How to Assess Technical Skills When Hiring Remote Developers

Assessing technical skills when hiring remote developers is crucial for ensuring you onboard individuals

Created by: Pamela Oburoh-Kuju /

Vetted by:

Otse Amorighoye

How to Assess Technical Skills When Hiring Remote Developers

Assessing technical skills when hiring remote developers is crucial for ensuring you onboard individuals who can effectively contribute to your projects from afar. The challenges of remote hiring include not being able to conduct in-person interviews or assessments, but with strategic use of technology and well-planned processes, you can accurately evaluate a candidate's technical capabilities. Here’s a guide on how to effectively assess technical skills for remote developers:

1. Define Skill Requirements Clearly

Start by clearly defining the technical skills required for the position. This includes not only programming languages and technologies but also the level of expertise needed (e.g., beginner, intermediate, expert) and any particular frameworks or tools that are essential for the role. Clear job descriptions will help attract candidates whose skills align with your needs.

2. Utilize Technical Skill Assessment Tools

There are several online platforms designed specifically for testing the technical skills of developers. Tools like HackerRank, Codility, or DevSkiller offer coding tests and challenges that can be tailored to the specific skills you're looking for. These tools provide a controlled environment where candidates can write, test, and debug code, which helps in assessing their practical skills effectively.

3. Assign Take-Home Coding Projects

A take-home project can provide deeper insight into a candidate's ability to handle real-world tasks. These projects should reflect actual problems the developer would solve on the job and allow sufficient time for completion, respecting the candidate’s time. Reviewing their code will give you an idea of their coding standards, problem-solving skills, and familiarity with necessary tools and libraries.

4. Conduct Live Coding Sessions

Live coding sessions, often part of a technical interview, involve candidates solving coding problems in real-time while sharing their screen via platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This allows you to observe their thought process, problem-solving approach, and proficiency with coding under time constraints. It also gives insight into their communication skills and how they handle pressure.

5. Use Pair Programming

Pair programming involves two developers working together at one workstation (or in a virtual setting) to discuss, review, and develop code collaboratively. This technique is effective in a remote setting as it not only assesses technical skills but also evaluates how well the candidate collaborates with others. Tools like CodeSandbox or Visual Studio Live Share can facilitate remote pair programming sessions.

6. Incorporate Technical Interviews

Technical interviews should go beyond just coding skills. They can include discussions about past projects, specific technologies the candidate has used, their approach to debugging and optimization, and their continuous learning habits. This can be combined with behavioral interview questions to understand how they might fit into your team culturally and operationally.

7. Check References and Past Work

If applicable, review the candidate's previous work samples or portfolios. Additionally, reference checks with past employers can provide insights into the candidate’s professional conduct and real-world application of their technical skills.

8. Set Up a Trial Period

For certain positions, setting up a paid trial period where the candidate works on smaller projects or parts of larger projects can be an excellent way to assess their skills in a practical, ongoing work environment. This method can be very telling about their actual impact on your team and projects.

9. Evaluate Problem-Solving Skills

Technical skills aren't solely about coding. Problem-solving is a crucial ability for any developer. You might want to include scenario-based questions that ask the candidate to solve a problem or debug an issue, providing insights into their logical thinking and creativity.

10. Ensure Security Practices

In remote settings, it's also important to assess a candidate’s understanding and implementation of security practices relevant to your projects. Questions about secure coding practices, data protection, and compliance can be included in the assessment.

Conclusion

Effectively assessing the technical skills of remote developers involves a combination of online tools, practical tests, and interpersonal evaluations. By carefully designing your assessment process, you can ensure that you hire competent developers who not only possess the required technical skills but also align with your team’s working style and values