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I will not draw Tippy!

Dear Reader,

I write this as an unemployed programmer. This is not me looking down from above on those looking for a job and passing judgement. This is me out there on the mean streets looking for a job.

I’ve had more than a few interviews in the past month and have more coming up. Only one of them though has required me to complete a “programming task”. I am ashamed to admit that yes, I took the test, I submitted my code for an asinine task so they could review it. I have no idea if it was because of my code, or the interview but they decided “to consider other candidates”.

That’s it for me. I will continue to look for a good job. I will continue to do contract work untl I find the right job But I will no longer “Draw Tippy“. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a Creative Commons version of the picture to include)

I am a developer with a public body of work. If you want to see how I solve real-world problems (and not something contrived with the fibonacci sequence) then check out my Github repo. There’s enough code there to give you a good idea of my skills.

More than just wasting hours of developers time though, as someone who has hired developers before I do not see the value in a coding test. Yes, I know Joel Spolsky uses them and he has hired a lot more developers than me. Still, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. I’ve hired developers before, I’ve built great teams, and never once have I had to resort to the crutch of a programming test.

A hiring manager should be able to complete the following tasks for any serious candidate.

  • Clone a repo
  • Read the code
  • Understand the problems being solved
  • Determine if the developer did a good job

If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be hiring developers, period. Also, if you personally can’t do these tasks, I’m probably a bad fit for your team.

So that’s it. As much as I want a job and want to work at a great company. I will not draw tippy for you. On the fence about me? Offer me a 30 day contract. (I used to do that as part of the hiring process I describe in “Nerd Herding”)

If you are still interested in hiring me, email me, find me on twitter, or irc. I’m all over the place. I’d love to help you build great software.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

4 thoughts on “I will not draw Tippy!

  1. Well said Cal. In your case, and with most “professional” developers this fits nicely since most active developers have a public code repository of some fashion. For those who do not have public code yet, get busy!

  2. I don’t think a hiring manager should be able to clone a repo and judge the code. Instead, I believe that there should always be a senior developer or architect involved in the hiring process. They know exactly what to look for in a candidate, and can often judge a developer even without seeing their code. And yes, I agree with the uselessness of coding exercises in the hiring process.

  3. @skoop,

    I’ve said for a long time that if you aren’t a developer, you have no business managing developers. By that logic, if you are a developer, you should be able to figure out the basics of clone, review, understand.

    Now, if you want to hand the task off to one of your Seniors, that’s perfectly acceptable. But i stand by the comment that you should be able to do it yourself.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)


  4. You’re right, if the sole purpose of the task was to see what you can achieve then your git repo would show more. We do tests when we hire, but it is because tests show more than the examples handed to us. Firstly it allows us to gauge speed. Beautiful code is desirable but not if it takes the candidate twice as long as another candidate took to write the same thing. It also proves that your code is yours. This is less of an issue as most people are honest, but it is a useful test when interviewing fresh graduates whose portfolio could be filled with items that peers and tutors have helped them with. The most useful thing for us (and hopefully your test was the same?) is that the candidate sits in our office with our developers and can therefore feel part of the team – we love the candidates that join in with our jokes and chats and the ones that take an interest in what others are doing. Plus it gives the candidate a chance to get to know us too – maybe they don’t like our work environment and decide we’re not for them. Next time you’re asked to draw Tippy, look for ways to make the most of the situation, and (as every developer can draw the same Tippy) find a way to stand out.

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