Hiring Developers When You Are Not Tech Savvy

Angela McDonald • 25/08/2016

Hiring Developers When You Are Not Tech Savvy

It can be difficult, when you are hiring for a technology-based role, to properly assess candidates if you do not have a “techie” background. Not knowing good code from bad can be a major stumbling block if you are hiring developers.

However, despite some people saying it’s impossible, you can adequately measure tech skills while not having them yourself.

5 Tips for Hiring Developers When You Are Not Tech Savvy

1. Be very clear about what you need

Different developers have different skills, know different coding languages, and specialise in different platforms. So if you are looking for someone to build your app or construct the front-end of your website you wouldn’t advertise for the same skills as if you needed someone to develop the back-end of your site.

The tech industry is becoming more specialised, and thus you will need to prioritise some skills over others. Have a list of what you need, and then what it would be nice to have. Even with app building, it is rare to find someone who has solid experience developing for both iOS and Android – they are now specialist areas.

If you’re not quite sure what you’ll need, make sure you do your research. Make use of people in your network who are familiar with development.

2. Look at past experience

When recruiting for tech skills, make sure you ask for references and follow up on them. Verify the candidate has the number of years’ experience that you need. Asking other technologically-inclined people whom the candidate has worked for in the past is a good way to get expert advice on the candidate’s skill level. Ask about past projects, coding skills, particular strengths and weaknesses. If you want to be extremely thorough, look through the candidate’s LinkedIn and reach out to people the candidate hasn’t prepped. However, if you do this, you should seek permission from the candidate.

3. Use what they’ve created in the past

Download the app the candidate built, or have a good poke around the site they have developed. How does it match what you want your project to be like?
When you do this, keep in mind what the candidate was actually responsible for. You might think a website is extremely ugly – however, that is the responsibility of the designer and isn’t anything to do with the developer who built it. An app might be filled with intrusive advertising, but again, that isn’t a reflection of the code used to create it.

4. Use third-party testing services

There are websites and other agencies which can administer and assess IT recruitment tests. Usually these are pre-prepared tasks which examine the candidate on the specific skill you are looking for. These services are particularly good for deciding between multiple candidates, as they can all do the same test and the strengths and weaknesses of each build are measured and reported to you.

5. Look beyond the code

There’s more to working as a developer for a company than just an ability to code. Look for a real sense of passion about what they do – ask about side projects they’ve done. Open-source contributions, learning new coding languages, and experimental pet projects are all signs that the candidate is passionate about their job. That leads to a developer who is more engaged and more exacting when it comes to their work.

Remember your developer will be working with you, and with others who aren’t clued up about technology. So it’s important to find out if the candidate can explain tech concepts to their workmates. Can they communicate complex information in ways that the average person can understand? By ensuring your new hire can help you understand what they’re doing, you save yourself the potential for frustration.

Hiring developers as a luddite is not an easy task. It can be intensive and take a lot of time. So when you partner with Deployed, we take care of the basic screening. Any candidate you meet will have the technological skills you need to do the job. And we can continue to advise you as you interview about what you need to look for.