Hack to hire: how hackathons can be tapped for recruitment needs

Hackathons can be insightful and rewarding as they help tech organisations find the best talent and give candidates a clear picture of the company’s culture and values.

An increasing number of organisations are adopting modern hiring practices and investing in new-age recruitment tools to source top talent. A hackathon is one such tool that most technology players are banking on to seek the best fit.

What is a hackathon?

It’s a collaborative setting where professionals from diverse backgrounds assemble to address a common set of pre-defined challenges and build innovative solutions in the process.

Most recruiters today use this tool to assess candidates’ problem-solving, and people and time management skills. The process used in hackathons is more of a gamifying experience that makes hiring interactive and rewarding for both, candidates and recruiters. 

According to a recent report, universities that leveraged technologies, including hackathons in their hiring process, attained a 70 percent on-boarding rate. 

Interestingly, this tool has also gained traction from non-tech players in the recent past. For instance, Karnataka Police hosted the first-ever police hackathon last year to elicit coding solutions for problems such as data analytics, facial recognition, and developing a unified communication app - all focused on making police processes more efficient. 

Similarly, Pune Smart City Development Corporation conducted a hackathon to build robust solutions around the smart city concept and provide authorities with greater insights regarding areas like traffic light hacking. 

How can you use hackathons?

Organise hackathons for hiring

Ideate and plan for the hackathon events - which marketing channels will be used to disseminate information, what location will it be conducted - physical or virtual, the timelines, the prize money, the kind of questions, the judges, and job roles you want to hire for through hackathons. Often candidates for multiple job roles could be hired by hosting a hackathon.      

Market hackathons for effective employer branding

Hackathons also effectively provide solutions for employer branding. When you market your hackathons for hiring through various employment portals, social media, and networking platforms, you are aiming for maximum outreach.

You are creating conversations around your brand and recruitment processes. Sometimes there would be other brands involved for sponsorship, there will be prizes involved, and people would be signing up for challenges and jobs that will set the scene for establishing employer branding.

Invite candidates to participate in hackathons for sourcing and screening

One of the recruitment challenges is many companies still follow long and unstructured screening processes that result in loss of time and interest of both candidates and recruiters. Hackathons can also be used to gather candidate data and review in a short time frame.

A lot of active candidates looking for jobs or passive candidates just interested in challenges can sign up for your hackathon. You can build a pipeline of candidates not only for the present, but also for the future. When candidates are engaged in finding success for their teams, you can effectively gauge who is showing the best core technical skills, cognitive abilities, and behavioural competencies.  

Assess the results for the right job fit

After screening and sourcing, the further recruitment process can be supported by structured video interviews. All such results could be collated and shared with all stakeholders for informed decisions on who to hire eventually. And while candidates and teams get a chance to win hackathons, organisations have the opportunity to find the best fit from among all the candidates - and not just from the winning team.   

Hackathons can also be an effective solution to unorganised recruitment processes, which are not only time-consuming but also don’t guarantee success in hiring quality talents.

Moreover, in traditional hiring, sometimes it is challenging to justify the cost involved in the overall process. Hackathons, on the other hand, call for minimum cost when conducted online and offer a host of benefits.

Even when hosted offline, they can be significantly insightful and rewarding as they provide a conducive environment to candidates and give them a clear picture of the company, in terms of its culture and values.

Given the impressive pace at which hackathons are growing in India, it is certain that more organisations from diverse sectors will be leveraging this concept in the times to come. As technologies evolve, hackathons will also grow with new tech tools being integrated into existing hiring mechanisms.

Organisations that mindfully host hackathons will be able to attract the best talent and achieve better results from their recruitment drives. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


Updates from around the world