It doesn’t matter whether you built your first computer when you were six or you still think Java is just about coffee. At some point, most founders need to hire an app developer. When that day comes, how will you know you’re hiring the right person for the job?
Luckily, you don’t need to be fluent in a laundry list of languages to hire a suitable programmer.
I work with hundreds of developers from across the globe to deploy apps and websites for our clients. Along the way, I’ve picked up three best practices for pairing the right developer with the right project and client that you can use in your own hiring process.
Understand the Basics
This infographic outlines different programming languages and what they’re best used for.
Before hiring a developer, consider the people who will be using your app. Narrowly define your user base, and research the devices this group commonly uses. Does your target audience largely own iPhones? Do users mostly browse on desktop computers?
By zeroing in on your consumer base, you can more accurately target the platforms these users engage with and, therefore, the right language to hire for. Using that information, find someone who has the know-how to bring your vision to life by using the programming language as a keyword to search sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Upwork for developers.
When hiring for any position, you want to choose a candidate who’s done the job before. While a developer needs to be capable of performing new tasks, you shouldn’t bring on someone with zero experience on the Android platform to develop an Android app.
However, a developer with an eagerness to learn will often serve you better than one who is fluent in an impressive number of programming languages but can’t adapt to the dynamic needs of your business. The best developers have a solid grasp on a programming language, so check out GitHub for a measuring stick. Ask applicants to submit sample apps so you can examine the quality.
Pick apart their code, and try to break it. Enlist the help of another developer whom you trust, if needed. Is the code properly notated? Does it work? Is it secure? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself when evaluating the portfolios of developers to see whether they’re capable of accomplishing the tasks necessary to complete the project.
Hire the Person, Not the Program
Fluency in a particular program alone won’t make or break your developer or app. Make sure the person you choose meshes well with your team, just as you would for any hire. You’ll be collaborating with the developer who builds your app, so you need to get along.
To vet for a good culture fit, even for temporary workers or contractors, find out whether applicants would feel comfortable talking via a video hangout or sharing an appropriate meme to energize the team. Give them a glimpse into your company culture, and watch their reactions closely — or even ask for direct responses to certain practices.
Try meeting outside the office in a social setting to better evaluate a developer’s personality. Make sure you’re able to communicate well with each other. For example, developers are hired from around the world, but you may have difficulty holding a substantive conversation about a complex topic with someone who doesn’t speak English.
Passion is a crucial component of any successful developer. An avid rock climber with an appetite for adventure will likely build a great outdoor sports app, but someone who loves knitting probably won’t. A developer fully invested in the subject will be driven to create something revolutionary.
You also want someone with the problem-solving skills necessary to grow your business, so ask open-ended questions, not ones that could be solved with a simple web search.
Hiring a developer who can share in your company vision will be your best asset. Whether that person has experience in one language or many, a developer who is committed to self-improvement and is willing to adapt to your company’s needs will breathe passion into every line of code written — which will shine through in the app your users interact with.