HackerRank promises more meritocratic job searches in tech fields

The HackerRank app asks job-seekers to apply for software engineering positions by solving programming challenges. If they can solve the challenge successfully, they're guaranteed a phone interview within a few days.

The HackerRank Jobs app and website, shown here, ask software engineers to solve coding challenges in order to apply for technical jobs.

Applying for jobs can be a pretty opaque process. Many people know the feeling of sending in a tailored résumé and cover letter for a position listed on a company’s website, then waiting and waiting and waiting for some kind of response from the company.

The hiring process can be frustrating for companies, too, especially for startups and mid-size companies who want to find employees with specific technical skills.

HackerRank, a company that tries to help coders and software engineers stay sharp by solving small programming challenges, is trying to make the hiring process easier for both companies and would-be employees. HackerRank Jobs, an app launched on Tuesday and aimed at software engineers, lets companies post job openings along with descriptions of the programming or other technical skills they’re looking for in a candidate.

Here’s the catch: HackerRank Jobs also includes programming challenges. Companies supply coding puzzles that are representative of what an applicant might face in the position they’re applying for. If an applicant solves the coding challenge successfully, they’re guaranteed a phone interview within five business days. If they don’t solve the challenge, the company will let them know that, too. 

The app is built to make the hiring process a little more transparent, at least for software jobs. Applicants will know within a pretty short timeframe whether they passed the initial test. Companies have a useful metric against which to judge an applicant’s technical skills, meaning they don’t have to sift through candidates who have well-formatted résumés but who lack the problem-solving abilities needed to do the job. And other information that’s often obscured in traditional job postings, such as the salary range being offered, is included on HackerRank Jobs.

HackerRank may also make job searching a more meritocratic experience for minorities. Studies show that black candidates are less likely to receive an interview compared to equally qualified white candidates, a problem that HackerRank's code challenges may overcome.

HackerRank Jobs includes listings for back-end and front-end developers, network engineers, and Android and iOS programmers. Several well-known tech companies, including Uber, VMWare, Quora, and Evernote are already advertising openings on the app. Right now, only companies in New York; Bangalore, India; and San Francisco can post to the app, but additional regions will be added as the service grows, according to an interview HackerRank chief executive officer Vivek Ravisankar gave to TechCrunch.

Companies will eventually have to pay for listings, too, but instead of a flat fee to advertise an opening, they’ll be charged a small percentage based on the number of applicants who apply to the job by successfully completing the coding challenge.

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