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How to hire an expert developer: an in-depth guide


When hiring a developer, you will want to make the ideal hire for your organization. The developer you hire will work within your team to design programs for end-users, and they can potentially make or break your team’s cohesion and impact how your end-users view your organization. 

Hiring a developer who doesn’t fit within your organization can lead to team conflict. If your developer has the wrong skills, this can cost your organization over $400,000. What is worse, though, is that hiring the wrong developer can leave your clients with a long-lasting bad impression of your organization’s brand.

If you are looking for ways to avoid this, it’s important to choose a developer who:

  • Has the right knowledge of certain libraries and tools

  • Is familiar with the fundamentals of computer science, and 

  • Fits well within your team

To achieve this, take a look at this guide, which features details on:

  • The essential skills a great developer should have

  • A job description sample to help you source top developer candidates

  • Recommended ways to discover developers

  • The crucial ways pre-employment skills tests will lead you to the top candidates

  • Vital interview questions and tests that should be a part of your hiring process

  • The ideal salary range for your software developer

Critical developer skills

The essential skills your developer should have include:

  • The ability to solve problems. Along the way, your developer will have to solve problems frequently. Some of their competencies should therefore include:

  • The ability to break down complicated milestones into simpler ones

  • The ability to apply knowledge gained from previous tasks to solve difficult problems

  • The ability to solve problems in line with frequent feedback

  • Attention to detail and accuracy. Your developer should have the ability to perform at an optimal level and avoid making errors by:

  • Spotting bugs in detailed code

  • Identifying errors in their code

  • Pinpointing mistakes in their teammates’ code

  • Communication. Clear and precise communication is key to the daily interactions that your developer will have with their team members. For this reason, they will need to have the ability to:

  • Interpret written communication

  • Interpret briefs

  • Communicate verbally

  • Time management skills. Meeting deadlines is a critical part of your developer role, so time management is key. Your candidates should be able to:

  • Allocate the ideal amount of time to tasks

  • Practice task prioritization 

  • Timebox briefs and tasks efficiently

  • Technical aptitudes. Also vital to the success of your developer candidates is the technical knowledge they display as well as their hard skills. They should have:

  • Knowledge of data structures

  • Competency with algorithms

  • Understanding of frameworks and platforms

  • Working within a team. This essential soft skill will determine whether your developer candidate works cohesively with others to achieve milestones and goals. Your candidates should competently be able to:

  • Make decisions within a group

  • Attend regular meetings to discuss productivity

  • Listen actively to and collaborate with team members

  • Knowledge of programming concepts. The computer science knowledge that your developers should have will assist them when building programs for end-users. For this reason, expertise in the following areas is essential:

  • Language applications and programming languages (specific to the particular developer role)

  • Scripting knowledge

  • Conditional logic

  • Cloud computing aptitudes. These technical skills are on the rise for a range of organizations. Your developer should know the importance of and how to use data centers and cloud computing services such as:

  • Amazon Web Services

  • Google Cloud Platforms

  • Microsoft Azure

Developer job description

As part of your developer hiring process, you’ll want to write a compelling and accurate developer job description as it will inform your candidates of the aptitudes, knowledge, and type of experience the role requires. 

For example, by forgetting to mention that your ideal Scala developer should be proficient with the Lightbend ecosystem in your Scala developer job description, you might only attract candidates with expertise in standard libraries. This can lead you to waste a lot of time reviewing candidates who aren't familiar with tools like Akka or Play Framework, increasing your time to hire.

Writing a good job description is ideal to ensure that your organization and your candidates are not spending time on a fruitless hiring mission. It will ensure you receive the right candidates for the vacancy who are qualified for the specific role.

How to write a good developer job description

Before writing your developer job description, we recommend that you consider the aptitudes, experience, and knowledge the role will require. Consider the following points.

  • The candidate you hire for your developer position might need to work alongside other developers within your team. They might sometimes need to work autonomously. Or they might use a mixture of both team and independent work. Why is this important? The particular skills required for both of these working styles will be different, which you should feature in your job description.

  • Which platforms does your team of developers use daily? Does the candidate you’re hiring need skills in PHP, for instance? Specifying this in the job description is vital to ensure that you attract the right candidates for the position and save time scanning resumes that don’t match your vacancy.

  • Are you searching for developers to work on a freelance basis or as full-time employees? Keep in mind that these factors will also need to be reflected in your well-written job description. This is because a range of candidates who are looking for different types of employment contracts will be drawn to your job description – and you will only want to attract those that match your vacancy.

  • What about the seniority level of your developer candidates? Are you looking for a junior developer or a senior-level developer? This is important for two reasons – not only will you want to ensure they have the qualifications you might want, but you will also need to make sure they fit within your team. Their seniority level will impact your team members in terms of the support they give, so clearly state this in the job description to get the right candidates with the right seniority level. 

We have included a job description sample specifically for developer job vacancies. In the sample job description, we’ve mentioned which qualifications and traits you might want to include in your own. Take a look.

Developer job description template

[YOUR COMPANY NAME] is searching for a developer who will create programs that function flawlessly for our clients.

What is the role of a developer?

At [COMPANY NAME], our developers work within a team to build programs that meet our end-users’ requirements. 

The code you create should be clean and meet the required specifications. Your role will include using Agile frameworks and frequently coding in specific languages.

Developer job responsibilities

[COMPANY NAME]’s developers are responsible for maintaining systems and building programs that function efficiently on devices for end-users.

Some of your responsibilities will involve:

  1. Making modifications to the software 

  2. Debugging code and fixing errors 

  3. Supporting and working within a team

  4. Carrying out system tests to validate code and software

  5. Building systems that analyze and foresee design outcomes

  6. Creating reports related to the specifications of projects

  7. Evaluating interfaces between software and hardware

  8. Solving technical issues and maintaining the design of systems

  9. Meeting deadlines and completing projects promptly

  10. Implementing feedback to improve programs and systems

Developer job requirements

Some of the requirements you will need to have are:

  • Relevant experience and expertise in a similar software role

  • Experience with various coding languages (such as JavaScript and Java)

  • Knowledge of specific frameworks (such as Git and React)

  • Competency with databases (such as ORACLE and MySQL)

  • Troubleshooting skills

  • Good communication skills

  • Ability to work alongside team members

  • Ability to implement feedback and enhance systems

  • BSc qualification in Computer Science

  • Ability to learn and adapt to new programming languages

Where to find developers

So, you have established the skills, traits, and experience you require. What next? You’ll need to turn your attention to candidate sourcing.

Now, you have a range of options available. You might receive referrals. You might use LinkedIn. You could use a traditional job board. You could opt for an industry board. But what will determine the ideal sources you might turn to, to source developer candidates is the type of contract you’re offering them.

You can also check out our GitHub developer job description guide, which applies to developers for a wide range of programming languages.

Where to find developers for a one-time project

PeoplePerHour. The PeoplePerHour platform will match you to expert freelance developers looking for a one-time project commitment or working on a per-hour basis. Write your project description, review the proposals for your project, and get the project completed. 

Upwork. Source developers by posting your project, receiving your proposals, reviewing your applications, and letting your candidates get to work. Like PeoplePerHour, the Upwork platform is also ideal for shorter, one-time projects or jobs that are not ongoing.

Where to find contract-to-hire/temp developers

Arc. Ideal for sourcing contract-to-hire developers, the Arc platform lets you hire competent developers with a range of skills. It helps you determine who is qualified for the project and who meets the specific requirements for your vacancy.

Stackoverflow. This comprehensive site is just what you’ll need if you are searching for contract developers. On the Stackoverflow platform, there is a specific section dedicated to temporary candidates, and you will benefit from the option to specify the required seniority level when sourcing candidates.

Where to source developers for full-time positions

Stackoverflow. Stackoverflow also features the option to source full-time developers. Searching for and sourcing qualified candidates with Python, Kafka, or Microservices skills is simple with Stackoverflow. You can specify the technical skills you are looking for and search for full-time developers with the required experience.

Dice. The Dice platform specifically enables you to ‘cut your time to hire’ when sourcing top tech talent. Dice lets you search for full-time tech talent and even has a category label that you can use to draw in full-time developer applicants. 

Where to source developers for entry-level positions

Angel.co. You might be looking to source junior developers or entry-level developers for your start-up. In this case, Angel.co (formerly, AngelList) is the ideal platform for this purpose. Build your start-up team and source entry-level developers suited to your organization. 

Startupers. With this ‘secret’ job board, you can find entry-level developers searching for their first jobs. Posting job descriptions here doesn’t cost anything but is subject to a review of your organization.

Pre-employment tests for developers

You’re at the stage where you will begin to receive applications for your developer position. So, it’s time to begin evaluating your tech talent.

This can be problematic, particularly if you lack the technical know-how you’re looking for in your candidates. When you add to this that you might be receiving hundreds of applications for one vacancy, things can get challenging.

This is where skills testing can help you. With skills tests, there’s no need to have specific knowledge to evaluate your developer candidates critically.

Assessing skills with pre-employment skills testing lets you:

  • Avoid hiring bias. Though we try to avoid it, sometimes hiring biases creep into our hiring processes, which can hinder the chances of widening your candidate pool and hiring a super developer. Skills testing ensures you avoid hiring bias and discover the best developer for your vacancy.

  • Reduce your time to hire. The average time to hire for a developer role is 3+ weeks for junior developers and 6+ weeks for seniors. Skills testing reduces your organization’s time to hire and, as a result, reduces recruitment expenses.

  • Hire a qualified developer applicant. You’re more likely to find a candidate who has the required qualifications for your vacancy with skills tests, which provide you with an accurate reflection of your candidates’ skills and can give you an indication of how your candidate will perform in the role.

Find out more about building skills assessments just below.

How to build a skills assessment for developer candidates

When you build your skills assessment for a developer candidate, you will want to ensure they have the ideal soft skills and the relevant hard skills for your vacancy. 

One study found that 71% of all surveyed employers value emotional intelligence and the ability to manage relationships, which is true in the world of software development as well. This indicates that there are aptitudes other than hard skills alone – namely, soft skills – that are important when hiring a developer.

When you consider that 89% of hiring professionals believe hires fail because they lack soft skills, you can see why it’s important to use a selection of tests to assess your developer candidates. You’re going to need tests for the hard skills, tests for the soft skills, and tests for the cognitive skills to assess them.

Recommended tests for developers

Our recommended tests are largely determined by the specific responsibilities your developer will have. Here are some of the all-important soft skills tests that will apply to developers working in a team.

  • Situational judgment/communication. A situational judgment and communication test will assess how successfully your developer candidates communicate with their team, with stakeholders, and with clients. Get accurate data that corresponds to your candidates’ verbal communication and how well they communicate in writing. The test also assesses your candidates’ listening skills and their ability to glean relevant information that has been communicated to them.

  • Problem-solving. Critical to your developer’s success is their ability to solve complex problems. The problem-solving test assesses your candidates’ aptitudes in the areas of highlighting a problem, assessing the complexity of the problem, and the process they follow to solve problems.

  • Time management. The time management test evaluates your developer candidates’ ability to effectively manage their time for professional tasks. It analyzes a candidate’s task prioritization aptitudes as well as their capability to plan towards fulfilling certain tasks.

  • Cultural fit/Enneagram test. To assess for cultural fit, you might choose the Enneagram test to analyze how your developers’ personalities will align with your team, and whether they are likely to fit in with your organization’s values.

But the skills tests you require also include tests to assess your developers’ hard skills. Here are some of the vital tests you can use to evaluate their technical skills.

  • JavaScript (coding) algorithms. With this test, you will discover whether your developer candidates can competently code and program a basic, entry-level algorithm using the JavaScript framework.

  • Python (coding) algorithms. You might need to identify your developer’s ability to use other frameworks as well. The Python coding test will give you insights into your developer’s ability to program in the Python framework.

  • React Native tests. The React Native test will round out your assessment of your developers’ hard skills and knowledge of different frameworks. Test their ability to code in React Native and see whether they have the right skills.

Use custom questions for your developers with TestGorilla

TestGorilla gives you the option to create custom questions to assess your developer candidates. The benefit of this is that, where certain tests don’t cover particular areas, you can gain the information you require from your candidates with custom questions.

There is a range of custom questions available, including:

  • Multiple-choice

  • Video

  • Coding responses

  • Essays, and

  • File uploads

You can make your choice from these custom question options and even use more than one. So, say you want to assess your developer’s coding and find out more about their experience and personality, you might combine a coding custom question and a video custom question to get more information from them.

Qualifying questions for your developers

You might choose to ask certain questions to rule out the developer candidates you think would not fit well within your organization. These types of questions are called qualifying questions. 

For instance, if you want to hire a remote developer, you could create a qualifying question to ask whether your candidate is open to remote work. If your developer opening requires a certain qualification, you could ask whether they have the specific qualification for the job. Depending on your candidates’ responses, you can automatically remove them from the hiring process.

Developer interview questions

After your candidates have completed their developer skills tests, the next stage is to invite them to an interview. If you’re stuck for the ideal questions, here are some that you should include:

  1. Tell me about a project you have worked on. Which approach did you use to complete it?

  2. What is your favorite programming language and why?

  3. Can you name an app that you think is flawed? How would you fix it?

  4. What is your process when fixing an application that has stopped working?

  5. Tell me about a time when you have received negative feedback from a tester. How did you respond?

  6. Which projects are you currently involved in during your spare time?

  7. Can you name a time that you have had to support your team members or pick up the slack for those who have struggled?

  8. Which frameworks have you worked with? 

  9. How have you overcome a challenge when working on a front-end application?

  10. How does mobile app development differ from desktop?

Tell me about a project you have worked on. Which approach did you use to complete it?

Asking this question will give you an insight into the style and approaches your candidate uses to solve problems and complete projects. Take note of whether they worked as a team or used any feedback to perfect the project.

What is your favorite programming language and why?

Key to a developer’s success in their role is their knowledge of various programming languages. Digging deeper into their experience with a specific programming language will reveal their competencies and abilities. Follow this up with a question about their least favorite language, and you’ll begin to understand their programming skills even further.

Can you name an app that you think is flawed? How would you fix it?

Discover more about your candidates’ problem-solving aptitudes and their knowledge of the developments in the field by asking them this question. You’re looking for solutions that indicate how they would enhance the app’s user experience (UX) or overcome issues that frustrate the end-user.

What is your process when fixing an application that has stopped working?

An expert developer can solve problems quickly and efficiently. Consider the approaches they use when explaining their process. They should be able to have backup options in place when fixing the application and break the problem down into solvable issues.

Tell me about a time when you have received negative feedback from a tester. How did you respond?

Your developer should competently be able to react and respond to negative feedback. Do they take feedback and use it to enhance their work? What is their process? How they respond to this question will inform you of whether they will fit well into your organization.

Which projects are you currently involved in during your spare time?

Developers should constantly be looking to practice their skills. Without constant practice, they are unlikely to develop their abilities and stay up to date with developments in the field. Does your candidate have any projects they can show you? This is a bonus.

Can you name a time that you have had to support your team members or pick up the slack for those who have struggled?

Teamwork is critical for developer teams. Your candidates’ responses to this question will reveal more about their soft skills and their ability to support other members of your team if hired. Be wary of candidates who are not tactful with their answers, as it’s likely they might be a bad fit within your team.

Which frameworks have you worked with? 

Competency with languages goes with knowledge of frameworks. When hiring your developer, look for signs that they have knowledge of different frameworks and can use them competently. 

How have you overcome a challenge when working on a front-end application?

Knowledge of APIs and the software development life cycle is critical to developers. If you’re hiring a web developer, check whether they know about data structures and have knowledge of web service configurations.

How does mobile app development differ from desktop?

Your developer should also be able to explain the differences between mobile and desktop app development. Can they explain how browser plug-ins differ between mobile and desktop? Do they understand what factors affect mobile and desktop UX? These responses will indicate how competent they will be in the role.

How much does a developer cost?

Various factors will affect how much you will pay your developer. The first of these is their seniority level. Developers typically earn between $82,430 and $136,320, as stated by Money.usnews.com.

The other factors that affect how much you will pay a developer include:

  • Their experience with cloud computing or iOS programming languages

  • The area in which the developer is located, and 

  • Any qualifications that your developer can boast

Avoid bias and find your next developer, fast

There are so many reasons why finding your next developer can be tricky. For instance, you might not believe it, but 75% of hiring managers have noticed a lie on their candidates’ resumes. So, how can you avoid becoming deceived by your developer candidates?

The answer is pre-employment skills testing. Choose pre-employment skills testing to get an accurate portrayal of your developers’ skills – whether that’s coding, communication, problem-solving, or time management. Use skills testing to receive precise and accurate data that reflects your candidate’s aptitudes.

Hire the best tech talent, start making fast, effective, and unbiased hiring decisions, and find out why TestGorilla is ideal for hiring top developers with a free trial today.


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