Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hire Smart As Not All Software Developers Are Equal

I stumbled upon an interesting article on Techcrunch titled “Why the new guy can’t code” and couldn’t resist but shout the hell out ‘yahooooo’, for this was exactly the view, experience and ideas we had that led to creating one of our most differentiating services a couple of years back.

About a couple of years ago, we created this banner to announce about a service we started called '’SmartHire”, a new and quite unique way to evaluate prospective Contractors, Consultants or Employees. 

Though, some of us would like to tout it as a new and unique way, for me it was just common sense all the way. What we have decided to do as part of this process is that we actually sit with prospective candidates about 3-4 hours and watch them actually implement a piece of functionality, in real time.

Once candidates arrive for what many assume an in-person or face to face Interview, Candidates will be given a piece of paper that describes an idea for a  new application or concept of a piece of functionality to be added to an existing application.  They will be given a computer with all necessary software pre-installed and candidates are even allowed to phone a friend or colleague to get ideas or just Google for solutions.  And they are allowed to ask questions any time during the session.

One of us will sit through the session and observe how the Candidate is approaching the problem and ask questions through out. We ask questions literally on every aspect.  On technology, choices they make, alternatives they pick, the flow they follow, the way they code, the whole nine yards of the exercise.  On everything they do and they don’t.

If a candidate searches on Google for an idea or a solution to the problem in hand, we are very much interested on what exactly he/she searches for, how do they refine the search, where will they start their search and once they find out an idea or completely working solution, what they will do.

Similarly, if they chooses to call a friend or colleague, how do they explain the problem, how do they listen, how do they pickup the guidelines or ideas the other person on the line throws at them and lot more interestingly what will be the first thing they do after the phone call.

This is quite remarkable in many ways. And the results are totally mind blowing in many cases.  It totally reveals the genuine skill set (both technical and non-technical aptitude) and definitely provide a more realistic, true and thorough feedback on a candidate’s capabilities than a 4 hour typical interview could provide. 

Some software developers sound so good on paper, but their aptitude in problem solving sucks. And some developers that may have been out rightly rejected if we had just followed traditional screening, proved to the right choices to be on board and beat the first group 9 out of 10 times.

Given how it works, it is the least preferred choice for most recruitment firms and agencies. First of all, it needs lot of effort,  it won’t scale that easily and most importantly it demands that their recruiters are actually practitioners of the very technology. Not just anybody.

For us, this is one of the BEST methods that really worked and so we introduced this service to our customers. It did limit our scope in terms of offerings (areas of expertise), but this is what we believe the BEST for our customers.

What do you think? How did you hire your last Consultant, contractor or an employee?  Do you think it is worth time and effort investing in a session like this ?

If you are looking for a Developer to work on Microsoft Technologies, we can definitely help to screen them through our ‘SmartHire’. Give us a call or send us a message for more details.

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