Galina Divakova September 9th, 2020

7 questions to ask when hiring a remote website developer

When you are a company owner or a manager of a business of any size and think of creating a website, all you have to do is to hire a web developer. They should be the person who will improve your company by contributing their talents to front-end and back-end development. This team member should be chosen carefully so that the website will accomplish the following tasks:

  • Improve the credibility of your company and do it in the most user-friendly way;
  • Help to get quality leads or customers with an easy track of conversions and the ability of API integration;
  • Establish the presence of your company in a global market.

If you never hired a full-stack developer before, you should know how to do it effectively and in a time-saving manner. These days, when most of the companies are partly or even fully working remotely, you might want to consider hiring a remote developer, which has some benefits over an in-house employee, and also some specifics in the hiring process. 

The decision of hiring a remote developer should always be based on the benefit of the company. For example, if you are in the US, EU, Canada, or Australia, where the cost of software development is the highest in the world, hiring remote engineers from other regions will allow cutting on development costs. Also, as long as you are not limited to one region, you have a higher chance to find talent which fits your project the best. 

Additionally, when you need to hire a team in the shortest time possible to deal with minor tasks, it’s easier to outsource the job than going through the whole hiring process of in-house developers. In that case, it is much easier to hire a freelance developer. Or if you need a more trusted source, you can use the YouTeam platform (backed by Y combinator), where your first candidates will be sourced within 48 hours.

That is just some basics about hiring remote developers, but you can read more to learn the pros and cons of insourcing and outsourcing a team of devs.

In any case, the final decision about hiring a new remote developer that should fit your team is on you. So here is the guide on how to find a qualified one by simply asking the right questions.

Question #1: Experience & Cases

Firstly, you need to ask the candidates about their relative experience and case studies. It is very important to understand that the candidates fully understand what they will be doing. For each type of business or a product, there is a different type of website. 

There are websites for e-commerce and landing pages, for example. The first type must include a basket, a catalog, payment methods, and many more features to make the users comfortable and satisfied. The second one is usually used for services in different business niches: events, marketing campaigns, webinars, etc.

Question #2: Test project

Discuss if they are open to doing a small project first before you decide if you want to hire them for the long term. This question is very sensitive. Completing a test project requires the same skills and effort as completing a long term project. The only difference should be the time candidates spend on it: test projects should take much less time, meanwhile, it should not influence the quality of the end-results. 

For instance, if the website which you plan to develop is a complex one, so shall the test project be. Here are the aspects of a good test project for a website developer.

Question #3: Programming questions

The following questions will help you find a highly qualified remote website developer and find out who is the most capable of creating a comprehensive website: 

  1. Which sorting algorithm one should use if the size of an array is larger than the total amount of ram?
  2. Explain the importance of Open-Closed and Liskov substitution principles in OOP?
  3. What are the main methods of protection against XSS? Why it shouldn’t be limited by WAF?
  4. How to parse ajax sites?

If your candidates can respond correctly to the up-mentioned questions, no doubt they are the best in the field. After the interview, you may give a short task to write code. And for checking the code from the technical task you may need some instruments.

Question #4: Independent code vetting

There are plenty of automated online vetting instruments, which generate tests according to the tech task of your project. Such tools are widely used in many companies and help the recruiters and business owners to find a perfect candidate.

The tools are very suitable for the vetting of remote candidates:

  • Codility can check the quality of the code and the language the developer uses for writing it.
  • HackerRank is a tool that checks the quality of the code in a real-time. Effectivity is proven by partners such as LinkedIn and PayPal.
  • CodeSignal also a collaboration tool for online interviews and code reviews, which is frequently used by Uber and other huge companies.
  • CodinGame is a very user-friendly instrument for checking the coding skills of your candidates. They compete in real-time so that you can sort out for yourself who is the most appropriate developer.

So, when it’s your case and you want to vet a code on your own, read the full review on code vetting instruments here.

Question #5: Deadlines & Payment

This is where another stage of the selection begins. When technical tasks are completed successfully and the candidates are ready to discuss bureaucratic matters, mention the budget and deadlines in the first place. 

Do not hesitate to make several conference calls as you need to understand the personalities of devs and their style of work. Make it clear about the KPIs, payments, and their frequency (maybe, the dependency on the progress of the project), the time frame of the project, and the budget for your website.

Be sure you speak the same language with a person you’re going to hire, so the building of trust between you both will not take long. 

Question #6: Project management

One more important thing that might influence website development as well as project management. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to effectively manage remote developer teams.

Ask your candidates what tools they usually use while working on the project to communicate, mark the progress, and make reports. The majority of remote website developers use Jira, Slack, or Asana for communicating with their supervisors and marking the project progress. Also, you both may use Google Drive and Dropbox for sharing files. 

When the tools are chosen it’s time to discuss the actual management of the project:

  • The number of video calls during a week to discuss the progress of the project and inform the developer of the company’ news;
  • Will the bonus be paid after the final edits or every month/week of the development?
  • What is going to happen if the developer goes over the budget?  Write down instructions for all possible cases to cover your company from unexpected losses;
  • Post-project support or the absence of it. It is a very important issue to discuss because a website needs constant optimizations: SEO, API integration support, catalog update, and many more. 

When the management stage is completed, you, as the owner, have to document all the agreements and details of pre-development arrangements, KPIs, and the development itself plus the to-do list after website development.

Question #7: Communication

The last question of our list of essentials queries to make when hiring a remote developer is about communication. Remote communication has its aspects, and the first one is the tools you will use for communication. Now the most frequently used tools for this purpose are Zoom and Skype. The choice of a communication tool often depends on the location of your dev: in the USA they prefer Zoom, in the EU and Eastern Europe it is Skype. 

Don’t forget to check the candidates on their soft skills: you need to work it out together. Make sure that the style of communication suits you all: from avoiding rude language to the manner of the interaction. You both should be comfortable with each other to complete the project.

How to hire a remote website developer safely

While hiring a remote web developer the questions of safety and trust are very important. It doesn’t matter if you are hiring someone for a long term or a short term project, as a client, you should be completely protected from any issue that may appear. 

So, where to hire a remote website developer? 

If you’re looking for an individual engineer that will help you with a small task or a short-term project, UpWork is one of the best options. It’s a platform for freelancers from all over the world. Here you can find the contractors who speak the same language as you and pay in a comfortable currency. But the popularity of the platform also attracts different kinds of people (from beginners to the top-rated contractors), so finding the right candidate can take some time and energy. Also, keep in mind that hiring an experienced engineer can be costly. 

When you need to hire engineers for long term projects, there’s another trusted platform — YouTeam — a marketplace for hiring offshore teams of developers and other creators. The advantages of hiring from there is big:

  • They double-check vendor companies;
  • Verify the devs’ profiles;
  • Check the soft skills of all pre-selected developers;
  • Great for B2B collaboration;
  • Help with legal, finances, and communication details.

It is up to you which platform to choose when they both are very good towards clients and engineers they work with.

The bottom line

Hiring a remote website developer might be a challenge for those who never did it before. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, using a remote website developer is a necessity now for a majority of businesses. 

First of all, you have to decide if you want to hire website developers yourself or need a contractor to do that for you. The hiring platform can help to source the best candidates. But the final decision about hiring is yours. Use our guide to make sure that you’ve discussed all aspects of the future work with your potential employee and they will be the best fit for your team as well as your project.

Galina Divakova

Galina is Head of Marketing at YouTeam, a Y Combinator-backed marketplace for hiring remote software developers. Galina has first-hand experience in hiring and working with website developers, and she has been managing remote and/or distributed teams for 3 years now.

3 comments

  1. Hi Galina,

    Nice article!! As COVID-19 restrictions loosen and organizations plan their recovery strategies, hiring remote employees might be on the table. Organizations are prioritizing employee safety, and traditional cramped office spaces won’t make the safest places to work. These questions are really helpful, thanks for sharing!

    Cheers!

  2. He or she must have the ability of putting your business in the global market. I love this tips and many more of it here. Thank you for dropping it for is.

  3. You do know there’s this search AI called Google who will provide very technical answers to the most complex questions. So your biz owner asks these suggested questions but whose going to interpret the answers. And please stop shilling for your service. You’re doing us other web developers a dis-service.

    My advice is simple: ask for examples of work if available, independently contact each for a reference and then decide to proceed or not based on the ability to communicate, transparency, feedback and gut feeling.

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