Hiring Programmers: Skills, Roles and Duties to Look For

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Computer programmers are an increasingly common position offered within many types of organizations and industries. These professionals write code, develop and implement software programs and assist in various other tasks related to the technology and software used in the modern workplace. When hiring a computer programmer, there are several important skills you should look for to ensure your new hire is as effective and productive as possible. When interviewing potential programmers for your company, it’s helpful to know about the important computer programming skills to seek out in a candidate, practices that hiring managers can follow to choose the best candidates and other important information related to finding and hiring the best computer programmer for your company.


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Right from the start: fundamental programming skills to look for

When interviewing candidates to fill a computer programmer role, the following are the fundamental programming skills you should look for:


  • Analytical skills
  • Computer language skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Communication skills
  • Business sense

Analytical skills

A primary duty of computer programmers is to be able to decipher and analyze complex information and data and translate this into computer code and software that others will use. For example, computer programmers often must understand computer algorithms and use this information to program computer data. Additional analytical skills a programmer may need include research abilities, data mining, data interpreting and diagnostics.


Computer language skills

Computer programmers must fully understand the complex computer programming languages used in their everyday activities to be successful. The following are the most common and in-demand computer languages to look for when interviewing potential computer programmer candidates:

  • Java
  • SQL
  • C++
  • Python
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • iOS
  • Ruby

You should have a firm understanding the computer languages your company relies on to ensure you hire a computer programmer who’s thoroughly familiar with the right coding languages.


Troubleshooting skills

Effective computer programs are able to systematically approach problems in a way that allows them to identify and solve them in a successful and logical manner. Determining the root cause of computer-related problems and implementing solutions that fix them is a primary role of computer programming. There are several programs that can be used for troubleshooting, so making sure potential candidates are familiar with these can help you get an idea of their troubleshooting abilities.


Communication skills

Computer programmers are technological experts who work in a language that most people don’t understand. A good computer programmer can take complicated information and data and communicate it in a way that non-experts can easily interpret. Good communication skills ensure that computer programmers are not only able to communicate with each other but also the company and stakeholders who play a role in a project.


Business sense

A good computer programmer can see beyond the code they are developing to the bigger picture of how the program they are working on will affect their company or client as a whole. Having good business sense allows computer programmers to think past simple code and take into account factors that can contribute to the value of the project.


Related: How to Find Good Employees


Best practices for hiring managers

Follow these steps when interviewing and hiring computer programmers:


  1. Ask for detailed information about an applicant’s previous computer programming experience: When interviewing a candidate, be sure to ask for details regarding their previous programming experience. These details should include specific duties, tasks, accomplishments and computer languages they regularly used.

  3. Request work samples if applicable: If a computer programmer has previous experience in the field, there’s a good chance they have a sample of work they have coded in the past. This sample will give you a better understanding of their abilities and skill level.

  5. Ask specific computer programming questions: Even if you don’t personally have experience or knowledge of computer programming, you can still ask specific questions related to the job. You can gauge the candidate’s understanding of the question by how confidently and quickly they provide an answer. If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions you don’t know the answers to, consider having a currently employed computer programmer sit in on the interview and provide insight on their analysis of the candidate’s answers.

Related: How to Hire Employees: A Step-by-Step Guide


The least you should know about hiring programmers

As a hiring manager, you may not know every detail that goes into being a computer programmer, especially if you are not in that profession. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t hire a high-quality computer programmer who’s dedicated to the job. Understanding the basic responsibilities that computer programmers have and gauging this knowledge against your interviewee’s skill set and knowledge can assist in the hiring process.


Common duties of a computer programmer include:


  • Updating computer programs
  • Troubleshooting software and computer programs
  • Coding computer programs
  • Managing computer database systems
  • Assessing and analyze algorithms
  • Writing programs using various computer languages
  • Debugging software
  • Working with other programmers on new coding projects

FAQs about hiring programmers

Here are some frequently asked questions related to hiring computer programmers:


Should the computer programmer I hire have a degree?

Most computer programmers hold at least an undergraduate degree in computer programming, computer science or a similar field. However, there are many computer programmers who are self-taught and are just as effective computer professionals as those who received a college degree. Who you hire will ultimately depend on which candidate is the most qualified and who meets the criteria for the position you are looking to fill.


What are common interview questions to ask candidates for a computer programming position?

The following are a few good questions to incorporate into your interview when looking to fill a computer programming job:


  • What programming languages are proficient in?
  • How do you keep up to date on current trends in the computer programming industry?
  • Which software development process do you prefer to use?
  • What is a recent programming project you worked on?
  • How much hands-on experience do you have as a programmer?
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