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How To Conduct Hackathons For Software Engineers Technical Screening

Whether you are a startup or a billion-dollar company, the need for software engineers remains the same. Let’s say your technical team needs to develop and analyze existing programs. What do you do next? You hire a software engineer. But, at one point or another, every organization faces the challenge of recruiting a software engineer.

This could be due to reasons such as hiring costs and irrelevant skills for the suggested job profile, to name a few.

A survey shows that more than 80% of employers believe that there is a significant gap between the talent pool available and the roles advertised. This means that both recruiters and candidates are unable to understand and cater to each other’s requirements. 

So, what can you do to resolve the issue?

Simple. An efficient and productive alternative like hackathons. 

But why hackathons?

Over the last few years, hackathons have proven to be a great way of assessing conventional as well as unconventional talents. Hackathons are rapidly gaining popularity in all kinds of industries, from the traditional ones like automobiles to modern ones like SaaS.   

Hackathons reduce the hiring cost by more than half as opposed to traditional hiring. It gives you the liberty to hire the right candidate without even putting up a job description.

Recruiters and hiring managers should definitely consider hiring through hackathons.

Some key benefits of hiring through hackathons:

  • It is extremely cost-effective
  • Attracts a bigger pool of talents
  • Generates new and innovative ideas
  • Target skill-centric audience
  • Hire candidates with the specific skillset 
  • Notably helpful in testing programming skills

Basics of Hackathons

A hackathon is a coding event that may or may not be a competitive event with time restrictions. The participants collaborate to develop and build solutions for a predetermined problem or use it as an instrument for generating innovative ideas that can be applied to relevant real-life problems and other societal issues. 

The hosting organization usually communicates via the registration portal, and participants are asked to register, and screening is done before being allowed for the event. Hackathons can easily last from hours to days. If it is a competitive hackathon, then the organizing committee will be presenting the winner with prizes at the end of the event.

The different formats of hackathons are 

(i) Online- as the name suggests it is the type of hackathon that is conducted online 

(ii) Onsite- in this type, hackathons are conducted offline, meaning at a physical location

(iii) Hybrid- this is interesting because this format consists of parts that are conducted both online and onsite

Coding Hackathons on Hiring

Let me tell you an interesting story about Ravi; he saw a poster on the internet about a hackathon. It read, “Are you tired of trying to find a place to showcase your coding talents? Don’t worry! This hackathon is just the right place.” And it went on to state the registration details, venue, theme, topic, expected outcome, and rewards.

Ravi was longing for a coding challenge. He wanted to use his coding ability to solve real-world problems like stopping world hunger (trying to shoot for the stars). So, on D-day, he left for the hackathon at the said location, and after completing his preliminary steps, he waited for it to start.

On the other side of the story, a technical recruiter named Amy was getting ready to go to the same hackathon. She was suggested to go there by her hiring manager and scout for some talents; her company has a vacancy for a software engine. But, even after going through tons of resumes and conducting the screenings and interviews, they couldn’t find the right fit. So, they thought of giving hackathons a try.

The hackathon went on for almost 24 hours. Ravi felt ecstatic and in the zone. On the contrary, Amy was looking at all the candidates typing their hearts out. That’s when she saw Ravi and his coding skills.

Can we skip to the good part?

Sure. After the event, Amy approaches Ravi. She asked him a few questions to check whether or not he was looking for a job. Tap into his social skills, basically the non-technical aspect. A few weeks later, Ravi was asked to interview for the software engineer role. Next thing you know, Ravi was sipping coffee in his new ergonomic chair in front of his widescreen coding monitor.

Hackathon has been playing its role in combating the sourcing and screening process since time immemorial. From innovating technologies for automobiles to developing robots, hackathons have done it all.

Overview of conducting hackathons

1. Organizing:

 In this part, decisions are made regarding the timeline and events that follow. Like deciding the venue, format, websites, date, guidelines, and gifts. Typically should be done four months in advance.

2. Themes and Problem Statement:

In this part, the creation of themes and problem statements for the hackathon is carried out. Depending on the problem you can set up the entire hackathon strategy. For a designated outcome, themed hackathons are a must because it gives a very clear idea about the outcome, which helps not only the conductors to build a better strategy but allow participants to develop better solutions. Typical should be done six months before the event. 

3. Target Audience

This is one of the most important steps, knowing your audience. Targeting the right audience is the building block of the problem statement and the kind of outcome you want to achieve. This has to be typically decided six months before the event. This helps define the community that you want to target for the specific results. For example, let’s say you want to target startups; accordingly, the results that you want to achieve will have factors like innovation, creativity, scalability, etc.

4. Sponsors

Before we reach out to the sponsors, the first step is to make a budget. Creating a budget includes the following: costs of the venue, participants, revenues, food, beverage, facilities, hardware, security, and emergency services fund. Everything should be put together professionally so that you appear credible to your sponsors. 

5. Gifts

This step is like the cherry on top. Rewards always drive motivation, so having something for everyone is a good practice. It will help create buzz about the hackathon giving it recognition before and after the event. Also, depending on the objective of the hackathon, you can decide the kind of gifts you want to give the winners and participants. Typically is decided along with promotion strategies at least two-three months before the event. 

Factors responsible for conducting successful hackathons

Some of the crucial factors responsible for conducting a successful hackathon are 

  1. What you do before the event: This step sets the tone for the actual event 
  1. During the event: Make sure that every detail is covered like hardware issues, registration process, etc
  1. What you do post-event: The series of actions taken after the event results in credibility

Hire a stellar Software Engineer

We believe that if you can conduct a stellar hackathon, then your job of hiring a stellar software engineer is halfway done. So, hack your way through WeCP Hackathon and conduct successful hackathons. Get your team the talent they have been looking for.

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