For any business with a website, your front-end developer is arguably one of your most important hires. Their code, UX sensibility, and ability to work with both your tech and design teams determines how people will interpret your brand. To help you choose wisely, I asked a group of successful entrepreneurs from YEC the following question.
What’s one tool/method I can use to test or pre-screen front–end developers? Why do you prefer that to another solution?
Their best answers are below:
1. Evaluate Their Portfolio From Both Sides
Viewing and discussing their portfolio is the best way to screen a developer for a new project. Take the time to evaluate their design and to ask them about the approach they took for the user experience/interface. Can they articulate their vision and did they execute it well?
In addition to evaluating their design and the UX, you should also review their code. This is a great way to make sure that they can execute on a design scheme and do so with a minimal code base. Less lines of code and more efficient code will reduce load and indexing times, which helps for users and SEO. – Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell
2. Check Their GitHub Account
A good way to evaluate a front-end developer is by checking their GitHub account. GitHub is where developers store their code in order to have a history of file changes or even so others developers can work on the same project.
Take the time to analyze the code so you can have a wide knowledge of how thisdeveloper writes, and so you can ask him why he made specific decisions. This is a great way to measure his knowledge on important topics, such as best practices/patterns, cross-browser/device compatibility and user experience to name a few. – Humberto Farias, Concepta
3. Do Some Live Testing
On average, Silicon Valley companies spend 100-200 hours of their engineers’ time just to hire one developer. We faced the same issue in our company and decided to solve this problem by using a Remote Interview screening platform.
On average, I’m saving 75 to 80 percent of screening time. I achieve this efficiency by using their real-world programming tests, which are scored automatically on the platform. It’s basically a software that tests developers live as I watch them and then scores what they do. – John Rampton, Due
4. Ask Them to Do a Kolbe Test
We’ve recently been using an online test called Kolbe, which helps you see how someone strives in their work. This is different from an IQ test or a personality test, because it describes how someone naturally approaches their work.
One of the spectrums in this test is how much someone looks at facts before making decisions, and we’ve found that developers and front-end ones tend to be better at their work when they are “high” fact-finders. – Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly
5. Ask for the Last Three Stack Overflow Questions They Viewed
Pre-screening is all about saving time — not only for the company, but also the developer. Taking a look at a potential candidate‘s recent Stack Overflow history provides a quick and easy way to gauge where they are in their coding journey, what they’ve been working on recently and a glimpse into the way they approach problems. – Will Nathan, Homepolish
6. Use Automated Testing Solutions
An automated testing solution, like Codility.com, is an efficient way of identifying which front-end developers you should continue screening. It’s simple to set up and the results are easy to interpret, even for a non-developer. And while it’s possible for the candidate to cheat, it’s still an effective pre-screening solution because cheaters will be outed in a face-to-face screening. – Stephen Gill, http://www.50onred.com
7. Have Them Test Your Product
I always like to see what potential developers would do to better my product. I will veer them in the right direction and let them know what I think is a problem area, then let them take it from there. I like to see what they can come up with on their own to see if they aesthetically align with our brand. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
8. Require a Live Coding Test
We identify a common issue or problem that comes up and assign developers a live, 15-minute test of their abilities. By using screen sharing, you can watch the choices they are making — how they identify the issue, how they approach it, how they resolve it.
Screen sharing makes it easy to identify developers who might be a real asset to your company and others that you may not find as useful, since you or your best developers, can watch a demonstration of thedeveloper‘s abilities unfold right in front of you. – Ty Morse, Songwhale
9. Talk to Their Past Clients
By far the best test you can give a front-end developer is to speak with past clients. The goal is to get feedback on how users felt about the design work. The reality is that front-end developers design applications and websites that will be in front of hundreds or potentially millions of people. I’d want to learn as much as possible about user interface design and conversion from past clients before inviting a front end developer in for a job interview. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
10. Have Them Write Unit Tests
Most developers don’t write unit tests, but we insist on them at Hubstaff for all development work. It’s a best practice that’s integral to saving time overall, as it reduces the amount of time we spend fixing issues after doing functional testings.
Since we want our developers to know how to take new features for a test drive, we ask them to show us how well they write front-end tests. It’s an intellectual challenge to write effective tests for front-end behavior, which means that that developers who can do this well understand both the purpose of testing and the relevant behaviors to test. – Jared Brown, Hubstaff
11. Give Them a Hypothetical Project
Front–end development involves subjectivity — design, user interaction, user experience, etc. Therefore, be sure to ask candidates to share their portfolios and probe into what they specifically contributed to each sample. Then if you’re still on the fence, assign a hypothetical project to create a compelling and effective front-end application.
It should go without saying that this project should be unrelated to your actual work projects. No candidates want to feel like you are asking them to solve your actual work problems for free. A nice touch is to offer to pay the candidates for their time. – Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments
Image credit: Shutterstock
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
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