Hire Freelance Programmer - Find Top-Notch Talent in 2020
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Hire Freelance Programmer

How to Find Top-Notch Talent
9 min read
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In a time when digital transformation is the next step for many organizations, hiring top-notch programmers has become a priority for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Creative professionals and talented engineers and computer programmers are vital in a company’s core businesses. But with the tech community teeming with potential hires waiting to be discovered, how does one exactly find a strong, top-notch talent that will fit perfectly in their organization?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Weed out weak candidates early on in the process

Software engineers are the ones who pave the way for your software or app development landscape. Before starting the hiring process, however, it is important to drill down the skill sets that suit your business development goals. Without specifying such needs, you might end up hiring inappropriate people. Of course, they may still be experts in their fields and be among the most talented specialists, but they might not be the best fit for your specific project. 

However, more often than not you will end up with weak candidates who do not meet your requirements. Thus, you definitely want to avoid such hiring mistakes by examining their coding proficiency (particularly if you are looking for niche development skills). The ones with the skill to help push your business will no doubt stand out from the hiring pool.

2. Set clear expectations before you hire freelance programmer

It is important that you and the candidate are on the same page in terms of expectations from one another. Be straightforward with the basics such as work arrangements and hours, workload, and the like. If you cannot agree on such basic things, then it is best to part ways sooner rather than later. This narrows down the hiring pool and saves you a lot of time by weeding out those candidates that are not a fit for your organization.

Developers work to improve the performance of your business. However, if you are already working with a particular framework or system, you will want to make a note of this before the hiring process.

If you are building a team from scratch, having a plan and a list of program and development requirements will make it easier to find the right programmers for you. If you are improving an in-house team, then you already have a good idea of your team’s strong suits and what can be improved.

freelance java developer
It is important that you and the candidate are on the same page in terms of expectations from one another.

3. Test their skills in practice

When looking for programmers to join your team, the first thing to check is their résumé. However, do not blindly trust what is written in their CVs. Quite often candidates like to color up their skills and experience. That is why it is extremely important to test their knowledge in practice and focus on the in-person interview.

Problem-solving skills are essential for any programmer, as they are the ones responsible for creating, deploying, managing programs, and everything that falls under it. A good developer is able to quickly identify the cause of an issue and to solve it efficiently. This can be anything from a bug within an existing code to dealing with a scalability problem. 

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interview strategy is a great way to test their practical problem-solving skills. This technique gives you an idea not only on the knowledge of the candidate but also on how they react to roadblocks and if they have overcome similar development issues in the past.

Every certification, project, and skill highlighted on a candidate’s CV gives you a more complete picture of their logical, problem-solving mindset. 

4. Test that they are up-to-date with the latest tech

In the fast-paced digital world, being one of the first is always important to stand out from the crowd. For programmers, this means they need to be up-to-date with the latest design and UI trends. After all, there is no point in catching up with the competition only to have your design or program be outdated in a couple of months.

It is not only important for a programmer to have solid fundamentals and understanding of their domain, but they should also be adept at the specific tech subdomain they are being considered for. For example, a generalist developer (full-stack engineer) can do both front-end (UI) and back-end development work, but might not be that updated with the newest trends. Meanwhile, a web specialist may know more about front-end development than a generalist but know little about back-end. 

This is why testing for specific on-the-job skills is important to find the right candidate who will most effectively contribute to your company’s specific needs and goals.

5. Make sure they have security at heart

Software security is one of the top concerns in the tech industry, and especially important in finance and banking (and we treat it seriously at DevsData). The number of cyberattacks on companies is expected to climb, but still, a recent study shows 50% of organizations have not updated their security strategy in more than three years. Moreover, about one in three cyberattacks target operational infrastructure. This just makes it all the more important that any design, application, and infrastructure you use for business needs to be rock solid.

Great programmers should possess a deep understanding of the most important software security trends in the industry – this is especially important for back-end engineers. Processes like the Trusted Software Methodology and the Trustworthy Computing Security Development Lifecycle should be integrated into all designs or systems they make or manage.

During the interview, ask candidates about their experience with the latest security models, and how they would ensure that those are embedded in every stage of the development process. 

6. Find out what drives them

Life is much more than just a job. Great programmers are methodical thinkers, passionate creatives, and problem-solvers all rolled into one. They like tackling problems of all kinds, from codes to Rubik’s cubes – and they are passionate about the work they do.

True programmers consider programming a job and a hobby. They like to play around with new technology and concepts, and are always trying to push their limits not because they need to, but because they like the challenge.

When asked if something is possible, they will shrug and might murmur a few complaints, but then go on to build it with such efficiency to get the most value per line of code. They will also likely spend their free time learning about new technologies and spicing up their skills.

7. Do not brush aside communication and organization skills

Programmers should be organized. The higher-level you become, the more you think in terms of structure and architecture. This means being able to visualize and understand how every piece of code fits together in the overall structure. This takes theoretical, abstract and critical thinking.     

Being able to properly communicate with teammates and stakeholders is something that makes a great developer stand out. Also, falling under communication, good programmers make sure their code can be managed and maintained by others. 

8. See if they truly understand your business

It is not enough that a programmer has the right skills; they should also have the mindset, understanding, and attitude that fits your company ethos. Candidates can stand out during the one-to-one interviews, but be sure to also have them meet the other team members they would be working with. A good connection between the candidate and their possible future teammates gives you the comfort that not only will they work well together, but they will also make a positive impact on the team.

This is where a multi-stage hiring process proves to be effective. More than the initial interviews, you will want to test a candidate for several aspects: from how they handle real-life technology problems, to making sure they are team players. 

By taking the extra time to ensure a candidate understands your business and the team culture, you may also be discovering someone who will stay with you for long-term projects, even become a long-time member. 

Moreover, it is also very important for the engineers to actually understand the business objectives and goals of your company, as well as the basics of marketing strategy. Lack of business understanding might result in a software being overengineered without accomplishing the expected business objectives due to misunderstanding of the priorities.

9. Check their portfolio

Doing so will let you see the projects that they developed, and whether your expectations fit the developer’s design patterns. You can decide if their experience is significant for your business and whether it will lead to your clients’ satisfaction.

10. Live coding

Online coding tests let you check developer real skills. Such live coding challenges are a great way not only to test the engineer’s skills but also to make the first step towards a fruitful cooperation between you.

11. Look for their open source projects

Programmers, who are involved in open source, get to know the technology at a much deeper level than they would by “simply” using the technology. Having experience with an open source technology can also be a good sign that a person can work in teams.

12. Suggest a probation period

After determining all the details and showing mutual interest, offer a paid trial period to get to know the promising person. This is a frequently used move of employers who offer a three-months probation period. During this time you can get acquainted with the freelancer as well as pay attention to his communication skills and teamwork or the quality of written code. Of course, everyone needs a moment of time to adapt to the new environment, therefore you can not be too demanding in the first days.

The last thing to highlight is paying the freelance developer the appropriate remuneration. Whether you eventually end up working with this developer or not, this is the first step to establishing a relationship of trust and respect. After all, you may want to hire him in the future.

13. Prepare your contract and non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

Although hiring independent programmers is becoming more and more popular, many companies and individuals are still worried about responsibility and intellectual property. This is where contracts and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) enter. Most NDAs are written in a very specific legal language and it may be difficult for developers to know what kind of information they are not allowed to disclose, thus do not forget to discuss this vital issue with a person you are about to hire. Unlike the rest of the contract, confidentiality agreements are mainly written to protect company rights and intellectual property.
Great programmers
Great programmers should possess a deep understanding of the most important software security trends in the industry - this is especially important for back-end engineers.

Technical questions

If you are looking for a freelance developer and you are not familiar with technical terms, here are some questions you can ask during an interview in order to check a developer’s technical knowledge.

Questions for front-end developer:

1. What is HTML?

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a language processed  by web browser in order to display a web page.

2. What is CSS?

Cascade Style Sheets are also used to display a web page. However, while HTML is about presenting page content, CSS is about tweaking that presentation. So if you want to have a colorful website, which looks appealing, using CSS is a must.

3. What is Javascript?

JS is a programming language, mainly used in web development. In the past, it was associated with web pages, which had fancy stuff, like animations. Since then, JS’s potential has grown enormously. Nowadays Javascript lets you make mobile applications, web pages, that do not need to reload and much more stuff.

4. What are CSS preprocessors? ​

Those are programs that let generate CSS code from syntax unique for the preprocessors themselves. Using them lets you reuse code and save a lot of time, because of some features, which shorten code, such as variables, mixins, nesting etc.

5. What are Javascript frameworks? Which are the most popular? ​

JS frameworks are frameworks for Javascript. Their main purpose is to give a developer a set of premade tools, such as components, syntax, a way of “thinking” to solve problems in order to accelerate the development process as well as keep code clear.

Questions for back-end developer:

1. How to safely store passwords in databases? ​

You should not store the password itself, because it can be easily stolen. In order to provide safety, checksum of password should be stored. Checksum or hash is a long number, which is unique for every possible password. The key checksum’s attribute is that you cannot restore a password from its hash despite being unique for each password. This feature provides safety.

2. What is SQL? ​

SQL is a language used to create and manage relational databases. Knowing SQL is the must in order to access data stored in base.

Those seven questions may be also used during an interview with a full-stack developer, who combines those two worlds of front-end and back-end development.


Great programmers are not defined by a single set of skills and certifications. Instead, they are the ones who have the right mix of analytical and critical thinking, engineering know-how, problem-solving skills, and other x-factors. It is not always easy to find the proper candidate, but when you know exactly what to look for and how to test them, it will be easy to hire a top-notch talent to improve your team and strengthen your business.

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DevsData is a boutique software agency, with Google-level engineers and a vast network of senior expert contractors. We’re all about premium quality and business understanding.

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