So when I hire people, I just try to answer the three questions. To find out if they can get stuff done, I just ask what they’ve done. If someone can actually get stuff done they should have done so by now. It’s hard to be a good programmer without some previous experience and these days anyone can get some experience by starting or contributing to a free software project. So I just request a code sample and a demo and see whether it looks good. You learn an enormous amount really quickly, because you’re not watching them answer a contrived interview question, you’re seeing their actual production code. Is it concise? clear? elegant? usable? Is it something you’d want in your product?
How I Hire Programmers by Aaron Swartz.
The bolded above is the most important part when hiring a programmer. It doesn't matter much if you make websites, games, robot friends, or stock market recommender systems. Build something, anything, to teach yourself how to code.
The last guy that I interviewed for a developer position built an Android app for starting up the heater in his car. Last weekend I met a friend that modified his vacuum cleaner to start up when he plugged it in. This week I'm making my first Unreal Engine game in C++.