Stephan Schmidt

Let New Hires Write A Todo App

How do you find out if a new hire is any good?

You’re hiring a new developer. Of course, you check out the person if they can code during the interview process. Why wouldn’t you? You’d also ask a cook to cook when you would hire a cook. Too many hiring managers don’t do this, and from my experience, up to 50% of candidates can’t write code. But you do check, good.

The developer can code, at least. But can they get things done? Was it a good hire? The developer starts, and after a month you want to find out if the hire was good. You ask around but no none can give you a definitive answer. You’ve watched some dailys, but it’s difficult to find out if the tasks they struggled with were difficult or easy. The candidate doesn’t obviously shine, and didn’t make grave mistakes, people tell you. How to determine their performance? If you don’t find out, you might have that developer on your team for years. Now is the best time to check, but as soon as they start, they are part of a team, and it is hard to determine their individual performance—distinguish it from the performance of the other team members. So how do you find out?


You let the developer write a todo app for the first weeks. No really.

The todo app is simple and everyone should be able to write one. They can show they are creative. Or innovative. And that they get things done. And the code quality is fine. And the abstraction level. And the architecture. And they ask questions at the right time when they are stuck, not too early and not too late.

The todo app is written with your companies’ technologies, Django, and React. It is deployed to the cloud with your pipeline and quality tools in place. With Kubernetes. It uses your Git repo. So it doubles as onboarding to your tech stack.

See how good the person really is—push them—with no interference from other developers, no way to duck and hide in the crowd. You can see how innovative they are, how often they ask, and if they are smart and get things done.

After a month, you can easily determine the performance of that new developer.

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