5 Tips to Evaluating Coding Skills When Hiring

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photo by Creative Art

Not surprisingly, the hiring process relies on technology at least as much as it needs human involvement. The tech industry has, however, been leaning on technology significantly more than it has in prior years. This primarily shifted between early to mid-2020 as a result of the pandemic. Still, the general process of hiring developers hasn’t changed much.

One of the biggest struggles for recruiters is hiring candidates that are appropriately qualified and live up to the skills listed on their resumes. However, the consistency of finding these kinds of developers has significantly decreased. The appearance of a developer on paper may not match their actual skillset. There are many reasons for this such as:

  • Weaknesses when trying to sell themselves
  • Self-taught skills don’t carry as much weight as business-trained skills
  • Doesn’t account for soft skills
  • Observations are sometimes the only way to see developers in action

While recruiters used to value technical skills at a much higher level than soft skills, the transition to a remote-reliant industry created a rift in the importance of each set of skills. The ability to work in person meant a more even balance between the two was likely. People could interact with each other face-to-face, which has been proven to result in stronger professional relationships. Additionally, since remote work was conducted mainly through written communication such as e-mails, text messages, and websites, this personal connection no longer existed.

Thus, recruiters had to change their approach to the hiring process.

  1. Pay attention to a developer’s portfolio.

In the tech industry, a portfolio can tell recruiters a lot about a developer. Portfolios contain learned skills, a background in relevant fields, projects developers have worked on, and more. They can also provide a look into any passions a candidate has, skills they may need to work on, and if there are any projects he or she left incomplete.

  • GitHub: a developer’s ‘showroom’

This is not the same as a portfolio. GitHub allows developers to showcase specific coding skills and tools they are proficient in. Even things like how many followers a developer has can be useful since it suggests the type of reputation they’ve earned. Other aspects of the site such as activity level, date they joined, and the size of their ‘showroom’ are things to examine as well.

  • Are they active on Stack Overflow?

The use of this site demonstrates many qualities of developers. Some of these include the ability to answer questions clearly, explaining complex processes simply, and learn by receiving answers for their own questions by other experienced developers.

  • Conduct live coding tests.

These are excellent tools to see how a developer handles a real coding situation. Candidates are given a realistic problem or task. Recruiters watch them via screen sharing as the developers solve the problem or complete the task. However, this is an inconvenient method for large businesses since it requires that time be taken to observe each candidate.

  • Give candidates a programming assessment.

Similar to live coding tests, live programming assessments focus more on a candidate’s proficiency with technology. The tech industry holds programming skills in high regard and assessments like this are beneficial when conducted alongside coding tests.