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HackerRank.main() 2021 Recap: Unleashing Your Inner Innovator

Written By Aditi Chandrasekar | May 13, 2021

We hosted our second annual HackerRank.main() virtual event yesterday, and boy did we pack a lot into this hour and 45-minute event!

From discussing the transformation of Sir Isaac Newton to reflecting deep within the “belly of the whale,” our event kicked off with a special keynote from best-selling author and organizational psychologist, Nick Tasler. He talked about what goes into making important decisions, how to consult the “anti-you” before making those decisions, and how the COVID pandemic can be a catalyst for unleashing your inner innovator. 

We also revealed the top findings from our first state-of-the-industry HackerRank Innovator Report which surveyed 1,000+ people from almost 900 companies of all sizes to determine where they fall on the Hiring Maturity Model. 

Watch the virtual event on-demand or keep reading for highlights & takeaways.

Nick Tasler Keynote: Unleash Your Inner Innovator

We kicked off the virtual event with a special keynote from Nick Tasler on how to unleash your inner innovator one decision at a time. 

Nick Tasler Keynote

Here are some key takeaways from his talk:

1. Change ignites innovation

Modern neuroscience shows that strange and unexpected changes in our external environment act like an alarm clock that wakes up creative superpowers in our brain that most of us didn't even know we had. It’s in these times of change and adaptation that we really see our true creative potential. 

Nick shares the story of how Isaac Newton became one of the greatest scientists in human civilization. Back in 1665, when the plague epidemic was sweeping across Europe, Newton saw an apple fall from a tree. And just like that, the idea that would eventually become the theory of gravity is born. Newton also, during that same year of quarantine, invented calculus and revolutionized the telescope. 

“Change is hard. Only in the same way that raising kids or running a marathon is hard. The fact that change requires effort does not negate the fact that most people who commit to doing it eventually succeed.”

2. Decisions eliminate distractions

People tend to talk about decisions in terms of what it is they’re going to do. They decided to pursue this priority, hire that person, marry this person, take this job, and they always talk about what it is that they decided to do. 

“Making a decision is really much less about what we decide to do and much more about all the other big ideas and priorities that we decided to cut, kill, tweak, deprioritize, put on the backburner for a later date so that we can focus all of our creative energy, all of our innovative juices on the thing we really want to make an impact on.”

There could be dozens of priorities that you want to focus on this year. However, the trouble with having five primary directions is that it’s roughly four too many if you actually want to get somewhere. 

Priorities of a company to accelerate innovation

Nick suggests one of the simplest ways to accelerate your innovation is by deciding, out of all the possible priorities, what big ideas to focus on. What is going to be the number one, focus for the coming six months, nine months, the rest of 2021? What is going to your decision pulse?

3. Consult the anti-you

We make an average of 70 decisions every single day. And if you're a leader, that number jumps up to 110 to 115 decisions on average every single day. Nick shared his final tip in decision-making which is: consult the anti-you. 

“After you've checked your pulse, but before you actually make a decision, check in with somebody who's not you. Somebody who's not bringing your emotions, biases, and prejudices into the situation and can give you that fresh outside perspective, a new frame of reference.”

Having a fresh perspective might illuminate ideas or risks you might not have thought of before. So next time you consider switching internet providers—or buying that RV—run it by someone who has your best interests at heart. 

4. Reflect in the belly of the whale

Nick concludes his keynote by telling us to reflect on where our mind is at as things start returning to normal. Is it fixated on returning to the way things used to be before the pandemic before this onslaught of change happened in all our lives or is it focused on using this opportunity to become the person you are called to be?

He references the biblical story of Jonah and the whale. When God calls down to Jonah to help lead his people to salvation, he decides to ignore this request and escape on a boat. Jonah gets swallowed up by a whale and spends three days and nights in the belly of the whale, reflecting on who he is. After a few days of self-reflection, the whale spits Jonah out onto the shore where Jonah finally decides to go be the innovator he was called to be. 

“Jonah and the whale is the origin story for every superhero you've ever known. That’s because there, in the belly of the whale, is where ordinary people suddenly discover that they have extraordinary capabilities.”

You have spent the last 12 months inside the belly of the whale. And you're about to get spit out stronger, faster, wiser, smarter than you've ever been before. And that means that right now you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go be the innovator you know you're capable of being.”

The 2021 Innovator Report Results

We launched our first state-of-the-industry report based on the responses from 1,000+ global tech recruiting leaders and hiring managers from some of the most innovative companies in the world. Our CEO, Vivek Ravisankar, and CMO, Jennifer Stagnaro shared the results of the report. 

The HackerRank Hiring Maturity Model highlights opportunities for companies to create more sophisticated hiring processes to compete for top talent while ensuring a world-class experience for candidates and interviewers alike. 

This model is emblematic of how incremental process changes can impact hiring in any organization, big or small. While there is not a single “right” way to get started, identifying areas within your current process will help identify gaps and influence how organizations think about their hiring strategies. 

Let’s start with the anatomy of the model. It follows the 5 major stages of the hiring process, from PLAN, to SOURCE, to SCREEN, to INTERVIEW, to RANK.  And for each of these stages, an individual answers a series of questions, and they are provided a score for each phase, as well as an aggregate score. 

Anatomy of the Hiring Maturity Model

Overview of results:

  1. Companies around the globe continue to adopt technology to support their technical hiring at an increasing rate, in support of their shift to support remote hiring.
  2. Over 1,000 people from almost 900 companies of all sizes from 52 countries around the globe have taken the HackerRank Hiring Maturity assessment to date. 
  3. Companies across almost every industry participated in the self-assessment. 
  4. Types of companies that participated include software companies that build smart locks that are taking the rental housing market by storm, to companies that provide health insurance to Nigerians. 
  5. On average, the individuals scored 2.8 on the 5 point scale, highlighting the fact that the industry is still young, and there’s plenty of room to mature. Compare that to the HackerRank Innovator Index of 4.2, which represents the top 10% of companies.

Innovator Index in Hackerrank's Maturity Model scale

Tips for Hiring Like an Innovator

TIP #1: Eliminate Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo

Even the best innovators revert to making hiring decisions based on seemingly random criteria. Eliminate the Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo method of tech hiring by putting skills at the core of your D&I efforts to eliminate bias at every stage of the hiring process.

Innovators and I/O Psychologists know that in order to truly build a diverse and inclusive tech team, a fair and valid process must be focused on skills. Ensuring technical skills that are required for the role are identified and assessed at each step, reduces unconscious bias, and establishes fairness for candidates regardless of age, race, or gender.

TIP #2:  Let Developers Show Their Authentic Selves

Create real-world skills assessments at the right stage of the screening process to attract, engage, and validate the best candidates.

Humans like to find common ground when meeting new people, including candidates who are applying for a job. When done right, the exchange is based on skills, allowing the candidate to demonstrate their abilities while learning about the new role. 

Let the candidates feel comfortable showing their true selves.

“Rather than worrying about how I look on camera, I would rather engage with a recruiter and hiring manager on what I know, and how I can deliver value to their company,” says Jennifer.

TIP #3: Label the Parts of the Glass

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It all depends on your perspective.  

A lot of misconceptions around the hiring process occur when looking at it from a single perspective. For example, engineering hiring managers might say the hiring process is much more robust than if you ask someone from HR. Establish a task force with Talent Acquisition and Engineering leaders to create a common understanding, and a consistent, standardized process from the start. Make sure you document all of the parts in language that both sides understand.

TIP #4: Deliver an exceptional experience consistently

Developers and engineering managers report very different perspectives on their maturity in conducting tech interviews. Innovators eliminate the risks of inconsistency and ensure an exceptional candidate experience by standardizing common processes and tools across the entire interview team.

Tip #5: Leverage the HHMM to Identify and Close the Gaps

Maturity is in the eyes of the beholder. To help identify the gaps in your maturity, leverage the HackerRank Hiring Maturity Model to identify the best places to improve tech hiring across your entire organization. Have as many team members take a few minutes to do their own self-assessment. It’s free, easy, and can help pinpoint key focus areas to innovate your tech hiring, one step at a time.

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