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How to Evaluate Programmer Candidates (Without Knowing Programming)

Monday, March 24, 2014 5:55 pm - by Everest
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When you’re looking to hire great tech talent (programmers, developers, etc.) is to examine their skills. Yet, you may not know programming.  It is important to come to terms with your technical knowledge because you need to be able to evaluate that knowledge in a potential hire. Unlike other jobs where some training can be viable, you want to hire programmers that have the computing chops to hop into the project that your existing tech team is working on without skipping a beat. So don’t worry if you don’t know the first thing about programming. By consulting with some of the best and brightest minds of your existing technical staff you can still hire a great addition to their team. 

In order to make sure that you’re hiring genuine tech talent, your evaluation of potential hires should involve a few knowledge based and practical interviews. The first interview that you conduct should be geared toward evaluating a candidate’s general knowledge of whatever skill set the role requires. Again, if you don’t know what constitutes good general knowledge or if you don’t know which questions to ask, consult with your techies when designing this initial interview. Ideally, you want to get someone with this technical knowledge to sit in on the interview with you, but, as long as you have the right questions and know the right answers to those questions, there’s no reason that you can’t do it yourself.

I’d suggest performing this initial interview over video chat or over the phone. Techies value their time and will appreciate the drive you’re saving them by conducting this interview remotely. The purpose of this interview is to see how comfortable the candidate is thinking on their feet and to see if the “qualifications” on their resume actually hold water. Now, the content of the interview is highly dependent on the requirements of the position, but you want the candidate to be able to answer without crunching any numbers.

Once you’ve seen which candidates can talk the talk, it’s time to see who can walk the walk. After you’ve pared down your applicant pool, it’s time for the practical interview. With the help of your tech team, or not if you’re some sort of programming wiz, create a practical test for the candidates to complete within 24 hours. Now, you should design this test to take an experienced programmer just a few hours to complete, to give those candidates who already have jobs ample time to get it done. While you might think that an intermediately difficult test will give you some average candidates, you’d be surprised how many of the people who sounded great on the phone can’t deliver on this level.

After you’ve seen who’s got the skills to pay your bills, the only thing left to do is to see who you like the best! By getting the buy in of your tech team for filling their next open position, you’re likely to make a much better hire than just trying to do it all on your own.



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