re: How would you test for coding skills? VIEW POST


The first question I would ask is

Why should I test for code skills

Of course we all know how horrible it is to make a mistake. And a horrible mistake for a company would be to hire people with the wrong skill set. That said, it seems the worst mistake ever if a software company hires people which can not program. That leads some of them to the conclusion that it might be a good idea to test whether there future employees are skilled in what they pretend to be. But I see a problem here. For one: The assumption is that you have already hired skilled programmers and not only are they skilled in such a way that they can do the coding for you; but you need them to be skilled enough that they are able to give qualified feedback not only on the code of other people but perhaps seeing potential in programming practice.

The next thing is: even when you have such valuable people which are able to judge others and hopefuly seeing their talent there are the average programmers which are hard to classify. While it might be easy to spot the geniusses during an interview; there is a big downside to geniusses: there aren't many of them. Say your company is in a mid size town and there are several software companies besides yours, chances are high, that you end up not getting all the geniusses.

But how to discern the average with potential from the average without potential? This is really hard. Finding those who can not code may be as easy as finding the geniusses. But to spot people who can not code you do not necessarily have to do coding exercises. Most of the time, I would argue, it is sufficient to talk with them for half an hour to see if someone has ever written a line of code.

That said. Even if you are a software company and have some kind of spidey sensors to detect the coding skill level of people the next question which comes to my mind is: Is it really smart to look for actual coding skills? Aren't other skills not more important like being a good teamplayer or being a good communicator or being good at picking new stuff up. So even if you hire unskilled programmers maybe you see potential in them and know that they may be part of a good team where each member compensates for the gaps of knowledge of others and each of one has the back of others.

I find for the average company are coding interviews way too overrated. I understand the fear of making wrong investments.

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