers. 

A 1000 clients, 3.5 Mn programmers

Today, more than 1000 companies, including big names like Flipkart, Adobe, Facebook, VMWare, etc. are using HackerRank’s technology to find great programmers. 

Besides the recruitment side of things, HackerRank also has a community of over 3.5 Mn programmers worldwide who come to the platform to practice and hone their skills, learn to code if they are new to the field, and compete in coding contests. HackerRank is taking care of all stakeholders including recruiters, candidates, and hiring managers by aiming to match every developer to the right job. 

It also provides a real-time pair programming tool which aims to replace phone interviews for developers where on a collaborative code editor, candidates enter the code and the interviewer can see the responses real time, run and test the code, provide feedback on the fly, etc. Besides this, the startup is also helping companies in assessing the learning and development needs of the new employees. 

The future ahead

After streamlining the process of recruitment, HackerRank now plans to grow more in the L&D sector in the next two years. Hari and Vivek are also looking to tap into more markets globally while focusing on strengthening the product constantly. 

Hari says, “We are trying to go into the depths of various software developer roles, like web developer, android developer, security and database. We are taking positive strides in ensuring that we strengthen our core and make HackerRank even more robust in an effort to get to our vision of being able to match every developer to the right job.”

As ‘Tech’ is the new way of life, companies are continually looking for great developers across industries and sectors. But recruiters often face difficulty in assessing the technical competencies thus increasing time and cost of recruitment. This is why HackerRank's automated coding challenges are suited to solve this critical problem and thus are increasingly in demand in the market. But it is not the only one solution that exists in this space. It stands in competition with startups like HackerEarth, among others. This segment of technical recruitment is emerging and catering to the increasing need for software engineers.

In fact, the entire technology in recruitment industry is rapidly growing. Interestingly, the spend on technology around recruitment industry in India is going to touch $5 Bn or Rs 500 crore by 2020. Thus, reassuring that the scope of growth for HackerRank is vast and its value proposition is rightly placed. How much it is able to score over its competitors to leverage this proposition will be something to watch out for.

Topics: TechHR 2018, Recruitment, Technology

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