20 Questions You Need To Ask When Hiring a Software Engineer

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A website is the very first point of contact your audience has with your brand. This is why it is so essential to create that proper first impression. The quality of your website has the potential to make or break your business, and how your website turns out in the end depends almost entirely on your software engineer.  

It’s clear, then, that before you hire a software engineer, it’s worth taking them through a wide gamut of different questions to ask him/her in order to understand a variety of things related to their background, experience, work, and also brief them about your own company. Ultimately, it’s important that you hire someone who is not only professional, but understands the scope of your brand, your target audience, your company goals, and so on. 

Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Software Engineer

We all know the usual list of technical tests and coding interviews you can run with candidates – but the real value comes from asking holistic/culture questions. You can teach a software engineer new skills, but you can’t teach culture fit. By asking these questions, you can identify the ones that best suit your requirements from those who are not the right fit for your business.

Here are the questions you should be asking software engineers before hiring one:

1. How Much Experience Do You Have?

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Experience is one of the most important things to look for in a software engineer, much like any other position. The developer you choose should have a minimum of five years’ experience working in the field your website will be based on. However, specific prior employers may not need to be given as much weight in this consideration since some software engineers start out by working for freelance for themselves, their friends and family, and so on.

2. Are There Any Industry Sites and Blogs You Look Up Regularly?

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This question will give you insight regarding how much knowledge the software engineer possesses about current trends and technologies. It will also prove the passion they have for their job. Someone who is serious about their job and loves it with all their heart will also be someone who keeps track of the latest trends, as opposed to someone who is in it just as a hobby or for the paychecks. 

3. What Kind of Technologies Do You Use?

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Regardless of what you may or may not know about programming languages and development, this is one you should pay attention to. If their answer matches the kind of web development you’re looking for, you’ve hit the jackpot. But bear in mind that all tech skills may not fit all requirements.  The requirement for a WordPress developer, for example, should be that they need to be well-versed with PHP – but that might signal a red flag for a more modern stack.

4. Do You Like Working Alone or with a Team?

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While some software engineers like working alone, others like working with a team, and it depends on the kind of experience they’ve had so far. Your project could be one where your software engineer needs to work in close quarters with a team. Therefore, it’s good to ask this during a software engineer interview.

5. What Projects You Have Worked on So Far?

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By asking about the kinds of projects a software engineer has worked on in the past, you can gather an idea of whether they will be able to handle the kind of project you have in mind. You could be looking for someone who belongs to a specific niche, or someone who has delved into eclectic projects. This will help you learn whether you can rely on them or not.

6. What’s Your Research Process Like?

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Their research process will give you an idea of how thorough their work is overall. If you’re familiar with any companies they’ve produced websites for,do your due diligence and take a look into how well their brand and identity are represented within their website on top of functionality and smooth UI/UX. Anyone entrusting the representation of their business to a software engineer needs to trust that the software engineer has their best interests in mind and can translate their identity consistently online. 

7. How Long Do You Take to Complete a Project?

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This is important to ask especially if you have a deadline with your project. Some software engineers are used to finishing a task really quickly; others can take a while. It’s better to inform them beforehand if you need to get the task completed by a certain date so that they know what they’re getting into.

8. What is Your SEO Strategy Like?

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Your website ranking high among search engines is super important for your target audience to discover you. In this day and age, any competent software engineer should know the nitty gritty of employing search engine optimization (SEO) in order to increase the visibility of your website, thereby helping in the generation of leads and increasing the engagement of your brand.

9. Are You Comfortable Writing HTML by Hand?

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Writing an HTML document right from the beginning to the end surprisingly isn’t something every software engineer can do – especially in an age of frameworks and boilerplates. However, if you truly want a software engineer who knows his job, it’s always advisable to go with one who can write an HTML document without the help of external resources.

10. Are You Okay with Doing Revisions?

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Web development, more so than any other form of development, is a game of revisions. Your first release will almost always end up being a different codebase entirely from your last. Revisions could be a part of the process, and your software engineer should be aware of that. Since some are wary of doing a lot of iterations, it’s best to know beforehand how comfortable they are with this situation in case it does happen in the field with clients.

11. Do You Have a Marketing Background?

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In addition to SEO, there are a few qualities related to the field of marketing that always come in handy when selecting a software engineer. CRO, growth hacking, SEO and basic content marketing are elements that your software engineer should be more than a little familiar with. 

12. How is Your CSS?

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In order to customize a website, a software engineer should possess stellar knowledge related to CSS. Are they CSS wizards who can create dynamic experiences with the flick of a few stylesheets? Or are they reliant on scripting to add extra base functionality and dynamism to your websites? There’s nothing more powerful than a software engineer with a versatile CSS toolkit.

13. Can You Show Me Examples of Your Work?

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For anyone making this investment, it is important to see what work your potential next software engineer has already done. A portfolio of their previous work or even a link that provides examples of what they’ve developed so far will provide some insight into their clients, the quality of their work and what features and layouts, they’re capable of implementing. Lastly, their portfolio will also allow you to consider whether the work they have created so far is consistent with your brand.

14. How Do You Like to Communicate?

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Get this point established in the very beginning. Whether it’s through audio calls, video conferences, or a project management software, the medium of communication should always be made clear. 

15. What is Your Expected Compensation?

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If you have a particular budget you need to stick to, then this question becomes very important. You need someone who can get the work done within that budget. But perhaps also consider how much you’re able to reallocate should you find a candidate slightly out-of-reach. 

16. Will Edits be Easy to Make?

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You might want to make changes to your website at some point such as adding features or implementing a new section, for example,  an e-commerce store. In that case, you need to make sure that the software engineer keeps this process easy for you.

17. Can I Get References for Your Work?

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Resumes and portfolios are often a representation of a candidate’s best work or best self and there are numerous courses online for solving all for the whiteboarding questions you could possibly throw at them. These pieces of info also don’t tell much about the character qualities important for retention and culture fit. So getting more perspective is an important piece of due diligence. Former employers and former clients are great resources to tap for a broader picture of an employee’s character. But do consider that they are human and the information from these references are part of a larger picture. 

18. What Sized Websites Have You Worked On?

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If your website is of a larger scale, it’s safer to work with a developer who is used to the magnitude of work you’re looking at. They’ll be more acquainted with the intricacies and scale of your company and website along with the challenges that presents. 

19. Are You Good with PHP and MySQL?

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Many people looking for software engineers for WordPress frequently forget this step – don’t assume that just because any software engineer has a sparkly portfolio and a few clients that they’ll write good performance code.

20. What is your background with Security?

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Security is now a bigger concern than ever. With phishing scams and cyber attacks taking place constantly, you need to make sure the security of your website stays top-notch. Therefore, ask your developer how they intend to approach the problem of security with your digital presence, and consider consulting a 3rd party security consultant. 

Bottom Line: 

Your website is an essential part of your company. It is a prospecting, e-commerce or information resource that is an indispensable part of your marketing and sales efforts. Hiring a software engineer is no easy task, but these questions should provide a solid foundation. If you still feel overwhelmed, contact HIRECLOUT today. HIRECLOUT takes a holistic approach to address not only qualifications but also culture-fit with an emphasis on employee retention and is a specialist in staffing and recruiting for the tech industry.