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Thursday, September 16, 2021

How to Interview and Hire Your First Software Developer

To say that the software development industry is accelerating would be an understatement. No industry has been left untouched by the tech revolution experienced in the past decade. Modern Software services are creating tangible, consistent results for businesses across all industries, and the demand for software development professionals is at an all-time high. 

Startups and companies of all sizes are now increasingly hunting for fresh technical talent to not only create solutions that can help them be more efficient but also transform their ideas into a profitable business.

There’s just one challenge: finding great talent to join your team and add value to your company can be a tedious process. It can be even more frustrating when you’re looking to hire your first software developer. One of the best things you can do as a startup founder or hiring manager is to make the right hire. The person you bring on board will have a huge impact on the direction and progress your business makes. Read on, and you’ll learn how to avoid dead ends when hiring your first software developer. 

Getting Started: Where to Find the Best Software Developers

It’s important to understand that the recruitment process begins long before you shortlist and start interviewing candidates. First, you must be clear on who exactly you’re looking to hire, what skills they must possess, and what responsibilities they’ll be required to perform. You may also need to define how the developer’s performance will be gauged. Once you’re clear on the specific criteria the ideal candidate should have, the next step is to identify where you can source them. Here are some of the ways to recruit your first developer:

Recruitment Through Your Personal Network

You probably don’t have enough resources to invest in recruiting tools since you’re just getting started with your startup. That leaves you with your personal network. Personal networking is by far the most productive way of finding great talent for an organization. Look into your personal network and see if there’s a friend or former colleague you can convince to take a risk and join your team as your first hire. Alternatively, you could simply create a job listing and share it with your network for any referrals. 

Recruitment Through Relevant Conferences, Meetups, Networking Events, and Hackathons

Anyone who’s ever spoken at a networking event, conference, or workshop is well aware that sharing your company’s technical knowledge is an effective way to not only raise awareness about your organization but also find highly qualified candidates interested in joining your team.

Start by organizing a hackathon or conference that will bring top-notch technical talent and key industry stakeholders in your area together. Or attend relevant technical workshops, hackathons, and conferences in your locality and educate attendants about your startup or company. Chances are you’ll find a qualified candidate who’s a good fit for your team.  

Recruitment Through a Third-Party Recruiter

If you’re already overwhelmed by other responsibilities and functions at your organization or don’t have any technical experience in software development, it’s best you make your first developer hire through a third-party recruiter. They have enough time and can direct all their efforts towards finding the right candidate. However, it’s important that you take the time to train them on how to effectively pitch your organization well. 

What Should You Consider to Determine Whether a Particular Candidate is the Right Fit for Your Team?

Once you’ve chosen your ideal candidates, the next step is to set up the interview process. The process of interviewing software developers often varies from one organization to the other. Regardless of your approach, be sure to consider the following factors during the interview and recruiting process.

Consider Cultural Fit

As a company, you have clearly defined the values, attitudes, ethics, and beliefs that you expect your entire team to uphold and share. This is what informs your organization’s culture and it’s your commitment that all your employees― including the software developer you’re looking to hire― fit well with it.

It’s the responsibility of the leadership to define the competencies that a prospective candidate would need to qualify as a good cultural fit for the company. You want to end up with someone whose values fit with your company’s and align with your priorities. 

Ask Open-Ended Questions

You want to avoid factual, close-ended questions during the interview process. Take the time to explain your organization’s goals and vision and ask the prospective candidate open-ended, thought-provoking questions to learn more about their skills, competencies, and relevant experience. For instance, if you want to incorporate the DevOps methodology and philosophy into your software work culture, ask them about how they plan to use a DevOps pipeline in their processes. 

As the product owner or company founder, you may have only a rough idea of the system or solution you want to create and need help to pull everything together into a set of requirements. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with the candidate and ask them what they think will be required to transform them into a real solution. 

Let them share how they intend to create the system or application, what tools they’re likely to use, and what resources will be needed. Alternatively, you could ask them to describe one of the most complex projects they’ve ever been assigned to, what they learned from the experience, and what the outcome was. Open-ended questions allow you to assess the applicant’s critical thinking, decision-making, and communication skills. 

Test for a Strong Technical Foundation

It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to focus so much on the resume only to realize the software developer they’ve hired isn’t a good fit for the company. Others rely too heavily on technical knowledge only to end up with an ‘experienced’ developer who’s been doing almost everything the wrong way.

You want to make sure your prospective hire can actually code using best practices. It’s important that they have in-depth knowledge of your preferred programming language and platform. However, you should make sure they have basic knowledge of most of the common languages. This will make it easier for you to train them and offer guidance even as they work with your company. It’s, therefore, crucial that you test for basic code knowledge. 

Pay Attention to Skills that Actually Matter

It’s almost impossible to judge a candidate’s character, behavior, and technical ability in coding in a thirty-minute or one-hour screening. And even if you would, chances are you won’t find someone who perfectly matches your requirements. However, you can’t go wrong with a recruitment process that primarily focuses on skills that are relevant to the software development field. Here are some of the skills you should look out for:

  • Initiative. The last thing you want is to hire someone you’ll need to micromanage for them to perform their day-to-day tasks. A great software developer will take the time to read about your organization before the interview. They are willing to go the extra mile and put in more effort at all times.  
  • Adaptability. Your prospective hire should be someone who’s able to quickly adjust to the shifts and changing trends in the software development industry as well as changing circumstances in your company. 
  • Reliability. You’re certainly looking to scale up your organization which means you want a software developer with a strong commitment to projects. Ask them to share references to verify the stated work history and experience. Since you’re making your first hire, choose someone with a history of staying at a job for a long time.  
  • Communication. A great developer should be able to not only build applications but also clearly communicate and defend their contributions and ideas. They should be open to your contributions and incorporate them without trying to be defensive. 



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Daniyel Carlson
Daniyel Carlson is a Young Researcher in the field of Data Science & Analytics having research experience of more than 8 years. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering and currently serves as an Editorial Assistant in IGI Global, United States of America. Daniyel also holds honorary positions in the Associate Member of Institute of Research Engineers and Doctors, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology, International Association of Engineers, Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communications.

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