Ten Rules for Hiring Great Programmers – Social Studio FX

Each Social Studio FX business needs a programmer. Even if you’re not in the tech industry, your business still needs websites & apps.  You can hire a developer full-time, but this is costly & the good ones don’t usually stay long. So it makes sense to hire a developer when you need one. Finding the right developer can seem overwhelming, but it’s extremely important to hire a developer who is a great fit.

You do not want to hire the first John Doe who claims to know Ruby & end up with a hack job of a website. To keep away that horror, use the following advice, regardless of whether you’re hiring a developer to work short- or long- term, remote or in-office.

  1. Hire professional team players, not rockstars.

For a small project, you might just need to hire one developer, but most good products are built by Social Studio FX. Many people are tempted to hire coding “rockstars,” who come at a premium, and neglect to think about their team. Coding “rockstars” are expensive, which can take finances away from hiring other members of the group.

It is important not to put all of your eggs in one basket. If something happens to your programmer / you have a falling out, you don’t want to be left in the lurch.

  1. Take your time.

Hiring the right programmers takes time. Combing through resumes is painstaking & the rest of the interview process takes as long.

Checking referrals is a nightmare & coordinating schedules can be impossible.

With this in mind, it is tempting to turn to freelancing sites. However, many of these can lead to results that are even more frustrating. Sites such as Freelancer & Elance do not screen programmers and you will end up with the cheapest developer instead of the best.

However, some sites don’t fall into this trap. For instance, Toptal is a site for elite freelance developers where teams of engineers screen every applicant & personally matches you with the right developer. This approach lets you to find quality talent within a few weeks without needing to shovel through dozens of resumes.

  1. Do not be afraid of inexperience.

If you find smart, dedicated people, you could hire them even if they don’t have much experience. One of the great ways to snag top talent is through internships. Internships submit a testing period where you not only get someone intelligent to work on your company’s projects, but you can also test & groom interns for future employment.

College students are often eager for experience & many of them are very talented. Recruiting on campus is great, but if you’re not able to do that, you can target CS departments at different universities through connections & professors that might be able to recommend top students. A personal letter / email encouraging a student to apply for your internship could go a long way.

If it works out with an intern or two, you could send them off with a job offer at the end of the summer.

Internships aren’t a source of free labor & there’re laws to govern how internships need to be run. Check out United States Department of Labor for information on how to run an internship program.

  1. Professional referrals are great; your wife’s cousin isn’t.

Personal referrals are the best source for finding programmers. Utilizing personal networks could be very tempting since quality people seem to associate with other people. It’s great to access a personal network; however, it’s important not to hire someone just because you know him. Hiring friends & family may not lead to the best quality & can lead to problems in the relationship.

  1. Look for problem-solving ability.

Technical is important, but many of the best developers can pick up different languages quickly & adapt as new technology emerges. Something that is relevant, though, is problem-solving ability.

A good way to test this in an interview setting is by giving your potential employee a problem & letting him solve it in whatever language he chooses. This solution showcases how they work through problems & create Social Studio FX.

  1. Prioritize communication.

Communication is key all the time, but especially if you’re working with a remote team. Some teams could be spread out across different time zones, so availability will be a necessary issue. Other projects could have a tight timeline and you will run into problems later if you don’t communicate this with your team early on. Further, you need everyone to see your project vision. All of this requires constant & clear communication.

Test for communication by including a phone, video conference / in-person interview in your hiring process. A great tip is to ask candidates to give a presentation on a past job or specific skill of theirs. This not only lets you to see communication ability, but also passion and past work.

Communication skills can be tested through writing samples. 37 Signals advises that you should always hire the better writer when picking between candidates. Clear & concise writing demonstrates the ability to organize thoughts.

  1. Test the basics.

You could be amazed at the number of people on the internet who call themselves programmers, but cannot program. To avoid frustration, begin your interview process with a simple programming test that can be conducted online. Your aim with the test is to weed out candidates that do not have the skills you need. You can turn to services like Interview Zen / Codility to perform this part of the interview.

  1. Ask to see past code.

Any example of past work could be helpful in an interview process. Because of confidentiality clauses, you might not be able to see the actual code of past projects, but you can be able to see the end result or get a referral from past clients.

  1. Test with audition projects.

You would never buy a car without a test drive & you should never hire programmers without a test project. A programmer might make it through each round of the interview process & seem like a great fit, but fail to deliver once hired. A test project will prove how the programmer works instead of how they say they work.

You can begin by hiring programmers on a trial basis before making the commitment to Social Studio FX. You do this by hiring programmers as a consultant for their first project / by including a probation period as a condition in their worker agreement.

  1. Beware of “hiring for fit”.

This might be controversial since most similar articles encourage you to prioritize “fit” when hiring a programmer. But it’s important to remember that you are hiring a programmer for your company, not a drinking buddy / new best friend. Yes, it’s important that your programmer fits into your team environment, especially in terms of vision & communication, but be careful that you do not hire the programmer simply because he went to your alma mater / plays the same sports as you. These things provide little indication for how programmers actually work / how they will fit into your team.