How to recruit a junior developper

“You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness…”

Things to do before you hire a junior developper

  • Make damn sure you’re looking for a junior. Stop wasting everyone’s time. If you don’t have a CTO, go get a CTO, and be ready to pay the price. A junior is still learning, he can’t know everything by heart. Stop spending hours and hours interviewing juniors and asking them to take on responsibilities that they aren’t up to yet.
  • Don’t look for a junior if your CTO isn’t willing to help him. Juniors are hard to swallow. They need to learn, to train. They compensate with their willingness to work hard and the fact that they’re more affordable. Hiring a junior means your CTO is willing to take extra time to train someone and teach him the good practices.
  • Prepare a strong technical test, and publish it on Github. This will give anyone a chance, not just those you directly reached out to.
  • Don’t interview applicants who didn’t complete your test. Again, stop wasting your time meeting people who aren’t serious. Why would you meet someone if you don’t even know if he/she has the right skills?

Bad examples of technical tests :

  • “What is an HTTP request?” or any kind of let-me-google-that-for-you questions. This kind of questions means you really didn’t take the time to build a proper test, therefore that you’re not actually serious in your hiring process.
  • “Write a fibonacci function in code”, or any kind of let-me-stack-overflow-this-for-you. Knowing syntax doesn’t make one a good coder.
  • “Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind”, or any kind of psychological, creativity bullshit : real creativity comes when you’re facing design challenges in your code, not by answering this type of questions.
  • Several tests, during several interviews, with several different managers of the company, over the course of several days, each test becoming more difficult than the one before. Companies that behave this way send this weird message : “No one is really in charge of recruiting. The lead back dev thought his test was good enough, and then later on, the CTO came in and decided to put another, harder test. One dude said yes, and another dude said no. So we don’t know what we’re doing.”

Good examples of technical tests

  • “This is a JSON file with data from fake customers. Write a program that will calculate and output these five KPIs for us.” This is by far the best way to test an applicant. Not only does it test your knowledge of technology, but more importantly, it tests your ability to refactor your code and apply good practices. Make it a test that would require a small, multi-feature program, and publish it on Github.
  • “Make a small news/chat web application with this framework in a limited time” : this is a good way of testing how far an applicant can go in a limited time. This is also a great way for you to know if he organises his code and respects good practices.
  • “Use our API to gather our data and present it in a a website” : again, a good example because the applicant will get familiar with your services and learn how to use them.
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