Pair programmers wanted; week-long audition required

If you want to work for Hashrocket, you’ll need to provide a resume, references and a week of your time.

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Hashrocket pair programmers Paul Elliott and Matt Conway demonstrating their technique

Hashrocket/Paul Elliott

How does a week in a beachfront Florida condo with your significant other sound? Your airfare will be covered, as will lodging, and even a meal (and a beer) or two and you may also get some spending money. Not too shabby, right?

How about if I also told you that you’d be spending each day of the week doing pair programming and being evaluated on your technical skills? Still sound like a vacation or more like a long job interview? If you’re a developer looking for a job with Hashrocket, a small design and development shop in Jacksonville, Florida, it’s the latter, part of the process you’ll be required to go through to get hired.

The company, incorporated in early 2008, requires all developer candidates - actually, all job candidates, regardless of role (more on that later) - to go through a week-long on-site audition before an offer is extended.

“It is a grueling process,” said Marian Phelan, Hashrocket CEO.

Hashrocket’s 16 Ruby on Rails developers pair program every day; often teaming a senior developer with a more junior one and rotating pairs regularly, as a way to share knowledge and remain flexible. Before hiring a new developer, they want to know that a candidate is both technically proficient and a good personality fit for the 28 person company. Hence the requirement that candidates come to their offices and audition for a week.

“We’re a small company; we all work together in a big room. It allows us to make sure we don’t mind spending eight hours a day with this person. We can’t afford to have anybody in the office that’s not going to pull their weight,” said Paul Elliott, a Hashrocket developer. Elliott himself went through the process before he was hired and called it, “one of the most mentally exhausting things I’ve ever had to do.“

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