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Competencies Rant

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Software Fails

Software Fails

Why Skill Sets MUST be INSANELY Vetted

One of our projects required an additional Telerik expert for UI development for some 60 UI pages.   Our guys were busy so we needed to hire a new person.

To assess the competency of applicants for this specific skill, we created a short requirements document (a grid and calendar with custom oddities supported by the API).   Our most experienced Telerik developer coded the requirement in 45 minutes. We advertised the position world-wide, stating we required ONLY this single skill.   We attracted 52 applicants.  After the initial interview (which involved reference checks, verification of work history and a short interview questioning Telerik code examples), the pool of applicants was short-listed to 29 due to misrepresentation.  Note we did not short list applicants based upon higher or highest wage expectations.

One by one, we provided the 29 remaining applicants with a clean remote development workstation with VS 2012, Telerik, Resharper and SQL installed and configured.   We provided explicit written instructions and verbally reviewed the requirements with each applicant.   The timer was started, the recorder was turned on and we watched each applicant perform the assigned task.  Of the 29 people, 9 dropped out of the running after 30 minutes, they could not even create a Telerik based project.  Of the 20 remaining applicants, after creating an empty project, 18 of them went directly to the Telerik website and copy/pasted example code.  But try as they might, they could not progress past their copy/paste “achievement”.  They never actually wrote a single line of code themselves.  Only 2 of the applicants directly coded the requirement from their brain (retained knowledge).  And only 1 applicant completed most of the requirement (90%) in the 2 hour time allotment.

In summary, the 52 applicants were short-listed to 29 (45% cut rate).  Of the remaining, 93% produced nothing in 2 hours and only 2 of the applicants had a semblance of retained knowledge of the skill.  Yet if their rate was $10 or $15 more per hour, most employers would have not have considered them for the short-list, even though they were the people that could actually deliverThis is idiotic to the extreme yet common place in the software development industry.

Unlike ITBGN, most organizations do not utilize such an intensive and elaborate vetting process to assess individual skills for each applicant.  In most cases, the company itself does not have the knowledge to assess a candidate beyond employment verification and reference checks.  Compounding this, organizations demand a skill set scope that is far too wide, involving vastly different technologies which are different careers in their own right.  This is where we are today.

Do EVERYTHING possible to assess candidate skills.  Assess EACH skill.  Determine where they fit best (UI layer, Logic layer or Data layer).  And force them to focus their knowledge, education and training to where they best fit.  Otherwise, your hire will cost you dearly.

ITBGN performs this process on all new hires since we are a commercial development house.  Each developer is insanely vetted for EACH skill they claim to know.   We then identify their strengths and then utilize their strengths as part of a development team.  And finally, after passing this muster, we perform criminal checks to ensure our hires can be trusted.  This process drastically helps helps us deliver our promise of providing higher quality software faster for less.