Why Judging a PHP Developer’s Code Samples is the Wrong Approach

PHP Developer's Code Samples

Evaluating a PHP developer’s code samples is often considered the gold standard of hiring in the tech industry. However, this traditional approach needs to be revised and more effective.

Code samples must accurately determine the developer’s existing skills and potential.

In this article, I will share my contrarian viewpoint on why judging a PHP developer’s code samples is wrong.

The Limitations of Code Samples

Code samples only provide a limited view of a developer’s skills and potential. A mere code sample cannot fully assess a developer’s coding skills. Code samples do not capture the developer’s ability to think outside the box, handle complex issues, or the creativity they bring to the table.

Code samples are often the first thing hiring managers to look at when evaluating a PHP developer’s skills. However, relying solely on code samples to assess a developer’s abilities can be misleading. Code samples have several limitations, making them unreliable indicators of a developer’s true potential.

The developer often cherry-picked code samples to showcase their best work. Consequently, code samples may not represent the developer’s overall abilities or the type of work they will do.

Furthermore, code samples may reflect something other than the developer’s ability to work collaboratively or to adapt to new challenges.

Counterargument: Code samples show the developer’s ability to write code.

While this is true, coding is not the only aspect of development. A good developer must be creative and adaptable, not qualities that code samples can accurately judge.


Instead of relying solely on code samples, hiring managers should consider asking candidates to complete a short coding challenge or project that simulates real-world scenarios. In this way, it will be easier to determine the candidate’s ability to work collaboratively and solve problems.

Additionally, evaluating the candidate’s projects or contributions to open-source projects can provide insight into their passion and dedication to the field.

The Importance of Communication and Collaboration

Code samples do not assess a developer’s communication and collaboration skills, which are essential in the modern workplace. Developers must communicate effectively with their colleagues and work as a team.

Communication and collaboration are essential skills for any PHP developer, as software development is often a team effort. A developer who needs to communicate effectively with team members or collaborate on projects may hinder the team’s success.

Counterargument: Communication and collaboration skills can be assessed during interviews.

This is true, but only to a certain extent. An interview is a high-pressure situation, and it can be difficult for candidates to showcase their skills in this environment.


To evaluate a candidate’s communication and collaboration skills, consider asking about their experience working in a team environment. Ask about specific examples of how the candidate has collaborated with team members to complete a project or solve a problem.

Additionally, consider asking the candidate to describe their communication style and how they would communicate with team members in various scenarios.

Furthermore, communication and collaboration skills are not just crucial for working with other developers. PHP developers often work closely with stakeholders, such as clients or project managers.

A developer who cannot communicate effectively with these stakeholders may cause delays or misunderstandings that can impact the project’s success.

Mistake to avoid: Focus on more than just a candidate’s technical skills; pay attention to their communication and collaboration skills. Technical skills are essential, but a developer needs help communicating effectively or collaborating on projects to succeed in the workplace.

Communication and collaboration skills are crucial for a PHP developer’s success. Hiring managers should prioritize these soft skills to hire technically skilled developers who work well in a team environment.

By taking a more comprehensive approach to evaluating candidates, hiring managers can ensure that they are hiring developers who will contribute to the success of the team and the organization.

The Value of Experience and Passion

Code samples do not measure a developer’s experience and passion for their work. Experienced PHP developers may possess insights and knowledge that can’t be gleaned from code samples. Love for the job is also crucial and cannot be assessed through code samples.

Experience and passion are crucial when evaluating a PHP developer’s code samples. Experience can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s ability to write clean and maintainable code. At the same time, passion can indicate a candidate’s willingness to learn and stay updated with the latest industry trends.

Counterargument: Experience and passion can be determined by looking at a developer’s resume.

A resume can only provide a limited view of a developer’s experience and passion. It must capture the nuances of their experience or genuine passion for their work.


  1. When evaluating a candidate’s experience, consider asking about their previous work history and projects they have worked on.
  2. Ask specific questions about the candidate’s role in those projects and how they contributed to their success.
  3. Ask the candidate about their passion for PHP development and how they stay up-to-date with industry trends.

On the other hand, a lack of experience or passion may be acceptable. A candidate who is relatively new to PHP development may bring fresh ideas and a willingness to learn.

In contrast, a candidate who is passionate about programming but needs more experience may have the potential to become a great developer with the proper training and guidance.

Mistake to avoid: Refrain from discounting a candidate’s potential based solely on their experience level or passion. Consider the candidate’s potential and willingness to learn and grow as a developer.

Experience and passion are essential when evaluating a PHP developer’s code samples. However, hiring managers should also consider a candidate’s potential for growth and willingness to learn and stay updated with industry trends.

By taking a more holistic approach to evaluating candidates, hiring managers can identify developers with the technical skills, passion, and potential to succeed.


The Importance of Problem Solving and Adaptability

Code samples only provide a snapshot of a developer’s problem-solving abilities. It cannot capture their ability to adapt to new situations and solve problems on the fly. In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, hiring developers who can adapt to change and solve problems creatively is essential.

Problem-solving skills and adaptability are essential traits for a PHP developer to possess. When evaluating code samples, it is crucial to consider a candidate’s ability to solve complex problems and adapt to changing project requirements.

Counterargument: But problem-solving abilities can be assessed through coding challenges and tests.

This is true, but coding challenges and tests do not accurately measure a developer’s problem-solving skills in real-world situations.


Look for candidates who can clearly explain their code and the problem-solving process behind it. Consider asking candidates how they approach complex problems and how they have adapted to changing project requirements.

In the fast-paced world of software development, projects can change rapidly, and developers need to be able to adapt quickly. Candidates who can demonstrate their ability to think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances are likely to be successful in a PHP development role.

Mistake to avoid: Consider a candidate’s problem-solving skills or adaptability. These skills are crucial for a PHP development role and can be the difference between a project’s success and failure.

A PHP developer’s problem-solving skills and adaptability are crucial. When evaluating code samples, looking for candidates who can demonstrate these skills and explain their problem-solving process is essential.

By hiring developers with strong problem-solving skills and adaptability, organizations can ensure that their PHP projects are successful and that their teams can handle any challenges.

The Value of Personal Projects

Personal projects are a valuable insight into a developer’s skills and potential. Personal projects allow developers to showcase their creativity, passion, and skills in a way that code samples cannot. Personal projects also show the developer’s ability to work independently and think outside the box.

Personal projects can be an excellent way for PHP developers to showcase their skills and passion for coding. While some organizations may focus solely on professional experience when evaluating candidates, personal projects can offer valuable insights into a developer’s capabilities.

Counterargument: Personal projects may not be relevant to the job at hand.

However, individual projects provide valuable insight into a developer’s skills and potential.


Look for candidates who have created personal projects demonstrating their coding skills and passion. Consider asking candidates to discuss the challenges they faced and the techniques they used to overcome them.

Developers passionate about coding will likely be more engaged and motivated. Organizations can find skilled developers passionate about their craft by hiring candidates who have created personal projects.

Mistake to avoid: Refrain from dismissing candidates who lack professional experience but have created impressive personal projects. Personal projects can offer valuable insights into a developer’s capabilities and passion for coding.

Personal projects can be valuable for PHP developers looking to showcase their skills and passion for coding. When evaluating candidates, organizations should consider personal projects and professional experience to find developers who are skilled and passionate about their work.

The Importance of Soft Skills

The modern workplace requires soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability. These skills cannot be accurately judged by code samples alone. Soft skills are a crucial factor in the success of any team, and hiring managers must prioritize soft skills when evaluating candidates.

Any job, including PHP development, requires soft communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. While technical skills can be evaluated through code samples and technical interviews, assessing soft skills can be more challenging.

Counterargument: Technical skills are the most crucial factor when hiring a developer.

While technical skills are undoubtedly essential, they are not the only factor to consider when evaluating a developer. Soft skills are equally important in ensuring a developer’s success in the workplace.


Look for candidates who demonstrate solid and soft skills in addition to technical proficiency. Consider asking behavioral questions or conducting team interviews to evaluate communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

Effective communication is essential for successful collaboration and problem-solving in any team-based project. A PHP developer with excellent technical skills but needs better communication abilities may need help to work with other team members, leading to delays and errors in the project.

Mistake to avoid: Focus on more than technical skills when evaluating candidates. Soft skills are equally essential and can significantly impact the success of a project.

The importance of soft skills in any job, including PHP development, cannot be overstated.

When evaluating candidates, organizations should consider technical proficiency and assess soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving to find well-rounded candidates capable of contributing to the project’s success.

Wrapping up about PHP Developer’s Code Samples 

There are better approaches to evaluating their skills and potential than judging a PHP developer’s code samples. Code samples provide a limited view of a developer’s abilities and do not capture crucial factors such as communication, collaboration, experience, passion, problem-solving, and adaptability.

Instead, hiring managers should consider various factors such as personal projects, soft skills, and experience when evaluating a developer.

By taking a more holistic approach to assessing candidates, hiring managers can ensure that they hire developers who are skilled, adaptable, creative, and team players.