Do your candidates applying for the position of SAS programmer really have the required basic SAS® language skills?

Offer them this self-assessment questionnaire to identify these weaknesses and strengths before finalizing your recruitment decision.

A CV can sometimes be misleading

Finding the right candidate is a difficult process. Choosing the wrong candidate leads to significant negative consequences: objectives that are not achieved, an overload of work for the other members of your team, a deterioration of the general atmosphere.

I have been involved in several recruitment processes with beginners in SAS. With just a degree and only a few words, it is difficult to get an idea of the candidate’s real knowledge. A few pumping titles on a CV can be misleading.

The candidate seems ideal on paper. But the reality can be very different; even with so-called “senior” programmers. I was talking about this recently with a fellow trainer. It is quite normal to ask questions about the candidate’s actual level after a quick face-to-face discussion during a job interview.

But programming has the advantage of being simple: you know how to do it or you don’t. Even if you are not a programmer yourself and do not have the technical expertise to evaluate the level, you can equip yourself with objective tools to build your decision.

Recruitment errors can be very expensive!

Recruitment errors can be very costly for a programming department. Choosing the wrong candidate is:

  • so much time wasted training the wrong person
  • so much time wasted in the recruitment process that needs to be repeated
  • as much overload on the other team members
  • so much time and money wasted sending a person to training that is inappropriate to their level
  • so much money wasted paying a person at a level that is not representative of their level of competence and jealousy with other members on this point
  • so many administrative difficulties to get rid of a bad recruit

What are the points covered in this self-assessment questionnaire?

Through this self-assessment questionnaire
  • Global Options (3 points)
  • Libraries (4 points)
  • Title and Footnotes (2 points)
  • Quotations (2 points)
  • Variable Attributes (19 points)
  • SAS Date and Time (12 points)
  • Merge (8 points)
  • Functions (20 points)
  • Transpose (25 points)
  • Macro Language (13 points)
  • Reporting Procedures & Basic Statistics (11 points)
  • ODS (5 points)
  • proc datasets (5 points)
  • Dictionaries (3 points)
  • External Data (3 points)

Through this self-assessment questionnaire

  • you have an overview of the operational skills that are essential for any SAS programmer. Here, we are not talking about particular cases but about the knowledge base to be mastered.
  • you can apply it in any industry (pharma, banking/finance/insurance, marketing, public authorities, etc.)
  • you have a tool to add an objective criterion, common to all candidates, to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • you have a tool that can be reused over and over again, both for recruiting and self-assessing your team.
  • you have a tool to evaluate progress at time intervals.
  • you can offer additional customized training to your programmers.

This self-assessment questionnaire is especially useful for managers

  • This questionnaire will be particularly useful for managers and human resources in the context of their recruitment.
  • The SAS language users you manage will be able to use it individually to assess their level, identify areas that need further development and measure their progress.

Do you already have such a tool on hand?

  • The content of this self-assessment questionnaire on this knowledge in SAS language is unique. It is based on my 10 years of experience in SAS programming. My blog, written at the beginning of 2006, dealing with SAS basics, is still the reference with more than 700 visitors per day worked.

To summarize

  • This self-assessment questionnaire is your tool for measuring the basics in SAS language.
  • You can use this questionnaire over and over again to assess the user's weaknesses and strengths as part of a one-off evaluation (recruitment) or follow-up (training your teams).
  • The questionnaire is in PDF format. You can print the content, scan the results and save them in your evaluation and/or monitoring system for your candidates and teams.
  • You have a tool to conduct your job interviews without being a programmer yourself.

Véronique Bourcier​

10-year experience as SAS programmer

MSc Statistics, Graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

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