Hackathons: perfect for recruiting developers and technologists


Resume = dead tree
Hackathon = live action

Traditional recruiting tries to measure someone’s ability to perform work by how well they present on paper (resume) and in interviews. To make an analogy: it’s gauging someone’s running speed by how confidently they talk about it.

A hackathon gives you a stopwatch. It’s a practical way to measure performance in a live, relevant work setting. Sending in technical and other staff to mentor teams provides a great opportunity to evaluate potential recruits in 3 areas:

1. technical skills and creativity

Making it to a live demo means participants shipped product on time with the technical competence to actually make it work. That’s the stuff unicorns are made of. People who sacrifice their weekends to code really love what they do. This means they’re usually quite a cut above average. After brainstorming, chatting, and working with teams on their ideas over a few hours, mentors can easily shortlist the brightest candidates.

2. planning, prioritization, and self-management

The severe time constraint of a hackathon forces teams to break down problems to their most basic, solvable parts. Planning a solid development roadmap requires wisdom and strategic thinking; knowing which features to exclude can be more important than knowing which to include. Teams must also be organized, methodical, and effective at self-management, i.e. champion hires.

3. communicating as part of a team under pressure

The drama of a hackathon shows how participants interact under conditions of extreme stress. You’ll see how they give and get respect, resolve conflicts, and, during demos, how clearly they explain complex concepts. This separates team players (good) from rockstars (bad). Remember: rockstars trash hotel rooms and are generally quite petulant.

There you have it! Hackathons are awesome for evaluating talent.

HackerNest is reducing its production of events for external organizations, but will happily help companies plan and craft effective, universally acclaimed hackathons and innovation projects — as consultants. Jot a note to sponsor@hackernest.com if interested. Here’s what to expect: