by Josh Althuser

3 mistakes to avoid when hiring full stack developers

Nov 09, 2016

Full stack developers are some of the most sought-after and skilled programmers, but it's crucial to make the right recruitment decisions when trying to hire them

Hiring is one of the most vital tasks your business will ever do. Andrean Jung, CEO of Grameen America, states the importance of hiring good employees when she says, “Talent is the no. 1 priority for a CEO. You think it’s about vision and strategy, but you have to get the right people first.” Whether you’re a three-person startup or a massive enterprise, hiring new employees will always be a crucial part of growth, and it will always be a difficult task.

This is especially true in technical positions, such as software development, when you must not only assess whether a candidate can fit into your team and culture, but whether they can also do the job at hand. For full stack developers, this becomes even more complicated due to the multiple skill sets full stack development requires. The full stack hiring process requires lengthy technical interview steps, and it’s easy to make mistakes along the way.

If you’re hiring full stack developers for your business, here are 3 mistakes to avoid:

1. Limiting your search

Traditional hiring methods like referrals and college recruitment are well and good, but in the 21st century, you should be expanding your reach. Hiring candidates through social media is becoming increasingly popular and can take your candidate pool beyond your referral network. While most businesses prefer to hire in-office employees, remote workers are becoming a larger part of the workforce, and research shows that remote employees can, in fact, be more productive than their in-office counterparts.

When searching for a full stack developer, don’t be afraid to search beyond your local community especially if you’re operating in a region that doesn’t have a heavy tech presence. Instead, look for the absolute best candidate wherever they may be, even if it’s a different country. Remote teams are becoming increasingly popular, and if you don’t know where to look, freelance platforms like Toptal can connect you with elite freelance full stack developers all around the world. The broader the search, the better talent you will find.

2. Setting your expectations too high

One of the most common mistakes with hiring full stack developers is that hiring managers have the wrong idea of what a full stack developer is. A full stack developer isn’t a master of every level of the stack. It’s unrealistic to think that a full stack developer’s front-end code would be as robust as a front-end developer’s code.

Instead, think of full stack developers as generalists. A generalist’s work will never compare to a specialist’s, but the generalist can handle more roles. Full stack developers can be excellent product managers and can coordinate with both the front-end and back-end or have a substantial role in creating a minimum viable product. Make sure that you are hiring a full stack developer for the right reasons, and don’t waste your time chasing a coding wizard who can do absolutely everything, because those full stack developers simply don’t exist.

3. Hiring without a technical component

This goes without saying, but hiring a full stack developer is a highly technical process that takes time and determination. First, you need a hiring manager who has had actual experience as a full stack developer so they know the technical questions to ask and can recognize the right answers when they hear them. For even more thoroughness, you can pair your hiring manager’s findings with an app like Codility, which can test their development knowledge. Don’t take a candidate’s word for it; test their skills to see if they can do what they claim they can accomplish.

Consider giving them a test project at the end of the interview process as well. Test projects are a simple way to understand a full stack developer’s strengths and weaknesses, for example whether they are great at building database architecture or embedding video in the front-end. Above all, don’t rush the hiring process. Full stack developers possess a varied and complicated skill set, so make sure to take the time to understand whether they are capable of the work you’d like them to do.

Have you had any learning experiences while trying to hire a full stack developer? Share your experience in the comments below!