The Science of Hiring Software Developers: Best Practices and Methods

The Science of Hiring Software Developers: Best Practices and Methods


The Science of Hiring Software Developers: Best Practices and Methods

Software developers tend to be in high demand, so when you're in the market for one, it can get tricky. Not only do you need to find the right person for the job, but you also have to ensure that they meet all of your criteria and won't be a liability down the road. And since there are no guarantees in this world, it's essential to take all of the necessary steps to make sure that you're hiring the best software developers every time.

Let's get into it!

The Non-Negotiables

Software developers are a special breed. Your company could be the squarest of square pegs, but someone who looks like they just rolled out of bed and onto the interview still might be the perfect fit. That's why it's important to have a set of non-negotiables that you won't budge on—from there, you can look for other valuable traits that make the applicant a good fit.

Your specific non-negotiables will, of course, depend on your company, but here are some of our top priorities:

  • Technical proficiency - At its core, software development is a technical job, so you will want to ensure that the applicant has a solid grounding in coding languages, as well as an understanding of modern development paradigms and processes. When interviewing, be sure to ask questions that get into the weeds and challenge the applicant to demonstrate their technical proficiency.
  • Cultural alignment - Software developers often work best when they're surrounded by people who share their values and outlooks. Make sure to look for someone who is in sync with your company's culture. Ask about their working style and preferences, as well as their dream projects. Be sure to look for someone excited about the company's mission and who can contribute to your team in valuable ways beyond coding.
  • Soft skills - Yes, technical prowess is important, but interpersonal skills are just as essential. Ensure that your applicants can communicate their ideas effectively and collaborate with other team members. There's nothing wrong with being the loudest voice in the room, but you also need someone who can work with people from varied backgrounds and disciplines.

The Evaluation Stage

Once you've identified all your potential candidates, it's time to dig deeper. This is where the evaluation stage comes into play. You'll want to review their portfolio of projects, test their coding skills in a Code Challenge or Technical Interview, and get a sense of their experience in real-world scenarios. This is also the stage where you can gauge their ability to work under pressure and understand how they would approach challenges that arise in day-to-day development.

Allowing the Cream to Rise to the Top

Now it's time to start looking for those special qualities that will make someone an even better pick for the job. Think of these as the cherry on top—when you're torn between two similar candidates, these traits can be the deciding factor.

Again, it's up to you to determine what these traits are and how they should be weighed, but here's how we like to do it:
  • Leadership potential - Software development can be a complex process, so you need someone capable of stepping into a leadership role if needed. A candidate that can also mentor and coach others is a great asset to have on the team.
  • Self-sufficient but collaborative - A common misconception is that software developers should be lone wolves, but though the job often lends itself to independence, it's still important for a developer to be comfortable collaborating with others. A piece of software can start as the work of one individual, but as it grows, it often requires the collective effort of an entire team to keep things running smoothly.
  • Grit - Smarts are one thing, but grit is another. A software developer that's willing to put in the hard work and push themselves even when the going gets tough is invaluable in any organization. They may not be the most talented or the smartest person in the room, but they won't give up easily and will do whatever it takes to get the job done and these are the people you'll need when the chips are down.
The Hiring Stage

Now that you've identified your ideal software developer, it's time to make them an offer they can't refuse. Here's what to remember once it's time to close the deal:
  • Be generous - Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages that will entice top talent. This is especially important in today's market, as software developers command high salaries.
  • Secure the deal - Make sure to create an ironclad agreement that covers all of the details, from compensation and job description to expected deliverables and timelines.
  • Be flexible - Software development can be a fluid process, so don't expect your new hire to adhere strictly to their job duties—encourage them to show initiative and allow them to take on additional projects and duties if they're up for it.
Hiring software developers can sometimes feel like herding particularly ornery cats. But as long as you take the time to identify your non-negotiables, evaluate each candidate thoroughly, and look for those special traits that will make them a great fit in your organization, you can find the perfect people for the job.