Land the Tech Job You Love turned out to be a good read full of actionable advice for job seekers who just happen to be techies. It covers everything from creating three versions of your resume to preparing a portfolio of work products to take with you to the interview. All of this is good advice.
The hidden gem in the book is the great guidelines for technical managers on how to conduct the recruiting process:
“A hiring manager who wants to get a real feel for her candidates’ skills will ask for examples of work. When I was hiring programmers, I told every candidate that I called in for a face-to-face interview to bring in code samples, printed on paper, so that we could discuss them during the interview. Unfortunately I was definitely in the minority. Ilya Talman, on o the top technical recruiters in Chicago, to me that he estimates only 15% of hiring managers ask to see samples of work.”
For developers bringing in their code and going over it gives you a much deeper feel for a person’s development skills than any single behavioral question.
Code samples give you a sense of how the developer looks and how important code hygiene is to them. You can ask about decisions as to why they didn’t refactor a longer method or why they named a class a particular way. In many technical interviews you’re never asked to go through code at all.
If you’re not already requiring code samples for prospective developers I’d suggest trying it out at the next opportunity. You’ll be surprised at the insights.