Over the last three months we have been looking for more developers to join our team. Because of that within the last few weeks I had about 15 interviews. Overall I’m disappointed with the level of candidates that came to talk to us, especially computer science graduates. None of the interviewed got employed, only one was interesting but he lacks time to work being a student. So to make it clear who we are looking for and thus save everyone else (and us) the trouble of interviews I’m writing this post.

Basically, there are two ways to get employed by Code Sprinters as a developer: either you are an über-geek passionate software developer with projects to prove it or you want to become one and have what it takes (above all: a good mind).

If you claim to be first we don’t expect you to have any certificates or diplomas. Don’t even bother bringing any paperwork with you – we might look at it, but it doesn’t matter. What we expect you to have is projects. If you didn’t work professionally in the field (read: didn’t code for money yet) those can be open source projects or even your own projects done just for fun or learning that you are proud of and can show. Expect us to dwell on this during the interview and ask tricky questions re. languages, methods and tools that you used to make sure what your understanding is.

Few other bits here: if you claim you are passionate about a language or just interested in it expect questions about it on the interview. And nothing disappoints us more than someone who claims to love, say, Erlang, but can’t explain why nor say anything about it. And it so happens that our developers (who participate in the interviews) happen to have wide interests in the field and usually they know much more about exotic languages & technologies than you might expect. So don’t think you can claim you’re passionate about something if you aren’t – and get away with it.

One other point about being passionate: just doing your homework at the university won’t do. People passionate about software usually feel a need to code and enjoy coding more than what is required to get a passing grade on their studies. If you claim you’re passionate about, say, Ruby on Rails but all you did was a homework assignment with a friend in the “web applications” course are you really expecting us to believe you?

Now, you can view programming as just a job for the paycheck and you might feel doing it properly within hours is o.k. Nothing wrong with that in principle, but please be honest with us and don’t say it is your passion. Passion doesn’t just switch off at 4pm.

To be fair: all I wrote doesn’t mean that you can’t climb mountains, sail seas, play saxophone or have a life but just code 24/7 in a basement. In fact sailing and photography are the most popular hobbies in our team, but still each of us did code for fun. And I hope all of us still think coding is fun.

It all boils down to that little bit, I think. If you don’t know why coding is fun – don’t waste ours and yours time. I’d even say: don’t waste your life on something you don’t like, find something you love to do and try to get paid for doing it. You’ll be way happier.

But, as I have mentioned above, there is another way to become part of our team: have a willing mind. Again, just say so – and then we won’t expect you to have tons of projects under your belt or be fluent in Ruby, Python and SQL. However, prepare then for a ruthless check of your intellectual ability. You have to convince us you really want to become a good coder plus you have what it takes to actually do it. So this invitation is extended to those genuinely interested in programming and languages and web applications, just lacking work experience. It is not an invitation to all those that don’t know what to do with their lives and any paycheck is what they are after.

This might sound harsh – and it is. But sorry, reality is harsh and we have projects to complete and clients to satisfy. If we are to take someone on board with little or no experience to show we have to get convinced you have the brilliant mind we look for. Also because you will be most likely thrown into the water and told to swim with little assistance. Colleagues will answer your questions and will be willing to discuss stuff you’re stuck with, but apart from our well stocked library and the initial kickoff week expect little structured guidance. If that doesn’t scare you – click here. 🙂

Finally, there is one more thing. All I wrote applies to developers that are the core of our team. But we also look for a graphic/UI designer and a tester. In both cases all I wrote applies, it is just not centered on software. Maybe I’ll write about it at length another time.