Questions You Need to Ask When Hiring ColdFusion Developers

Epicenter Consulting Blog

Deciding what questions to ask ColdFusion developers can be challenging when you do not have any ColdFusion experts on board. If you have an existing ColdFusion developer, you have the resources to determine if the new developer or development team has the knowledge and expertise to work successfully with your team.  If you have no technical resource, hiring a ColdFusion Developer/Development Team becomes more difficult, but there is a silver lining; you can use that as a learning opportunity to know more about how the IT infrastructure of your business works.

This post is intended to provide those with a non-technical background as well as those with developer skills or existing ColdFusion developers on board – some useful guidelines for hiring the right ColdFusion developers. Fundamentally, you’re looking for someone who is smart and can get things done. Period. 


For Non-Technical Employers 


1. Ask them to explain ColdFusion to you


You will want to hear the following:

  • ColdFusion is maintained by Adobe
  • Latest ColdFusion version (as of the time of this writing) is ColdFusion 2018
  • A non-commercial, open-source version is available called Lucee
  • ColdFusion is a server-side technology

But for the most part, you need to listen to the developer talk about ColdFusion, their history with the language and have a degree of confidence that this developer or team knows what they are talking about.  I’m a firm believer in trusting your instincts.  If you listen closely to the way this person discusses ColdFusion, and you have confidence they know what they’re talking about, then consider that a positive.


2. Have multiple people meet with and ask questions of the developer

Unless you’re a company of one person, there’s no reason only one person should be vetting a potential resource. Everyone that the developer or team interacts with should be able to ask questions, feel comfortable, and determine for themselves whether or not he or she is qualified.


For Employers With ColdFusion Resources


1. Ask basic ColdFusion questions that demonstrate comprehension

Yes, there are basic questions that have exact answers, such as “what is the scope priority recognized by ColdFusion?” but these are textbook answers that can 1) be looked up and 2) show knowledge, but not comprehension.  Developers don’t code in the dark and entirely off their memory of how the language works.  Documentation is available all the time, so testing a developer’s hard knowledge of the language doesn’t generally help.

Come up with a basic ColdFusion quiz that focuses on opinions and comprehension of the language.  Ask them questions like “Which do you prefer?  Application.cfm or Application.cfc?”  If the developer doesn’t have a hard preference for Application.cfc, then be wary of their ColdFusion experience!

Some questions we ask Coldfusion developers:

  • What’s your favorite way to maintain session state in ColdFusion?
  • What resources have you used to find answers to your ColdFusion questions?
  • Is ColdFusion your programming technology of choice?  Why or why not?  If not, what is? 


2. Ask impossible questions that demonstrate problem-solving skills

Ask ColdFusion developers questions that determine how their problem-solving skills work.  Sometimes we ask  “how much does the Statue of Liberty weigh?”  Typically, this elicits a confused look on the part of the interviewee and often requires a follow-up question “If we were to task you with finding out how much the statue of liberty weighs,
without using Google, how would you go about doing it?”  (*the google disclaimer is essential because you can be assured the answer you would receive is, “I don’t know… Google it?”)

Ultimately, you are looking for the developer or team to apply some thought to the problem.  If the developer’s answer includes researching the material types and dimensions he/she is going down the right path. It’s a very positive sign.


3. Besides asking ColdFusion developers questions have them write code 

A foolproof method of seeing how the developer works is to have them code something from scratch. Here’s an example:

  • Create a page that displays a table of users in a database.  The table should include the person’s first and last name, email address, and an edit button
  • A button should appear at the top that takes the user to a form that allows a new user to be added to the database. New users should include:-
    • First Name, required
    • Middle Name
    • Last Name, required
    • Email Address, required
    • Phone Number, required
    • Birthdate
  • Clicking the edit button should load the information for a specific user and allow the information to be modified.
  • The database interactions and display of the list of users should be driven by ColdFusion.

This is a pretty basic application that shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours total when doing it from scratch. This is the first impression, so you want it to be… well… impressive.  Ask the developer or team for the following information:

  • How long did it take to build this application?
  • What technologies or libraries did you use?
  • How do you feel about the finished product?

Give the person bonus points if they use some tools available to make the sample application better, such as using a framework, using a mobile responsive framework, javascript validation on the forms, etc.  If they took the time to add these details, then they’re more detail-oriented and invested in the success of the project.


Check out Joel Spolsky’s “Guerilla Guide to Interviewing (v3.0)” as a way to get into the mindset of what to look for when hiring a ColdFusion Developer or Team.

Side note:  Some companies actually pay the developer for the homework assignment project. The amount does not have to be huge, but it shows that the company values the developer’s time.  If your company has the means to do so, we recommend this, if anything, as a way to encourage developers who are spending their time trying to work for your company.

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