If there’s one thing that techies hate, it’s interviewing for a job in tech.
You’d think it’d be easier, right? After all, every company is soon to be a software company if you believe the Silicon Valley hype, which means that every company will soon need lots and lots more programmers.
The problem is that it’s actually really hard to assess whether or not somebody is a good programmer.
Everybody thinks they’re an expert, and it’s often non-technical people like HR that get tapped to do the initial assessment.
And so two things tend to happen when you interview for a tech job: You either get completely insane “skill” tests on extremely basic knowledge that have little to do with the job at hand, or else they turn to brainteasers, riddles, and other weird stuff designed to gauge your personality as much as your set of skills.
Regardless, the result is the same: Really excellent coders find themselves without a job, while recruiters hire people with the wrong skills for the job they’re hired to do.
That’s a problem that HackerRank, a startup founded by ex-Amazon engineer and current CEO Vivek Ravisankar, wants to solve.
On Amazon’s Kindle team back in 2008, building the software that let people self-publish blogs to the e-reader store, Ravisankar had to conduct a lot of technical interviews. Over time, it became clear that the process was not great.
“It’s very hard to figure out how good a programmer is from looking at your resume,” says Ravisankar, who left Amazon in 2009 to pursue the startup.
HackerRank is a tool for automatically making programming tests, based on the skills that the company wants to test for, and then giving them a score based on their own algorithm.
“Your 5 can be my 1.2,” Ravisankar said.
It’s a pretty simple idea, but it was profound enough to get HackerRank into the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator program. Today, one million developers use it to compete in challenges and gauge their own skills, HackerRank claims, while big companies like Amazon, Riot Games, and Evernote use it in their own recruiting efforts. So far, HackerRank has raised $US12.4 million from venture capital firms like Khosla Ventures and Battery Ventures.
Now, HackerRank announces integration with the super-popular recruitment software Oracle Taleo, Greenhouse, and Jobvite, such that recruiters can instantly test job seekers and see their scores from right within the program.
Again, simple, but profound — recruiters can see how good a candidate is straight from the software they’re already using to find good future employees.
There’s an interesting side effect here, too. The traditional technical interview has the bad habit of turning away women and minority groups for the simple reason that they prioritise people who code in a similar way to the interviewer.
A more objective score given by HackerRank could remove that barrier, ensuring candidates’ applications live and die by their own merit.
“We’re bringing in a huge change in recruiting,” Ravisankar says.