The future of Indian tech recruitment

Indian techie hires are beginning to get assessed on raw coding abilities rather than degrees and certificates, ushering a potential new dawn for tech hiring

An interesting interview given by Vikalp Sahni, the CTO of online travel company Goibibo, to Indian website campushash (which connects interns with companies) indicates the way that the world of technology recruitment is going.

Sahni was asked which way he leaned when appraising a candidate's resume. His response was that the "most preferred mode of judging someone's coding abilities for us has been Github/Launchpad/Bitbucket commits. It is a big plus if an intern has worked with open-source projects and has pushed tested code to the core project repo. A person's project/software gives a good picture of his/her knowledge and likings."

Additionally, Sahni suggested that aspirant coders also attend hackathons, as it allows them to meet great developers from all over the industry, enhances their knowledge base and their networks, and gives them a potential peek into what world-class development work looks like.

In other words, no longer is a gilt-edged resume with good grades and other plaudits and certificates going to get you a top-notch job in the world of coding. No greater tech-recruiting oracle than Google already seems to have committed itself to this philosophy.

Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for People Operations at Google, in an interview with The New York Times said, "One of the things we've seen from all our data crunching is that GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there's a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and GPAs and test scores, but we don't anymore, unless you're just a few years out of school. We found that they don't predict anything." Today, Google fields teams where 14 percent of them are sometimes made up of people who have never gone to college.

Google also used to ask fiendishly difficult brainteasers, but Bock says that even those have been deep-sixed. "They don't predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart," said Bock. Instead, Google, according to the article, is using a "big data" approach to hiring and management, where an entire department is devoted to "people analytics".

So how does a company successfully gauge which employees to hire? One way is to have them play games that a company like Knack has built, which measures creative and cognitive abilities and social and emotional intelligence — and through mining this "behavioral big data" can figure out who is best suited to be a manager, engineer, or innovator.

This change could potentially throw us into a bit of a tizzy. India is largely a world where conceptual thinking is absent, and learning by rote is a preferred medium. While this is good for committing multiplication tables to memory, it is a major handicap when internalizing more complex concepts.

In other words, we probably need both an educational overhaul as well as a way to purge ourselves of our bad habits to fully embrace this more democratized world of hiring raw tech talent.

But for those who either refuse or are unable to play by the established rules, companies like Goibibo and Google are heaven-sent opportunities to bypass our broken educational system and realise our true potential.