How to Properly Assess the Skills of Senior Developers

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All too often, the hiring process in the tech industry is generalized. This is even more true when hiring developers. The applicant pool almost always mixes junior and senior developers together when the two are very different. First, senior developers have more experience than junior developers, which can bring something different to the table. Those developers have earned that experience. Shouldn’t they be a part of a hiring process that acknowledges that?

Always Start with a Plan

As with any hiring process, a plan should be formulated before any hiring occurs. Begin stating the requirements and tasks of the job in the job description. Note any required skills, as well as preferred ones. The responsibilities for the position should be clearly listed and include explanations if necessary.

Consider listing specific background requirements, such as in a certain area of the industry, or go with a general approach. Senior developers could have experiences in various areas and that could be something to list in the hiring plan. A focus on general skills may also be a way for companies to train developers to become experts in the desired area if they are hired.

Tips for Assessing Senior Developers’ Skills

  1. Take-Home Tests

A popular addition to the hiring process, take-home screening tests are a great way to help candidates get comfortable with the recruiter or hiring manager while displaying their skills. This test allows them to complete a task or solve a problem, generally over the course of several days. There is also the option to offer a live test, which is a test that has a time limit (usually of one hour) and is monitored via screen sharing by the recruiter or hiring manager.

  • Tailor questions to candidates’ appropriate skill levels.

Remember, these are senior developers. Not only do they have more technical experience, but they’ve likely gone through the hiring process many more times than a junior developer would have. If senior developers are what a hiring manager or recruiter is looking for, the questions in the interview and on any tests should reflect the estimated level of experience they have.

  • Give tests internally if possible.

For any kind of tests or assignments—or even interview questions—ask current employees whose skills and experience are similar to what is desired. Larger companies can occasionally offer anonymity to their employees, which can make the employees feel more comfortable. If following this tip, be clear that the contents of the test, assignment, or questions don’t reflect on the employees’ ability to successfully complete them. Questions or tasks that are too simple may need to be more difficult, but having tasks that are too difficult should be made easier.


The biggest difference between junior and senior developers is the obvious—experience. Senior developers have been in the game longer, therefore understanding how the hiring process works. However, this can be an advantage if the hiring process is tailored toward the experience and skillset hiring managers and recruiters know senior developers have.