As a co-founder of a software development outsourcing company, I’d like to offer some insight into conducting compelling interviews for remote software developers. It’s worth mentioning that outsourcing is becoming more and more prevalent as companies aim to boost their technical resources and strengthen their software development efforts. A 2018 survey by Deloitte has revealed that outsourcing is now considered a means of driving innovation and acquiring a competitive advantage.
Here are a few key considerations for interviewing remote software developers:
Do’s or things you should do
• Evaluate whether they are the self initiators
When hiring remote software developers, it is crucial to assess their ability to work independently. Since they won’t have someone constantly monitoring their work, they need to be self-motivated and capable of managing their tasks, time, communication, problem-solving, and taking the initiative.
To gauge these qualities, consider asking the candidate about their techniques for organising work and time management. It may also be helpful to request real-life examples of when they have demonstrated these skills or to stage a role-play scenario where they must address a disagreement with a decision they made. This will give you a clearer understanding of their capability to work without close supervision and tackle challenges that may arise in a remote work setting.
• Frame your interview questions wisely
During the interview process for remote software developers, it’s crucial to steer clear of questions that already presume the answer you’re seeking. For example, instead of asking, “Are you capable of working autonomously?” consider inquiring about past scenarios where the candidate took the lead and successfully completed tasks independently. This approach will provide a more accurate representation of their experiences and abilities.
• Always insist on skill testing and code evaluation
As an interviewer, it’s important not just to assess your interviewee’s current knowledge of programming languages, frameworks, and tools but also to gauge their ability to solve real-life coding challenges. To do this, you can present a scenario and ask the interviewee to devise a solution in the form of a pseudo-code.
Since you won’t be able to use a whiteboard during remote interviews, consider using online tools such as a shared text editor to view the code. This will give you an insight into how the interviewee breaks down problems, writes code, and communicates their ideas.
If your budget permits, you can assign a small project to your top candidate and pay them for their work. Be sure to agree on an hourly rate and set a clear budget for the project. Specify the requirements and what you expect from the final product. Ask the candidate to keep you updated on their progress, such as through emails, screen capture videos, or project management tools, so you can see their thought process and the choices they make, including the frameworkthey use and their workflow.
• Give diversity someplace
Remember, having a distinctive work style doesn’t exclude the possibility of a candidate contributing valuable insights and perspectives to your team. The objective is to define clear expectations for team members and encourage cooperation toward achieving common project objectives without allowing petty conflicts or grievances to divert attention away from work at hand.
Don’ts or the things you should not do
• Don’t be limited to a pre-decided interview script.
As the employer, you’ll have a clear understanding of the candidate’s skill level based on their CV and work history. It’s essential to avoid putting excessive pressure on the candidate during a technical evaluation by demanding the exact recall of coding language and syntax.
If they struggle to comprehend the task, be ready to rephrase it or shift to another exercise. The candidate may have trouble grasping your initial approach or feel anxious about making mistakes. To be prepared, have various backup questions and programming challenges of varying difficulty levels and time frames available.
• Don’t undermine team fitness
Do your team members primarily work independently or thrive in a collaborative environment? Evaluate if the candidate will fit in with the dynamics of your remote team or if they might require assistance in adapting. For example, if the interviewee expresses their enjoyment of a peaceful workspace and organized meetings, they may face difficulties with unexpected interruptions from team members who favor spontaneous teamwork.
• Don’t stop with your portfolio. Talk to their clients as well
Assessing a candidate’s competency, prior experience, and successes extends beyond just reviewing their portfolio and the interview. Remember that the references they give you are likely to be biased in their favor.
Expert advice: Ask the candidate to provide a reference from their previous job, regardless of the field. If the candidate is a freelancer, request a reference from their second most recent client. This will allow you to evaluate their skills without causing any concern for their current workplace, and you can gauge their level of openness by their reply or any excuses they make.
• Don’t think a single bad app with poor experience says it all
While a few negative experiences with clients can raise flags, sometimes, an employee and company simply don’t match. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a good fit for your remote team. If you come across a single negative reference among many positive ones, ask the candidate about their experience with the client who disagreed with their approach. Try to understand how they managed the situation and what they gained from it.
Another tip to remember is to ask the interviewee about their understanding of your company and if they have any questions for you. Suppose they bring up specific projects or express interest in learning more about the history and background of your company. In that case, it indicates that they have done their research and are truly invested in working for you.
Over to You
All the dos and Don’ts we have mentioned above are not something new. They represent the basic principles and time-tested practices of hiring remote developers. If you want to get the best out of remote resources for your app development project, you cannot deviate from these practices and principles.