A Guide to Hiring Fresh Technical Talent

We’ve watched many employers learn how to hire fresh tech talent since we started Codeup in 2013. Now that many of our grads have 18+ months of work experience, we spoke to employers to determine best practices for hiring Codeup grads. We saw some common themes that can help other employers. Here’s what they said.

Classical tech interviewing techniques (“Solve this problem without recursion on this whiteboard while we stare at you!”) aren’t always as useful.

  • “You must understand that this is a junior dev and probably has less than a year of coding experience. You must interview for aptitude and attitude. I usually perform at least 2-3 interviews, starting out with a behavioral interview, then perform a programming and problem solving interview. I usually ask a question that is not solvable (in the allotted time of the interview). I do this on purpose to see how they manage tough problems and difficult situations, from both an intellectual and emotional perspective.”
  • “The best practice is always to have the grads interview with different people in the team. Each person assess one specific area of expertise. So we normally have three interviews focus on each of the following aspects:
    1. Personality and cultural fit (previous projects/jobs, experience, drive, motivation, likes and dislikes, strengths and soft skills)
    2. Coding Assessment (In this one we try to simulate a work environment in which the interviewer is already part of the team and helps us come up with a feature/solution for a specific customer request. We go over analysis, database design, some white board coding for specific functions and sometimes even GUI design)
    3. Technical Assessment. Questions are asked about specific technologies and also we like to focus on their capstone project and what role/part they had during its development. We evaluate how well they can explain their project and the tasks that they performed.”

Hiring fresh talent requires a different mindset and approach to growing a tech organization.

  • “Early on we put new grads on pet projects – usually something internal that was a contrived project. We quickly discovered that real world projects were a much better starting point. Typically we have them start with writing automated tests, then slowly give them more demanding work as their skill sets develop.”
  • “Be honest with yourself about what your needs are and what your company is hiring for. Bootcamp grads need mentorship and time to develop and progress within an organization.”

An experienced mentor and development plan are essential.

  • “Understand that you are making an investment. If you make a wise selection and couple that with strong mentorship you can end up with great talent.”
  • “Pairing an entry-level developer with more experienced team members has worked well for us. We also like to get our newly graduated developers into real code as soon as possible. There is no better way to learn than solid keyboard time.”
  • “What has worked best so far is to get them into support tasks immediately, so they get familiar with the code, the architecture, the product and the customers and the learning curve, although a little more aggressive, is reduced. This way while fixing bugs or doing QA they learn the most complex and hidden parts of our system which triggers the right questions.“

Smart management and hiring approaches still apply.

  • “Providing a mix of focused assignments within their skills set along with some stretch assignments and mentorship maximizes their development.“
  • “Having an onboarding plan is a must with 1 month, 3 month, 6 month targets. Provide the developer with tutorials and find assignments where the tools and knowledge that they have at a particular point will allow them to succeed at completing such assignment. Furthermore, weekly 1:1’s are crucial.”
  • “With one of my hires, even though I didn’t feel very strong in their ability, I hired based on attitude with a hope that over time, they would become a better developer. I found that they (again because of their attitude) excelled with customer support, so they found their place there instead of development.”

Entry-level talent can positively impact team attitudes and fulfilment amongst senior staff

  • “Having entry-level people can be a great way to add energy to a team, and allows more senior developers the opportunity to mentor and teach their craft to others.”

We’d love to see how we can help your company grow its tech talent pipeline. Let’s talk!