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Are We Not Testing Enough?

By Steve Jones,

Recently I wrote an editorial on FizzBuzz tests, which generated quite a debate on the performance aspect of the test. My intention was to talk about minimum bar tests, finding the lowest level of programmer you were willing to accept, but it turned into a performance contest with people trying to figure out and post the fastest, and most efficient answer.

In the discussion for my editorial, Jeff Moden mentioned that when you interview for a job, you ought to write production code. You ought to write the best solution you can, and not just a simple loop. Even if it's a low bar test, you ought to treat it as a contest to produce the best code you can. I think I agree with that, but it makes me wonder.

Are we not setting the bars high enough? Should we forgo hiring people that aren't qualified enough and in fact look to force people to be excellent developers before we hire them?  I know that many companies need to get work done, but is it worth the sacrifice? For this Friday, I wanted to ask this question:

Do we need to test software developers more and set the bar higher for their skill levels?

By this do I mean that in looking to hire people that write code, should we actually spend more time assessing their skill at writing code? Should we actually give them more problems to solve and see how they write code in an interview? Or perhaps require them to solve some problem over a couple days?

I honestly don't know if this is the thing to do. There is a whole spectrum of people out there that need jobs, there are dangers in hiring stars, and it's not practical for every company to do this. Some can make it work, but the majority of us need to work with a large spread of talent levels.

I know there are definitely logistical issues, but is it something you'd like to see in your company? Or something you'd like to go throw and actually have to write solid, strong, production quality code? Let us know this Friday.

Steve Jones

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