Ishaan Gupta

How to hire the best Software Developers

In the tech age that we are currently living in, almost all companies require software engineers. The job market today is highly competitive and developers and data scientists are in high demand.
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In the tech age that we are currently living in, almost all companies require software engineers. The job market today is highly competitive and developers and data scientists are in high demand. As a result of which, there are exciting job opportunities with good pay and benefits.

However, it’s quite hard to find and hire a great developer that fits exactly into your team and can take charge. A lot of employers have difficulty in searching for the right candidate due to a small talent pool, something that’ll change with the shift with remote work culture ushered by the pandemic.

Everyone wants to hire the best and brightest, and they should because the competition is tight and the tech landscape changes rapidly. Having the best onboard will give you the extra edge that aligns with your business’ growth goals but there’s a catch: The best and the brightest already have jobs, so you have to put more effort into your hiring strategy if you want to assemble a great team.

In this article, we highlight the qualities of a good developer that you should look out for and some tips to improve your hiring game to attract the best developers in the market.

What are the attributes of a great software developer?

When it comes to hiring the best developers, there are a few general pointers that they must check, irrespective of what kind of developer you are looking for, be it front-end, back-end, full-stack, web, etc. Let’s take a look:

Is versatile

A good developer will be familiar with diverse software environments and will have command over more than one or two programming languages. Command over multiple languages implies a superb programming acumen, just like polyglots having super linguistic skills which enable them to learn new languages quickly.

Is flexible

You cannot have someone who knows everything, the areas are far too wide, even the best ones are limited. What matters is that the person should be flexible and willing to adapt to diverse platforms. The best developers can grasp things quickly and an open approach to solve problems even when they don’t know how exactly it’ll pan out.

Is creative

Simply put, the developer must be innovative and can think out of the box. While technical knowledge is important, it can be easily learned today after some googling. But, the ones who come with new and useful ideas are the ones that drive software innovation and help your company grow. A good developer has a wider perspective and doesn’t shy away from suggesting new ideas.

Is collaborative

Software development is a collaborative role, developers are a part of a larger team that handles everything from management, design, testing, etc. A strong team player makes a great developer, he/she can effectively communicate and discuss the issues with their team members and is open to other people’s suggestions and workarounds, and thus augments the works of others.

Is a clean coder

For effective collaboration, writing clear and crisp code is a must. Messy codes thought they might get the work done, aren’t easy to grasp by others and can thus slow down operations. Making a code look easy is a trademark of the best software developers which sets up the product for success in the long run.

Is passionate

Saving the best trait for the last, passion is what drives the best of us. Developers who are enthusiastic about their work go on to build great things and have an excellent portfolio to showcase (read GitHub profile), be it at a company or a personal project. They are highly motivated and can easily walk you through previous projects.

Tips for hiring the best software developers

Once you have an idea of the characteristics that you need to look for in a candidate, you should consider the following tips during your hiring process/interview to get the best onboard. You can check our post on ‘How to conduct a technical interview’ here (insert link).

Make the job description specific

First and foremost, you have to clearly define your needs and what you aim to develop. Simple and short doesn’t work here, you have to make the description as specific as it can get, this will not only save your time but also the candidates. When you put forward a detailed description, a developer can accurately assess if they’ll fit into the role and whether they should consider applying.

Look for someone smarter than you

It sounds like common hiring advice, but it works. If you are the smartest person in the team, you need to get someone smarter, that’s the straightforward answer to achieve your growth goals. As stated above, problem-solving matters more than technical acumen because you are aware of the challenges that you will face down the line.

Secondly, top talent attracts other top talents, when you hire someone smarter, they’ll go on to recommend other top-class developers. Overall, though not being the smartest in the room will be difficult to swallow, you will be headed for success in the long run.

Focus on talent rather than experience

Never go with only a resume-based interview, things might look great on paper even when they aren’t. If you find that the candidate is quite talented and has performed in the technical assessment, experience doesn’t matter unless it’s a repetitive task, which is usually not the case in the ever-changing world of technology. Moreover, experienced people tend to stick to the same pattern which they know will work rather than trying to do something different and see if they can do it better.

Ask your peers to interview the candidate as well

Interviewing is a two-way process, not only you’re interviewing the candidate but the candidate is also interviewing you, and top developers are definitely evaluating you. It’s a great idea to involve your peers as a part of the interviewing process. It not only reduces the hiring biases of an individual but also leads to honest interactions and presents a real and holistic view of a company’s work culture and learning opportunities. Remember, developers love talking to other developers!

Seek solutions to problems from real-life

The best way to assess a developer is to simulate a typical work environment for him/her, by giving them real-life problems they’ll face if they are to work in your team. This approach has multiple benefits, you’ll get to learn a lot about the candidate and their on-site potential. Observing them in action will tell you about their creativity, flexibility and time taken to work out the solution. Usually, pros can finish the task in 15 mins while moderate candidates take around 30 mins.

Pay them for their time

If you have a rigorous interviewing process that involves multiple stages and you have shortlisted the top candidates for a final round of interview, consider paying them for their time. Everyone appreciates getting compensated for their time especially if they put in a lot of effort, you have to respect that. It not only projects a good image of your business but also helps in attracting top talents throughout. And, everyone goes back happy even if you turn them down.

Provide flexible options

As remote work becomes the norm, thanks to COVID, providing the flexibility to work from home will reflect well on part of your organisation. Flexibility in working hours along with no time taken in commute leads to increased productivity levels. Most top developers have their customized workstation that they are comfortable working with and being flexible will add to their satisfaction.

Speed up your hiring process

How long you take to make your decision is crucially important in times when things move rapidly. The hiring process should be streamlined to facilitate the hiring in a few days of the final round of interview. Since top talents are widely in demand, you cannot keep them waiting else they’ll consider some other offer. This doesn’t imply that you make hasty decisions rather plan it well so that you can provide the offer within a week of the final interview. It’s equally important to keep candidates updated about the status, let them know whether they have made it or not.

Toptal, an elite community of top-notch freelance software developers, has produced an excellent hiring guide that provides valuable insights to managers and job seekers alike seeking to hire a great software developer for their projects. This practical guide can help you explore the relevant factors with your candidates and team, aiding you in making informed hiring decisions.


We hope that these tips help you streamline your hiring process and recruit the best software developers in your team, however, you must also make sure that you have a decent onboarding process in place and your hires get all the support they might need. Happy hiring!

Ishaan Gupta

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