A few years ago, a phenomenon began to take hold. Someone, probably not a developer, thought there needed to be a way to discern if another developer had the chops to fill a developer role. So the Code Test was invented. It’s seen many flavors, from the white board sorting tree, to fizzbuzz, to code katas, to actually working on the product. We can get into the nuance of whether companies pay for this work or if they force one to do it in front of an audience - but none of that is really the point.
The point is, the code test is flawed at best, but pointless in reality.
Let’s talk about a new phenomenon and why it’s actually even worse. The DevRel test.
First, let me be clear. I’m a great test taker. I was one of those nerdy kids who loved taking tests. But that was in the old days, when I didn’t have a CV or a resumé and I needed to prove what I had done and what I had learned.
Fast forward to today. Most people who have been in the DevRel field for more than 5 minutes have some sort of portfolio, an online presence, a body of work. This might just be a bunch of links to blog posts they’ve written or a list of videos from a couple conference talks - even a bunch of social media posts they’ve used to work with different communities.
Let’s eschew for a moment the fact that most interviewing companies are functioning on the belief that you need them more than they need you. This is a misconception for most sections of the technology field. Most organizations need someone to fill a role. This is extremely true in the world of DevRel as there are many fewer qualified individuals than there are open positions.
Misconceptions like this often lead to finding ways to vet potential candidates in ways that don’t make sense. When it comes to developers, a test is given. Often unpaid you are expected to perform the task set before you either on your time or while being overseen by people of varying technical backgrounds. This is your opportunity to show how clever you are.
Again, you came in with a resumé or a CV. That should be good enough. Most management jobs do not require some kind of test. Most HR and recruiter roles do not require a test. C-level jobs do not require a test. All these are landed just based on the paper and the interview. They don’t even have a Github history or list of relevant languages coded in.
So let’s swing this back to DevRel. Even more than a developer, there is a clear paper trail on what a DevRel practitioner has done. Where is the value of a test? A practice presentation? A test blog post?
Part of this is the Dev part of DevRel. Even though it has been proven again and again and again these things have no value, the developer world has bequeathed this to the DevRel candidates of the world.
Well…no thank you.
If an organization can’t piece it together from LinkedIn and a quick search, maybe it’s time to realize they aren’t a company advanced enough to work for. Sure, a candidate should be expected to prove their value - but tests aren’t the way to do it. Not anymore than a multi-level interviewing structure.
End the DevRel candidate test. End the Developer candidate test. It’s hurting everyone and wastes everyone’s time.