The way to Interview Candidates for a Software Developer/Programmer Position

Software is ubiquitous in our lives. Most companies understand that routine, repetitive tasks that do require human creativity to complete – but rather require following a series of well-defined procedure for reach an outcome are ideal candidates for automation via software programs. But that’s not all – there are various other kinds of software that are positively and engagingly used by employees to complete their daily tasks. Unfortunately most companies are ill prepared to go through the hiring process for quality software programmers.

One of the sad things about the software growth industry is that there are way too many programmers who have no business being programmers. This goes back to the time of the Dot com boom and the subsequent Dot com bust. In those days, programming was not a mature discipline but was a highly lucrative position. There were way too many people reading “How to program within 7 days” type books plus able to get a job because of this lack of maturity in the industry. Unfortunately many of those same people who do not have the proper training are still in the business of programming. How do you marijuana those out? Here are some effective methods.

One thing you absolutely do not want to do is simply print out a list of ‘interview’ questions focused on the technology in question plus go off that list exclusively.
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Even though it is important for you to interview the candidate for his knowledge about a subject, it really is far too easy for candidates to find these types of very same lists of interview questions online and simply memorize the solutions prior to the interview. For example , if you are hiring an ASP. Net developer — you do want the candidate to understand ViewState. But you should not expect these to just know the definition. Programming will be way more about application of concepts than simply knowledge of terms and toolsets. To see if the candidate really understands ViewState you want to ask them questions that draw out their own experience working with ViewState. Ask them concerning the uses of it, the challenges associated with working with it, the purpose of it, the alternatives to it, etc . Another example is asking them about specific controls available in the toolset. Several interviewers simply ask about the candidate’s familiarity with a particular control. Most candidates with rudimentary knowledge of the toolset will be able to answer this. But to really understand their abilities of working with the controls, you should ask contextual questions. For instance, these questions might be based around scenarios that require the candidate to build a screen or page for a hypothetical application, enabling the candidate to explain the choice associated with controls to be used and why.

Since you may have surmised from the examples given above, one of the most effective ways to determine a programmer’s ability is to guide away from very specific knowledge kind questions into more broad program type questions that allow the applicant the ability to speak at length regarding his experience. Open ended questions are great to get the candidates talking with this fashion. For instance, a couple of my favorite queries to use are: What was your most satisfying or rewarding project? What was your most challenging project, and exactly how did you deal with those problems? These questions do not have a specified right or wrong answer but instead open up a dialog for the applicant to showcase what he or she has to offer. You will find that quality candidates will be able to talk at length about their previous experience whereas those who are used to bluffing their way through simple questions will falter.

Another tried and true method that many people I know have used effectively is to give them the task of in fact writing a piece of code. You do not want to make this an extremely difficult task but a very simple piece of code that would require these to spend no more than 15-20 minutes to finish. This will give you great insight into their particular programming and design approach and when that would fit in well with what you anticipate from a person in this position. It is also a great discussion tool to use using the candidate once they have completed the particular exercise to go through their thought process within programming.

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