How to Hire Junior Developers

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● September 21, 2022

When interviewing junior-level hires, there are a few must-have factors to look for in order to ensure you are hiring the best candidate. First, look for curiosity and genuine interest in the role and company; you want a candidate who is eager to learn and excited to work for your organization. Next, look for problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. A candidate who works well with others and asks good questions will have much more success in a junior developer role than those who do not. Finally, look for a candidate who is self-sufficient. While teamwork is important, so are independence and confidence. Along with these qualities, hiring managers should always look for attitude, aptitude, and ability in their candidates.

So, how can companies ensure they are hiring junior developers that possess those must-have factors? Below we outline some of the most common hiring practices as well as recommendations for ensuring you are hiring the best-fit candidates for a junior developer role:

Most Common Hiring Practices

Real-time Response

Real-time response is when a hiring panel or manager asks technical questions in real-time through a series of interviews. Whiteboard interviews fall into this category, which is when a candidate is given a problem to solve and must then explain their solution. This method tests a candidate's technical, problem-solving, and communication skills. Generally, the industry is moving away from this practice, as it is often an inaccurate measure of how the candidate will perform on the actual job. 

Timed Assessment

A timed assessment is typically a third-party assessment– like “Hacker Rank,” “Code Signal,” or “Coderpad” – that measures a candidate’s ability to solve problems in a timely and efficient manner. This hiring practice is helpful when hiring at scale and works well for a certain kind of candidate - those that are good test takers.  However, timed assessments can be seen as impersonal and can miss key candidate qualities. We see our graduates gravitate more to companies that provide a company-relevant experiential code assessment in their interview process as opposed to off-the-shelf assessments.

Code Review

Code review is when a candidate is given a real problem to solve in a defined period of time. It is most often a take-home assessment or paired programming exercise. This hiring practice allows for better alignment to the tasks required on the job while putting problem-solving skills on display and developing relationships amongst candidates. We appreciate this interview method as we feel it’s most aligned with the reality of what a junior candidate will do on the job once hired and provides them with a personalized experience to get to know their future manager, team, and company.

Our Recommendation

When comparing the three aforementioned hiring practices, the efficiency of code reviews shines above real-time responses and timed assessments. While code reviews are proven to provide the most accurate representation of a candidate's ability, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. 

First, use practical business problems for your example to ensure this process is as closely aligned with day-to-day duties as possible. As such, ensure an existing junior developer on the team can solve this problem in an hour or so. Next, allow candidates to solve the problem using a coding language of their choice and provide access to an API, if relevant, for their code sample. Consider pair programming through part of the given problem, and give candidates an opportunity to show their management skills. For example, provide candidates with three sample tickets to solve and have them explain the order in which they solved them. This can demonstrate their ability to analyze the code’s design, functionality, and consistency.

If you successfully implement the previously mentioned practices, you will be giving your candidates the best chance to highlight their skills and abilities. If you have any questions related to developing an effective and efficient interview process like code reviews, reach out to our team at Momentum today. We are ready to help you master how to hire junior developers.