Things Dev Bootcamp Graduates Need To Know When Interviewing

What Now?

So you just graduated from a dev bootcamp, and you're ready to take on the world. Your enthusiasm is one of your greatest assets. You spent most likely thousands of dollars, and weren't working on anything else for 10-12 weeks. Now it's time to find work. What will make you stand out from the rest?

Some people are passionate about making web apps, but not so passionate about making great code

Reality Check

You most likely didn't have a huge programming background before you started so it's been fast and furious. What are the fundamentals that people want to see?

I spoke with Chris Power, the lead developer at Gameface Media who recently hired a graduate from Launch Academy. I asked him what concerns (if any) he had about hiring a dev bootcamp graduate.

"Obviously they were going to be very junior and sometimes, you just don't know what to expect when hiring that level of experience. You don't know how long it will take them to pick up on new concepts or how productive they'll be."

Glenn Ericksen, CTO and Co-Founder of Faithstreet wants to ensure junior devs understand core concepts. "What goes where in MVC, basic CRUD, and freedom from scaffolding" make the checklist for graduates he interviews. Be sure to have these things nailed down before you email jobs@faithstreet.com.

I like the hunger and the want to write lots and lots of code and build awesome things candidate over the one who is only looking for a job to pay the bills.

Attitude

For Chris, one factor in the decision was attitude. "He had a great attitude right off the bat. I knew regardless of his work experience that he would be enjoyable to work with and be a hard worker."

Glenn adds "I want to know that you're still teachable. I like the hunger; the want to write lots and lots of code and build awesome things candidate over the one who is only looking for a job to pay the bills."

For many startups, having a solid culture fit is just as important as having the chops (or ability to learn) to excel at the job. The smaller the team, the more important each hiring decision becomes.

Technical Evaluation

Without TDD, you never get to work on the interesting and complex problems

By going through a programming exercise of designing a game of Battleship, Chris was opening the door for the developer to demonstrate knowledge of different data structure, OO concepts, and overall problem solving.

"He displayed a good knowledge on all of these things. He understood MVC, OO, and basic good practices in Rails (migrations, TDD etc)", Chris stated.

When I asked Chris how important TDD was to him when interviewing, he was very clear.

"Extremely."

Glenn takes a pragmatic approach when considering TDD as a technical requirement. "If a foundation of TDD is writing tests for the code you wish you had, the hard part for newcomers is not always knowing what that is." He continues, "that said, I wouldn't expect a deer-in-headlights response when I ask to see the tests for a feature or bugfix."

The reality is clear though. "Without TDD, you never get to work on the interesting and complex problems."

Career Day

Dev bootcamps normally have a career day where startups can come to look over the freshly-minted talent. They can show off their work and hopefully get a job. One thing Chris found important was that people were passionate about the code they wrote.

"I asked the same question to each person. What piece of code did you look back on and think 'wow, I made that. That's awesome.' Unfortunately for some, they didn't have an answer because they weren't prepared. I had to look over those candidates."

It became clear through more discussion that the answer is a little more nuanced.

"Some people are passionate about making web apps", Chris continued, "but not so passionate about making great code.

When going for your first job as a developer, you'll be quizzed to determine your aptitude. In the end though, hiring managers aren't trying to find senior level quality at a career day.

They're looking for someone who they can work with, who will grow with the company, and perhaps most importantly, someone who cares about great code.