Pimp your recruitment task before submitting

So, you’re facing the typical scenario – saw interesting iOS developer position, sent a resume and were assigned a coding task. It doesn’t matter if you are being asked to create custom control, something with networking and parsing JSONs or a simple app with maps. It doesn’t matter if it is simple or difficult – a few things can always be done to add a finishing touch. Here are some tips, based on my experience on both sides of the recruiting process.

Be sure that all task requirements are met

This refers to both scope and instructions. Sending a partially complete task is really a bad idea. It is better to send an email saying that task will be sent in one day later, rather than handing in an incomplete task. What is more – be sure that you’re following instructions. If using storyboards is forbidden – use xibs or build your views programmatically. If Objective-C is demanded, use Objective-C, not Swift. It can look trivial and obvious, but such situations occur quite often.

Add a readme if the project is not ready to build

Does the project use Cocoapods, Carthage or Git Submodules? Or does it demand some pre-build configuration? If your work falls into this category, instructions on how to run the project should be added. The developers reviewing recruitment tasks are usually doing so in their spare time between their everyday work. Giving them an extra work load just to investigate and make assumptions on how to run your project is probably not the best idea.

Use a consistent style guide

Compare these two pieces of code:

and

Although, the only differences are a matter of style, the second one definitely makes a better impression. Use a single, consistent style for your project. Here are three examples that I really like:

Use third party libraries rationally

When you have a few views in the app and are using autolayout, installing Masonry, PureLayout or other similar stuff can be helpful. Installing Alamofire or AFNetworking to perform one or two requests within the whole project is really pointless.

Objective-C generics and nullability annotations

These features are relatively new in Objective-C. Take a look:

and

The second approach results in a code that is cleaner, safer, and less prone to error. It demands very little effort, but leads to higher code quality. For those who are not familiar with these features, take a look at these two blogposts:

NSLocalizedString for strings visible by user

This is another indicator of code quality and elegance. Even if working on a simple recruitment project that will not be internationalized, using NSLocalizedString is a good idea – it shows awareness, thoughtfulness, and an eye towards the future.

Unit tests

Unit tests are crucial. I suggest writing them during the development process, but if they are absent, adding them will be really beneficial. The recruitment task probably doesn’t require a lot of logic – so implementing unit tests shouldn’t be too time consuming. I highly encourage writing tests in BDD style, using Specta & Expecta (Objective-C) or Quick & Nimble (Swift). These frameworks allow the creation of highly readable unit tests, which is really helpful for the reviewer.

Documentation

Documenting public methods is useful for developers – when I come back to code after a few months, the documentation reminds me what’s going on. Moreover – writing documentation results in cleaner and more elegant code. If creating documentation is problematic, this probably means that there is something wrong with the code e.g. the method is wrongly named. Documentation is beneficial to the developer, but it is especially important for other users of his code. Remember, during recruitment process you are not writing code for yourself, but for a reviewer, who probably will not have a lot of time to dig deeply to understand it.

Here are two great blogposts about writing documentation:

Summing up

Implementing these simple tips makes code cleaner, more readable, and improves its overall quality – all at a low expense of time. I encourage to use these suggestions not only for recruitment tasks, where code needs to be read and assessed in a short period of time, but also to incorporate these habits in everyday work. Spending a little additional time on small improvements that have huge impact on code quality is always a good idea.

  • Patryk Kaczmarek

    Nice written article 🙂 One minor thing: `The Insider’s Guide to Objective-C Generics` links to PureLayout library 😉

    • thanks for reading and noticing 🙂
      fixed;)