How to Hire Programmers If You Don’t Have a Technical Background?

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27 Jul 2020
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13 min
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Oleksandr Sh.
Technical writer

It’s a difficult task to hire a programmer for a project. Especially when you don’t have tech expertise to hold technical interviews. There are so many details to consider that even professional headhunters sometimes make hiring mistakes. According to Statista, there’s a wide variety of tools and programming languages that confuse experienced recruiters, let alone a non-tech person.

So, how to hire programmers and not to fail?

In this post, we’ll explain all tricky moments connected with interviews, reveal the skills to focus on, and explain all the hiring options you have. Let’s get started.

Table of contents

Preparation Steps Before Hiring a Programmer

Technical expertise isn’t the only thing that has to be thought over to hire a computer programmer. Before you start searching for developers, you have to clearly define the requirements for your project and set clear goals. Market analysis, user research, and detailed feature list guarantee a pure vision of your product.

Let’s get a closer look at each of these steps.

Research

Whatever niche you choose, you have to conduct detailed research. Figure out your audience, rivals, and possible obstacles. Compare your idea to already existing projects to understand how unique your project is. There’s no point in developing a complete clone of another project. Users won’t use a no-name product if there’s another well-established one. Besides, some programmers for hire don’t have a burning passion for boring and typical projects.

Platforms

Well-held research lets you figure out the platforms that suit your product the most. Thus, if your audience mostly uses Android, you can launch a Minimum Valuable Product (MVP) for this platform and leave iOS development for later. Mind that native development for both platforms will cost you two times more than the project for a single platform.

On top of that, different platforms use different programming languages. For example, apps for iOS require developers to know Swift or Objective-C. If we’re talking about Android engineers, they use Kotlin or Java. Web engineers use HTML, CSS, JavaScript for front-end development, MySQL for databases, and Node.js or C# for back-end development. Plus, depending on the task, developers have to work with various frameworks and SDKs. So, when creating a job offer, make sure to specify the core language for your project. It’s better to hire a programmer who’s proficient with a specific technology than someone who’s average with several tools.

Here are programming languages used to develop projects on different platforms:

Programming languages for different platforms
Android Kotlin/Java

iOS

Swift/Objective-C

Web

HTML+CSS+JavaScript+Java/C#/Angular

Wear OS

Kotlin/Java

Watch OS

Swift/Objective-C

Wearables stand apart from other platforms. In addition to the app on a wearable device, they also need a mobile phone app to communicate and transmit the data. During the interview, make inquiries about the developer’s experience in building apps for wearable platforms.

Feature List

Without regard to the type of developers for hire, they’ll ask you to provide a feature list.

Feature lists let developers understand what tech stack to use during the project and what the final version of the software is meant to be.

Still, you can reach out to a software development company and stay laconic, like “I want a Twitch app”. However, such requirements don’t carry any valuable information themselves. Because of unclear requirements, business analysts will use more time to figure out what you really want and your final expectations for the project.

Moreover, if you’re planning to find freelance developers for hire or gather an in-house team, describe your demands precisely. These teams usually don’t have business analysts to help with requirements, so this responsibility falls on your shoulders. If your team doesn’t have clear requirements, your software's final version may contradict your expectations.

You can split the feature list into two types:

  • Primary features (MVP) that should be developed first and foremost.
  • Advanced features to make your software more sophisticated.
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Want to learn more about MVP development? This article explains the benefits, stages, and pitfalls of MVP.

MVP is a great tool to reduce time-to-market and gather initial feedback. This type of project includes only primary features that allow users to test the concept of your app. For example, to develop an MVP version of a telehealth app, you need to create a registration screen, management of electronic health records, integrate streaming protocols, and create a calendar of appointments.

The rest of the features can be developed later, after the validation of your idea.

Can’t decide on features?
Our business analysts can consult you on project requirements and tech stack free of charge.

UI/UX Design

There’s no escape from design. Without design, computer programmers for hire won’t have a basis to work on. Designers indeed are the team that gets to work before developers. They provide you with a wireframe, which is a draft of your future product. Wireframes display a general scheme of the app and the layout of all components. Even though wireframes may differ in details, their main goal is to show the proper placement of buttons, icons, navigational elements, and more.

In outsourcing companies that provide UI/UX design services, designers proceed to the main phase of the work after your approval of wireframes. They pick matching color schemes, develop a graphic design, navbars, buttons, create animations for in-app navigation. Besides all this, they also keep the overall concept of the app user-friendly and intuitive.

Where to Hire Programmers?

As we’re clear with project requirements and your primary responsibilities, let’s proceed to hiring options.

Basically, there are three of them:

  • Freelance developers — self-employed programmers
  • In-house developers — engineers that work from your company’s office
  • Outsourcing companies — a company that develops your product from another country

It’s high time to take a closer look at each option.

Freelance

Freelance programmers for hire are a perfect match for minor tasks and software upgrades. Freelancers can fix bugs, perform testing of different software parts, integrate various APIs, and more. But how are things going with more complicated tasks?

What are the benefits of hiring freelance programmers?

What are freelance developers good for?

Hiring a whole team of freelancers for a large project is a risky idea. Due to team fragmentation and lack of management, the project can take much more time, and the quality may suffer. To organize the whole process, you’ll have to manage it on your own or hire a freelance project manager. Both options will cost you additional time and money.

On top of that, it may be challenging to find reliable freelance computer programmers for hire. Some of them deliver a project with bugs and vulnerabilities, while others may take the advance payment and disappear forever.

Why you shouldn't hire freelance developers?

Pitfalls of hiring freelance developers

The only viable option is to hire freelancers and place them all together in your office. Freelance-contractors are a common practice among entrepreneurs. Thus, you gain more control over the development process and improve the cooperation between developers.

If you’re interested in freelance programmers for hire, here are some platforms where they offer their services:

  • Upwork
  • Youteam
  • Toptal
  • Fiverr
  • Peopleperhour
  • Freelancer

In the table below, you can find hourly rates of the US-based freelancers by field of activity.

Rates of freelance developers
Developer Hourly rates (US)

Front-end

$61-80/hour

Back-end

$61-80/hour

Full stack

$81-100/hour

iOS

$81-100/hour

Android

$61-80/hour

In-house Team

In-house teams are popular among large companies that have to maintain their software and want to create new products. Companies hire programmers to keep them at hand because of the superb level of control over the development team and improved communication. On top of that, a stable team that developed a product will maintain it effectively because of knowledge of the codebase.

Why hire in-house programmers for your project?

Positive traits of in-house teams

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We’ve explained the difference between in-house teams and outsourcing companies and the pros and cons of each approach.

However, this option has one significant drawback — the price. In the US or Western Europe, it’ll cost you a fortune to hire programmers for an in-house team. For example, US-based UI/UX designers earn $85,300/year. Developers, who are the core of the whole team earn $80,000/year on average. Mind that rates vary depending on the developer’s commercial experience and your location. Thus, a Californian senior programmer for hire may earn $150,000/year and even more. QA developers are an integral part of the team. In the US, their average salary is $71,000/year.

Why you shouldn't hire in-house developers for your project?

Points to watch out with in-house programmers

On top of that, you have to consider additional expenses like office rent, software licenses, and purchase of hardware.

Outsourcing Companies

Outsourcing software development companies are a middle ground between in-house teams and freelancers. They include all the positive traits listed before and minimize the risks. Basically, outsourcing implies delegating your project to a third-party company located in another country. Therefore a company from Poland, Ukraine, or Czech will develop your project, and their project manager will keep you posted about the situation.

How outsourcing teams can benefit to your business?

What does outsourcing bring to your business?

With an outsourcing company, you don’t have to hire programmers on your own. The company already has its own dedicated team. Outsourcing teams usually charge slightly more than freelance developers, but much less than in-house teams.

Here are approximate outsource software developers’ rates in different regions:

Freelance developers' rates in different regions
Region Developers’ rates ($/hour)

North America

$150-$200/hour

Western Europe

$50-$149/hour

Eastern Europe

$25-$49/hour

Oceania

$100-$150/hour

Asia

$20-$40/hour

South America

$25-$49/hour

However, lower rates don’t affect product quality. Experienced outsource programmers for hire have the same level of expertise as in-house developers. This guarantees high performance and fault tolerance for your software. Still, to find a reliable tech partner, you have to conduct detailed research. The best way to make sure about the company’s reliability is to check their clients’ reviews.

How to conduct research to hire programmers?

Customer reviews about Cleveroad

The following services provide extensive information about the company and provide the company’s rating:

  • Clutch
  • GoodFirms
  • ITFirms
  • LinkedIn

What Should You Choose?

As you see, every approach has its own benefits and drawbacks. Everything depends on your project requirements and future plans. If you’re planning on making frequent updates for your app, it’s better to go with an outsourcing company or an in-house team. If you have a humble project and you’re on a budget, it’s better to choose freelance developers.

We’ve created this comparative table to help you to hire programmers.

Comparison of different hiring options
Attributes / Teams Freelance Outsource In-house

Development cost

The smallest price to build a project

Reasonable price for the obtained quality

The price is too high for startups and small businesses

Product quality

Unpredictable quality, no guarantees of a viable product

Top-notch quality, sustainable performance

Communication with the client

Lack of project management leads to unawareness

PMs always keep you posted on the project condition

You have total control over the project and your team

Team cooperation

Freelancers can’t split tasks effectively without PM

Both teams use scrum methodology that serves for perfect teamwork

Design quality

Freelance developers manage only business logic without design

Designers work together with developers to create an attractive app

With an in-house approach, you’ll have to hire designers on your own

Quality assurance

Freelance developers usually don’t bother with testing

QA engineers test the app during each sprint and fix bugs

To test the project, you have to hire QA engineers

How to Interview Programmers for Hire?

As we’ve figured out where to find programmers for hire, it’s time to know how to interview them. Let’s imagine that you’ve found several developers whose skills match your project requirements. How can you make sure that they’re good at their job? The only option is to interview them. However, an interview requires an understanding of technical details and human behavior.

In outsourcing companies, teams are already assembled, so you don’t waste your time and money to hire a programmer with experience in a particular field. That’s a strong advantage of outsourcing companies over in-house teams and freelancers. Still, if you’re interested in interviewing programmers, let’s discover the key points to pay attention to.

We’ve divided all skills into two groups:

  • Soft skills. These skills reflect the performer’s ability to manage stress, cooperate with the team, communicate with the client, and more.
  • Hard skills. This set of skills indicate the programmer’s tech-savviness and proficiency with development tools.

How to Check Soft Skills?

If you want to hire a programmer that is a great team player, full of motivation, and dedication here are some questions worth asking:

  • What time management techniques do you use in your workflow?
  • How do you deal with distraction factors?
  • How do you establish a connection with other team members?
  • How do you keep motivated while dealing with monotonous tasks?
  • How do you keep productivity under stress loads?

These questions are suitable when you’re assembling an in-house team. But what are the options with freelance programmers? If you want to hire a programmer who works as a freelancer, check reviews on the freelancer’s page. No one else can tell you more about the contractor except for an angry client.

How to hire a developer with outstanding soft skills?

Must-have soft skills when hiring a programmer

How to Check Hard Skills?

Hard skills define the programmer’s preferable tech stack. Kotlin or Java, front-end or back-end, Flutter, or React, all of these choices determine the programmer’s role in the project.

How to hire a programer with outstanding hard skills?

Must-have hard skills for every developer

Here’s a list of hard skills required for different specializations:

Recruiters on their own can’t assess developers’ skills completely. That’s why companies engage CTO or senior developers to evaluate the candidate. However, if you don’t have experienced employees at the moment, here are two tips that will help you to decide on the developer.

Ask for someone else’s help

If you’re good at detecting candidates’ soft skills, but don’t have tech expertise, you can ask for help. Ask your tech-savvy friend to stick around during the interview. Thus, a friend of yours will evaluate the programmer’s experience, so you’ll be able to decide whether to hire a programmer or not.

Inquire about the programmer’s pet-project

Nothing else can show the programmer’s dedication and passion to the programming as their own pet-project. Ask for the candidate’s personal GitHub account and download their files from recently updated repositories. If you see a long history of commits, it means that the engineer continuously works on the project. This signals about the programmer’s commitment.

Besides, we have a list of questions that will help you to assess the candidate’s suitability for a particular position.

If you have no technical expertise, these questions don’t guarantee a successful interview. That’s why it’s better to seek help from experienced developers or contact an outsourcing software development company.

Why Hire Programmers at Cleveroad?

At Cleveroad, we offer full-cycle development services. We have 140+ developers with expertise in various niches, and we’ll help you to hire a programmer that will be a perfect fit for your project. We’ve delivered more than 170 successful projects to our clients in different parts of the world.

Here are some of our latest projects:

  • Social media. Ayoo, a social media platform for dancers
  • Retail. RetialOps, a SaaS solution for retail.
  • Fitness. LetsSurf allows users to book surf classes and pay via the app.
  • Restaurant booking. Foodito allows users to make table reservations and provide special offers.
Want to hire a programmer?
Our experienced developers are proficient with various technologies. Get consulted for free.

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