As the demand for data science jobs keeps growing, the supply of meritorious candidates is not keeping pace. According to a study we conducted in 2019, around 97,000 data science positions were available to be filled that year alone. It is a travesty then that despite the demand, companies face a lot of challenges when hiring for these positions, and CSS Corp is no different.
However, despite the struggle, the company has managed to attract and retain a significant portion of this talent. Credited largely to its stringent and unique hiring practices, CSS Corp has overcome the challenge of sourcing that small proportion of data scientists dispersed across the nation.
“Being a new-age digital services provider in the B2B space, we pick candidates who have that extra slant for AI, analytics, and automation, instead of the usual coding or testing skills,” says Brijesh Balakrishnan, SVP & Delivery Head – Digital Engineering Services and GIS, at CSS Corp. “In short, we map a career for those who have the inner thrust to learn and grow,” he adds.
So who would be the ideal candidate for a data science position at CSS Corp?
“We look for candidates with a knack for thinking logically and analytically toward solving business problems,” says Balakrishnan. “It’s about fresh thinking, not clichéd answers. An ideal candidate would be one who balances technical forte with soft-skills, right attitude, and personality in a team setting,” he adds.
How Important Are Candidates’ Educational Backgrounds?
With onlines courses proliferating – both in number and in popularity – companies like LinkedIn and Gojek lay adequate emphasis on relevant certifications when the educational background of candidates do not match.
However, CSS Corp places an inestimable value on a formal academic background.
“A formal education lays down a career’s foundation and growth. In fact, formal education and certifications are peas from different pods,” says Balakrishnan. “Certifications and self-learning programs have their rightful place, but can never be a substitute for a formal academic education,” he adds.
According to him, enrolling in certifications is a sign of a candidate’s motivation, growth, and success. They “add value by jumpstarting careers, bridging the skills gap, and attuning employees with the disruptive times.”
Hiring Process At CSS Corp
Apart from the typical round of interviews and discussions – which could hover around 45 days – the company provides applicants with actual business and client scenarios to gauge their problem-solving approaches. And while well chalked out, it parallelly runs in line with the needs of the projects that demand skilled resources.
“Our hiring process puts resumes through a fine-toothed comb at every point to pre-empt issues that may arise later,” says Balakrishnan. “The entire process has checks and balances in place to ensure perfect alignment between career requirements and candidates’ portfolios,” he adds.
The company’s unique sourcing framework entails a multi-pronged approach that taps academic partnerships, and associations with trade bodies. This includes tapping a diverse talent pool from tie-ups with Ivy League institutions as well.
“Affinity with NASSCOM and ICT Academy has also swung the doors wide open to talent in an evolving technological landscape,” says Balakrishnan. “Our internal career progression framework does an excellent job of spotting and promoting employees,” he adds.
Additionally, the company employs several non-traditional ways to bolster their hiring practices for data science roles. This includes meetups, whiteboarding, WhatsApp groups, live-coding, GitHub, community events, forums, and hackathons.
“Considering the dearth of data scientists in the market, we’re looking at atypical sources for hiring talent,” says Balakrishnan. “Since we’re on a rapid expansion and investment spree, our hiring meter ticks throughout the year,” he adds.
In a technical interview, the company seeks to understand the projects the interviewee has worked on, and then take it forward from there.
“We start from the basics of computer science, and delve deep into the details of the technology stack, workflow, and problems,” says Balakrishnan. “Questions on the nitty-gritty uncover a whole new side of an interviewee,” he adds.
However, the company strongly feels that a one-size-fits-all approach may not work, and hence, it modifies its interviewing tactics accordingly.
“When it comes to data science, we’d ask questions anchored around tools, decision trees, missing values, and specific algorithms, and the like,” says Balakrishnan. “But candidates who go against the grain of traditional thinking in solving problems through novel solutions are the ones who perk our interest. Their compensation packages also vary on a broad continuum of expectations,” he adds.
Once Hired, What Can They Expect?
According to the company, the answer lies in engaging them through digital skilling and innovative projects that keep them sharp and productive. While the roles are varied, they would broadly handle opportunities at CSS Corp’s Innovation Labs where they can collaborate with experts on next-gen tech solutions.
While some will drive its Service Transformation Programs for clients, others may perform various functions at Innovation Center of Excellence across multiple locations to learn use cases, cutting-edge tools and technologies.
“We want them to feel the flexibility and liberty to take up challenging assignments,” says Balakrishnan. “The very moment new joiners walk through our corridors of innovation, they’ll have their career pathways aligned with long-term goals and skill sets,” he adds.
What then, according to the company, are common hiring mistakes made by tech companies for data science roles?
Balakrishnan sums it up in three points:-
Lack of clarity: The need for being clear-eyed on project engagements
Lack of purpose: A holistic view of the objective of the job role
Lack of preparation: The need to do some homework
“Hiring professionals need to take a step back from their daily rigmarole to understand the niceties of job roles. Once they circumvent these three pitfalls, hiring professionals can venture on a successful talent hunt,” he adds.