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4 Tips for Hiring the Right Developer

At Codev we have a process that we take clients through to help them select their development team. It includes as much data as we can reasonably provide about the candidates skills and experience. Often, however, we watch our clients struggle to know what to do with that data, so here are a few tips to think about, whether you are hiring through Codev or on your own.

Tip 1: Prioritize Your Needs!

Sometimes our clients ask why they need to prioritize the different requirements in their job descriptions. First, we explain that in a people business a long list of requirements can quickly narrow a recruiting project from tough, to difficult, to impossible. There truly may not be ANYONE in the world that knows the obscure framework you are using, the MEAN stack, Cold Fusion and is a passable graphic designer. Other than your brother-in-law who picked all of those technologies, that is. So prioritize those needs. What can be learned on an as-needed basis? What can an existing team member help out with if all of the other pieces are in place? What is the one thing that they absolutely have to be able to nail?

If you are still disagreeing with this whole step, or are in denial–“My job description is completely reasonable, and I have to have all of it!”–Then I will simply quote a classic rock song for you to meditate over and move on. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.

Tip 2: Organize the Data to Select Interviewees

If you are working with Codev you might receive any/all of the following: Notes from the initial interview, resume, sample work, a portfolio of past work, video interview, writing samples, coding test results, typing test results, English language test results, their code from your custom coding challenge and answers to any other questions you might have had about the candidates, such as availability date and pricing. How are you supposed to decide whether or not to interview the new candidate you just received from the recruiter?

We suggest you go back to your priorities and match them to the data you have on hand. If your top priority was that the candidate know a certain PHP framework, then which piece of data will best represent that? Lets say it is your custom coding challenge. Go to that first. What if your chief concern is about communication? Perhaps the video interview is the best indicator, or the English test results. If your top 2 or 3 priorities are met, spend the time on a live interview. If not, then don’t do the interview, and tell the recruiting why. Share your priorities, and you will save time in the future.

Tip 3: Making the Hiring Decision- Don’t go with your gut

So you have completed the interview, and have your own notes and impressions. You probably left with a gut-feel for whether or not you want to bring this candidate on to your team. IGNORE IT. Research has shown that gut-feel hiring decisions are no more effective than random selection. So I could take a stack of “qualified” resumes and randomly pick one, and you could interview the same group and select one based on how you felt after the interview, and our two new hires would have the same statistical likelihood of succeeding. So what should you do?

Write down your conclusions and observations that relate to your prioritized requirements. Next create a scale, say 1-10, and rate each of the responses to your priorities. You now have numbers to compare and consider. Many of our clients are surprised with what they see at this step, and it becomes obvious what choice to make. If not, you may want to take it a step further and create a weighted average, or do some other math, but the important part of this is that you took subjective, disorganized information, and applied it to an objective, quantifying process. Through this, you should throw out all of the data that does not relate to your priorities. Yes, it is likely that the first interview or two may make you think differently about your priorities, or you may realize you forgot one or two of them. Your legal counsel and HR department may scream, but go back and change your priorities. Adjust your process to match what you know now. After all, you will have to deal with this person going forward.

Tip 4: Don’t hold out to see if someone better comes along

Finally, you have completed interviews, organized that data and found a candidate that can do the job and fit into your team (always a priority!). Now is not the time to hold back. There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiter than to see a candidate that they scouted out, sold on making a change, built a relationship with and ultimately walked through the whole process take a different job because the hiring manager was hesitating just to see if someone better came along. We are in a job seeker’s market. When you find the right person, make them an offer and celebrate together!

I hope these tips are useful to you and that you build a team around you that both brings your company success, and you enjoy being with.

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