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How to hire an app developer


If you already have an online digital product like a web program or website, building a stunning mobile application will allow you to cater to a larger customer base and grow your business. 

For this, you’ll need to hire a skilled mobile app developer. 

Defining your budget and the technologies you’d like to use is crucial for successfully finding and recruiting the right person, but that’s only the first step. Building an amazing team takes time and effort, and you need to be equipped with the right tools to evaluate your candidates’ skills. 

You can cut down your time and cost per hire significantly by using pre-employment skills testing.

With our tests for iOS developers, Android developers, and those working with cross-platform technologies, you can quickly evaluate applicants’ skills and knowledge and find the perfect match for your app development project.

What are app developers and what do they do?

If your business is looking to attract users and build a loyal community, creating a mobile app may be the way to go. App developers are the wizards who bring your app to life. 

One key decision you’ll need to make is on which operating system you’d like your application to run. Based on this, there are a few different types of app developers that you can hire:

Native Android app developers

Building an Android app enables you to connect with a diverse set of users from all over the globe — and also quickly iterate on your app idea thanks to an easier app publication process and a large user base. For this, you need to hire mobile app developers who code in Kotlin or Java. You can set up a robust team of Android developers to maintain and grow your app.

Native iOS app developers

With an iOS app, you can tap into high-earning user groups concentrated in North America, Europe, and Japan. With a team of iOS developers who have strong Swift and C-Objective skills, you’ll be able to deliver the highest possible performance and integrate your app into the iOS ecosystem, thanks to using the native technologies. 

Cross-platform app developers

Alternatively, you might decide to launch your app on the two operating systems at once and reuse the same codebase by developing in React Native or Flutter. Going hybrid works well for smaller apps with lower performance needs. Recent improvements in cross-platform technologies bring them close to native solutions, so consider this option when dealing with tight budgets and deadlines.

Determining the platforms you want to publish on, as well as the technologies to use, will inform all subsequent steps. This means it’s crucial for your team to invest time and effort into developing a clear specification and roadmap for your app development process.

Keep on reading to find out how to hire quickly and efficiently. 

Where to find app developers to hire?

As the next step, you’ll want to consider various collaboration models and pick the one that best suits your needs. 

Preferably, you can consult with your potential app developers and learn about their estimations of the needed budget and deadlines. Allow yourself some leeway pricing the project, but avoid overly ambiguous specifications and budgets. 

Depending on your project, you can source a freelance or in-house app developer, or you can engage a full-cycle agency. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each option: 

Freelance app developer

A solo coder will quickly build out a simple app with standard features and functionalities. Combine this approach with cross-platform technologies to obtain the biggest bang for your buck. 


With a freelance app developer, you’ll get: 

  • Potentially attractive rates, as many developers live in countries with lower cost of living

  • A faster and more streamlined hiring process as there’s no need to handle onboarding, payroll, and insurance

  • The ability to quickly find and hire specialized talent to implement specific solutions and features


On the other hand, hiring a freelancer has its downsides: 

  • One-person-band coders might not be able to build a complex and versatile app that requires collaborations across multiple disciplines and specializations 

  • Freelance application programmers juggle multiple accounts, preventing them from focusing their full attention on your project

  • Freelancers might “go dark” and not be available for lengthy periods of time, preventing smooth communications and operations

  • They might not be able to maintain your app and fix any bugs that arise in the years to come

In-house app developers (remote or tied to an office location)

In-house programmers are fully salaried, official employees of your company. You might hire remotely or locally, depending on your specific needs.


Here are the pros of hiring an in-house app developer:

  • With full focus and attention toward your app, your developers will go the extra mile to figure out the best ways to ensure performance, smooth user experience (UX), and effective integration with the operating systems

  • Full-time employees are much more available and therefore ready to go through the current sprint’s tasks, bargain on future assignments, and take actions to outsmart your competitors for greater user engagement

  • In-house app developers are much easier to manage by project managers


There are also some disadvantages to hiring an app-developer to consider:

  • You’ll need to cover all bases on payroll, insurance, benefits

  • If you’d like to hire an in-house app developer to work remotely, you’ll need to research the legal implications of remote work before you commit

  • You’ll also need to hire other specialists to work alongside any in-house developers, such as designers, project managers, SEOs, and more

App development agency

Hiring a full-cycle agency means delegating all aspects of the app development process to an outside team.


Here are some of the pros of hiring an agency: 

  • You get end-to-end coverage of all development-related matters, including coding, design, and testing

  • There’s no need to hire in-house specialists — you entrust the agency to take care of their own team

  • You have the ability to engage the same agency to develop multiple projects at once


As for the downsides, here’s what to expect: 

  • You won’t be able to build out the internal resources that you can use to maintain and boost your app capabilities

  • Hiring an agency could be quite expensive

  • An agency won’t fully commit to making your app a success

Hiring individual developers might seem like a hassle. However, it’ll allow you to drum up a dedicated and committed team who can ensure that your app has a competitive advantage in the store.

App developers’ hard skills 

Technical skills should be at the core of your app developer hiring process. You might consider joining forces with an experienced recruiter who’ll help you interview and diligently assess your potential hire. 

App developers hands skills graphic

Below are some hard skills that you should prioritize when assessing your candidate pool:

Programming languages

When running a recruitment process for native app developers, you’ll need to test their knowledge of the native programming languages. 

For Android, these are Java and Kotlin, while most of the currently developed iOS apps run on Swift. 

Use various screening methods to evaluate your candidates’ knowledge of the syntax, ecosystem, and complex solutions.

Cross-platform technologies

For a cross-platform app, you’ll need to see how well the coder knows the respective technology and framework you intend to use. These include React Native, Flutter and Xamarin. 

If you are looking to hire a React Native developer, consider running a React Native skills test. This will help you understand how well the app coder knows the syntax of the underlying programming language.

Back-end development

An experienced app developer will have already obtained in-depth knowledge of the back-end operations. A full-stack mobile coder will have no problem bringing together the front-end and back-end parts of your application. 

Interview your candidates thoroughly to understand how they stack up in cybersecurity, database management, and API connections to external services.

Track record of effective integrations in native OS

When developing either native or cross-platform solutions, a candidate should have exceptional knowledge of ways to integrate to the hardware of the user’s device. Notably, this plays a much bigger role with Android devices, as the operating system is open for direct adjustments by the app developer.

App developers’ soft skills

Your future developer will need to work with other members of their team, so their ability to communicate and collaborate can make or break your process to develop a successful application. 

Here are some soft skills you can look out for in candidates: 

Communication skills

Naturally, your future hire is all about corralling those squiggly codes into a functional and user-friendly app. Developers often code alone, and the quality of this work should be your top priority. 

However, sufficient communication skills are a must-have for an effective app developer, as they’ll need to work with teammates to align specifications, negotiate deadlines, and justify their decisions to take specific routes. 

Agile methodology 

The agile project management philosophy is in vogue and not for nothing. Developers find it easy to compartmentalize tasks into easily doable sprints so that you can enjoy a quick roll-out of the closed-door beta version, followed by the alpha with its core features already in place.

Ask your candidates how well they know the agile method. You might find a new Scrum master sitting right in front of you.

Contribution to upgrades and improvements

After publishing the app in the stores, you might quickly see a need to iterate on the initial build. This is why it’s beneficial to find app developers who are ready and able to stick with your project for the long haul. Be sure to learn how your future developer will help your team identify the ways to improve both the underlying architecture and the user interface (UI).

How to test an app developer’s skills 

Inform your hiring decisions by screening your candidates with effective tests that look into both the necessary hard and soft skills of your potential hire. If you use TestGorilla, you can create an effective skills assessment featuring up to five tests. Here are our test recommendations for each type of developer: 

Native Android

Invite your candidates to undergo a Java coding test for Android applications. Assess their practical skills in building functional apps, and see how good they are at setting up the basic architecture and UI. Boost the evaluation with a quick entry-level test for Kotlin coding skills. Asking candidates to build a simple algorithm, this test helps to quickly screen out the unqualified applicants.

Native iOS

Use this 10-minute entry-level Swift test for a junior-level position. For more senior positions, apply this Swift coding test to assess how proficiently the candidate uses the arrays to process the data while complying with a full set of specified requirements.


Ask your React Native candidates to go through a general-level React Native test so that you can see how well they know the standard coding workflows and comply with the best practices for building UI components with this powerful framework. Our Flutter test goes into the core features, widgets, state, and architecture. It’ll also show how fast the coder debugs to produce the high-quality final codebase.

Accompany the technical skills tests above with soft-skills tests. Our Critical thinking test assesses how well the developer understands cause-and-effect relations, recognizes assumptions, and can switch between inductive and deductive reasoning. You can also administer our Problem solving test so you can see how effectively the candidate parses the data and responds to complex situations using logic and analysis.

App developer job description template

When it’s time to create a job listing to find your next app developer, be sure to keep it concise. Candidates might be looking at dozens or even hundreds of job descriptions, and if yours is too long, they might be automatically dissuaded from applying. 

Read on to discover the components of an enticing and effective app developer job description.

Clear title

With so many different technologies used to build apps, you need to clearly identify the stack you want your future developer to code in.

“Senior Kotlin developer for an e-gaming app”

“Junior Swift mobile developer in fashion”

“React Native middle/senior developer for cross-platform apps”

Detailed responsibilities list

Dig into the details and articulate your future app developer’s day-to-day activities, as well as the long-term vision and advancement opportunities.

  • Translate client requirements into functional cross-platform applications

  • Collaborate with designers and product managers to deliver a holistic approach to features selection and implementation 

  • Expediently identify and fix any bugs in the applications

  • Run unit and integration testing processes prior to the publication

Focused list of requirements

To best communicate your requirements and keep your candidate pool wide, cut the frills and focus on your must-have requirements. You can even split-test various versions and see which iteration garners the most attention from potential candidates.

  • Proven experience developing apps in Swift

  • Proven track record for development and publication of user-friendly Android applications

  • In-depth knowledge in the app coding and design principles

  • Critical thinking and initiative in problem-solving

  • A team player with effective communication skills

How much does an app developer cost?

Budget no less than $50 per hour if you hire an experienced US-based app developer. You can reduce costs if you decide to hire individual developers and run pre-employment testing to ensure the chosen coders will do a great job.

How to interview mobile app developers and ask the right questions

If you prepare thoroughly with skills testing, you’ll already have a good read on each candidate’s programming languages and experience in the industry before you sit down for the interview. This will free up time to focus on specific questions and situational queries that allow you to dig deeper:

  • Do you have experience in developing apps in our industry? [For a brand new app]

  • What kind of features would you add to our app, and why do you think that these features are a must-have? [For an existing app]

  • Did you find it easy to pass the tests we invited you to? [If you’ve used the pre-employment tests like this Swift test from TestGorilla.]

Consider asking about the high-level management processes the candidates practice:

  • Do you practice agile in your development? 

  • Could you share an example of a conflict situation, and how you were able to successfully resolve that dispute?

  • Would you be willing to show initiative and draw attention to potential improvements, even if not directed to do so by the rest of the team?

Make sure that you bring in a qualified interviewer who can then ask specific questions driven by the actual codebases and real-life tasks. 

Test all applicants thoroughly and focus on the most skilled ones

Building functional applications requires developers to master highly specialized skills. 

You might decide to hire a technical recruiter for the process or even get someone from your development team to help you fairly assess all applicants and their ability to work with  development workflows, use special tools, and write high-quality code. 

You can also use skills testing to evaluate applicants’ technical skills to see who meets your requirements. A proficient coder would appreciate such a thorough vetting process, because it enables you to build a highly qualified team — which, in turn, will help your new hire perform well.

Using pre-employment testing pays off, as you can dedicate more time to running the actual interviews with only the most promising app developers. TestGorilla can help you quickly screen out applicants who don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge. 

Start a free plan in a couple of clicks to see what our platform has in store for you — and how much more efficient your app developer hiring process can be.


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