Article on Skills Assessment for Software Developers.

Skills Assessment for Software Developers

Hiring qualified software developers for your software development company depends on how you assess the applicants you are recruiting. The software developer skills assessment process is very important for you to know the applicants’ level of expertise and determine if they have the specific skills needed for your projects. But before conducting your software developer assessment, you need to learn first what are the important skills that developers should have nowadays.

The skills needed by software developers

In hiring software developers, you should look for the following qualifications.

Technical skills
These are the important technical skills that a developer should have:

  • Programming language and software framework – Recruit developers who have deep knowledge in at least one language since it means they are confident to write code in that language. If your projects are written in C#, C++, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, and Ruby, you will find many developers who specialize in these languages. Proficiency in a software framework is also important because a framework improves the quality, reliability, and robustness of the application.
  • Algorithms and data structures – Algorithm is a set of instructions to perform a calculation or solve a collection of problems while data structures is a collection of data values. Developers with skills in algorithms and data structures can effectively organize data and use algorithms to solve a problem with less effort and time.
  • Problem-solving – The bugs and errors in the code can cause problems in a software’s development process and it cannot move forward until the problem is solved. Look for a developer who doesn’t just use traditional methods to solve a problem, but also thinks out of the box to solve it.
  • Integrated development environment (IDE) – Developers should have efficient knowledge of IDEs to write, compile, run and debug their code, and an IDE will also speed up their development tasks.
  • Databases – Developers with skills in database management systems (DBMS) like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and other DBMS gives them the ability to properly backup, secure and manage the complete organizational record of a project.
  • Source control – Developers who are proficient in using version control tools like Apache Subversion and GIT means they are efficient in managing, storing and securing their code.

Soft skills
The essential soft skills that a developer should have:

  • Adaptability – The openness to adjust to continuing changes in tasks and transferring to different teams or clients, learn new skills to keep up with changing technologies, and to react positively to comments and criticisms from peers and superiors.
  • Empathy – The ability to put one’s self in somebody else’s shoes. Empathizing with the users of the intended product allows the developers to see things from the users’ point of view. This enables the developer to really understand the user’s needs and wants from the product.
  • Approachability and teamwork – Being approachable in a work environment that is focused on collaboration between team members and clients are important for developers. Voluntary help accorded to peers will be reciprocated by them while effective cooperation with them is a sign of good teamwork.
  • Communication – Effective communication skills are important for developers not just for writing code. It’s important for developers to communicate with their peers, superiors, and clients in a clear and effective manner so they will be understood and any miscommunication will be avoided.
  • Business acumen – A developer should comprehend the important factors behind the issues related to specific business actions for the product or service, and understand the consequences of those actions. They should know how to choose the right action to take in complicated business situations and understand how the various parts of a business are related to each other.
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How to assess the skills of software developers

Software developer skills assessment is an important part of the hiring process. You have to remember that the quality of the skills and qualifications of the developers depends on the results of the assessment procedures you used. The methods for assessing the skills of software developers are an HR interview, technical interview from a senior developer, and assessment exams. The cumulative results from these assessment methods could influence your final decision whether to hire or not a specific applicant.

Interviews from HR and senior developer
If you’re an HR officer, you would usually be the first one to interview an applicant. You can ask about a general summary about themselves, their previous salary and preferred salary range, a summary of their working experiences and other qualifications, and their behavioral and character traits.

Based on the answers from the initial interview, you can also assess if an applicant possesses soft skills such as adaptability, approachability, creativity, empathy, effective verbal communication, how well they can work with others in a team, and time management.

A technical interview with a senior developer usually follows after the applicant has finished an assessment exam. The technical interview usually consists of two parts – a technical assessment and coding skills test. In the technical assessment, the interviewer asks the applicants on how far is their experience in the technologies that they used to execute the tasks given to them. The interviewer then gives a coding test to validate the applicants’ experience with the technologies they used and how they write code and to assess their problem-solving abilities.

Assessment exams using software assessment tools
Although there are still assessment exams that are administered in printed forms, it’s more convenient and efficient for your company to have a computer-based or software developer skills assessment tool. Computerized assessment tools help you save time because when they are installed in several computers in your office, you can administer the tests to several applicants at the same time.

A software assessment tool is programmed to assess the results of several categories of exams administered to a single applicant. The tool can also immediately calculate the score obtained by an applicant so you will know right away if the applicant passed the exam.

A software assessment tool can be customized into several categories such as aptitude and Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) tests, coding tests where the answers are either multiple choice or directly entered inside a text box by the applicant, and essay tests. If your company still doesn’t have its own software assessment tools, you can obtain these tools either by hiring an IT subject matter expert to develop a tool for you or getting online tools from the Internet.

For a minimal fee, you can hire an IT expert to develop a software developer assessment tool for your developer applicants. You can either hire IT experts employed by HR recruitment companies or freelance experts who offer their services on the Internet. These IT experts can customize assessment tests such as coding tests for specific programming languages, aptitude, and I.Q. tests specialized for developers and other types of tests for specific IT technologies.

You can avail of online skills assessment tools for developers provided by recruitment agencies or software companies. There are free and paid versions of these online tools. Some paid online assessment tools are:

One of the popular free online tools is Programming Skills. However, a major disadvantage of free online assessment tools is that the tests offered by these tools can be accessed by anyone. When an applicant is taking a free online assessment test, the applicant may search in Google about the test they are taking and find a similar test like it. Then they will already know what type of questions will be asked from the test they are taking. Therefore, it may be better for you to purchase software developer skills assessment tools to ensure the integrity and security of the tests you will give to the job applicants.

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