"Re: Tools for screening new Java developers
Yes, but this opens up the bigger question, doesn't it? Where technology stands in the post-bubble world.
I've seen people without degrees who could write incredible algorithms and could quote Knuth by heart. Then I've also known Computer Science degreed graduates who barely grasped programming at all. Add to this the technical schools and the "Information Technology" degree that has made it's appearance in colleges of late, and you have a horrible bloated landscape for skilled professionals.
Continuing this problem is the fact that those who enter technology are not exposed to peer-reviewed journals and a strict respect for the scientific process and experimentation to further the science, but to press release junk and market driven but vaporous software ideas that have little benefit to computer science. Software developers are more likely to Google for ideas than to search EBSCO Host. Is there really computer science anymore? Or is it all just a hacking flaming sub-culture?
I think this breeds the signifigant lack of creativity and innovation we've seen in technology in the last few years, as we have a glut of people who got in to technology because of the money and not because of the love of the science. I certainly believe that a big driver of open source development is the absolute failure of companies to manage technology professionals and their creativity. When talented people give away their work for free just to see it breathe, you know an industry is in trouble.
Add to this the fact that many IT programming jobs are, let's face it, simply to wrap a database in Java and be done with it, and you have a situation where even people who love the science may quickly become bored with it and move on to something more fulfilling.
Knowing this, seeing a sea of mediocre developers come through your door can't be that surprising. The question is: does McDonaldizing the interview process further this mediocrity or protect you against it? I suggest it furthers it.
This is a company issue that one person can't solve, but in evaluating the hiring process you have to be careful the image you generate towards the candidates as well. Those companies that treat developers as professionals tend to create an atmosphere that automatically repels the least among the group.
How many mediocre candidates do you think Google or Microsoft or Apple or Accenture gets? In contrast, how many do you think your general staff-augmenting quick-in/quick-out consulting firm gets? This can also manifest itself on a local city-wide scale, not just a national scale.
In other words, you should be compiling a list of questions to submit to your CIO, not to your candidates :-)"