If you want your development team to be more efficient, more skilled, and more cohesive, you need to make sure you hire the right people. Building a team from scratch can be incredibly advantageous if you have a suitably talented, philosophically aligned pool of members.
But how can you make sure you’re hiring the right developers for your team?
Start With a List of Priorities
Everything starts with a list of priorities. What, exactly, are you looking for in your next candidate? Keep in mind that perfect candidates rarely exist, so you’re going to have to prioritize some of these factors over others. Which ones are most important to your organization? Which ones are you willing to sacrifice?
- Core skills. What are the core development skills this person has? Which programming languages are they familiar with and what are their areas of specialty? Are you looking for a person with a very specific, niche skillset to round out your team?
- Soft skills. Also consider the soft skills of each candidate. Are they able to collaborate and communicate effectively? Do they seem emotionally intelligent and capable of empathizing with others? Are they going to manage deadlines effectively?
- Experience. Experience can be a double-edged sword. On some level, experience is a good predictor of a candidate’s performance, and more experienced candidates will make your team stronger. On the other hand, more experienced candidates tend to be more expensive.
- Personality/culture fit. Don’t forget about personality or culture fit. While it’s tempting to pursue people only for the skills and experience they bring to the table, you also have to keep in mind how they interact with others and how they fit within your organization.
- Coachability. Even relatively weak candidates can eventually become strong assets on your team – as long as they’re easy to coach and teach.
Target the Right Recruits
Once you have your list of priorities, your next step is to target the right candidates. Your recruiting strategy should unfold in a way that specifically attracts the people you want to your organization. Use the right channels to reach your target demographics and consider using direct outreach to communicate with individuals. When your application pool is rich with qualified people who fit your needs, you’ll have a much easier time making the right hiring decision.
Conduct Background Checks
A background check can help you quickly sort out people who aren’t a good fit for your team. In a matter of minutes, you can validate whether this person is who they say they are, determine if they have any criminal history, and look for any red flags that might indicate this person isn’t a good hire. Just make sure you remain compliant with all employment laws in your area when doing so.
Keep Interviews Casual
There’s nothing wrong with having a template for your interview, or preparing several questions to ask in advance. In fact, some formality and consistency are required to conduct effective job interviews.
However, it’s also important to keep interviews somewhat casual and fluid. This way, your candidate will have more of an opportunity to be their natural self – and you’ll have the opportunity to ask more engaging, personally unique questions. It’s practically the only way you can determine personality and culture fit.
Don’t Neglect Culture Fit
Your organizational culture plays a bigger role in the success of your team than you might realize. You might have a team of very skilled, very experienced developers, but if they all hate each other and they all prefer to work in different ways, you’re not going to end up with a solid finished product. There are many different types of cultures that you can create within your organization; what matters is that you have one and that it’s consistent.
Include Your Other Team Members in Hiring Decisions
Consider including other existing development team members in your hiring decisions. What kind of candidate would they like to see? How do they feel about the most qualified candidates you’re currently interviewing? Not only will this help you find better team members, it will also expedite the integration of your new hires into the team.
Prioritize Your Long-Term Future
It’s usually best to hire people for their long-term potential, rather than your short-term needs. Don’t just focus on what this candidate will do for you in the next few months; think about what they’ll do for you in the next several years.
Finding excellent candidates for your development team isn’t going to be easy, especially with such a talent shortage in the field. However, if you start with the right priorities, if you follow a consistent process, and if you remain committed to finding the best possible candidates, eventually you can build out your team with the talented people you need.