Not many recruiters can claim to be well-versed in software development. Recruiters excel at communication, people skills, and know how to use talent acquisition tools; but few HR teams have someone who can assess a piece of code or evaluate someone’s cloud computing ability. 

LinkedIn’s list of most in-demand skills for 2019 is dominated by tech skills, with cloud computing and artificial intelligence taking the top spots. Even when an HR professional partners with someone from the software development team, it can be difficult to tell if a candidate has the abilities they say they do. Nearly 50% of candidates lie on their résumés, claiming to have skills they may not have at all. And areas like cloud computing are relatively new in the market – meaning it’s unlikely someone has deep hands-on experience they can readily demonstrate. How can you make sure each software developer is up to the task?

Outsource vetting to an agency

There are a handful of agencies out there who vet and prepare software developers to take on a new role. JetCake, Toptal, and Index Code are just a few partners who put software developers through a rigorous vetting process before connecting them with tech companies. JetCake will provide training and a network of support to ensure a developer acclimates to the new role successfully. 

By working with an agency, you gain access to a larger network of software developers with the guarantee that each candidate has a basic level of expertise. The average cost-per-hire comes in at around $4,425; it’s too expensive to continuously try out software developers without some assurance they can do the work laid out in the job description. 

Check out their GitHub profile

For one recruiter, an active online presence is often more important than whatever is listed on the candidate’s CV. 

Monica Zeng, a recruiter at Aragon One, is very selective in her hiring of software candidates. She goes straight to GitHub, as well as other niche developer communities, to see how active a candidate is in forums, discussions, and coding challenges. “We want people who have a high sense of curiosity, a strong sense of purpose, who are active in the open-source community, who have nonconformist ideas both professionally and ideologically, and who are critical thinkers. We want contributors, not just workers,” Monica says.

A person’s digital footprint can tell you a lot about their work ethic, passion for software development, and their ability to collaborate in a team. If a software developer doesn’t have a GitHub profile, ask for their portfolio or see if they’re active on LinkedIn. 

Use coding challenges

There are a couple of ways to host a coding test to quickly ascertain whether or not a candidate has the background in a coding language to take on the role’s responsibilities. 

  • Pre-recorded or one-way coding tests: the candidate is asked to solve a simulated problem that they may encounter while working for the company, such as finding a bug or writing in one language across multiple platforms. 
  • Live coding challenges: the candidate performs a coding challenge in the presence of an interviewer, allowing the interviewer to assess how a candidate performs when faced with a problem in real-time 
  • Coding questionnaires: coding questionnaires like FizzBuzz, Top Coder, and Google Code Jam present a candidate with questions that seem deceptively easy at first. However, only the most experienced software engineers can achieve a high score on these questionnaires. 
  • Pair programming: a candidate is paired with an experienced coder from within the company to work together on a simulation for the afternoon. 
  • Code review: a candidate is asked to examine a piece of code to find any problems, errors, or bad practices. 

It’s important to verify a candidate’s ability, rather than to hire purely based on what a resume says. The good news is that it’s relatively straightforward to test a software developer. Make sure the next developer you hire is up to the challenge with a coding test or verified recommendation from a talent agency.