Want to hire a programmer? Make sure the job interview includes coding

Today's tip comes from a blog post by Antonio Cangiano, Software Engineer & Technical Evangelist at IBM, who recently interviewed and hired two interns for IBM. One of the things that struck him was that "most students didn't know much about programming in the real world. In particular, they didn't seem to be very up-to-date, most having never heard of things like SVN, GIT, MVC, ORM, Agile programming, or NoSQL."

So where's the tip?

Resumes, cover letters, and transcripts may make it easy to select the top 50 out of 100 candidates, but if you really want to know someone's ability to code, you've got to give them a coding assignment -- and you've got to carefully review it:

The coding assignment was a huge asset in determining people’s real abilities. Some of the nicest assignments came from those with academically weaker performances. You could clearly see who the hackers and potential future computer science professors were. Without the assignment, the selection process would have been much harder, so I’m glad that it was something we required the applicants to do.

A couple of other interesting observations:

In general, the qualifications listed on the resumes we saw were greatly exaggerated by mediocre candidates, and somewhat downplayed by the great ones.

Some candidates, taking advantage of the long distance telephone interview, tried to Google their answers and I could literally hear them typing as I presented them with questions that they weren’t familiar with. Replies such as, “Hmmm…well…”, followed by a 20 second pause and then the all but cut and paste Wikipedia definition. This was very easy to spot and didn’t end up boding well for those candidates who opted for this less than honest route.

To read more about the rigorous interview process, learn what makes for a stand-out resume, and meet the interns, read the full post at the link below.

Things I’ve learned from hiring interns for IBM

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