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6 Questions To Ask Before You Hire Software Developers

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Here is an all-too-common scenario: You’ve decided that it’s time to bring in fresh software development talent to move your project forward and grow your business. You’ve amassed a stack of resumes and referrals, overflowing with credentials and competencies. But how do you narrow down your list? After all, you’re not just looking to hire software developers – you want to hire the right developers.

Many team leaders and business owners are familiar with this predicament. Though initial screening can weed out the mediocre developers with no relevant experience, it’s much harder to distinguish between good and great developers. In a nutshell, these are the criteria to help you hire software developers with the right skills to accelerate your projects, cut time-to-launch, and ensure a quality result. 

Here’s How to Hire Software Developers

Let’s assume that you have already determined the basics to hire software developers: you know the essential technical competencies and programming languages your candidate needs to have. 

You know whether you need front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers. You’ve also narrowed down your list to candidates who have at least a few years of experience. What now? Let’s explore the 6 questions that will help reveal your ideal candidate.

1. Why did you choose to specialize in these programming languages and frameworks?

These candidates are on your list because they specialize in the programming languages and frameworks your project needs. But asking why they chose their particular tech stack – whether it’s Python or Java or C++, C# or Ruby – reveals their thinking process and their experience.

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Also have the candidate rank their proficiencies: which are they most familiar with? Least familiar with? Not only will you glean key information about the candidate’s suitability – you’ll also learn a lot about the candidate’s honesty and self-assessment skills.

2. How has your experience prepared you for this project?

Instead of just asking how many years of experience your candidate has, ask them to describe their role in previous projects. You’re evaluating the quality of their experience. Did they play a part in engineering solutions, or have they only coded someone else’s solutions? 

And make sure to ask whether they have any experience in your specific industry? This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, but can help you choose between excellent candidates.

3. What is your process for documentation? 

This question helps you think and plan ahead. Ideally, your perfect candidate will work with you through to the project’s completion. But what if you decide to take portions of the project back in-house at some point down the line? Or what if it becomes necessary to bring in a supplementary team, or transfer operations? 

Without documentation, a developer can only guess at their predecessor’s intent for a snippet of code, bringing progress to a standstill as they untangle inscrutable code. 

Your ideal candidate is fanatical about documentation. This shows they are not just focused on the immediate project, but how efficiently it can be maintained.

4. What does your quality assurance process look like?

It’s unrealistic to expect that no technical issues will crop up during your project. What’s important is understanding how the candidate handles the task of testing for, detecting, and resolving errors. Is it fundamental to their process, or an afterthought? 

Consider it a red flag if the candidate seems annoyed by this question, or if they seem to tack on unit testing at the end of their process, just to check a box.

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5. How clearly can you communicate with non-technical stakeholders or team members with different communication styles?

Don’t overlook ‘soft’ skills like communication – they can make or break your project. Hire software developers who are also clear communicators.

Can your candidate give an example of how they’ve overcome communication differences with a colleague or team member in the past? Are they able to break down technical concepts into jargon-free explanations so that important stakeholders can understand the gist of their progress and obstacles? This shouldn’t be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question; choose a technical term (like API) and ask how the candidate would explain it to someone with no technical background.

6. The challenge: How would you solve this coding problem?

Work a time-restricted coding challenge towards the end of your screening process, but select a challenge that would be difficult to fully complete in the time given (usually 24 hours). 

This isn’t meant to be unkind! The intention is to test the candidate’s ability to prioritize in a way that echoes real-life scenarios. It’s not uncommon during production to realize that not all functionalities will be achievable by the go-live date. Your team must then correctly prioritize which functions absolutely must work. 

When reviewing the candidate’s submission, evaluate whether they tend to lean too much on a particular language or methodology out of familiarity, even if it’s not the best choice for the task at hand. 

Finding Software Developers for Hire

These questions will help you identify the candidate best suited for your company and your project. However, going through all the stages of hiring – sourcing applicants, completing interviews, reviewing coding challenge submissions – can still be an arduous process to handle yourself. 

For this reason, team leaders and business owners often turn to hiring agencies or outsourcing partners, who will in turn handpick the right talent for their projects and hire software developers that suit the company.