On Hiring: How Not to Annoy Developers

| 3 min read
Listen to the audio version:

If you are looking at finding technical co-founders, check out my article on this subject.

In recent years developers become hotter and hotter - especially the good ones - they are hard to find, and they have plenty of employment options to choose from.

Some companies (or individuals who are seeking freelancers) go the extra miles to impress developers with attractive salary/rate and perks, which is nice. But surprisingly, many companies and individuals seem to have a habit of keep doing things that will annoy developers.

Over the years, I have personally encountered many situations that annoyed me as a developer. If you are looking for developers, here are a few things that I think you should be aware of.

Budget Gap

Find out what the developer’s salary/rate expectation is, there is no point if the developer is looking for $120k when you could only afford $80k. It’s absurd to think that you might be able to persuade them with a significant pay cut.

Timing of Hiring

Don’t advertise the position until you are fully ready to hire. Put a job ad up then go on holidays immediately after is a bizarre thing to do.


If you use recruitment agencies, please make sure you know them well enough and if not, do your fair share of research on them. Bad recruitment practices will cost you and damage your reputation. I once dealt with a recruiter who did not even bother to pass along my response to the offer back to the employer.

Technical Assessment

Unless you are Google or Facebook who have a huge pool of candidates to filter, it is probably a bad idea to test your candidate’s technical skills with brainfuck coding questions on paper or on whiteboards.

I am in favour of having candidates to do one or two coding tests (on their own, not during the interview) that will demonstrate their technical abilities without spending too much time or be under interview pressure. If a question is going to take a candidate more than a couple of hours to do, it is too much.

The technical questions should focus on the logic behind a candidate’s solutions, not what functions or libraries a candidate may or may not remember from the API documentation.

Also, pair programming is an excellent way for both parties to get a sense of what it is like to work together.

Communication Channel

This applies more to hiring remote workers and freelancers. If you are pitching your project to a developer, please at the very least write a sentence or two to explain what your project is.

“Would you have time to have a quick chat?” is simply not good enough - good developers are all very busy and are likely to have many projects or potential projects to work on. Even if the developers have the time to chat to you (without knowing what your project is), it is still better to have the conversation via emails so the developers can keep track of things.

Developer Relationship

Recently there is a company in Melbourne who burnt a huge bridge with some of the most respected and talented local developers. Now they are having trouble finding talents even with inflated salary/rate. Moral of the story is, please always treat developers properly.

So, these are the few things I can think of for now. How about you? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories on hiring developers.

Hacker News comments here.

Enjoy what you are reading? Sign up for a better experience on Persumi.