Your next tech interview: Certification vs Github portfolio?

Recently I came across an interesting thread on reddit about certification vs degree.

During my long dev career, I always had mixture of experience regarding outcomes of certification vs other online portfolios mainly Github.

  • While many disregard certifications as trash, I still feel they have special place in hottest / legacy techs, such as Information Security, Cisco Networking, and recently cloud, data science etc. In the past I witnessed time when Java and MS certificates were game changers. Yet I do not have concrete data to prove their relevance.

  • OTOH, github too maybe lately a trash can of copy-paste repos, but many employers consider

    **something done > something described in the CVs**

    (at least until we come up with accurate tech to detect code plagiarism. )

I request both employers and developers to help me answer:

1 - To coders and developers who had at least 2 job hops during their career - what do you think was more valuable to you in getting your next job?

Was it a new certification attained, or was it new github repo / contribution on someone else’s work?

2 - To people who have interviewed a few coders in their lifetime:

What made you shortlist interview candidates from their CVs? Was it certification, was it github / some other public portfolio (e.g. SO)?

That said:

I know recruitment has many more facets apart from CVs and portfolios i.e. meetups, hackathons, friend-of-friend recommendations, forum attentions.

But I want to get general idea about what’s mainstream when employers and employees didn’t just bump off into each other, especially in techs where both Github and Certifications are relevant.

My vote for GitHub. Certificates in my country are more like entertainment. When you go to Avengers, you also have a ticket after the movie was finished.

For sure, there a lot of different courses present online/offline. But attending doesn’t mean that knowledge will be used in real life.

Like when you read a Harry Potter book, you didn’t use Avada Kedavra, right? Right?

Certificates are better than nothing. But I see that people use them “strangely”

Trust in myself. I think passing interviews is a separated skill from coding or tech knowledge

I think I have about 100 “good” interviews with developers.

I usually rely on test-driving. I mean if money is good - there will be 3 from 5 people that decide to apply. A face-to-face meeting is a cool thing, but you don’t know how people will react to different situations.

Very useful @arthur.tkachenko - thanks for sharing your experience.

Though I think you have gone through recruiting quite pragmatically - taking fine grained control of whom you work with, rather than relying upon paper tigers or better, one-time sounding good performers. I believe industry is headed towards that in the long run.

Currently, I still do not know how that approach plays up with mid-sized (>25 person team) to larger companies wherein HR / recruiter is a dedicated role. In growth stage especially founders delegate a lot, and hiring is one of that.

Obviously jobs are less in numbers than applicants, and employers often don’t advertise salaries. Ranges are already well-researched through market so salaries unlikely to have any effect on number of applicants - No? It may depend upon the geographies, for sure.

Hence my conclusion is that average job postings attract quite a number of applicants that a non-tech person has to sift through, to provide N best to tech people for interview.

And that’s where shortlisting criteria matters the most, hence the questions.