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How to hire a software developer


If you’re hiring a software developer for your team, searching for the right aptitudes is important. Applicants need to have various skills to carry out the responsibilities of the role efficiently, and, of course, having top programming skills is fundamental.

It isn’t always easy to make the right hire, and hiring the wrong software developer can be very costly.

Thankfully, with skill tests, it’s easy to evaluate applicants’ skills. TestGorilla’s test library features dozens of programming skill tests which you can use to assess your applicants. Simply pick the tests for the programming languages or frameworks your team is using — such as React Native or C++ — and ask applicants to complete a skill assessment. 

Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide to help you hire the best software developer for your team. This guide includes information about what software developers do, which skills they need to have to be successful, where to find candidates, and how much the average software developer makes.

What is a software developer? 

In short, software developers create, develop, and maintain software programs.  

They are responsible for designing and writing code, and are involved in every stage of the software-development life cycle, from conceptualization and design to implementation, testing, and maintenance.

The main responsibilities of a software developer include:

The 5 main responsibilities of a software developer
  • Analysis and design. The developer needs to make sure they understand the requirements of each software project and design a structure that serves the purposes of the project well.

  • Coding. They then write the code using programming languages such as Java, C++, Python, or JavaScript, according to the design specifications.

  • Testing. Software testers and developers work together to identify and fix bugs or errors in the software code and make sure that the software functions as expected.

  • Documentation. Developers also need to write documentation that describes the software’s architecture and functionality. They might also need to write instructions for other developers and end-users.

  • Maintenance and updates. Monitoring the performance of software applications, troubleshooting issues, and updating software is also a part of a software developer’s job. 

Software developers may specialize in different areas, such as: 

Most often, they work in teams and collaborate with other developers, as well as with project managers, designers, and QA testers. 

Front-end developers vs. back-end developers

Front-end developers are responsible for creating visually-appealing and interactive interfaces that users can interact with directly. They are involved with designing the application’s front-end structure and design, and also ensuring its mobile-friendly. 

Their role also involves working alongside user experience (UX) analysts or designers to oversee a wireframe’s development. This includes identifying user experience issues and suggesting solutions that help to improve the design. They are also responsible for getting the right balance between a webpage or application’s design aesthetics and its functionality.

Back-end developers, on the other side, build and maintain the technology needed to power the components of the user interface. Back-end development is what enables the front-end developer’s design to function.

Other back-end developer responsibilities include debugging applications, building code and libraries that can be reused in the future, and working with system administrators to identify new features. They also liaise with front-end developers to ensure the UX and user-facing elements can be integrated with server-side logic.

What about full-stack developers?

Full-stack developers are capable of working on all aspects of a software application, from designing the user interface to developing the server-side logic and handling the database.

Full-stack developers also write code to enhance the cross-platform optimization of applications for mobile. They are also responsible for developing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which allow applications on different platforms to connect.

Each of these software developer roles relies on various skills, which you can assess in different ways.

The aptitudes required for software-development roles include several specific skill areas within technical and soft skills categories. In the next two sections, you’ll find information on both.

Software developer hard skills 

Software developers need a number of technical skills to be successful in their roles. 

Programming skills

One of the most essential software developer skills out there is programming-language proficiency. 

Software developers need to be able to work with a range of programming languages. The specific languages you’d need to assess depend on the project you’re hiring for, as well as on whether you’re looking to hire a front-end, back-end, or full-stack developer: 

  • A front-end developer, for instance, might need to be proficient in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

  • A back-end developer will most likely need to be familiar with PHP, Python, MEAN, Ruby on Rails, and Java. 

  • And if you are hiring a full-stack developer, you should prioritize candidates with a combination of these skills.

Beyond these frameworks and languages, knowledge of agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban is also valuable.

Web-development skills

Knowledge of different web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is essential for web software developers. 

They also need to be familiar with front-end frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js and with the key principles of UX design.

A strong knowledge of building and working with APIs and web services is also a plus. This includes understanding RESTful architecture, JSON/XML data formats, and authentication mechanisms.

Version-control skills

Experience with version-control systems like Git enables developers to work efficiently in teams and on larger projects.

Strong version-control skills mean developers will be able to track changes, collaborate with others, and manage code repositories effectively.

Testing and debugging

Software developers need to be proficient in different testing techniques, including unit testing, integration testing, and debugging. 

Knowledge of testing frameworks and tools such as Jest, JUnit, or Selenium is also beneficial for the role, as is the ability to work with software testers and QA staff. 

Algorithms, data structures, and object-oriented programming (OOP)

Skilled software developers have a strong understanding of fundamental algorithms and data structures like arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, and sorting/searching algorithms. 

Such software-developer knowledge is vital for efficient problem-solving and optimizing code performance.

Software developers might also need to be familiar with key object-oriented programming principles, design patterns, and concepts like inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation.

Database management

When working on projects that require database management, developers need to be proficient in SQL (Structured Query Language) and other database management systems, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. 

Understanding how to design and query databases is essential for storing and retrieving data.

Software developer soft skills 

Assessing non-technical aptitudes is also important when hiring a software developer. Search for a candidate who is:

  • A strong communicator and team player

  • Approachable, supportive, and empathetic

  • Open-minded and willing to adapt

  • A problem solver

  • Creative and insightful

  • Good at time management

Let’s look into the details of each of those skills.

Communication and teamwork

Strong teamwork skills are now essential for all developers. The days of the lone developer are long gone. Your company’s success depends on building a strong team of people who know how to communicate effectively and collaborate with each other.

To achieve this, you might look for a developer who can work using an Agile methodology and within cross-functional teams. Searching for a good fit for your company culture is also important, so finding candidates who align with the way your team works is essential.

Additionally, developers need to be effective communicators to:

  • Understand project requirements

  • Discuss technical concepts with non-technical team members 

  • Provide updates on progress

Clear and concise communication helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Emotional intelligence

“Emotional intelligence” may not be the first skill that comes to mind when you think of the role of a software developer, but it’s an important one. 

To work successfully with others, software developers need to be approachable, supportive, and empathetic. For this, they need a high level of emotional intelligence, which enables them to build relationships with team members, navigate conflict successfully, coach junior developers, and find effective solutions to problems that affect the team. 

Problem solving

Problem-solving skills are crucial for developers, especially at senior positions. Developers need to be able to identify, analyze, and solve complex technical challenges, often while working under pressure. 

Strong problem-solving skills help them approach problems from different angles and find the right method for each situation. 

Different sub-skills such as critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and creativity contribute to effective problem solving. 

Adaptability and flexibility

Software development is a constantly evolving field, with new technologies and methodologies emerging every week. This makes it essential for developers to be willing and able to adapt and learn new skills and tools.

Being open to change and adopting a growth mindset enable developers to embrace new technologies and stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

Time management and organization

Developers often need to juggle multiple tasks and projects — and make sure they can meet the deadlines of each one. 

Effective time-management and organization skills are therefore essential for managing their workload and delivering projects on time. For this, developers need to know how to set goals, prioritize tasks, ask for help when needed, work in time blocks, and track their progress. 

Leadership and mentorship

As they progress in their careers, software developers may take on leadership roles or mentor junior developers. Soft skills like leadership, mentoring, and coaching enable them to guide and inspire others, share knowledge, and contribute to the growth of their teams. 

Developers who understand the importance of active listening and empathy will be better equipped to take on leadership roles and build strong relationships with their team members and other stakeholders. 

How to test software developer skills

The best way to test software developer skills is to use:

  • Skill tests to identify and shortlist candidates who have the right skills for the role

  • Structured software developer interviews to gain a deeper understanding of shortlisted candidates’ expertise 

We recommend using those two techniques in this order, because it enables you to quickly sift through all the applications you receive and focus only on the best talent, without using up your precious recruitment time and resources on unskilled applicants. 

Skill tests

With TestGorilla, you can combine up to five skill tests from our test library in a single assessment, which you can then send to applicants and simply wait for the results.

Here are our suggestions to help you build your assessment: 

  • PHP Coding (Intermediate-Level Algorithms) test: Evaluate candidates’ PHP skills with a short coding assignment. The test requires candidates to write code in line with pre-set requirements, which they can then run to see if it matches their expectations.

  • React Native test: Evaluate candidates’ knowledge of the React Native framework with this test and find software developers who can design and maintain React Native apps.

  • Git test: This Git test enables you to check applicants’ knowledge of Git and find software developers who are well-versed in this version control system.

  • GitHub test: This test assesses candidates’ proficiency with GitHub and helps you identify developers who know how to work with others on large projects and codebases. 

  • Clean Code test: This test assesses developers’ ability to write code that is clean and easy to maintain, which is essential when working on big projects. 

  • Algorithms for Software Engineering test: With this test, you can assess candidates’ knowledge of algorithmic approaches and their capacity of solving tasks by applying the right algorithm.

  • Object-Oriented Programming test: Evaluate applicants’ proficiency with object-oriented programming (OOP) and their ability to apply its concepts in their work. 

  • Problem-solving test: Strong problem-solving skills enable software developers to identify, assess, and solve complex challenges in the development process. This cognitive-ability test is not role-specific, so you can use it for any range of positions, including that of a software developer. 

  • Communication skills test: To be efficient in a team environment, programmers must be excellent communicators. Additionally, they often need to share information with and collect feedback from stakeholders and non-technical staff.

  • Critical Thinking test: With this test, you can assess software developers’ inductive and deductive reasoning skills and identify those who can evaluate information well and make sound judgments.

One advantage of TestGorilla’s various programming tests is that you can comprehensively assess many different programming skills for every candidate. For example, when hiring Scala developers, you can use tests that focus on Scala and object-oriented programming. Or, if you’re testing candidates who saw your embedded systems engineer job description and applied for the role, you can pick tests that evaluate their skills in C, C++, or Assembly.

Using the test results makes it easier to focus on the candidates who display the exact skills that your software developer role requires. This makes it easy to hire the best software developer.

With TestGorilla, it’s faster and simpler to narrow down your choice of candidates. You can reduce your time to hire by comparing your candidates’ programming-related test results and selecting those who have performed well.

TestGorilla’s programming-related tests also reduce hiring bias. This means you can make your decision based on your candidates’ aptitudes shown by their test results. You can therefore avoid hiring a software developer simply based on personality attributes.


Interviews complement skills tests and enable you to collect more information on your most skilled applicants. 

When hiring a software developer, you can use personal interviews, technical interviews, or a combination of both. 

  • Personal interviews: The personal interview gives you the opportunity to get to know your candidates’ personalities and determine whether they have the soft skills required for your open position. Of course, you should also assess whether each candidate’s values align with those of your company. 

  • Technical interviews: Testing your candidates’ programming skills is equally important. For this, a senior software developer may carry out the interview to gain a deeper understanding of each candidate’s skills and assess any potential skill gaps. 

Software developer interview questions

Here are some sample questions you can ask your candidates:

  1. Can you describe a challenging software development project you worked on? How did you overcome obstacles?

  2. How do you approach debugging and troubleshooting issues in software applications?

  3. Can you explain the Agile methodology? What is your experience working in Agile teams?

  4. Have you ever encountered a situation in which you had to make a trade-off between delivering a project quickly and maintaining code quality? How did you handle it?

  5. How do you stay updated with the latest trends in software development?

  6. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to optimize existing code to improve the performance of an application?

  7. Have you worked with databases before? Explain your experience in designing and optimizing database schemas.

  8. Describe your approach to writing clean, readable, and maintainable code.

  9. How do you handle feedback and code reviews from colleagues or team members?

  10. Have you ever had to work on a project with strict deadlines and changing requirements? How did you manage the situation?

If you’d like more ideas about which questions to ask when interviewing software developers, check out our 51 software-engineer interview questions, 45 coding interview questions, and 50 programming-skills interview questions. For more senior roles, check out our SRE interview questions.  

If you need applicants who have both frontend and backend experience, check out our full stack developer interview questions.

Where to find software developers

So, where do you find skilled software developers for hire? There are a few options, which we’ll explore in this section, such as job boards, LinkedIn, freelance marketplaces, networking events, and more. 

You also need to decide whether you’d like to hire a freelancer or a full-time employee, and consider the pros and cons of each.

Where to find in-house software developers

If you’re looking to hire an in-house software developer, you can try the following: 

  • Job boards. Platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor are popular for posting software developer job openings and attracting qualified candidates looking for a new job. You can also use these platforms to proactively search for and connect with software developers who fit your hiring criteria.

  • Developer communities and forums. Software developers often network, share knowledge, and search for job opportunities in online communities and forums like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Reddit. Before posting a job advertisement, make sure to check the community’s guidelines. 

  • Industry-specific conferences and networking events. One of the best ways to connect with developers who are actively looking for new opportunities is to attend local and international industry conferences, meetups, and hackathons. Examples include TechCrunch Disrupt (in the US), DeveloperWeek (in Europe and the US), and local tech meetups.

  • Job fairs and university career centers. Another option is to attend job fairs that focus on technical roles or partner with university career centers. This enables you to engage with a young and skilled workforce who are eager to learn and prove themselves.

  • Employee referrals. Encourage your employees to refer people from their networks. Incentivize them by providing perks and bonuses for successful referrals. 

Here are the pros and cons of hiring in-house software developers:



Better control over the development process; easier integration with your company and teams; easier communication and coordination with other in-house team members and stakeholders; potential for long-term commitment

Higher costs associated with salaries, benefits, and infrastructure; reduced flexibility and access to highly specialized skills; in-house software developer recruitment and onboarding processes can be resource-intensive

Where to find freelance software developers

If you decide to hire a freelancer, here are some places to find them: 

  • Freelance platforms. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Toptal provide access to a wide pool of freelance software developers who can be hired on a project basis. 

  • Online communities and forums. Online communities such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and programming forums can also be used to hire freelancers. They often have sections or threads dedicated to freelance job postings.

  • Social media platforms. If you or your company has a lot of followers on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, you can harness your social media presence to attract software developers who are actively looking for contract work.

  • Online portfolios and personal websites. Many freelance software developers maintain personal websites or online portfolios to show their skills and availability for new opportunities. You can search by location, coding language, or specific skills.

Some of the pros and cons of hiring freelance software developers are: 



Easy access to a global talent pool with diverse skills and expertise; flexibility to scale up or down based on needsLower overhead costs; faster recruitment and onboarding process compared to hiring in-house employees

Lack of direct control over the freelancer’s work or schedule; potential coordination challenges due to asynchronous communication; dependence on the availability and reliability of freelancers; a freelancer’s commitment is usually limited in time

Software developer job description template

[Company name] is looking for a skilled software developer to join our team. 

As a software developer, you will be responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining software for our apps. You will collaborate with cross-functional teams to deliver innovative and efficient software solutions.


  • Design, develop, and test software applications according to requirements

  • Collaborate with product managers and stakeholders to gather and analyze user needs and translate them into technical specifications

  • Write clean, efficient, and maintainable code using best practices and industry standards

  • Debug and troubleshoot software defects and performance issues

  • Conduct code reviews, provide constructive feedback, and take part in team discussions to improve software quality and development processes

  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams, including UX/UI designers, QA engineers, and product managers, to deliver high-quality software solutions


  • Proven experience in software development, with expertise in [programming languages, frameworks, or technologies relevant to the position]

  • Strong problem-solving and analytical skills, with the ability to translate business requirements into technical solutions

  • Experience working in an Agile development environment and familiarity with Agile methodologies

  • Solid understanding of software development principles, design patterns, and best practices

  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills, with the ability to work effectively in a team environment

  • Attention to detail and a commitment to delivering high-quality software

  • Experience with version control systems and development tools, such as [systems and tools relevant to the position]

  • Familiarity with software testing and quality assurance processes is a plus

  • Knowledge of [industry-related technologies or concepts] is a plus

If you are a passionate software developer who thrives in a diverse environment and is an excellent communicator and team player, we’d love to hear from you.

For more details on how to make your job description stand out, check out our guide to writing a Rust developer job description.

How much does a software developer cost?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, the median annual salary for software developers was $120,730. This puts the role at the top of the list of best jobs in the US, according to US News, with a typical range of between approx. $91,000 and $152,000 annually.

The salary range you offer should depend on a few factors: 

  • The experience and skills you need

  • Office location and the possibility of remote work

  • Required qualifications

  • Your industry

  • Your company’s budget 

Hire skilled software developers with TestGorilla

Hiring a software developer with the best programming skills isn’t always easy. Many variables can make this process difficult. 

By using TestGorilla’s programming skills and cognitive ability tests, you can easily identify the best candidates. After that, you simply need to invite them for an interview to assess their skills in more detail and pick the perfect match. 

This process will enable you to evaluate skills accurately and objectively and hire the best software developers every time. 

Sign up for a free demo today and see for yourself how much simpler your software developer hiring process can be.


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