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A guide to hiring Software Developers

By

Darren Auld

|

November 28, 2019

Hiring developers, mentoring and coaching them to meet their potential is by far the best piece of working in technology for me … I love it … its ultimately why I do what I do.

I love building up product teams, getting the balance right and delivering way above expectations for businesses large and small. To do this you need to get the team right. Often as part time CTO to multiple SMEs through a service we provide at ClearSky we are responsible for recruitment as part of our client’s companies.

The process I use for recruiting has evolved over my career, trying out new methods, dropping methods which weren’t effective, Learning from mistakes and successes. I’d like to share some of my top tips for hiring whether it’s a sole developer for a small company or the latest addition to the team in a large multi-national.

Potential

The absolute number 1 potentially difficult to measure and to get right is the potential of the candidate. I’m less interested in their career as laid out on a CV, it’s a bit like a spec sheet for a new car, well on paper it says xyz but you would need to test drive it to get a feel for who it could fulfill your needs and fit in with your lifestyle.

The CV is basically used as a base line to start discussions but I’m more interested in the individual, what do they want to get out of their career, what do they enjoy, what is their why and does it fit into our vision.

Problem Solving Skills

No, I’m not really interested in a developer listing out every technology under the sun, it can come across as jack of all trades or even being dishonest. I’m far more interested in problem solving. I normally get under the skin of this at the face to face interview stage where with whiteboard available I’ll do the following:

  1. Describe a common issue a developer may find on day one with the company
  2. For example : It’s Monday morning, you have a new incident in from a production system saying users can’t enter a value into an input field ….. what do you do ?
  3. I’m then looking for the candidate to talk through the problem, ask the right questions and explore the options, show off what they know and be honest about what they don’t.    

Team & Culture Fit

With every candidate one of the first questions I ask myself is what will this person bring to my team? It can be based in soft skills & attitude, for example will this person energise the team, are they analytical into detail, will they be confident to challenge and will they be gracious enough to understand and accept when decisions go against what they believe.

With the team fit on a technical level I’m looking for someone to bring an edge, even a junior developer. What do they know that the rest of the team don’t, it could be they have gone through a course in a new type of technology which they could champion that with the team or it could be they have previous experience outside of tech that brings something new for example graphic design.

Trust your gut

Trust your gut, for some candidates everything on paper will say to hire them, they may interview well enough, you may be up against a strict timeline to build up a team, other members of the team may say they would be a good hire but deep down you will feel an unease. In this type of situation reject the candidate, your complex human brain is making millions of calculations about a candidate comparing other known and unknown past experiences. This gut feeling can be difficult to articulate but more often than not it’s there for a reason, in my experience going against gut feeling is when things haven’t went as well as they could. You will know when it’s the right fit, your gut feeling will be screaming out to make the candidate an offer and get them in the office asap, this you should listen to and push on to making great products.

Good luck

Good luck with your Software Development Recruitment , you won’t get it right 100% of the time but following these tips provide should give you a better chance to get it right. Remember its a learning experience for the recruiter, if you need help or would like further advice then please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

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Our team is remarkable, its growing but it's not for everyone.

Our team is remarkable, its growing but it's not for everyone.