In this online world, freelancers, business owners and just about anyone else are continually coming up with ideas for software that can solve any problem. However, software design is a very specialised skill, and the chances are that the person that comes up with the idea will not necessarily have the requisite skills to put their idea into action. Some ideas are quickly forgotten, but if you have a piece of software in mind and want to make it a reality, you’ll need a programmer. Assuming you have never hired one before and do not have someone specific in mind, there are some general rules to adhere to when hiring – and they go for both online communications and face-to-face hires too.
1. Let Prospective Hires Ask Questions
Programmers are often thought of as being quiet and introverted, but this is not much more the case than the general population. The chattier ones will stand out naturally, but it is worth paying attention to the questions they ask. If your idea is unique, it will require the programmer to do something new, and if you can establish early on that they have an aptitude for learning and finding creative ways to solve problems, this reflects well on what they will bring to your project.
2. Attention to Detail is Crucial
Even if you know next to nothing about programming, you’ll be aware that one mistake in a piece of code can cause the entire execution to fall over. It is important to look beyond work examples to establish your potential programmer’s approach, as they are unlikely to send software that does not work to prove their skills! If communicating online, observe their written style and spelling errors. In person, check out their personal presentation. It might not reflect on their coding ability, but it can give insight into their approach.
3. Establish their Approach to a New Job
The best programmers are often logically minded, and their task involves not just writing code but planning how they get to where they need to be from where they are now. Be upfront and ask how they approach a new task – if they say that they sit down and start coding, your software is probably not going to end up being as good as it could be.
4. Comprehension Skills are Important
When hiring a programmer, it can be tempting to look beyond your native country, primarily for cost purposes. You do not need a degree in English Literature to be a competent programmer, and some of the best we have used spoke very little at all. However, this is not about their coding skills. Instead, we need to focus on someone that can understand the tasks put to them and that can clearly ask questions and discuss the project going forward.
5. Seek an Appetite for Learning
Your knowledge of programming languages is probably as limited as ours, but we do know that things rarely stay the same. Languages have a shelf-life and get overtaken by an alternative that can do everything they can and much more besides. If your candidate can demonstrate a willingness to learn, the chances are that they will be comfortable with the latest coding options. The smarter the coding language, the better the end product will be.
6. Consider their Adaptability
Depending on where you are in your thought process, you may have spent months mapping out your software idea or own a company that knows what it is doing. Alternatively, the idea may have popped into your head, and the first thing you set out to do was hire someone to bring it to life. In either scenario, things change. You may want to meet a different need with the software part-way through the project or change the priorities of associated features. Your programmer should be happy to accommodate these changes and have an idea of how to implement them without disrupting the workflow.
7. Establish their Willingness to Work as a Team
Unless you are someone with little more than an idea and no business in which to deploy it, the programmer will be just one cog in the machine. In the very least, they will probably not be involved with designing graphics, writing content or maintaining your website. However, their value remains, as they will be the person that knows more about the software than anyone else and should be reliable when sharing information with those that need it. On larger software projects, a single coder is rarely enough, and you need to establish early on that they are a good fit with other hires.
8. You Both Need to Handle Failure
As we have mentioned already, we have put this feature together on the basis that you hope to create something never seen before. Things will go wrong, and it is crucial that you and the coder are comfortable with getting it wrong. It must not derail the project and should be seen as the learning experience that it is.
9. Consider the Programmer’s Ongoing Availability
If you are hiring on behalf of a company, then the chances are that your programmer of choice will come in to stick around for a while. If it is more a personal or freelance project, you should seek assurances from your software provider. Development is never complete, and feature requests, patches and even complete overhauls may be required. This is always easier when the original creator is on hand. At the very least, ensure that they provide enough documentation that handover to another employee is as seamless as possible.
10. Manage Negative Qualities
No programmer is perfect. The best outright coder could be the laziest or the most knowledgeable in a certain coding language may be unable to speak English outside the code itself. Think about what negatives you can accommodate – great code that is always a few days late is usually a good compromise.