Oct 27, 2017 04:19 PM IST | Source:

Coding Success: Why tech giants rely on this Bangalore startup to recruit coders

Started in 2009 by two NIT Trichy graduates, HackerRank has raised about USD 19 million so far, from investors such as Khosla Ventures, Recruit Holdings, Y Combinator and others.

As the global tech industry is going through a metamorphosis with a high demand for new skillsets, recruiters are adjusting their hiring model.

HackerRank, a Bangalore-based startup seeded by YCombinator, has been quietly helping the tech giants do just that.

Corporate giants such as VMware, Microsoft, Adobe, Snapchat, VMware, Quora, Evernote and unicorns such as Flipkart, are taking advantage of such HackerRank's platform to hire coders.

“Initially, we started as a platform to help candidates prepare through mock tests. Then we moved on to an assessment platform, where candidates can code to quantify if the codes are correct, whether they match the benchmark of a company’s hiring standards,” HackerRank co-founder Harishankaran Karunanidhi said.

Founded in 2009, the company has raised USD 19 million so far, from investors such as Khosla Ventures, Recruit Holdings, Y Combinator and others.

The startup was incubated by YCombinator in 2011. It creates coding challenges to evaluate and rate a programmer’s skills for the recruiters to shortlist.

VMWare, for instance, has been able to cut down the time consuming recruitment process by 75 percent by directly assessing a candidate’s technical skills through HackerRank’s platform, before an actual interview.

As part of the application process, applicants are made to go through a coding challenge, which are then ranked by HackerRank and run against the benchmark rating the company wants.

What if the coding questions do not match the job profile? HackerRank has got that covered.

The company has created a bank of coding challenges, but has passed on complete control on to the recruiter.

The process involves a physical touch point, where the company representatives meet enterprises to understand their specific skill requirements and HackerRank translates it into a coding challenge.

Building a community of over 2 million coders

To date, more than a 2 million developers have completed challenges on HackerRank.

HackerRank’s community consists of coders from its two big markets – about 40 percent each from the US and India markets – while the rest are located in various locations across the globe.

“The biggest challenge for tech companies is to filter the right talent. Even bigger challenge is to create a healthy pipeline of deserving candidates. Today it is mostly restricted to sifting resumes on online job portals based on certain keywords. They cannot quantify the skillsets based on their knowledge, coding ability, etc,” Karunanidhi said.

The startup works on an enterprise recruitment licensing model.

HackerRank has also created a community of 2.4 million coders and programmers where they can test their existing skills and learn new ones.

This is an extension of HackerRank’s earlier avatar – Interview Street, which was focused on coders who could self-test their skills and quantify it through mock tests.

“It was more of a pen-and-paper kind of evaluation process. We weren’t able to scale the initial model faster because it required a lot of manual work, and wasn’t making things easy for anyone,” he said.

Automating recruitment testing

Today, HackerRank platform is completely automated and has an effective evaluation process for enterprises to set an exam, manage test scores, and contact the candidate.

So, even before a candidate physically meets the interviewers, the candidate can take the test anywhere remotely.

This does two things – the candidate is able to understand if they are a good fit for the company, and also vice versa.

But HackerRank has another interesting use cropping up – re-skilling.

“We did not build the platform for re-skilling of existing employees, but we are increasingly witnessing our enterprises clients using it to evaluate skill levels of current employees to see what new skills they can acquire,” Karunanidhi says. This emerging trend for HackerRank is mostly for re-skilling of senior management.

Currently, companies such as Cisco are using HackerRank internal learning and development, conduct hackathons, and to generally improve the programming culture.

On an average, recruiters use HackerRank to hire employees with about eight years of experience.

To aid the re-skilling needs of tech companies, the startup is now building a recruitment stack for senior hires.

“We are creating this product called Full Stack Testing. In current stack you write one piece of code of a larger design. Full stack will have an open-ended project which can be built in multiple ways, which is important for senior recruitments,” Karunanidhi says.

The IT industry in India, valued at USD 150 billion, employs around 4 million people and according to industry body Nasscom about 40 percent of them need re-skilling over the next five years to stay relevant in the face of automation.

Karunanidhi says there’s been an uptick in companies from industries other than technology using HackerRank to hire engineers and other technical roles.

When the company first started, it worked almost exclusively with traditional technology companies and startups.

Now, banks and retailers are signing up to use their service.
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