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My question is to all those people who have done this in the past in their interviews OR to the people who has interviewed people and asked them question about their contribution to the community via Stack Overflow.

I have always wondered in these practical tests that employers take in interviewing process, it is very difficult to know someone’s actual worth. Whereas, if you get on someone’s Stack Overflow profile, within few minutes you will have a very good understanding of the level of knowledge that the person has, yet a lot of employers will not even bother asking such questions.

For instance, in my own company’s case when I suggested to my operational manager to ask people questions about their participation on online IT communities he didn’t seem very convinced. And from time to time we end up hiring people who did very good in their practical tests during the interviewing process but yet miserably failed to keep up with the company’s SLA.

Please share your thoughts. And please do mention if any of you has any such checks in place for your recruiting process. Or if you provided your Stack Overflow profile to your potential employer which helped you in the process of getting a job.

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Within a few minutes? Maybe if you only look at the numbers, which is a terrible thing to do. –  animuson Oct 19 '13 at 23:58
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Not numbers but you can go into the answers they have given to the questions, you can also have look at the type/level of questions they have asked, it tells you a lot about a person's level of knowledge doesnt it?? –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:01
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You probably shouldn't be using SO to determine level of expertise, but looking at the tags they frequent is probably a fair indicator of whether they have working knowledge of a language. –  Asad Oct 20 '13 at 0:04
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fair point but have you or do you know anyone who has mentioned their some sort of online blog/website profile and it worked in their favour ?? –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:08
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@MuhammedAli I did put SO profile and my blog on my CV last application, dunno if it helped, but at least I got the job ;) –  nijansen Oct 20 '13 at 0:19
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Yes. I mentioned it in my CV. :) –  U2744 SNOWFLAKE Oct 20 '13 at 0:19
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very well said Robert my question was also for those people who has actually used their online profiles to get a job, how they make it work? was the potential employer impressed ? Has it really worked for anyone ? All these questions as open to everyone employers employees :) –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:19
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and how did it go minitech ? Did they comment on your profile ? do you believe it helped you in anyway ? –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:27
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They didn’t comment on my profile or visit it, but I had precious little else to show, so I think it did help :) –  U2744 SNOWFLAKE Oct 20 '13 at 0:28
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I remember when I was looking for my 1st IT job I went to almost 10 interviews and if I am not mistaken only one employer asked me a question related to my online presence. Normally on an interviewing panel its one IT guy and one HR person. I remember when that IT guy asked me a question about my online presence or my online contribution the HR person soon followed with another question not even allowing me enough time to answer the 1st question as if he was not interested :) –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:34
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So someone who likes to search instead of asking questions and doesn't have time to answer questions must be a very bad programmer. And someone who's addicted to SO and spends whole his (work)day here, must be a really good one. Yeah makes a lot of sense... –  Michael Oct 20 '13 at 2:13
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For a rookie fresh out of college, and with no internships under my belt, mentioning Stack Overflow on my resume at least got a few people looking my way. I'm quite happy about that. –  Makoto Oct 20 '13 at 3:48
    
Let's look at it also from a different perspective: there are a couple of SO users who have very low rep (currently in the 100-200 range) who are brilliant, if not exceptional, programmers (I know them from other mailing lists/forums). If they were judged by their SO curriculum they won't get the job (and the firm would lose a huge bargain!). –  Lorenzo Donati Oct 22 '13 at 22:30
    
There is a question actually devoted to this on The Workplace: > # workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/308/… Feel free to read through. –  jmac Oct 23 '13 at 1:20

6 Answers 6

up vote 22 down vote accepted

I'll offer a personal experience.

I was invited to interview for a job through my Careers 2.0 profile, which prominently mentions my Stack Overflow contributions, and was hired 5 months ago. They clearly knew of my contributions, referencing some of my posts, in the interviews.

And I am not the only one. I sit across from someone in the overall top 30 on Stack Overflow, again found through Careers 2.0 and his contributions.

Clearly, some tech companies do use Stack Overflow as a tool to find and assess potential candidates.

The company is still hiring; we need QA people, especially, at the moment. If you feel you qualify and are willing to relocate to Cambridge, UK or Cupertino, CA, USA, search for jobs in that area on Careers 2.0. I'll leave out the company page link to not unfairly advertise; if you are motivated enough you'll find us anyway.

If you do get an interview, feel free to mention me!

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"Martijn promised me a job at your company." –  animuson Oct 20 '13 at 0:44
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Thank you very much for reply and sharing your personal experience, and also thank you for the information about the vacancies in your company, actually I am not looking for a job but in near future we will be hiring a person and I was discussing it with my ops manager how to go about the hiring process, and when I mentioned it to him that we should ask potential employees about their online contribution he didnt seem very convinced about this idea, I just wanted to know how what IT professionals think about this idea :) after listening to all you guys I clearly have a CASE :) –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:49
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and martin down in south its to expensive, that's what I have heard and some of my friends from south claims half of their wages go towards house rent :) One of many reasons why I love my BOLTON :) –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 0:54
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oooooo so you dont consider north a part of UK, I live in north of Manchester which is also part of "UK" :) –  M.Ali Oct 20 '13 at 10:14
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Ah, sorry. I'm not native to the UK and didn't recognize Bolton as a UK place name; I thought you meant you live in the US and found the Bay Area too expensive. –  Martijn Pieters Oct 20 '13 at 10:17
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I married a Scot, so I know all too well what comprises the north of the UK otherwise. :-P –  Martijn Pieters Oct 20 '13 at 10:18

I'll answer as someone that was in the position of hiring programmers.

I looked at general participation in online communities, Stack Overflow just happens to lend itself very well to seeing how well you communicate at a glance. Since I was a moderator for so long, I'd go incognito and look at a profile.

I didn't interpret reputation as a measure of your skill, I interpreted it as a measure of how well you conveyed your knowledge, or asked for knowledge from your peers. To that effect, this particular tab becomes a gold mine to any recruiter or hiring manager worth their salt.

Using that tab, I can readily see:

  • How nice / helpful you tend to be
  • How inclined you might be to maintain things you wrote in the past, voluntarily
  • What you've been doing recently, since that might be obscured by overwhelming participation in other tags

You might have 100k rep, but if you're a total snark in your interactions, I'm very likely to pass over you in favor of someone less skilled with a better ability to learn and not be feared or broadly avoided by the rest of the team. I don't need someone actively making fun of people that know less than they do.

On the other side, Stack Overflow led me to a few really good positions - my participation was enough to put me ahead of equally qualified candidates. Oddly enough, this alternate universe was what played an integral role in obtaining my latest gig :)

Long story short - positive participation nearly anywhere that can be seen at a glance is very likely going to help you get hired. Stack Overflow is a well known community, and we make it very easy for employers to research candidates that include links to their profile. However, high rep != hire - long term positive participation that strongly evidences your desire to share and teach does.

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So meta does not necessarily mean murder? –  Lix Oct 22 '13 at 11:27
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I didn't mention that I'm undead. –  Tim Post Oct 22 '13 at 11:47

It will sound lame and self-referential, but it's also very true.

At Stack Exchange we do so all the time. Among all the factors we do consider:

  • Your reputation points on the site
  • Your contributions, like your answers
  • etc.

In fact, we believe so strongly that good candidates have a solid reputation of getting things done and that high-reputation point users are likely to be good candidates that we built a whole careers site dedicated to this.

You can see my profile at http://careers.stackoverflow.com/sklivvz. We actively encourage showing off your Stack Overflow reputation points.

On the other hand, there are very many famous examples of awesome companies that use our reputation points-based profiles to recruit top developers, for example Facebook, Skype, Tumblr, Amazon, Moo, Coursera, etc.

I am personally convinced that reviewing the whole Internet presence, including Stack Overflow reputation points, is fundamental to finding valid candidates.

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My biggest motivation to contribute on Stack Overflow was the opportunity that I can show my profile in my CV. I've seen job advertisements where they expressly said "show us your GitHub or Stack Overflow profile if you got one".

I can totaly understand this behaviour, because you can check how professional somebody is. You can see which areas or technologies are the strengths or the interests of that person by looking at his questions or answers on Stack Overflow.

Also, you can check if somebody is able to use version control systems and has the ability to work collaboratively in large projects with other people, by checking his GitHub account.

Also in countries where English is not the native language, this is a great way to check if somebody is being able to read and write properly in English, and knows not just the basics of the language but also the technical expressions.

Companies always try to find out what kind of people they are going to hire. That's the reason they are checking their Facebook or other social media pages. Accordingly they should look at their other accounts where they can check their skills too.

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SO is one forum, there are others such as internal corporate message boards and vendor support forums (like Microsoft ). But for open source technologies there's really nothing as good as this forum –  exabyte Oct 23 '13 at 5:05
    
@Qantas 94 Heavy Yes it is. –  exabyte Oct 23 '13 at 11:56
    
@exabyte: Debatable: Is Stack Overflow a forum? –  Qantas 94 Heavy Oct 23 '13 at 11:59

All the other answers are focused on SO, here's a ServerFault example:

I took some time off (actually, a lot) between my last job and the one I started earlier this year. When I applied and was interviewed for the job, I mentioned and we discussed my participation on SF. I don't know that they checked out my activity in any detail, but they did mention that it was one factor they took into account.

One other benefit of participating on SO/SF/whatever is that by being active in the community and getting to "know" other people who are active, even if you have a question that doesn't fit the SE model, you know who to ask in Chat, whose blog to check, etc.

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I wanted to add that quite apart from whether or not to include it on the CV, is the notion of making REAL SURE your headhunter knows about it. Headhunters and agents are quite happy to tout anything they think will help sell you, such as a presence on SO.

I had one headhunter who was so bedazzled with my 250 rep that he was seriously introducing me as 'the best c# developer in the world'. That was a bit over-the-top but you can get the idea.

And once in an interview, the prospective employer asked me: 'Can you tell me what a ListCollectionView is?'; and I said 'I hope so, I wrote the wiki tag for it on Stack Overflow'. So he pulled it up and read it.

Aside from headhunters and agents, I will sometimes post a badge on LinkedIn. But would NEVER mention SO on my formal CV.

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If you want a headhunter to know, then why not mention the same on your own resume? (In openings where I have any say in the matter, we refuse/discard applications that come in through agencies: we want people to be able to present themselves, and I don't trust most agencies to be honest.) –  Arjan Oct 22 '13 at 22:52
    
@Arjan, in my particular region/sector, you have to use them because employers don't do direct hires for developers. It's part of the way things work. Trust, ethics, professionalism notwithstanding... –  Gayot Fow Oct 22 '13 at 22:57
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Still then: if you want a headhunter/agency to know, then why not mention the same on your own resume? –  Arjan Oct 23 '13 at 0:04
    
@Arjan, I'm referring to a CV rather than a resume. Of course were I composing a resume, I would take your point. Post editted. –  Gayot Fow Oct 23 '13 at 9:53

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