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Customer Stories

How Vanguard’s Engineering Manager Leverages HackerRank to Hire Top Talent

Written By Aditi Chandrasekar | April 6, 2021

Illustration of a laptop, a magnifying glass and sheets of paper and the word "Vanguard" written on top

The Vanguard Group, Inc. is an American registered investment advisor based in Malvern, Pennsylvania with about $6.2 trillion in global assets.

Nick Alexandro is a Senior Software Engineering Manager at Vanguard working as a Vanguard Digital Advisor. Nick oversees four scrum teams comprised of eight people each focused on various aspects of Vanguard’s software development. The team is made up of developers whose experience ranges from many years to just a few months. 

Nick also leads the development of Vanguard’s technical assessments, which are used in the hiring of all entry-level software engineers. “We are always looking for great new talent to bring in their passion for technology and their new ideas,” says Nick. 

Challenge: Identifying the right candidates in a large pool of applications 

Vanguard receives a large number of applications for entry-level positions each year. With the sheer volume of applications coming in, it was nearly impossible to identify the right candidates.

Nick found that the best use for HackerRank was to quickly weed out the candidates who were lacking core technical competencies and highlight those candidates who they were most interested in interviewing. In these interviews, Nick wanted to further explore how deep their technical understanding goes, as well as their suitability for Vanguard.

“While many of these applicants are technically amazing, we needed a toolset that would help us quickly identify the candidates who are the best fit from both a cultural and technological perspective,” says Nick.  

Solution: HackerRank reduces time-to-hire by identifying top candidates sooner

Today, Vanguard uses HackerRank in the early stages of the hiring process for all entry-level software development candidates. As soon as a candidate begins the process through their careers website, they are sent a HackerRank assessment.  

“HackerRank acts as an early filter to help us identify the most qualified candidates,” says Nick. “This allows us to be far more efficient with the entire interview process.”

Since implementing HackerRank, Nick’s team has seen significant improvements to their hiring process and quality of candidates. “The quality of candidates has been much higher, leading to more offers,” says Nick. “We also have seen a significant reduction in the number of interviews needed in order to hire the same number of high-quality candidates. Additionally, the average level of technical competence of the candidates is notably higher."

Enhancing the Candidate Experience

The interview process is the first in-depth experience with Vanguard for most candidates, and Vanguard is committed to making that a positive experience. 

“We want the test to be challenging, but not feel impossible,” says Nick. “This helps our candidates understand that knowledge and problem-solving skills are important, but we don’t expect perfection.”

Vanguard quote in blue box

Improving Assessment Quality

HackerRank helps Nick identify the most qualified candidates from a technical perspective. He primarily evaluates technical skills, but they do sometimes look at a candidate’s code for design and communication skills to help determine if the candidate is a good fit. 

“I really like how we can see how much time a candidate spent on each question, down to the second,” says Nick. “This helps us calibrate our test and understand if a particular question is too hard or too easy in comparison with the other questions. We don’t generally use this type of information to make hiring decisions, but we instead use it as feedback to understand the test overall.”

“HackerRank’s team has been very helpful in understanding the options available to us,” says Nick. “They help us get a sense of what other companies using HackerRank have found successful and unsuccessful, and identify specific tactics we can implement to improve our hiring process.”

What’s next? Nick is hoping to eventually integrate HackerRank into their senior-level hiring process. 

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