How To Hire Amazing Developers

Our clients are consistently impressed with the level of talent and skills of the developers they hire through our staff augmentation firm, Jobsity. It’s something we pride ourselves on: hiring the top 5% of talent in the developer community in Colombia and Ecuador.

Our team is the reason we have the opportunity to work on world-class projects for household name companies in the US. So, how do we do it? How do we hire the best?

Here are the three most important points of our hiring philosophy.

Focus on potential.

When you hire based on the potential of a developer, instead of their current skill level, you’re setting them--and yourself--up for success. Of course, a strong base of knowledge in programming is extremely important. But the qualities of a great developer are more a function of personality and what makes them tick, apart from their technical skill set.

We can teach anyone to code. You know what we can’t teach? Work ethic. A willingness to learn. Humility. A problem-solving attitude. Technology is constantly changing. Solutions are evolving. So, even the most advanced developer today without these qualities, will be unqualified tomorrow.

This is why our interviews with candidates always include a live practical test using a software that allows us to give the developer a challenge and see how they react and what approach they take.

We’re not interested in whether or not the task is completed 100% perfectly. What we’re looking for are subtle signs of work ethic, creativity and attitude: How do they think? Can they change course quickly when things don’t go as expected? How organized are they?

The answers to those questions are fundamental to our decision. They define the potential a candidate has to become a great developer. Coding can be taught at Jobsity, but not thoughtfulness, organization and flexibility.

Look for hard and soft skills.

This blend is critical. It’s important that developers have a deep understanding of their craft as well as a deep understanding of how to complete a job from start to finish. Two incredibly important signs to look for are listening, and attention to detail.

A great way to test this is to give a task with specific instructions. It doesn’t have to be related to coding. For example, one of the things we like to ask in any interview is “Tell me about a hobby of yours and pretend I know nothing about it. You can take any amount of time to prepare. You have one minute to explain.”

In listening to their responses, we’re looking for three things:

  1. That they paid attention to the instructions and didn’t go over the time limit.

  2. That they were thorough with their answer, remembering that they should assume all the information is new to the listener.

  3. That they organized their thoughts - they had unlimited time to prepare.

You would be amazed at the number of people who can’t successfully accomplish those three elements in their answer. If you can code like a master, but you can’t follow instructions, you’re simply not a good fit.

Hire passionate people.

I have not (yet) come up with software to grade passion in a job interview, but it’s potentially the most important characteristic of a Jobsity developer. I’ve noticed that many professionals often confuse passion with excitement. It’s easy to do. But, especially in the tech industry, it can be a big mistake.

Some of the most passionate developers on our team are relatively shy people. So, how do you measure passion in an interview? We pose a pretty simple premise: Tell us about a technical problem you confronted and how you solved it.

Here, we can listen for the type of issue they had to measure their technical skills level. But more importantly, we’re looking to see how deep they go into explaining the situation and how much detail they give. This tells us how passionate they are about their craft.

A lot of measuring passion comes down to a gut feeling. Now, my COO, Santiago Castro, and I are both developers. We’ve spent years working with our peers to create products and solve technical problems, so we know a passionate developer when we see one.

We’re also always sure to put together a diverse panel of interviewers to get a broad perspective about a candidate. And we always ask about everyone’s gut feeling.

The philosophy works.

If it sounds like we put a lot of thought into our hiring process - it’s because we do.

It’s not a typical job interview; our developers go through an initial screening and then 3 interviews and a take-home exercise that measures all these characteristics I’ve mentioned. Then, we hire only the top 5% of applicants.

So, why do people go through with such a grueling recruitment process? It’s because they know that working at Jobsity will give them an opportunity to work on world-class development projects for great brands in North America. They also know that Jobsity is interested in not only making them a better developer, but a better professional and a better person.

Our process takes time and throughout the last years, we’ve built an amazing team. We take all the time we need to make a hiring decision, a luxury many of our clients don’t have. When they need developers, they need them now and we provide them with the best.

If you’re looking to hire a developer with both hard and soft skills who’s already been put through the gauntlet of what it takes to be an amazing developer, you should contact us. We’re good listeners here, and will be happy to spend some time with you discussing your needs.

See our Guide To Building Distributed Teams for a comprehensive walk-through of how to select vendors and successfully contract with augmented development staff.

Oct 02, 2018
Andres Garzon
Andres Garzon

Andrés Garzón is the CEO of Jobsity, a nearshore staff augmentation firm based in the United States, Ecuador and Colombia. Founded in 2007, Jobsity was selected in 2017 as an Endeavor fellow. With a focus on agencies and product companies, Jobsity’s clients have included NBC, GroupOn, Walgreens, etc.