5 Steps For Hiring A Developer

Despite all the pitfalls of outsourcing development to cheaper overseas suppliers, many businesses still decide to entrust some teenager on the other side of the planet with the provision of their brand’s visual identity.

But does the cost of strong local talent really outweigh the actual cost of hiring abroad, when you factor in the cost of fixing things when they go wrong? If you know exactly what you want, and you don’t need a post-launch relationship with your supplier, maybe outsourcing could work for you.

If, like most of us, you believe that your website or app or is too important not to be regarded as a well maintained and integrated part of your brand or business, then you need to get someone in house.

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Here are 5 things you need to do when hiring a developer.

1. Check Previous Work

This is obvious. But make sure you check that the work was actually performed by the developer. For websites, make sure you test them on different browsers as well as your phone. Fill out a contact form, resize the browser, try using it without cookies or JavaScript enabled. Actually use the website or app.

Try to also get an idea of their working process. Is the code well commented? Do they use version control? Does the code pass W3C Markup Validation rules?

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Be wary of any developer who doesn’t expect that they’ve been Googled prior to an interview. Research their previous employers and previous clients. Does it match up to their CV? How long have they spent, on average, in each position? Are you happy to manage that risk for your business?

You should also check their activity on social media. Do they contribute to Github or WordPress or do they write any blogs?

3. Interview In Person

It’s a good idea to meet the developer in person. So you can check they’re, you know, normal. Talk through their code with them so you can understand their thought process. If you’re not technical, ask a friend or peer to help with the more technical parts of the interview. People underestimate the importance of communication skills. Yes, you might only be hiring for a small task. But if communication breaks down, the simplest of requests can be a real pain to communicate further down the line.

4. Ask Them About Your Business

In the olden days, we used to research a company’s website and get tested on boring trivia like who founded the company, its green printing policy and the name of its house cat. You can get a much deeper insight into whether your vision is aligned with your developer’s by hearing them talk about your business. Why have you applied for this position? What other positions are you applying for? Do you think we’re heading in the right direction with our latest release? What ideas would you bring to the table?

Simply having a discourse with your applicants will demonstrate their communication skills, as well as their passions and interests. If there doesn’t appear to be anything there beyond rehearsed nuggets of industry babble, you’re probably not going to get along.

5. Agree Working Practises

So you’ve found a great developer. Derek, let’s say. You’ve validated his employment history, and you kinda get along, although his dress sense is a little weird (we can fix that). But on day one he’s AWOL. He told you he’d start today though, right? Ah, Derek’s nocturnal apparently.

If he’s a freelancer it doesn’t mean he’s not accountable or available. Make sure you agree up front on:

  • working hours
  • workplace(s)
  • communication channels
  • regular updates

and you’ll avoid those panic moments when you have no idea where Derek is.