A few months ago, I decided I’d had enough of my 19-year-old CTO-of-a-boss chewing me out for not adding enough line breaks in my code, and for not being “verbooose” enough (rhymed with “caboose” the way he said it) in my commit descriptions. Yeah. So I embarked on the only other thing worse than working for a 19-year-old spoiled twat — job hunting.
(I’m happy to report that my job hunt has just ended successfully — yay! But that’s not the point of this post.)
As a programmer I’m very lucky — my skills are in high demand, and nowadays companies are practically falling over themselves to hire good programmers — luring top talent with more pay, flexible schedules, working remote, and all kinds of other perks. It’s a good time to be in the industry — it’s an employee’s market right now.
Of course, there are also plenty of unqualified, bad programmers out there trying to sneak their way into these high-paying, in-demand jobs — because who wouldn’t want to be highly paid and in demand? So, companies are rightfully being skeptical and using various means of testing and vetting candidates to make sure they really know which end of the power cord goes into the computer.
And then there are companies that go too far. On Stack Overflow Careers I noticed a job posting for a “Remote PHP Web Developer“. It looked like a pretty typical junior-level position and so I was about to click away, when I noticed this in the list of requirements:
Write and deploy a small web application (preferably in Yii) to store a list of persons, containing the following fields: firstname, lastname, date of birth and zip-code. We’re looking for basic CRUD functionality. Any bells and whistles are welcome. Send the link to the deployed web-app and the source code. Your application will not be considered without this.
It’s not unusual to have to do a test project of some sort for a programming job — in fact, I spent a lot of time on one for the job I just landed. But it should be the last step in the process. Seriously, who’s going to spend several hours on a project like that for a company you may not even like?
Usually the hiring process begins with an INTERVIEW of some kind, even if only a brief chat over Skype. It’s like a first date — you wouldn’t take someone you’ve just met to see the entire Der Ring des Nibelungen (well, hopefully you wouldn’t). More likely you’d meet up at a small coffee place. Why? Because you want to get to know the person a little first.
It’s the same with a job. It’s very important to find people you like (er, at least, don’t hate) since you’ll likely be dealing with them every day if you get the job. That’s equally true for both the employer and the employee.
Requiring a test project before even applying is like insisting your date bring an engagement ring to the first date, just in case. Maybe one of the giants like Google could get away with something like that, since everyone wants to work for Google. But who has that kind of time to invest in a no-name company from Texas, paying a very junior salary to begin with?
I would love to know how many applications they actually get for this stupid job…