Depth of Tech Screen

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I can’t tell if I’m expecting too much from candidate developers or not. I do tech screens for various projects and we’ve had quite a few candidates come through lately.  I realize I need to expand tactics to get a better feel for expertise in the general programming area.

Working on this custom product has caused me to learn some technologies in-depth so I could create some of the custom UI elements that we’ve needed.  I do realize that not all developers have such challenging work.  However, when we’ve got a requirement for a developer with two years experience in technology X, I try to compare what I’ve learned about that technology in the same amount of time.  I ask about scenarios that I’ve faced. It’s the most available experience I can discuss with any certainty. I think answering such questions accurately reveals their level of commitment to understanding the technology.

I care less about their general experience using technology X.  I want specifics.  I want to know what challenges the person faced, what custom development they did, and how they used the technology to solve a problem.  I want to know what they found difficult to do or how technology X made something simpler.

I want to know if they’re using it outside of work or if they are learning outside of the office.  Did they read a book on technology X or did they work through some tutorials?  Do they know how it works?

I do need to work on gauging general programming knowledge in my tech screening.  I need to ask about data structures, programming frameworks, design patterns, etc.  A good programmer should know these things.

(pic mildly related)

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