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5 Dimensions for Hiring App Developers

Published May 26, 2014

Long before I started hiring app developers, I had the privilege of doing some writing and marketing work for Steve Suggs.

Steve is a hiring and recruiting expert. He designs custom recruiting strategies and hiring processes for large companies. An ideal client for him would be an insurance or financial services company. Such companies often invest $100,000 or more in training a single new representative. If a rep leaves the company within a short period of time, then the company doesn’t recoup its investment. Identifying and hiring the right people minimizes turnover, and

Steve helps his clients hire the right people from the beginning and avoid wasting millions on recruitment and training costs.

Though your hiring mistakes probably don’t cost you $100,000, you can definitely benefit from using the five “dimensions of hiring” from Steve’s methodology when hiring app developers:

  • Character
  • Personality
  • Attitude
  • Motivation
  • Skills

I wish I had adopted Steve’s methodology sooner. In “How to Develop an App the Painful Way” I’ve already shared the full story of how I made a bad hire in fall 2013 and wasted $2150.

Because I was in a rush to fix several mission-critical bugs in Viva Stampede, I didn’t ask enough questions in the initial interview. Like most developers hiring a new programmer, I focused on the last dimension—skills. But clearly I didn’t even do a good job assessing that dimension because my new programmer went on vacation during the middle of the project, and left me with unfinished, buggy code!

I had spent money creating a liability, not an asset.

But rather than blame the programmer, I decided to reassess my hiring process.

I noticed lots of gaps. My interview should have included questions designed to evaluate the programmer’s character, as well as questions helpful for gaining insights into his personality, attitude, and motivation.

Why is character the most important dimension?

Suppose my programmer had delivered clean code. Well, even clean code has limited value if the programmer never finishes the project or if a dishonest programmer turns around and sells the code or gives it away for free. In the same respect, a positive attitude and winsome personality only get you so far if your developer comes in past deadlined and over budget. We indie developers must learn how to hire creatives with honest, hard-working programmers who care about the quality of their work and have world-class skills.

To that end, I taken cues from some of Steve’s material and written interview questions for all five dimensions:

Character

  • Tell me about yourself. → Focus on the interviewee’s relationships, desires related to work, achievements, goals, and motivations).
  • What do you know about our company? → You’re trying to determine if the candidate took the time to do research on your company and whether he’s enthusiastic about the prospect of working with you or if this is simply another job to pay the bills.
  • Do you like anything we’re doing?
  • Have you noticed anything that we could improve?
  • Why are you interested in this position/project? → You’re looking for a fit in terms of values, personality, or goals.
  • If we start working together, what do you hope to get out of the relationship? → This is a good question for gaining insight into what drives the candidate.
  • What do you need now and in the future to do this job well? → Ascertain whether the candidate has a firm grasp on financial needs and ideal work environment.

Personality

  • Where does your family live?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
  • Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extravert?

Motivation

  • What would you say are the three most important things in your life? → You’re looking for candidates who desire to take care of others and improve themselves.
  • What do you think it will take to be successful here?
  • Why we should consider you for this position?
  • What specifically in your life do you want to change?
  • How will being successful in this job help you toward this goal?
  • What are your professional goals for the next couple of years?

Character

  • How do you respond when a client asks you to do something that doesn’t line up with your ethics or values?
  • How do you respond when a client asks you to change features or functionality that will lower the overall quality of the project?
  • Which people are you closest to? Family, friends, co-workers?
  • Do you have a lot of close friends?
  • Do you ever volunteer or do pro bono work?
  • Who would you say has had the most influence in shaping your character?
  • Do you remember any pivotal moments or “life lessons” that you’d care to share?
  • What did he or she teach you about honesty?
  • How has that perspective on honesty benefitted you?
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t live up to his or her expectations.
  • What should you have done differently?
  • What are you currently doing to become a better person?
  • Who are your heroes?
  • What do you do if you begin losing enthusiasm for a project?
  • Can you tell us about a time when something went wrong on a project and you had to take responsibility?
  • What is your definition of work ethic?
  • What are some specific experiences you’ve had that have challenged or built your work ethic?
  • Have you ever been put into a situation where you had to lie for a boss or co-worker?

Attitude

  • What are your strengths? What do you think you’re best at?
  • What parts of a project are more challenging or draining for you?
  • What did you like about your last job or project?
  • What did you dislike about your last job or project?
  • What is frustrating for you when working with clients?
  • Who is the best boss you’ve ever had? What did you like about him/her?
  • Do you consider yourself an optimistic person?
  • How would you define success?

Skills

  • What skills do you think this project involves?
  • Name your top five skills or strengths.
  • What do you enjoy about what you do?
  • If money were no object, and you could do anything with your time, what would you do?
  • What is your preferred method of communication? Email? Project management platform? Skype chat?
  • What in your work do you find most satisfying?
  • What drives you to do good work? The monetary benefits? The recognition? The chance to collaborate with talented people?
  • Do you have a Github profile that I can check out?
  • Do you have a Stackoverflow profile that I can check out?
  • How many projects are you currently working on?
  • Have you ever had to pull an “all-nighter” to meet a deadline? → The answer to this question can teach you something about the candidate’s time management skills.
  • Do you prefer working with a team or working solo? → You’re trying to figure out whether this person is a good team player.

For a more comprehensive look at Steve’s methodology, check out his book, Can They Sell – Learn to Recruit the Best Salespeople. You can find it on Amazon.

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Do you have any secrets or tricks that you use when hiring app developers? Share them in the Comments section below.

 

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