EC1 Capital

5 Tips on Hiring a Developer

Dave Clark, Co-founder and CTO of LoyaltyLion, sheds light on finding the right programmer for an early stage startup
Dave Clark Dave Clark Tue 21st Oct 2014 17:00

1. Cultural fit comes top of the list

Although a cliché, it is essential to hire someone that is a good fit for the team.  Big companies can afford to have ‘that employee that people just have to put up with’. When that person is 20% of the company, it is unhealthy for company morale and productivity.

When we hired our programmer from Turkey, we initially began talks over Skype. But since it was difficult to truly get a feel for someone online, we decided to fly to Turkey on a brief company trip to get to know him. This also served as a good company bonding experience.

Another important tip is to find the line between being friends with a new hire and maintaining professionalism. When you are a small company and you are taking in an employee you don’t know, it is natural to want to get on with them. But equally important is finding someone who can conduct himself or herself professionally and diligently. Founders expose themselves to lots of risk when setting up a venture; it is important to find employees that have the same passion and priorities.


2. Broaden your channels

Advertising a job through several channels will maximize the chance of finding the right person. A good starting point is going out to your own network to see if there is anyone relevant looking for a job. 

Secondly, there are the regular startup jobs websites such as Work in Startups and Hacker Jobs.   In the past, I have used Stackoverflow Careers, which is sometimes a source of good talent. Although pretty costly, one bonus is their money back guarantee. After not finding someone suitable, I was fully refunded after letting them know within a 90-day period.

Recruiters are also an option to consider; whilst often quite costly, they are a quick way to filter through the noise.


3. Don’t be afraid to hire from abroad

There is a lot of untapped talent outside the EU if you are willing to go through the legwork. You need to get your company visa accredited, which requires investing both money and time. Hiring a visa consultant was a good investment as it saved us time navigating alone through a bureaucratic maze.  The eventual upside is that once a company is accredited it can keep on hiring from abroad.


4. Test them

LoyaltyLion has a 4 step hiring process for hiring a new developer:

  • Firstly, I begin with a short 10-minute non-technical chat over the phone, through which it is pretty clear if you know you want to work with them.
  • Secondly, I give them a technical test, which I have compiled from looking at the format of other technical tests online.  This is done ideally in person or alternatively over Skype with a collaborative text editor. It is important to try and surprise applicants with problems they may not have seen before or genuine problems that the company may have experienced.
  • The next step is to set up an in-person meet with the rest of the team. I combine this with a few extra questions by email where I explain (roughly) our roadmap for the next 6 months and ask the candidate to explain how their skills will be useful.
  • The last interview usually to meet the rest of the team and fully identify whether the applicant will be a good fit.


5. Look out for something different

As part of the interview process, always look out for extracurricular interests, which demonstrate an applicant’s interests. It is always a beneficial to see a portfolio of previous work (especially for front-end developers).  Other bonuses include seeing a blog, any interesting Twitter activity, and a Github account showing any contributions to Open Source projects.


Dave Clark is Co-founder and CTO of LoyaltyLion, one of EC1 Capital's portfolio companies. LoyaltyLion gives ecommerce stores innovative ways to engage and retain customers.  Dave also writes a blog about coding and devops.


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