A pragmatic podcast about leadership, product dev, and tech decisions between two recovering Chief Technology Officers.

Are code challenges a lazy or legitimate method for hiring developers?


Show Details

Episode:  11
Published:  Sunday, February 25, 2018
Featuring:  Randy Burgess, Don VanDemark
Duration:  00:54:03
File Size:  62 MB

Are code challenges or quizzes a legitimate practice for hiring developers? We debate whether the method of filtering candidates via whiteboarding or code games is plain lazy or a necessary part of the recruiting process for engineers.


  • Randy is frank: taking a code quiz for a leadership or senior tech role is beneath his experience and skill-level
  • A developer's body of work speaks to their ability to build and lead, not FizzBuzz
  • Randy: Code challenges are lazy hiring.
  • What do you look at? The body of work a developer has done. What do they advertise as work that represents them?
  • Has this person been in a position for the role I'm hiring for? Will a coding quiz tell you that?
  • Look at a candidate's resume, blog, and personal website or simply ask them
  • Github repos are dumping grounds for scripts and not a great place to review someone's quality code
  • Ask the person to provide examples of project they work on
  • People can't show proprietary code from a company they work for, and you don't want them to
  • If a person has not been able to build things, then a test to show technical aptitude may be warranted
  • A green-level dev, in an audition process, must be judged with the idea that such tests are create anxiety
  • Do you really want to hire someone who spends all their time preparing for coding tests?
  • Don's team at AspirEDU brings in the developer, walks through prior experience, and then offers to pay them to come in and spend time working on a small project, and solve the issue
  • A good number of exceptional developers are already employed and have a high demand for their skills
  • If the only part of the tech pool you're looking at are unemployed people, are you missing out?
  • A developer that spends all day coding, and then needs to do a coding challenge to prove they can code, may decide not to put up with your process
  • If taking the time to hire quality people is a low priority, maybe you're misunderstanding the impact of exceptional developers vs average ones
  • Under pressure, can you solve a quiz I just found in a book, and solve it to prove you're worth my time?
  • If someone gives you a reference, take the time to call them and find out what kind of person the candidate is
  • If a developer wants to forego recruiting that includes code puzzles, they need to ask: Who has the leverage, here?



Thanks for listening to the CTO Think Podcast.

Shownotes and previous episodes can be found on our website at www.ctothink.com

Reviews on Apple iTunes are always appreciated and help promote the show.

Patreon contributions help us to produce transcripts, which allow people that are deaf or hard-of-hearing to access the show.

For questions, comments, or things you'd like to hear on future shows, please email us at hello@ctothink.com

Show music is Dumpster Dive by Marc Walloch, licensed by PremiumBeat.com

Voiceover work by MeganVoices.com

You'll hear from us next week!