Check, mate!

With outsourced work being such a huge gamble for organizations, finding the perfect developer can sometimes feel like finding gold in your cereal – those who have it can’t believe their luck and those who don’t, want it at any cost. But most companies fall short in their hiring process and end up with average developers who just can’t seem to be able to deliver the impressive outcomes that are expected from them.

If there is one factor that is catalytic to hiring a great developer, what could it be? Without a doubt, it would be reference checks. Surprised? Disagree? Well, here’s why. While a great job opportunity can attract good candidates, a reference check is the final stamp on who’s worth hiring and who isn’t. It is the decisive stroke to the entire hiring process.

Unfortunately, however, a lot of companies consider reference checks as a painful mandatory procedure that is done reluctantly after making the decision to hire. That is where it all goes wrong. Reference checks should be done before the hiring decision is made. There is also the need to do the reference checks right rather than just asking direct, leading questions that don’t provide a fair feedback.

So what kind of questions do you need to ask when hiring a developer in order to get an unbiased opinion? Here are a few:

How long has the candidate had a working rapport with you?

What is the nature of the applications the candidate has developed for you?

Could you describe the latest project that this candidate has worked on for you?

How would you rate their performance on the job?

What would you say are the strengths of this developer?

What results was the developer able to achieve with his/her work? Are there statistics you can mention?

Are there any areas that the developer needs to improve upon?

What would you wish to say regarding the work ethics of the developer (adherence to deadlines, willingness to make revisions/alterations, professionalism)?

How was the communication line with the developer? Were there some areas that required improvement?

If you could, would you work with the candidate again?

Would you recommend this candidate to other organizations?

The idea of asking carefully thought out questions is to ask open-ended ones which can provide some honest insight rather than the age old “Yes he/she is good” answers. When the person is answering the questions, pay close attention to the tone of his/her voice rather than just the content of what is being said. It could provide some vital cues.

While the norm is to contact only the people listed by the candidates, it may also help to reach out to the candidate’s previous employers through LinkedIn to get an unbiased, rounded view.

Reference checks are definitely not a practice from the cretaceous era to be done away with or ignored. On the other hand, they should be emphasized and feature higher on recruiters’ list of processes while hiring developers. Getting balanced information through reference checks can make a world of difference in the quality of the candidates you hire. Doing the reference checks right definitely adds to the certainty that you are outsourcing work to the perfect candidate for the job.


Image courtesy:
Andrew Wippler


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