In any software project, there’s one vital ingredient: Great development talent. There are plenty of decent programmers out there, ladies and gents who know how to code and can follow instructions.
There are also quite a few not-so-great developers; the ones who do what’s easiest not what’s best for the design, the ones who don’t comment or leave white space in their code. And then there are the holy grail of developers – the superstars that lift any project they’re involved with.
The ones who come up with unique and innovative solutions, the ones who can talk to users and find what’s really needed, the ones who really deliver.
But when you’re faced with a stack of CV’s, how can you tell one from the other? Here’s our suggested approach to hire great developer for your startup:
8 Steps to Find Best Developer For Your Company
1. Know what you Want
Before you even start looking, be really clear about what qualities would make someone the right fit for your team. While technical ability is obviously important, having someone who will fit in well with the existing members of the team is vital. Think about things like:
- How much they’ll be working on a team vs working on their own initiative
- Experience with the development methodology you use
- Personality traits
- Sense of humour
It can be useful to think about what the glue is that sticks your team together now. Is it the beer after work on a Friday? Is it evenings spent playing online games together? Is it the reverence that you all show the coffee machine? Is it hatred of Jar Jar Binks?
Once you know what qualities your team have in common you’ll have a better idea of what you need from a new person coming in.
2. Be a Grammar Nazi
No, you’re not hiring a developer because they are great at spelling or punctuation, but if they are sending out a CV with grammatical errors? It’s a sign that they don’t have great attention to detail.
It can also be a tip-off that this person doesn’t know when to ask for help – there are plenty of companies that will give your CV a professional makeover for a relatively small amount of money, so there’s really no excuse for errors like that to appear.
3. Delve Into the Past
Look at their CV critically, not just in terms of whether they’ve got the required number of years’ experience but where that experience came from.
Are the companies they’ve worked for known for being particular about who they hire? Does their CV tell a tale of a developer who was frequently chosen to work on important projects, or who was singled out for training or promotion?
4. Start with a Conversation
Set up a brief voice or video call, and just say hello. Prepare first by highlighting a few things on the CV that you’d like to know more about.
Ask open questions, this isn’t a fact confirmation exercise, you want to learn more about how this person will approach the questions that are important to you.
You want to know about this person’s problem-solving style. You want to know what their first instinct is when faced with a problem. Ask how they would look at meeting a particular challenge that you and your team face. The answer will tell you a lot about the person, whether you agree with it or not.
5. Ditch the White Board
Yes, we know. It’s pretty much industry standard to give developers a white board test but in our opinion, that’s a mistake.
You know that the person applying can develop, because you can see from their CV that they have the training and experience. And many rock star developers have admitted that they would fail a white board test – they don’t have everything memorised; they just look things up when they need to!
Think about it this way. Who would you rather represent you in court? The guy who has memorised every word in the law books but has no creativity, or the lawyer who will hit the books and come up with an amazing defence out of left-field?
If you really want to get your applicants to do a technical test, then give them something relevant to what you do. Ask them to write a simple piece of code, for example. Seeing the way that they approach a small problem will tell you a lot about who they are as a developer.
6. The Interview
Once you’ve decided which candidates are the most likely to fit the bill, then it’s time to schedule interviews. This is another opportunity to find out more about the candidate’s personality, and their general approach to work. Consider asking questions that give you an idea of how they think. ‘What’s the first thing you do when you get a new development brief?’ or ‘If a user was having a problem and you couldn’t replicate it, what would you do?’
It can also be useful to take a leaf out of some of the big company’s books and have your candidate meet a few different people from the team, rather than just one. Let them spend some time with someone from the team, who shows them work in progress.
Give them a chance to speak to someone lower down the pecking order, too. How a candidate treats people who can be perceived as inferior, equal and superior will tell you a lot about who they are as a person.
7. Widen Your Net
Once upon a time, companies had to employ the talent that happened to live right on their doorstep or would be happy to relocate. That’s not the case anymore.
Remote working is the fastest growing sector in employment right now (according to the good people at Global Workplace Analytics), and that means that you can hire from the very best remote developers around the world.
Managing a remote team is pretty much the same thing as dealing with people on-site; you don’t need any special training, you just need to make sure that you prioritize communication.
With remote developers you can speed up the development process by having work going on around the clock; just manage your time zones well and you will get a serious speed boost on your project.
8. Don’t Settle
The old saying, ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure,’ is just as true when it comes to hire developers. If you find yourself hiring in a hurry, or worse, in desperation, you will probably make the wrong choice.
The truth is that while the very best developers may be a rare breed, there’s never been a better time to find them, whether they happen to be on your doorstep or the other side of the world.
Related: How to Hire the Right Person for Your Startup
Author Bio: Sharon Koifman believes every company, from the biggest enterprise to the newly-launched garage startup, should have access to world’s top talent. That’s why he used over 10 years of experience in tech industry recruitment & HR to create DistantJob. His unique recruitment model allows DistantJob’s clients to get high quality IT experts working remotely at a fraction of the usual cost – with no red tape and within two weeks.