Five tips to help you hire the right web developer

By the Pixel team members collaborate in a meeting room

Web developers are hot hires

Skilled and reliable web developers are consistently hot hires across industries. In the mercurial world of technology, it’s harder than ever to find the perfect candidate for the web developer job. Today’s devs possess knowledge of more coding languages and frameworks than ever before, and many also have the design, marketing, and business savvy to build careers around those specialties. 

So, how do companies attract, hire, and retain these talented candidates? Here are some things that have helped us attract, hire, and retain some of the best web developers in the business

1. Know what you need from your new web developer

Before you begin your hiring search, make sure that you understand your company’s needs and goals and communicate this understanding clearly in the job listing. Define the specific skills and qualifications you need from your new web developer. Are you building or updating a website or developing a web application? Someone applying to a developer position will appreciate knowing what kinds of projects they can expect to work on. 

Similarly, it’s helpful to consider what technologies and programming languages your new web developer will likely use. Do you need a front-end developer or someone with deep database skills? Do your company’s other developers gravitate toward a certain framework (we frequently use Laravel, for example)? Do you have a new client who needs to update a Drupal website? These are all important considerations when hiring a web developer. 

2. De-emphasize degrees and experience

Hot take: you don’t have to have a computer science degree from MIT, be familiar with every coding language, or have 3+ years of experience to become a great developer. Many of our best hires have backgrounds in completely unrelated fields! Our approach has always been that if a candidate is a critical thinker/problem solver with enough programming experience to understand the questions, then we can help them grow their technical skills.

3. Assess your web developer candidate’s skills (technical and otherwise)

Web development is all about overcoming challenges and solving complex problems efficiently and effectively, so it’s crucial to assess your candidate’s ability to think and work this way. During the interview process, make sure to present candidates with scenarios and/or coding challenges that adequately test their problem-solving skills and attention to detail. 

You may consider tailoring the challenge to the specific position you’re hiring for: it probably won’t work well to send the same coding challenge to someone applying for a quality assurance (QA) analyst position as someone who wants to be a front-end developer. Doing so may mean you miss out on the best person for the job!

Don’t skip on evaluating the soft skills, either. The best web developers recognize that while they may often work remotely and solitarily, this actually means that their communication and collaboration skills should be even more advanced and pronounced. A developer who can speak clearly, provide frequent progress updates, and work well with others will undoubtedly improve the efficiency of projects (and the satisfaction of your clients!).  

During your interview, make sure to ask questions that allow the candidate to explain difficult concepts and pay attention to the way they translate their work. Try to evaluate their responsiveness and willingness to seek help or clarification when they get in over their heads. 

4. Consider candidates with nonlinear backgrounds

Remember when we mentioned that we hire people from non-tech backgrounds? It’s served us well! There are many people out there from all walks of life who have learned to code and whose rich experience in other fields provides them with unique perspectives that can help your business stand out. 

A candidate who served in the military or a hospitality, education, or healthcare role may bring a wealth of interpersonal and emotional wisdom to their role as a web developer that can help your company gain trust from clients. Many people who have worked in these industries are also accustomed to structured, hierarchical teamwork, high levels of accountability, and relying on quick thinking to get things done - all assets in any role they may fill. 

5. In the end, hire the web developer person you most want to work with

All other things being equal, everyone will have a much better time if you hire the candidate with whom you’re most excited to work. No matter the size of your company or team, you’ll want to hire a web developer who is a good cultural fit. A candidate who shares your values, work ethic, mission, and enthusiasm is far more likely to stay motivated and invested in the success of their projects and in the company at large. 

Hiring requires a strategic approach

Your hiring process should take a strategic approach that evaluates web developer candidates beyond their technical skills. When you clearly understand and define your needs, adequately vet your candidates for their technical and soft skills, and hire the person you most want to work with, you’re much more likely to find and retain the best web developer for the job. 

Good luck, and happy hiring!