How did HackerRank’s priorities shift in the early stages of COVID?
It really did change our priorities from a product development perspective as well as from a marketing perspective. It was all about how we were making sure that our customers who were continuing to hire had the best tools and best practices at their fingertips to continue to do business remotely. It was very challenging because we had to be mindful from a messaging standpoint. You have to be sensitive to their reality.
We already had a really strong digital platform going, but we just leaned into it. After we changed our product emphasis, we actually flipped our roadmap and accelerated the work that we were doing to help our customers do remote interviews. That was actually a harder part of our product to sell prior to COVID, and then all of a sudden everybody needed it.
How did you get the word out?
We accelerated our messaging and did a rolling thunder in April and May into early June to communicate what we were doing on a weekly basis to help improve the remote interview experience. We leaned real heavily into that, showed all of the new innovations that we were coming out with and brought on some of our customers who were doing a great job of giving tips on how to do a meeting or an interview over Zoom. We really leaned into bringing those voices in to help other people figure out how to leverage our solution to do a great job at finding tech talent.
In what other ways did you support remote interviews?
We introduced virtual whiteboarding to help companies conduct system design interviews from afar. It’s an intuitive, collaborative online whiteboard that makes remote system design interviews as natural as an on-site whiteboarding session, is more efficient than freehand drawing and is logged inside the candidate’s packet to provide visibility to the entire interview panel. We also introduced interviewer guidelines to make it easier to conduct effective, candidate-friendly interviews, and curated a set of skills-based questions that each take under 30 minutes to complete. Each recommended question comes with a set of interviewer guidelines—such as hints, solution pseudo-code and potential follow-up questions—to help conduct consistent, well-informed interviews without intensive interviewer prep.
How did you help customers and prospects navigate the downturn?
We got a cross-functional leadership team together and started talking about what we can do for our customers, and we came up with, for the very first time in the company's history, an offer to give them free access to our interview product. We actually originally thought it was going to be just June, but we extended it through August because it was not long enough to help people actually get some value. We didn't want them to have to worry about pricing and spending money.
We just wanted to get the tool in their hands so that they could actually start picking up these interviews from everywhere. We came up with the strategy for the offer, put together the messaging. We wanted to make sure that we were striking the right tone, that we're here to help. And then what we did for the prospects was, we just extended a free trial so that we could give them the opportunity to take advantage of the product and see if it works for them.
What was your content strategy?
We have a blog, so we added a minimum one new feature per week in our blog on remote interviewing. It was not just the features that already existed in the product. Our software team, our development team, was cranking out a really powerful set of new capabilities in the product.
The way that we communicated it was, we broke it out into one a week for about a seven-week period of time and it culminated in a big reveal. We did a big event with a demo of the overall new platform in May. We did this through our blog posts, through our email communication and driving people to our CTA—to come see it all in action in May at this event.
How do you balance your messaging between audiences?
We have two really important audiences. We have the HR side that is responsible for recruiting and talent, but equally, we are supporting them to recruit the best technical talent, software developers. Those two personas are very, very different. You probably couldn't get more binary in terms of persona. In fact, the technical persona is probably more of who we lean toward communicating with from a brand perspective.
At HackerRank, because we have a community of 11 million developers, our main persona that we are communicating to is the technical community, so we really do have to walk that fine line between the two because they're both so important and they have to partner together in order to recruit the best tech talent for their companies. The sizzle for us is often leaning more toward the developer-humor side than the HR-fuzzy.