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Aditi Saha

How To Assess Programming Skills Before Hiring

Technical talent is becoming the most sought-after talent in the IT industry with 86% of technology leaders saying it’s challenging to find qualified candidates. Coupled with the fact that hiring developers can cost multiple five figures in upfront investment, it is crucial to get it right the first time—bad hires are a costly mistake to make.

You, as a recruiter need to perfect how to assess programming skills of candidates to find the right fit for the job and know for sure that they’re a keeper. Instead of relying on candidates’ resumes, see for yourself if they are skilled or not. This is where virtual coding tests step in; especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, now that the tech recruitment landscape is vastly changing.

Check for good coding skills to elevate your screening and hiring processes. This reduces the possibility of a bad hire and showcases how best the candidate will fit into the team.

Top ways to test a candidate’s programming skills

Here are 6 ways to accurately assess the programming skills of developers be it front-end, back-end, or full-stack.

  • Take a look at their portfolio

For developers of any caliber, a portfolio is a must. It can be a single web page or a whole software project that gives you an idea of the technical expertise of your candidate. You should look at their previous or current projects to evaluate if they have the skills they’ll need in the new role.

Have they worked on anything similar to your project in the past? Or maybe they can display a unique strategy to a challenge they handled? The answers to these questions should give you a good first impression of who your candidate is.

A portfolio can also serve as fodder for the technical interview where you can form suitable practical questions related to the candidate’s programming skills and experience level.

  • Delve into past projects on GitHub and StackOverflow

Taking a look at the developer’s GitHub, blogs, StackOverflow or personal website are great ways to assess their creativity, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of particular languages.

GitHub acts as an extension to your candidate’s portfolio. Some important metrics to keep in mind are:

    • The number of repositories: It is a collection of the various open-source projects the candidate worked on
    • Activity on GitHub: Check for the number of commits/pull requests/issues they opened to see how active they are on GitHub
    • The number of followers: This reveals their rank among peers in the developer community
    • Date of joining: Another way to cross-check your candidate’s experience level is to see when they joined GitHub

StackOverflow is where developers share, learn, and answer each others’ programming questions—it serves to showcase your candidate’s level of programming skills and knowledge. It also lets you assess their communication style in the way they explain solutions to specific problems.

  • Conduct virtual coding assessments

Coding tests are where you get to see if what the candidate mentioned in their resume pans out. A live coding assessment tool offers objective evaluation, provides detailed reports, and instant feedback.

Virtual coding assessments simulate real-life, practical problems that recruits need to solve. You get to evaluate their programming skills and shortlist qualified candidates quickly. They cut down on recruitment costs, manual time, and errors. Coding assessments pose as a great way to assess programming skills.

  • Include a pair programming session

Pair programming sessions or live coding interviews get a bad rap from developers all around the world. Be it because of the complex, age-old interview processes, using whiteboards, or even pen/paper. A good coding interview tool is collaborative, has a built-in editor/compiler, and is developer-friendly.

Watch them in action to observe how they approach solving problems, the logic they use, and the ability to explain their thought-process clearly.

  • Run virtual hackathons

Another creative way to approach the “how to measure programming skills of developers” question is to organize hackathons. They act as an alternative to when pair-programming interviews can’t be conducted. The theme of any hackathons is aimed at bringing developers together to find the most innovative and useful coding solution—also finding suitable candidates for your job role in the process.

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