Hiring Developers: Roles, Responsibilities & Hiring Tips

Dayana Mayfield


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Recruiting the right people can be time-consuming and complex. Especially for tech roles - where you need a thorough understanding of what the job entails and what experience is necessary - the process can be a little overwhelming. However, in the modern age, developers are a core addition to any team, as nearly every company needs developers to build, maintain, and iterate websites, apps, databases, and software.

In fact, predictions state that software developer employment is projected to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028 - much faster than the average growth for other occupations. This increase means that while there is a large pool of developer candidates, they are equally in high demand. On top of that, almost nine in ten HR professionals say that they find it 'challenging' to hire technical talent, while over a  third find it 'very challenging'. 

From roles, responsibilities, and general tips, here's everything you need to know to better navigate the hiring journey for developers:

Types of developers

Just like the technology they work with, developer roles are always evolving. As new needs emerge, so do developer specialities and skill sets. That said, some of the most common positions that currently exist are:

Front-end developer

These developers focus on the visuals of UI (user interface), meaning they write the code that implements the formats and styles of platforms. Front-end devs are typically expected to know programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

Back-end developer 

These developers concentrate on functionality and are responsible for server-side web application logic. They integrate the work front-end developers do and power the components together to effectively run the platform. Back-end developers tend to know programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, C++, C, Python, and Perl.

Full-stack developer

These developers are essentially a mix of front and back-end. They develop both the client and server side of software, so can tackle projects that involve databases or build user-facing websites. Full-stack developers often work in more than one programming language, ranging from HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP or Python.

Mobile app developer

These developers write code for devices like apps, tablets, and wearables. They typically work in teams and generate concepts for specific user needs. Mobile app developers work in either Android or iOS, with programming languages C, C++, JavaScript, Android studio, Swift, and Objective C.

Software developers

These developers make the foundations for operative systems by designing each piece of it and putting them together. They use knowledge of engineering principles to also design, test, and develop software, as well as recommend upgrades. Required programming languages for this role include Java, Python, C++, and Scala.

Security developers

These developers establish frameworks and techniques to confirm the security of a site or application, along with checking for potential vulnerabilities. Security developers are usually involved in the complete lifecycle of a software program, and use programming languages like Python, Ruby, C, and C++.

How to know what type of developer to hire

Technical co-founders or CTOs should be responsible for hiring developers, as they can pinpoint the exact project needs and align these with their search. Experts say that "you need someone technical who is mature enough and has built enough technology to know that it’s not easy."

If you're not a technical founder, the first action you have to take is to decide what tech stack you'll be using to create the software or platform - this will determine the programming language you'll need devs to be well-versed in. Then, think about whether your product will be primarily on mobile or web, what servers will be hosting your back-end, and what other technological tools will be at play. Lastly, estimate how many developers you would need to scale, and in what timeframe.

These details should give you a solid foundation to move forward with hiring. While it's easy to trust the word of one person, be cautious to get input from multiple people around what developer type you need and why. 

Hiring and outsourcing options

Once you've narrowed down what your long-term business needs, and short-term projects needs are, you can begin considering how you want to hire developers. In-house developers are hired by your organization and work as part of your team, whereas outsourced developers are hired from an external company and work for multiple teams.

Discuss with your colleagues whether a full-time, freelance or part-time role fits your preferences, and remember to factor in how much face-to-face interaction you're looking for. For example, if you need a developer for a short but intense project, it's best to bring someone on board who you can see in-person and discuss progress with. If, however, you're looking for someone to fix issues as and when they arise, outsourcing may be a better alternative.

This is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of in-house versus outsourcing:

In-house developer


  • Greater collaboration and communication

  • In-person contact (can walk to their desk and brainstorm)

  • Up-to-speed on projects faster

  • Better transparency and tracking

  • More invested in the company and project (therefore more loyal)


  • More expensive (extras like taxes, software, hardware, overhead costs, training, sick days, and benefits)

  • Longer search to find and recruit people

  • Harder to replace if the developer leaves

Outsourced developer


  • Cheaper salaries

  • Good to build a network of connections and engage different skill sets

  • Faster hiring process


  • Lack of control and limited code collaboration

  • Logistical challenges

  • Potential lower work quality

  • Possibility of compromising work culture (in-house employees may fear they are being replaced)

Whether you decide to hire in-house or outsource, it's recommended to devote a good amount of time researching potential candidates. You can use recruitment platforms like Toptal, Hired, Upwork, and LinkedIn to browse availability, cost, and experience. Likewise, ensure that you have a comprehensive technical test ready to judge how well developers perform before offering them a position. For this part, DevSkiller is a great platform dedicated to developer screening that tests a range of programming languages, frameworks and libraries.

Developer responsibilities and job descriptions

Developer responsibilities change according to the different roles, however, there are some core tasks that all developers own. Developers are expected to research, design, implement, and manage software programs, test and evaluate new programs, and write and implement efficient code. They are also asked to develop quality assurance procedures, train users, and work alongside other developers, UX designers, and business/systems analysts. 

With these in mind, make sure you tailor your job description towards such responsibilities, explicitly referring to the areas that your new hire will target. The description should additionally have a brief about the role, an introduction to your company, your preferred programming languages and years of experience, and any certifications that give applicants an advantage. Other optional sections could be the benefits offered, growth opportunities, and the salary range.

When drafting the job description, try to integrate your company culture into it - carry your tone of voice, your values, mission, and be clear about the level of autonomy developers are given in your business.

Developer interview questions

Development is all about problem-solving, so when it comes to sitting opposite your candidate, you should hone in on questions that provoke critical thinking and justifications for the answers given. A few particularly powerful and revealing questions for developers are:

'What programming languages do you use and which do you prefer?'

'Pretend I know nothing about tech. Tell me in simple English what {insert tech feature} is and how to use it.'

'Can you describe a time to me when you developed a feature and once it was delivered, it wasn’t what the client wanted? Can you identify where the disconnect was, and what exactly you learned from the experience?'

'Give me an example of when a team member was struggling and you proactively helped. What steps did you take and what was the different outcome?'

'What do you do when an application/platform stops working?' 

'What skill are you hoping to learn this year?'

'How comfortable are you working with non-tech team members?'

'What APIs have you worked with?' 

'Can you find the error in this code?' (Any small, practical test to be completed in front of you)

Additional tips for hiring developers

A 'one size fits all' approach won't work with developers - you need to tailor your messaging and whole hiring attitude based on the role you're looking for and the expertise you want. On the flip side, you should be cautious to monitor how well your applicants communicate. Even though developers are computer and tech-oriented roles, if they have poor conversation abilities, that's a red flag. 

Keep in mind that 55 percent of developers believe professional development is the most important factor for choosing an employer, and 43 percent say the opportunity to work on interesting projects matters too. To demonstrate that you promote professional development, establish yourself as a thought-leader by publishing engaging, insightful content on your blog and social media platforms. You could also host hackathons and virtual events to start unique conversations, stay on stop of new trends, and create a general buzz about your company.

Although recruitment can be taxing, understanding what developers do and how best to attract them is crucial to bringing on board the best people. Moreover, having a clear idea of what your requirements and expectations are will allow you to match developers accordingly and build a long-term, successful relationship with them. 

Learn more about how DevSquad can expand your dev team, no hiring required.


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