A Guide for Engineering Leaders to Interviewing Remote Developers

Hiring remote developers

Interviewing candidates for any potential role can be challenging and draining. Hiring remote developers for your team is no different. In order to save time and not waste your energy in long, drawn-out interviewing processes, be smart from the start. Approach interviews with potential remote developers with the five guidelines below in mind, and you’ll be good to go.

1. Choose candidates to interview wisely

First, don’t invite every applicant that passed a CV screen to interview for the position as a developer on your team. The interviewing process can be time-consuming. It’s much wiser to save yourself time and effort by only interviewing candidates with the highest potential.

Additionally, a good technical interview will entail an experienced programmer from your company being present for candidates’ interviews. Commonly, those experienced programmers will have much more on their plate than interviewing new developers. If you are hiring for remote developer roles, chances are you are already lacking manpower in this field. So, taking precious time from available programmers on your team to screen candidates can be costly.

Instead, do a thorough CV screen first. During this step, you can invite candidates to complete an online coding task, or you can carry out structured interviews over the phone first in order to verify the developer’s skills. Through this process, you’ll be able to narrow down the number of potential employees moving forward and interview only the best candidates for the job.

Quick Tip: Always take notes about the reason(s) a candidate is not suited for a position with your company. This way, you can tweak your recruiting process to be more efficient by eliminating candidates earlier in the process in the future.

2. Don’t make candidates answer specific programming questions on the spot

During an interview for a remote developer role, you may decide to include questions specific to programming. While this may be beneficial in some ways, it doesn’t necessarily mean a developer who cannot answer a question off the top of his or her head will perform worse than applicants who can recite the specific answer.

In the age of instant information, these answers are easily accessible and likely take only a couple of seconds to Google and find what you’re looking for. Rather than focusing on a developer candidate’s memory of programming trivia, acknowledge their ability to quickly resolve a complex question or problem. The question is not whether or not a developer needs to do a little research to solve a problem, but instead, that he or she knows how and where to search for the correct information.

3. Touch on communication skills

Of course, when interviewing remote developers, you’re looking for technical skills. But don’t overlook communication skills as an important part of the job. Beyond assessing their programming skills, you should also analyze how a developer will interact with you and your team. For instance, some talented developers are excellent workers and get a job done well alone, but then freeze up or are difficult to work with in a group.

If you are looking for a remote developer that will work as part of a team, don’t neglect to evaluate candidates’ soft skills. While it may sound cliche, there is truth in the idea that soft skills are often the ones that contribute the most to developing the best programming results. This is even more true when hiring a remote developer - people who work successfully from a remote location must have great communication skills.

4. Look for passionate people

One of (if not, the most) important characteristics of a successful developer is having enthusiasm for the job. When seeking passionate candidates during the interviewing process for remote developers, it can be all too easy to mistake excitement for passion. However, in the tech industry, this can be a dangerous mistake.

It’s important to acknowledge that just because a developer may be shy, that doesn’t mean he or she lacks passion for the job or the team. So, rather than evaluating passion in an interview based on an outgoing personality, ask the right questions. For instance, ask your remote developer candidates to tell you about a technical problem they confronted and ask how they solved it.

Then, pay attention to the type of issue they faced to measure their technical skills level. And, more importantly, notice how deep into detail the candidate goes while explaining the situation they dealt with. The amount of detail given will give you insight on how passionate he or she is about his or her craft.

5. Focus on potential

When interviewing developers for hire, focus on each individual's potential. When you select a developer based on his or her potential rather than current skill level, you’re setting both them and your company up for success. Although having a strong base of programming knowledge is imperative, the qualities of a successful developer are much more a function of personality and fit for the company.

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Anyone can be taught to code. What’s much harder is instilling a strong worth ethic and a willingness to learn and receive feedback.

You can learn more about how we recruit and hire developers in the blog our COO, Santiago Castro, wrote about our “secret sauce”. If you’re still unsure about how to interview remote developers, contact us. We’re happy to help guide you further toward choosing the right remote developer for your team.

Nov 30, 2018