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Ask HN: How do you assess Junior Developers before hiring them?
15 points by vladimirsvsv77 on Mar 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
Which extraordinary or new methods do you use for assessing Jr candidates? I've heard about trial hiring, what do you think about it? Perhaps, just tests or only interviewing are enough?

Juniors you filter for potential. If you wanted a low risk, higher skilled person you'd take a senior. Juniors are more of a gamble and I think most of thr ageism in the industry comes from the fact that seniors are clear where they land, but with juniors you can hire a girl who can contribute $100k/month of work at a salary of $10k/month.

Most interviewing techniques filter the top and bottom of the talent pool. Large organizations are fine with this. It's less risk, more control, and if they wanted a genius, they'd just acquire.

So you don't want to follow thr FAANG style of recruiting. The best ones that do well with that filter have already been snapped up anyway.

One of my favorite tricks is just to ask them to build something. Minesweeper or a roguelike, even if they're a web dev. The idea is not to have them finish it in 4 hours but see their approach.

Do they write specs? Do they write tests? How much do they design for? You probably don't want to hire someone who designs for a week when the target is 2 hours.

What's the balance between planning and development? Usually the bad ones have none of either. It also tests how they deal with huge problems, something that happens all the time in this field.

Test for whatever you're hiring for. If you don't optimize much don't test too much there. If it's a front end job, get them to do some animations. The best ones have some prior experience before the job, see if they'll surprise you.

When I hire junior developers the only evaluation I'm looking for is how they fit with me and my team. I don't worry too much about anything beyond basic skills. I then realize that I will have a large amount of training I will have to do with them. Which is absolutely fine. I like that part of hiring junior developers.

The thing you have to remember when hiring junior is the burden of making them effective is on you.

Yes, sure. We understand that we have to invest a lot of time in training. Have you ever considered a trial hiring for evaluation of fit with your team? We're thinking of trying it.

I absolutely have. I actually enjoy a contract to hire sort of scenario for a lot of my hiring. I think it works out well.

Thanks, I think we will try it too.

I took an “internship” at my first dev job at a small place and was converted a few weeks later. It’s a nice way to be able to double check - though won’t work great if they’be got good prospects to give them a more guaranteed offer.

The work-sample tests method or internship (paid hopefully) https://sockpuppet.org/blog/2015/03/06/the-hiring-post/#work... is almost exactly what we do where I work now to judge new hires

I like this idea, but this specific aspect seems somewhat troubling:

> "We let candidates do this work on their own time, from their own home, whenever they wanted to"

I'm curious -- how do you control for someone who successfully accomplishes the coding talk, but needed 40 hours to do the work which you expected to take 4 hours?

I think this system is built on equal parts reliability and time management.

It becomes less of "Get this thing done by today" and more of "Get these 5 things done by the end of the week".

One developer might just leave it to the last minute or perhaps fail to deliver if they underestimate the scope of work, failing to deliver makes him more unreliable and shows he has a poor grasp on time management and needs day to day focus.

Another Developer may be more conservative with how much time they have available, but may still be working on a different wavelength in terms of day to day expectations, however at the end of the week, they deliver on time. This makes him more reliable and show that he has a good grasp on time management so far, so it shows that less day to day focus is needed on him.

By junior I assume you mean NO experience working in the field.

The best I have seen has been where the company hires them while they are student for a co-op / intern program. You must pay them a decent wage. You must give them real work.

Then you have to establish criteria for hiring. Note if you do not pay them a good wage as an intern, they will look elsewhere for a job.

For criteria I recommend:

1) do they fit / can they get along 2) honesty - this one is tougher than it sounds. When they screw up do they tell you or hide it? When they do not know an answer do they make something up 3) can the learn - listening is different than learning 4) are they inquisitive, do the ask question, do they challenge you "why do we do it this way?" "have you thought of doing it another way" 5) raw talent (notice this is last on the list)

Of course most of this criteria applies to regular job interview.

<begin bitch-fest> When I hear of people having tests or coding projects on an interview it makes me sad. The person doing the interview should be able to read your resume and determine if the interviewee has the skills / talent. They should be able, with a set of well formed questions be able to determine the parts that are not mentioned in the resume and validate your resume.

Myself I have a set of questions I use for all candidates, and a set that I make up for each candidate based on their resume. It takes time, but when you consider the cost / value result, it is time well spent.

Sadly most interviewers do not know what they are doing.

Of course this is where HR should be doing the training, but I have met very few HR people who I thought were capable of their jobs.

Remember hiring someone is not like buying a computer or a car, which are easily disposed of. It is closer to a house or getting married, separation will be painful, and you will spend a lot of emotion with this person.

Look for smart and gets things done. Evidence of grit, hard work or musical ability.

The best junior tech people I have ever hired was a intern who was a wedding planner, a veteran who was a pharmacy tech, an early Apple genius, and a professional musician. All are in senior tech or dev roles and two had BAs.

Hire for adaptability. How soon after being hired do they provide value? Wrote an article about it here: https://link.medium.com/AifgIE7AvV

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