InterviewStreet – Disrupting the IT sector hiring process
| by Priyanka Tilve
When asked about hobbies and things he likes to do in his spare time, pat came the reply, “Nothing, I don’t have spare time. I work till 2 AM, go to sleep and back to work again.” That is 26-year-old Vivek Ravisankar for you, co-founder of InterviewStreet. Not surprising then that InterviewStreet is making rapid progress. Back in 2011, it grabbed headlines when it became the first Indian company to be selected by Y Combinator, the prestigious Silicon Valley based accelerator. Then again in 2012, it generated a lot of buzz when it bagged a project from the White House.
InterviewStreet is a platform that helps companies pre-screen programmers for interviews. Vivek explains, “Typically, when these companies conduct phone interviews, the usual ratio of candidates being rejected at this stage is 7 out of 10. This effectively meant that every company is wasting seven developer hours or almost one work day in conducting these interviews. We wanted to change the way company screened programmers, so that when they actually interviewed a candidate, they have a fair idea of his skills on the basis of his coding scores.” Companies invite the prospective employees to take up the coding test, which will be evaluated later. And depending on the performance, they will be considered for the next round.
But their journey was far from smooth. It all started when Vivek, along with his then classmate and now co-founder Harishankaran K, worked on a college project at National Institute of Technology, Trichy to create an online platform to conduct mock interviews during the campus placements. Having realised its potential, they approached Yahoo. While their product was met with tremendous enthusiasm, they were shown the door after it was established that they were yet to graduate. Later, they took up jobs at Amazon and IBM respectively, but quit after a year to start on their own.
In 2009, they formally launched InterviewStreet, where they tried various things from getting ex-employees of big technology firms to conducting mock interviews to even establishing a platform to help students who wanted to secure admission in universities abroad. They almost went bankrupt in 2010, and a year later, they went back to their original idea of an online platform to help companies pre-screen programmers. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Alongside InterviewStreet, they even conduct CodeSprints, which are essentially coding contests open to programmers across the world, where they can solve the challenges and grab the attention of participating companies. CodeSprint has now evolved into HackerRank. Vivek says, “A lot of companies approached us saying that can you help us find good programmers? All this while the problem that we were trying to solve was that given a set of X candidates, who should I be interviewing? Now the problem is how we find the perfect candidate. So we started HackerRank, to build a community of programmers in different domain of computer science like algorithms, artificial intelligence, database and so on. We have problems in all these categories that the candidates need to solve. CodeSprint is now conducted on this platform. “
They have also launched InterviewPaper, which is a real time InterviewStreet. It will basically allow companies to provide candidates with real-time coding challenges. They could be interviewing the candidate over the phone and ask them to take the coding challenge. The interviewer will be able to see the code that is being typed by the candidate. It also includes a codechecker tool, which will help them evaluate the code instantly.
Right from the initial stages, they received guidance from The Morpheus and their selection by Y Combinator later helped them get foothold in the US. They even raised 3 million from Khosla Ventures. Today, they have over 500 clients, including names like Facebook, Amazon, Zynga, Walmart, Yahoo, EA Sports to name a few. They have different packages to offer to their client based on how many people in the company will be using the platform. The clients also have the liberty to choose a platform where they can calibrate a test on their own. They follow a monthly recurring revenue model.
Vivek wants to focus on the current portfolio of products; he has a team of 26 people split between Bangalore and Mountain View. He wants to go after the big enterprise companies and make sure that their product is tightly integrated into their workflow.
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