tips for hiring a software developer at a startup

What are Some Tips for Hiring a Software Developer at a Startup?

Estimated read time: 10 minutes

Interested in getting some tips for hiring a software developer at a startup for your next software development project?

You’ve come to the right place.

The wrong developer can be the worst thing to ever happen to your business. You’ll watch as they drain investor money, put off projects, and create something users don’t like because of their lack of skills. This is why you need to hire the best developers you can – and I’m here to help.

Are you worried about finding the perfect person for your project? Here are 7 tips for hiring the best software developer at a startup.

Tips for hiring a software developer at a startup

Go through the following tips for hiring a competent software developer at your startup:

1. Outline the Must-have Skills

This may seem like the most obvious tip for hiring the best developers for your business, but physically outlining the exact skills needed to complete your project helps more than you may realize.

Create two lists: a list of “must-haves,” the minimum requirements for any candidate, and a list of “like-haves.” Nobody is perfect, but the must-haves can be discussed during the initial call to weed out candidates who won’t be the best fit.

Remember, the pickier you are, the longer the hunt is going to take, but your list can help you decide if it’s worth the wait.

2. Make Sure the Developer Fits with Your Company Culture

Different offices have different vibes, and if your developer doesn’t fit in, it can be a disaster that wastes your financial resources, hurts your product, and makes everyone in the office unhappy (including the developer who wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into).

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Finding and hiring the best developers that fit into your company culture is paramount. If you work on a remote team, you need someone who is comfortable working on their own.

If your company expects a lot of collaboration, you can’t have a developer who doesn’t play nice with others – if they don’t match your company’s culture, they’re not going to work out.

To get a feel for your developer’s fit, know your company culture inside and out, and ask questions about preferred working environments to potential candidates to evaluate if you are on the same page.

3. Hitting Deadlines is a Must 

Imagine you’re creating an iPhone app that you’ve discovered has a terrible glitch causing you to get poor ratings in the App Store. Your best developer says he’s on it but ends up completely dropping the ball.

For a mobile app, ratings can be the difference between growing a massive userbase and floundering to the bottom of the app store with every other app that people forgot about because it didn’t work well.

This is why candidates must be able to meet your deadlines.

You can’t exactly tell if a mobile developer or software engineer is going to hit your deadlines until you work with them – but you can get a feel for it.

Ask candidate software engineers questions about hitting deadlines: What would they do if they start falling behind? How would they alert their manager? Sometimes falling behind happens, but how a developer handles it makes a difference.

4. Determine Your Developer’s Standards

All the top developers for hire have one thing in common – they have high standards.  You don’t want a candidate who’s comfortable pushing something out before it may be ready, and you really don’t want a candidate who will leave a complete mess for the next developer.

To make sure your potential developer has high standers, ask to see a demo of their portfolio and check their references.

5. You Must Be Able to Coach Your Developer

It’s really hard to work with someone who can’t take feedback or constructive criticism. The people you hire at your company should all be working towards the same goal – making the best product possible.

Sometimes, this means you’re going to have to tell a developer they didn’t do a good enough job and coach them towards a better final product. A good developer accepts coaching – even asks for coaching – and will likely be a great long-term asset to your company.

6. Know How Much a Good Developer Costs

You might think you could be getting a great deal on a talented developer, only to lose the bid because you aren’t the best offer. Know how much developers actually cost.

Freelance developers typically have a range of hourly rates, and at the same time, may overcharge if they think you’re naive. Figure out the average price for the skills you want and go for it.

 7. Ask for Help

You may not be sure where to start in finding the best developer for your project, so there’s no shame in asking for help. DevTeamSpace puts leading businesses in their fields in touch with top developer talent. Post your project to get in touch with the developers who can help.

Key factors to consider when hiring freelancers to build a software development team

When you think of tips for hiring a software developer at a startup, the option of hiring freelance developers might seem lucrative. Hiring coders from a freelancing platform has its share of complexities though. Keep the following factors in mind:

1. The common risks when you hire developers from freelance platforms

You need to contend with the following common risks when hiring developers from freelance platforms:

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  • Freelancers will work part-time on your project. This can impact your schedule.
  • Finding the right developer on a freelance platform can take time.
  • Freelancers might leave your app development team in the middle of a project, which can impact your schedule.
  • You might need to spend quite a bit of time hiring a replacement software engineer if a freelancer leaves the project mid-way.

2. Managing freelancers can be expensive

You need to spend a good deal of project management effort to manage freelance developers. Your project manager might need to integrate work done by multiple freelancers. Time zone differences can make this process complex, furthermore, the schedule constraints of part-time freelancers make it harder.

At the time of writing this, society and businesses are working hard to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are likely doing that too. Spending a high amount of management bandwidth just to manage freelancers might stretch you further.

3. The risks of hiring from general-purpose freelance platforms like Upwork, Guru, People Per Hour, Fiverr, etc. 

General-purpose freelancer platforms like Upwork, Guru, People Per Hour, Fiverr, etc. can help you in hiring developers. Their large networks ensure that you get enough responses for your job posting.

These platforms don’t focus exclusively on software development though. As a result, they have many other professionals on their networks. E.g., businesses can hire graphics designers or marketing professionals on these platforms.

Add to it the fact that freelance platforms don’t offer management support. You take the sole responsibility for hiring the right tech talent.

These platforms don’t have an extensive vetting process to ensure the quality of developers, therefore, you need to spend plenty of time during the interview.

4. The risks of hiring developers on-demand from freelance platforms like Toptal  

We talked about general-purpose freelance platforms, however, you can hire from software development-specific freelance platforms too. Toptal,, and Codementor are examples of such platforms.

These platforms use a vetting process. They typically allow only expert developers in their developer communities. E.g., Toptal advertises that only the top talent, i.e., the top 3% of developers can join its platform. 

That could make your hiring process easier. However, you still don’t get a full-time developer. You are only hiring developers. Platforms like Toptal won’t provide any project management support, therefore, you need to spend plenty of time managing freelancers.

Key factors to consider when using job boards

You could choose to hire programmers by posting your job on popular job boards. Keep the following considerations in mind:

1. Covering all popular job boards like LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, etc. could take time   

Job boards specific to software development can help you to narrow down your search. That works as an advantage.

However, you need to do plenty of work. You can’t quite depend on just one job board. You might not see too many candidates if you depend on just one job board.

You need to cover all popular job boards like LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, etc. Posting your jobs there, monitoring them regularly, shortlisting candidates from each platform, etc. takes time. Prepare to invest sufficiently in your hiring process.

2. Your recruiters need to do all the “heavy-lifting”   

Job boards don’t provide any management support. You manage the entire hiring process. Therefore, you need experienced recruiters. Your hiring team must take complete responsibility for interviews, hiring, onboarding, etc. Once again, make sure to build a robust hiring process!

Alternatives to freelance platforms and job boards

Now that you know the pros and cons of freelance platforms and job boards, you might wonder about the alternatives. You can explore the following options:

Option 1. Outsourcing your project to a software development company

Let’s assume that you don’t have an in-house software development team. Let’s also assume that you don’t want to hire developers. Perhaps you don’t want to spend the management effort to integrate the work of software developers.

You can outsource your project to a trustworthy software development company. We provide clarification here: We use the word “outsource” to indicate that you get the entire project delivered by a software development company.

You need to work with an experienced company since this approach involved plenty of work on the part of the service provider. The software development company needs to do the following:

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  • Understand the business requirements by working with your product managers;
  • Plan the features for the application and the “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP);
  • Formulate a development approach;
  • Plan the project including all relevant SDLC phases;
  • Form an effective team;
  • Execute the project as planned including development, testing, deployment, and post-deployment support;
  • Manage the project using the appropriate processes;
  • Hand over the functional application to your organization.

You need to diligently manage the requirements by working closely with the service provider. Furthermore, you need to establish effective governance and contract management process.

Option 2. Hiring software developers from a software development company

In this approach, you will hire software developers from a service provider. You will manage the project from end to end. This alternative requires you to spend significant effort on the following:

  • Eliciting business requirements including functional and non-functional requirements (NFRs);
  • Deciding the appropriate software architecture pattern;
  • Deciding on an appropriate development approach;
  • Planning the project;
  • Managing the development, testing, deployment, and maintenance phases.

Naturally, you need suitable human resources for this. E.g., you need a competent project manager and architect. You need business analysts, DevOps engineers, test managers, etc.

You depend on a software development company to provide you with high-quality developers. These companies have a robust vetting process, therefore, you can expect to work with competent developers.

Software development companies encourage their team members to upskill. Therefore, you can expect to work with motivated coders. If a developer leaves the project mid-way, then software development companies provide you with a replacement.

Software development companies train and sensitize their developers to data privacy and security. You can expect these programmers to protect your sensitive corporate information, which is another advantage.

Make sure you cover all key areas during the interview

We talked about various options for hiring, and now we need to talk about the interview. You need to cover all key areas when you interview the shortlisted candidates. This would include the following:

1. Primary skills 

The primary skill set requirements will vary according to your project requirements. E.g.:

  • Native Android development: You need Java or Kotlin developers with native Android development experience.
  • Native iOS development: This requires native iOS developers with Swift or Objective-C skills.
  • Hybrid mobile development: Depending on your business requirements, you might choose the hybrid development route. You could use a hybrid development framework like Ionic. Xamarin, a cross-platform mobile development framework in the Microsoft ecosystem is another choice. React Native, a popular mobile development framework delivers a near-native user experience. That’s another option. Look for developers with relevant skills.
  • Web development: You might need a web developer with skills in programming languages like JavaScript or PHP. Look for full-stack developers with experience in front-end as well as back-end development. For back-end development, you can hire Node.js developers.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): You would need to hire Python developers to develop AI or “Machine Learning” (ML) systems.
  • Blockchain: Depending on your project requirements, you might need programmers with experience in public or enterprise blockchain platforms. You could hire Ethereum blockchain developers for public blockchain development projects. Alternatively, you could hire Hyperledger Fabric developers for enterprise blockchain development projects.

2. Other technical skills 

You would need other technical skills too. Depending on your project, they might include the following:

  • The knowledge of IDEs like Android Studio, Xcode, Ecplise, etc.;
  • Familiarity with tools like CVS, Git, etc.;
  • Good knowledge of popular development frameworks like Express.js;
  • Deep knowledge of popular libraries like jQuery;
  • Sound knowledge of cloud computing platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, etc.;
  • Excellent knowledge of popular relational database management systems (RDBMSs) like MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.;
  • Sound knowledge of popular NoSQL databases like MongoDB;
  • In-depth knowledge of API development;
  • Sufficient knowledge of popular test automation frameworks like Selenium;
  • Good understanding of DevOps processes, methods, tools, and practices;
  • Code review skills;
  • Deep knowledge of key software engineering concepts;
  • Familiarity with relevant coding guidelines;
  • In-depth knowledge of mitigating application security vulnerabilities.

3. Some more tips for hiring a software developer – Look for Key competencies 

We talked about skills, however, you need developers with the key competencies too. Look for programmers with the following competencies:

  • Problem-solving skills: Developers need to demonstrate analytical abilities to solve problems;
  • Communication skills: Programmers need to effectively communicate with all relevant stakeholders.
  • Collaboration: Developers need to work effectively with their larger team.

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Frequently Asked Questions on tips for hiring a software developer at a startup

How can you tell a good developer?

A good developer has all the skills, experience, and motivation to get the job done. They will be passionate about your project and will be happy to go the extra mile to ensure that it succeeds. Read this article for some tips for hiring a software developer at a startup.

Where to find good developers?

The DevTeam.Space platform is a community of expert developers in all tech stacks. From Python to blockchain, DevTeam.Space developers have all the skills and experience that you will need to ensure your project is a success.

How should I interview a developer?

You should plan a multistage interview in which you cover all levels of questions to ensure that the developer is what they say they are. Start with a general interview that covers their skillsets and experience, and end with a coding test to check their skills out for real.


Alexey Semeney

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