What To Look For When Hiring A Software Developer

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Earlier this week we were talking about the very first steps you want to follow to ensure that you’re attracting the right developers for your projects. If you want to have an honest chance at hiring the right individual or team, it starts with you. You need to get crystal clear on what your project entails before anyone can claim to be the right fit.

So what happens next? You’ve built out your plan. You know exactly what you need this person to do in order to meet your goals. You’re starting to conduct interviews or collect estimates from free consultations.

Whether you’re reviewing resumes or assessing the team lead, here are the most important things you want to look for.

Experience with specific technologies

Because you’ve clearly outlined all the specific requirements of this role, you know exactly what technology is going to be used. Does this individual or team have experience with these specific types of technology?

For example, if you’re looking for an individual who is a database programmer, you want to see proof he’s done this before. If you’re looking for an agency because you need back-end and front-end development, along with system administration, you want to ensure there are members on the team who can demonstrate their specific experience.

Experience with specific challenges

If this is a rescue project, or you typically run into the same challenges with each project, look for individuals or teams who can show they have dealt with this type of thing before and can demonstrate how they’d tackle it.

Source code samples

This one is a bit of a stretch, but it never hurts to ask. Many employees won’t be able to deliver on this, due to contractual agreement, but some agencies or freelancers may be able to show you a source code example. Being able to evaluate a source code example before making a hire is a major bonus.

Current employment status or availability

The best software developers are already employed elsewhere. The best software development agencies have a laundry list of happy customers and can’t fit you in this afternoon. Be cautious of developers who seem to have absolutely nothing else going on, as this can be a red flag.

Project passion

This can be a hard one to gauge, but is there any passion behind what this person is doing in their work? Does the candidate you’re interviewing have a passion project they can show you, or does the agency have some mission they’re chasing? When people typically love something, such as coding, they often have a side project that is pure passion they’d love to tell you about. This can be a great lead into asking the candidate to show you a sample of course code they’ve done.

References and reviews

What other people have to say about the individual or team you’re going to hire matters. For an individual, how often does this person change jobs? And what do their past employers have to say about them? If you’re interviewing agencies, what do their online reviews say? What kind of testimonials can they produce? Ensure you can collect adequate proof of this person or team’s past to validate their experience and work ethic.

Lastly, let’s look at some things that don’t matter:

  • What university the individual or team members attended
  • GPA or academic standings
  • Interests and hobbies

The above items are things that people often mention for prestigious reasons or to offer some insight into their personal lives, but those things are completely irrelevant when it comes to problem-solving, skillset, and work ethic.

Don’t waste your time assessing things that don’t matter - focus on demonstrated experience, passion, and proof, and you will be well on your way to finding the right person or team for your next software development project.