October 17, 2008 - No Comments!

Testing programming job applicants

At Table XI, our people are the lifeblood of our business. Without the ability to find, identify, hire, and retain fantastic people, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. So far, it seems we’ve been pretty successful. Most people we hire fit well, and they tend to stay with us for a long time.

This month, we thought we’d share a bit about the testing process we use to add programmers to our team.

Why we test coders:

  1. Computer science programs tend to focus on theory, so lots of recent graduates can’t actually program.
  2. Sending code samples does not prove a candidate actually did the work.
  3. The people we hire at Table XI thrive on challenges, and love the chance to demonstrate their skills and their willingness to work hard.

We don’t care whether you’re young or old, experienced or green, we want to see how an applicant responds to a standardized problem. Amazingly enough, we’ve had a few candidates who think they are above our exercise. One suggested he’d do our programming work once we made him a job offer.

Recently, an excellent candidate applied to an open position at our company. He had solid work experience, a well-developed portfolio, and proven attention to detail. Of the forty or so applications we had received at that point, he was one of the three to whom we sent our testing exercise.

To our surprise, the applicant launched into a profanity-laced diatribe on how unusual it was to ask candidates to do such an exercise. He cussed out a potential employer. Who would have known that testing a candidate would result in such deep revelations of their psyche?

So — in addition to demonstrating skill level, testing helps us figure out:

  1. How badly do candidates want the job? Are they willing to put in extra effort?
  2. Can they solve problems and do the work we’re hiring them for?
  3. Are they willing to take a risk to get something they want?

Refusing to do the exercise is a great way to fast track your resume to the trash can. Thankfully, we had several other extraordinarily talented applicants for the same position. We have received a number of well thought-out solutions to our problem, and we think we’ll be able to fill the position quickly.

Published by: Greg Baugues in Developers

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