Posts tagged "pair programming"

How to Get Better at the Difficult Task of Hiring Programmers

Software developers are now a crucial part of most businesses. To maximize your productivity, you must hire an amazing programmer. A weak programmer won’t only prevent productivity, but it can also slow it down. Other staff members, such as engineers, will need to spend their valuable time training and pick up the slack of the weak developer.

Making sure your programming hire is fantastic will enable your team to continue moving forward and the necessary pace. A programmer needs to be able to learn the ropes quickly, pushing the momentum forward. Since the hiring process will inevitably delay your productivity, there is no time for others, Here are some of the ways the hiring process can have a negative effect on your productivity:

  • A massive number of applicants creates a massive number of candidate reviews
  • A continuous flow of interviews can distract your team
  • Interviews that are not up to scratch will take up valuable time from your engineers
  • If different people are performing the interviews there will be a level of inconsistency, creating unreliable outcomes
  • No doubt you will have to reschedule various other things in order to hire new people. To line up one’s diaries, you may also need to delay interviews

Code assessment, while nothing new, is a practical way to filter out inappropriate candidates and therefore improving the efficiency of your hiring process. Companies like Google use code screening as part of their technical screening. It gives employers the chance to see real-world programming skills or the opportunity to witness a candidate’s thought process. Another option is assessment software, using automated code assessments and pair-programming tools. Assessment software is one of the best ways to spot talented hires, and quickly.

Consider these areas for implementing code assessments:


Before your candidates sit down to talk with the engineers, give them a quick coding test. If a candidate can’t handle a fundamental coding task, there is no point in wasting your time, or theirs. You also don’t need your technical team’s input for this, so they can remain focused on their work. It is better for them to be involved once you filtered the potential.

The most important thing is that automated coding assessments allow for consistent pre-screening. It provides standard coding tasks to assess candidates’ skills by automated scores. They can be performed under the supervision f your recruitment team rather than needing your engineers.

In-Depth Assignments

Once your candidate has passed the pre-screening stage, you can raise the bar and give out an in-depth assignment. This assignment can be completed in their own time but it will give them a chance to demonstrate a wider variety of skills and at a higher level. Again, it will be a standard assignment for each candidate, so your results will be consistent.

One option for this type of review is a home-based project. You provide the candidate with a list of requirements for them to finish a project. It is a great method to see how a person handles a real-world code sample. There are some potential downsides. A good candidate might be put off by the time investment they have to make at the interview stage. Also, your development team is going to spend a significant amount of time reviewing the project. This type of project should be used selectively as not to exhaust the interviewer, or scare away good candidates. Those conducting the interview should know the solution. It is also wise to set up a system for everybody involved to track the results.

Alternatively, you can give candidates another automated assessment. It wouldn’t be an entire project, rather, various more in-depth coding assessments. At this stage, you can set targeted challenges to test certain areas that are necessary for your business. From your point of view, this is a way to filter candidates with little effort or time from you.

A comfortable environment is necessary so that your candidates are able to produce the best results they can. From the results, you should be able to see potential talent from just a glance.

Pair-Programming Interviews

By now, you will have used pre-screening and in-depth assessments to narrow your talent pool to the very best. But you probably still need to narrow it down further. It is also probably the stage where your development role needs to step in and add their input.

It is so tempting to try and cut corners in the hiring process in order to save time but each phase is crucial. Some companies even carry out phone screens before interviewees come into the office. This type of screening won’t provide as much information but they are cost-effective. Pair programming while phone screening is an ideal way to examine coding skills without increasing costs. In some cases, they can work so well, you use it instead of an on-site interview.

Pair-programming interviews are real-time live interviews. It is a chance for an engineer to code together with the candidate, working through coding assessments or whiteboarding problems. It is the ideal way for developers to see exactly how a candidate tackles problems.

The Summary

Pre-screening is a great way for companies to filter large numbers of applicants down to quality candidates. From there, in-depth assessments can provide real-world coding assessments and the chance to get a more detailed view of the candidate’s skills. If you want to save time and money, you can try working with a staffing agency. Staffing agencies are an extension of your current HR department. Contracting a staffing agency allows your HR team to focus on the current needs of the department and not have to worry about sifting through hundreds of resumes, updating listings, and scheduling interviews.