- Personal Projects: A big bonus that you should definitely look for is personal projects. These show that the candidate has a drive to apply their skills in new and different ways. If they have a GitHub link on their resume, go check it out before the interview, or ask them about those projects and that types of things they are trying to do and how far they go. Any experience on a personal project is absolutely worth its weight in gold. This also shows that they are a self starter who seeks out ways to make the things they are working on better without needing a senior dev to do so.
- Don't Discriminate on platform: As much as I recommend not being concerned with the background in the sense that if you are working on a .net project, don't eliminate someone for not having .net on their resume. Its not their fault if their school only taught Java, and truth be told you are going to make them learn to write code the way you want anyway. The hardest programming language you'll ever learn is your first. After that they are pretty much the same.
- Make them talk about their skills: Even if you don't need those skills on the project, don't be afraid to ask them to talk about them. This makes them give you a context for how deep their skills go. You don't want someone who lists things on their resume they heard about in class, you want actual skills. So asking them to explain a project they used java on, or what kind of work they did with MySQL is a good way to gauge the depth of those skills.
- Ask general software development questions: All programming languages are essentially the same, and because of that you can ask generic questions. I usually do a "lightning round" with these, and ask questions like "Explain inheritance to me?", or "What are access modifiers?" or "Explain the difference between Primary and Foreign Keys?" Any program worth your time should have covered these concepts and these make up the foundation for how someone will approach their next language. If they don't have a strong background here, they aren't worth your time.
- Ask about their process if they run into a problem they can't solve: Nobody likes a needy developer. And the last thing you as a senior dev needs is to have someone hovering over your desk every time they get an error message. So you want to know what their plan is, listen for the basic debugging process and see if they have a process they mentally go through.
- Pay Attention to the non technical: Its easy as a developer to focus in on the technical part of the interview. But remember, you have to work with this person...So pay attention to things like whether or not they are client facing (Can I take them to a client meeting?), or can I communicate with this person? Do they seem like they would be a personality fit for my team? Do I think they will crack under pressure? These are important things to keep in mind when looking at a new candidate.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Monday, June 8, 2015
Lately if I'm being honest I've been burning the candle at both ends. Well more like 5-6 ends. Whether its been preparing a talk that I had to give, working on projects or estimating others. More than a few things going on. But that being said I thought it a good idea to take a step back and look at some soft skills.
Specifically looking at grooming new developers. Now this is a topic I've had quite a bit of experience with. I grew up with a family of educators. Mom a high school math teacher, dad a college professor. My grandmother even taught first grade for 35 years. So it shouldn't be surprising that the idea of teaching is something that has always been in the background. A few years ago I started as an adjunct professor, and taught an intro to web development course. Additionally I've over the past few years been working in a mentor capacity for our interns and Jr developers and building a curriculum for both.
Not trying to toot my own horn, just trying to frame the conversation. I argue the act of teaching is something every developer should embrace in some capacity. And is absolutely essential to growth in your career. As we grow through our career our developers, its only a matter of time before we are a technical lead or in a situation where we are being given Jr developers to delegate work to. Now in those cases, our ability to teach those young devs is the cornerstone of our ability to succeed in what we do.
So the trick is how do we get to teach developers effectively:
1.). Get to know the student: Not to go all kung fu master but each person you work with is different. They all have different passions, and drives. Our education background and interests are different. Get to know your Jr devs. Where did they go to school? What type of work do they like to do? Web? Database? Mobile? What do they hope to do in this career? Are they married? All of these things provide key points to how people learn. Not only that, getting to know your devs builds trust. A trust that is essential to their confidence that you are there to help them and not just some tyrannical boss.
2.). Learn their strengths: Everyone in this field has something they are good at. They either like client side script or database, or C#. All that being said this is important to establish a foundation. When assigning work to a junior dev, its important to make sure at least some of it stays within their wheel house. This is important because it prevents frustration. It allows them to grow skills they already have and fall back on when the new challenges become frustrating.
4.) Explain yourself: Remember when your parents used to tell you "because I said so.". And man did that become infuriating. Well its just a frustrating in the corporate world. If you don't take the time to make teaching a part of your job it will never pay the dividends you want.
Just some quick thoughts on teaching and importance to this job. This is something I intend to continue to talk about in the coming weeks, but consider this the opening salvo.