Testing Technical Mettle

Forging Techifiders

In contrast to the personal, gut feel that determines the initial interview with our CEO, the technical team have evolved over time (with experience and drawing on expert recruitment knowledge) a robust, structured process for assessing the technical aptitude of potential candidates.

Techifide is a diverse organisation, which recognises that all levels of skill are important for growth. A repetitive, boring task for one developer is a chance to learn something new independently for another. We have a strong emphasis on mentoring within the team – there’s something uniquely satisfying about seeing a colleague do well.

As you’d expect from an Agile-first operation, the whole recruitment process is managed on a Jira board. Once a future Techifider has made it through the first stage, they get a ticket on the “Nice Human” board (a term that applies equally for all genders) and an invitation to meet with two of our senior developers with solid interview skills.

After some informal ice-breakers, which aim to ease nerves and confirm that the “nice human” does indeed have the right sort of personality to enhance the team, they’ll move on to some more meaty questions. They’re a lot about what a person has done but even more about what they’d like to do – it’s to make sure that mutual expectations are aligned.

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They’ll want to hear about professional highlights but they don’t want a resume reading. It’s more about discovering which tools and abilities are privileged in a developer’s mindset – what they’re best at. And they’ll ask directly whether a candidate identifies themselves as a front- or back-end developer, or full-stack. The answer completely tailors the conversation that follows.

They’re particularly interested in how someone approaches working from home – this is a core principle at Techifide as there’s no physical office to structure people into. We work remotely and communicate digitally as well as we do in person, so it’s important that anyone joining the team is comfortable jumping into that environment. Experience working professionally with English-speaking teams would give a great head start on our English tutoring programme.

Technical questions will depend on the profile of the developer (front, back or full-stack) but these always explore the minutiae of the candidate’s knowledge and preferences about tools, techniques, approaches, paradigms, languages, design patterns, processes, frameworks, databases, etc. They’ll want to find at least some areas that the candidate admits to having limited experience with – or it’s often too good to be true!

Then there’s an exploration of attitude and past experiences around the wider role of a developer in Techifide: everyone does their own unity testing and QA nowadays and participates actively in Code Reviews. And it’s important to know how deeply immersed in Agile processes, ceremonies and tools they’ve been in the past – these are central to our model and every team member needs to work well in this way.

We’re looking for resilience and flexibility for our mobile squads. It’s a dynamic business that thrives on its agility and teamwork.

To leave a lasting impression, the final part of the interview is a Whiteboard. It’s an open invitation to showcase something that the developer is proud of, through any means they like. Sometimes it’s diagrams, sometimes it’s video, sometimes it’s a nightmare that’s been resolved with process changes.

After 30-40 minutes, the structured interview is normally complete and any questions answered. If the interviewers both agree, the “nice human” will be moved onto the testing board and invited by email to take a technical test, but only if they want to. The test itself has a strict 48 hr time constraint, so a start date and time is agreed around the candidate’s availability. Their productive use of the time will be considered, alongside the quality of the code and how this aligns with what was discussed in the interview.

The test tasks are clear but there’s plenty of scope for developers to choose their own technologies and approaches. Techifide demands attention to detail in code and has a set of specific standard practices all developers work to, for maintainability. But we don’t look for “shiny code” – little, simple, elegant solutions are often better and more testable, which is just as important to demonstrate.

We recognise how much time and effort can go into a technical interview so we always try to give feedback in return. Every experience can have potential for growth.

See if you’ve got potential as a Techifider…