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How to choose a candidate

The options have been narrowed down; now it's time to choose the best person for the job. 

Team Gun.io

Jan 6, 2022 5:22:28 PM

At Gun.io, our mission is to create the world’s best staffing experience. For professionals, this means that we engage them, understand their motivations, and match them to exceptional opportunities. To be able to do that, our Developer Relations team is not just highly-skilled professionals – they're senior developers. 

Our Technical Talent Advocates are members of the platform who help us select candidates, provide feedback, and talk to our community. Because who better to engage, understand, and match developers than developers themselves?

We asked them for a roundup of their best advice for hirers who are struggling with choosing the best candidate for a role. Here's what they had to say.

 

General cognitive ability is one of the biggest determinants in how well a candidate will perform in a position.


While methods will vary across different work types, Ben, a member of our Gun.io team, created this chart based on the information found in a study titled “The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology.” It sounds like a mouthful but boils down to some easy-to-understand principles outlined in this chart. General cognitive ability is one of the biggest determinants in how well a candidate will perform in a position. This is boosted when paired with work sample tests, something common to the software world. The other predictor of a great candidate is how well they answer questions in a structured interview, which is one where all candidates are given an identical set of questions, as opposed to an unstructured one, where questions may be tailored to the interviewee or used to determine cultural fit over job fit.

Candidate Selection Methods


Accomplishments are a big plus, including years of experience, publications, patents, and other contributions, like open source.


How I select candidates:
First, I start with those who apply. This is common sense. From there, I match a client’s minimum qualifications: location, freelance vs contract, and must-have skills. Unless specified, generalists are best, and salary, if unmatched, is a secondary consideration based on supply, demand, and candidate flexibility.  

Once I have a pre-filtered set, I then filter out candidates on success signals that meet a client’s criteria, as well as notes from the interviewer and ones I’ve written myself. This includes good communication, adaptability, availability, working style/preference, teamwork. Accomplishments are a big plus, including years of experience, publications, patents, and other contributions, like open source. Once I have a potential candidate, I reach out to gauge her/his interests. If still interested, I then present to clients, while at the same time trying to learn what’s on their mind, interests and build rapport and trust for future engagements.

- Carl Garcia


When interviewing, can a candidate speak to their experience shipping production code?

One thing that helps to distinguish between good candidates on paper is demonstrated experience. Can you see examples of their work? Do they contribute to open-source software? Are there apps they’ve shipped you can try out on the web or in an app store? When interviewing, can a candidate speak to their experience shipping production code?

What mistakes have they made and what did they learn from it? Have they demonstrated responsibility equivalent to what you need for this job? Every experienced developer has “war stories”. A sign of maturity is being able to speak about that concretely to explain what they learned from it and what they plan to do differently next time.

- Christian Smith

For non-technical people that are trying to interview technical people, I give the same advice every time: hire someone technical to do the interview.


When I select candidates:

  1. Do they meet the primary qualifications? 
  2. Do they have any of the secondary qualifications?
  3. Are they in the right geographical location? If not, is this a deal-breaker? It depends on the quality of the other candidates available.
  4. Do they have a history of being a bad actor? Have they received praise? Look for clues to determine whether the candidate will succeed; it’s highly subjective.
  5. Do they have supplemental materials that show how they present themselves, like a video?

For non-technical people that are trying to interview technical people, I give the same advice every time: hire someone technical to do the interview. That’s where Gun.io comes in. We DO the technical for our clients. By the time the candidate gets to the client, the client should have confidence that technically, they can do the job. At that point, the real question is “Can I work with them?” That is something we at Gun.io cannot help with, they are on their own on that one. :)

- Cal Evans

These methods are great when choosing candidates for interviews with Gun.io, but much of the information is applicable no matter what stage in the process you find yourself – from first-time interviewer to seasoned hiring vet. If you want our expertise in the mix, check out how Gun.io can help you find and hire the technical talent that will set you up for success!

Interested in working with Gun.io? We specialize in helping engineers hire (and get hired by) the best minds in software development. 

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Team Gun.io

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