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Not sure if this is right place but I wanted to see if anyone has tried this. I have a small company with a couple of developers who do full-stack (Rails, Javascript, some iOS). I'd like to hire a full-time dev to just do Javascript but we obviously want to hire someone with deep knowledge. I have found hiring that person to be non-trivial - some people are familiar with Backbone, Angular etc... but when you start getting into things like bind'ing, closures, implementing design patterns, the ins and outs of functions etc... we really haven't found that person (there was one person but wanted too much money - well into 6 figures). This person would have to know significantly more about Javascript than any of us.

Is it a reasonable strategy to ask them to be prepared to disucss a chapter in an advanced Javascript book like John Resig's recent book? How about this via a phone interview? Anybody have experience doing that for tips? Or is there a better way to weed this out?

  • Some JavaScript tests on codility.com, or is that simpler than you were looking for as a weeding technique? – StackExchange What The Heck Jan 30 '14 at 21:29
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    Also, when you say six figure salary, what country? that makes a heck of a lot of a difference, depending on currency... – StackExchange What The Heck Jan 30 '14 at 21:33
  • US - to be honest 6 figs for a dev only doing Javascript at a startup is pretty good. I'll look into codility but I think I'd prefer a book because you tend to get more thought-through examples and also (esp in dev community) they become canonical examples (like see ch6 in Resig book) – timpone Jan 30 '14 at 21:50
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    ****comments removed****: Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please use The Workplace Chat. On Workplace SE, comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details. – jmort253 Jan 31 '14 at 4:06
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Some things to consider about the reading idea:

  1. The book or reading material needs to be freely available, or else you need to have licensed permission to distribute it. If it costs money to acquire it, that seems like an unfair cost to make a candidate bear.

  2. The parts of the material that stick out to you may not stick out to the reader who is coming at it not knowing about your business priorities. Be sensitive to the possibility that the way they take away knowledge from the reading might be quite different than your assumptions that went into thinking about the interview questions.

  3. Would you be willing to do the same thing for the candidate? When I look for a new job, I always ask if hiring managers are willing to read selections from Peopleware and/or from Moral Mazes, and then to discuss how their company has made effort to avoid the common misconceptions and incorrect budget-related excuses about open floor plans, marketing politics, etc. If the candidate asked you to read a selection from her or his favorite book on project management or best practices, and then prepared questions to suss out whether your company was really a good place to work, how would you feel? Would that prospect or suggestion upset you? Would you agree to do it? I don't think you should ask a candidate to submit to any sort of evaluation that you would not agree to submit to if the roles were reversed.

  4. Otherwise, this sounds fine. You're the one hiring... if you think that someone's take-away knowledge from selected readings is the signal you need to know if they are good, then it should be fine to try to acquire that.

Lastly: to get that kind of specific developer (highly experienced in all facets of Javascript as well as software architecture principles) a high 6-figure salary is absolutely appropriate. You may want to call that one person back and reconsider. You are looking for a very hotly demanded skill set at the moment -- in my own company, several managers had to eat a little bit of humble pie as a similar data visualization engineer was hired whose immediate starting salary was higher than both of his bosses who have been here a long time. That's just the market for that area. You won't get around it.

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    [+1] for making prospective employees read stuff. How do you pull that off? – rath Jan 30 '14 at 19:57
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    thx, EMS - yeah, we'd obviously pay for the book. Would I read something they recommended? Absolutely but I'd prob say up to 10-15 pages (although I think that would be risky for them). If longer, I'd ask them to write a sufficient summary (come to think of it, I like that idea) :-) – timpone Jan 30 '14 at 21:44
  • re point #2 - mostly the goal is two-fold. (1) You understand advanced concepts at a deep level (2) When told to do something, you do it well. – timpone Jan 30 '14 at 21:53
  • +1 for the idea of paying for a book, if a candidate appears serious. Even if he doesn't join you, you'll still leave a lasting impression on his bookshelf. – MSalters Jan 31 '14 at 15:49
  • Another consideration: logistics and timing. What if the candidate can't get a copy of the book (out of stock, delivery/location issues, etc.)? How much lead time for the candidate to get the book, read the material and prepare him/herself to discuss it intelligently? – alroc Jan 31 '14 at 17:49

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