5. Don't let HR be a barrier
We've all seen those ads for software development jobs that ask for seemingly impossible qualifications: "The candidate must have 15 years' professional experience in Microsoft .Net." Software development is a highly technical field, and positions often have complex requirements. Because of this, HR professionals can sometimes do a poor job of screening applications for programming positions -- for example, vetting candidates based on an alphabet soup of acronyms rather than their actual level of experience.
Even worse, many HR departments are now using automated systems as the first phase of the hiring process. Before they can submit a résumé, candidates are asked to answer a series of questions on an online form; for example, "How many years of experience do you have with .Net?" Answers that don't fit the predefined profile for a position can effectively blackball a candidate.
These kind of pass-or-fail quizzes are the worst kind of interview exams, and they should be discouraged. Instead, managers responsible for hiring developers should accept that they will need to take a more hands-on role in screening applicants, as time-consuming as that can be.
6. Employment is a two-way street
Finally, always remember that the goal of interviewing is to staff a position, not to put applicants through the wringer for testing's own sake. Candidates arriving for their first on-site interviews will have as many questions about your company as you have about them. The interview process should feel like a dialog, not a trial. Don't make it so one-sided and adversarial that it turns candidates off to working for you. Remember, if they have enough skill and experience to make them attractive to you, chances are your company isn't their only option.
This article, "Tough tests flunk good programmer job candidates," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Neil McAllister's Fatal Exception blog and follow the latest news in programming at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.