Find the Top Programmers for the Job

October 27th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s blog, member company Robert Half shares three technical questions you should ask in an interview in order to find the top programmers for the job. 


The technical interview for a software developer position should give you a clear picture of the candidate’s ability to perform the most important aspects of the job: writing quality code and fixing broken code.

The interview should include specific questions related to the technologies your organization uses; ASP.NET or JavaScript might be some examples. Beyond these general knowledge questions, you’ll need to ask technical interview questions that determine the candidate’s understanding of software development itself.

Here are three questions that will help you uncover top technical talent.

1. Please describe the architecture of your most recent project.

Ask candidates to describe a recent project in depth. Invite them to use a whiteboard or a large pad of paper to draw diagrams, if needed.

You’re looking to accomplish two specific things with this type of question. First, you want to look beyond what is listed in the candidate’s resume and confirm that the developer truly understands the work. This process will also help you determine just how active the software developer was in the example project and give you a good idea of that person’s level of decision-making.

The other goal is to see how well a programmer can present a technical concept. Evaluate the developer’s answer as if that person were presenting to both technical and nontechnical business leaders and project stakeholders. Would every person in the audience walk away with a solid understanding of how the application works and why things were done in a certain way?

The ability to communicate well with nontechnical colleagues is a critical skill if you want someone who can be a lead developer or software architect.

2. What lessons have you learned from your current project?

Every project presents an opportunity for a software developer to expand skills and knowledge. A candidate who has the curiosity and open-minded nature required of a top programmer can take away something valuable from every project they work on.

One of your technical interview questions therefore should be designed to give candidates an opportunity to share what they have learned on previous projects. Another version of this question is “What do you like about your current assignments and what would you improve?” The candidate you want to hire will be able to answer this in a way that shows the ability to learn from their experiences, whether they were positive or negative.

3. Let’s see some code.

Many interviewers fail to ask technical interview questions that require candidates to prove that they can do exactly what the software developer job entails: write code.

So, be sure to have the candidate write a few simple pieces of code. Two or three small code samples (about the size of a function, roughly 5-10 lines of code) should tell you very quickly if the candidate actually knows what he or she is doing.

One popular version of a short programming test is FizzBuzz. You might want to give  a time limit on this test or the results could be misleading. HireVue shows how long it takes candidate to complete challenges set up by the hiring manager. Another example of a test is to ask the candidate to write a function that finds the maximum value in an array of integers.

These tests do not merely help you identify unqualified applicants, they also can provide insight into how a particular candidate thinks. Does this person launch into a problem without proper planning only to realize he or she made an easily foreseeable mistake? Is the developer’s code clean and demonstrating sound coding practices? Does the candidate listen to instructions and follow them properly to solve the problem?

Try asking these technical interview questions in your next interview with a software developer candidate. You might just be surprised how many professionals with impressive resumes you’ll end up weeding out.

If you’re hiring software developers or any other IT pros, check out our Salary Guide for current starting salaries and hiring trends: 2016 Salary Guide

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How To Be Strategic With Your IT Hiring

June 18th, 2014 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

NVTC is inviting members and industry leaders to serve as guest bloggers, sharing insights and information on trends or business issues relevant to other members. In the below post, Marc Berman of member company Vector Technical Resources shares strategic steps for managers when hiring an IT staff.


Hiring tech talent can be a serious challenge for many organizations. Depending upon where your company is located, you may be competing with shinier, flashier tech
companies that can offer massive salaries, on-site gym memberships, free daycare, and other perks. Conversely, you may be operating in a rural area where new IT talent is hard to come by.

The (somewhat) good news is that no matter where you are or what your organization does, you are not alone. The Technology Councils of North America conducted a survey in 2013 that found nearly 70% of participating executives believe there is a shortage of quality tech talent in the marketplace. They feel that “all the good ones are taken,” and it can be difficult to attract and hire the right people.

Making Strong IT Hiring Decisions

This climate can lead companies to make poor IT hiring decisions. Hiring managers may feel pressured to jump on the first candidate with the appropriate skill set. But even if an IT candidate’s skills match up with your needs, there are other things to consider before making an offer.

Here are some tips to help you make strategic IT hiring decisions:

  1. Documented Work – An IT candidate can claim certain skills and accomplishments, and it may be possible to glean their expertise from an interview, but it is important to get documentation of previous projects.
  2. Look for Broad Experience – Specialization can be beneficial for certain positions, but more often than not, your organization will depend upon IT pros with a broad knowledge base. When someone focuses narrowly on one specific skill, it can lead them to be less effective at solving large problems.
  3. Match Personality with Company Culture – Employees must be happy in order to do their jobs well, and if the culture of the organization isn’t a good fit, your new hire won’t feel comfortable or happy. For example, individuals with a laid-back attitude and work history in casual environments may feel stifled in a workplace with a more rigid corporate structure.  Be sure to take personality and your company culture into consideration before making an offer.
  4. Don’t Make a Panic Hire – Making a fast hiring decision out of sheer panic rarely turns out well. If the position is so critical that it must be filled immediately, it’s worth it to take a breath and move deliberately, because a bad hire will ultimately force you back into a desperate situation. Never hire for an IT position after one interview.  Always conduct a phone screen first. This can help narrow the field before you potentially waste your time and the candidate’s time on an in-person interview.
  5. Include the Team – If an IT professional will be reporting to three managers, include all three managers in the hiring process. It is important that everyone gets a sense of a candidate’s personality and work style, so that they can feel comfortable bringing that individual on board.

 

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