Archive for the ‘Recruitment’ category

Five Pervasive Myths About Older Software Developers

November 21, 2013

Nice article on old vs young developers. Author addresses the issues directly in a no-holds, unprejudiced manner.

Five Pervasive Myths About Older Software Developers

 

 

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How to hire a software developer?

April 2, 2012

Hiring a developer is a like hiring a specialist – you need the knowledge and you need to take the time.

Most of the people interviewing these days are unqualified to interview and form a fair assessment of a developer. The last time I heard doctors chatting I had no idea what they were talking about. (Do I have something like that in my body?) As with any profession, I.T. people have their own lingo. We have our own words, terms, definitions and we have the infamous three-letter-acronym (TLA). All this combined with the tendency to alter or enhance the meaning of a word to communicate a particular concept makes “geek-speak” tremendously difficult to understand. Speaking “geek-speak” is therefore a prerequisite to effectively understanding a developer and their skill set.

 Interviewing a developer takes time. Approximately an hour should be enough. An interviewer needs to gain an understanding of the projects the developer’s done and the skills they have built. The only way to do this is to communicate. Many developers don’t like communication. Many feel that it’s an inefficient waste of their time. My suggestion: get over it. That person, should you hire them, will save you more time and hassle that the one hour interview would take. Not everything can be automated and besides, the only way you can get a feel for a person’s ability to express them self is to chat to them.

 The process at my company starts with a five question test, given to a recruiter, to weed out the unwanted. Recruiters can use these questions to evaluate candidates. The test shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes. As technical lead, I then review the answers to see HOW the questions were answered. This step is a time saver. Call it a first line of defence. The emphasis here is that the test should be brief. No sense in wasting anyone’s time.

 If I still like the look of a candidate I ask them to come in for an interview. It’s an informal, one-on-one, technical interview. Within 30-60 minutes a senior developer should be able to assess the candidate’s level. There is no quick fix. There are no theory exams that will assess a person’s effectiveness. Those only test the ability to retain knowledge and not how to implement it. Furthermore, tests do not reveal or take into account a person’s other skills – like the ability to string words together to form a sentence (mentioned earlier).

 One last vital ingredient I look for is passion. Is the developer passionate about their chosen profession? Do they know about any of the new technologies being released? Software development is a field in flux. It changes frequently and sometimes quite rapidly. Is the person being interviewed aware of their environment? Are they reading up on these new technologies?

 What development books are they reading? Nothing is more disheartening than a software developer who has no interest in enhancing his skill in his field. All decent developers are inherently curious. They find the I.T. field challenging and exciting. This is the type of passion I look for. Someone who is going to go the extra mile. Someone who is abreast of the latest developments. Someone to bring new ideas and concepts to the table. Ultimately someone who will enhance the development team.

 It all comes back to “taking the time”. There’s no easy way round this one. To truly gain an understanding of a developer you need to sit with them. Speak with them. Find out what makes them tick and how they communicate their thoughts. The last thing you want is to hire a brilliant antagonist, that regularly puts your team’s back up and has zero ability to convey their ideas. Despite their brilliance the team will be worse off for it. Meet. Chat. And more often than not the truth promptly reveals itself.