For companies and individuals who want to create world-class mobile applications, finding and hiring mobile app developers with relevant expertise from the global talent pool can be an enormous challenge.
Whether you are a small startup company that is looking to build its first app, an entrepreneur seeking to expand into the lucrative app market, a project or product manager, a CEO, or CTO, knowing what to look for when hiring a mobile app developer is key.
Understanding how to sieve out the most talented mobile developers is crucial to ensuring that your project is completed on time and to a high specification, and without it being infested with bugs.
In the spirit of Henry Ford’s statement that “working together is success”, we decided to share our expertise by putting together this informed guide on how to find and hire mobile app developers who will help you make your dreams a reality.
Let’s start with a little background about the mobile app development industry.
Why Mobile Apps Are the Key to Success?
Statista estimates that the number of smartphone users will reach 7.690 billion by 2027.
Already, the majority of the world’s population uses an iPhone or Android phone, an incredible figure that shows us just how powerful and lucrative this market really is.
But why do you need an iOS or Android mobile app, especially if you have a website that is already optimized for mobile?
Well, not only do you increase user satisfaction, and therefore engagement, by offering them your services via an easy-to-use app, but you also gain access to valuable user data that is not available via web applications.
Just think of how much money Mark Zuckerberg has made from selling your data to third-party advertisers, and you will get a clear idea of why they call data the “new gold”. Mobile apps are able to collect even more data than web apps, so they are invaluable. This is precisely why so many companies try to push you to download their mobile app by offering you discounts, etc. when you are using their website.
It is not just the giants who have endless amounts of money to develop systems to extrapolate insights from your data that get to play either. Even the smallest online companies can benefit from tapping into the mobile market with a simple app.
- Improved brand visibility and awareness. Given that Americans spend hours every day using their smartphones, it’s clear that just having your mobile app on their phone will subconsciously reinforce your brand message. Every time they browse through their apps, they will see your logo, which will increase positive brand recognition if they enjoy your app experience.
- Creating a direct marketing channel. A mobile app can provide your customers with all the relevant information they require via push notifications, etc., including a description of your products or services, prices, promotions, FAQs, etc. All this will be at their fingertips via a dedicated mobile app, something which can accelerate their purchasing decisions.
- Providing value to your customers. You can tailor your services much more effectively via a mobile app. For example, using data harnessed by your mobile app, such as geolocation and time of day usage time, etc., you can tailor products and services according to your customers’ shopping habits. This adds value.
- Increasing customer engagement. A dedicated mobile app is an excellent way of boosting customer satisfaction, provided you develop a user-friendly app that allows them to easily access everything they need. This is essential for customer retention.
The mobile app market was valued at $106.27 billion back in 2018. Market research reports estimate that this market will reach $407.31 billion in 2026.
Given this enormous growth prediction, it is safe to say that companies will need top app developers and mobile app development services more than ever.
What Kind of Mobile App are you Planning to Build?
Before we get into hiring mobile app developers, however, it is important to start with your project requirements. This will help us understand what kind of mobile app developers you will need.
There are literally millions of mobile apps out there. Indeed, the Apple App Store had a staggering 1.64 million apps available for download in Q3 of 2022, which, while seemingly mind-blowing, shows you just how healthy and competitive the apps market truly is.
This statistic brings us to your first decision, what platform do you intend to develop your mobile app for? There are multiple operating systems in the marketplace today, however, the market remains dominated by two giants – Android and iOS.
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Most of our clients start off by either developing a native Android app or a hybrid Android/iOS app. However, some develop both a native Android and native iOS app at the same time. Whichever you choose will affect not only your project requirements but also your developer requirements.
Because mobile app development is such a vast field – just think of all the different roles those 1.64 million Apple apps have – we must limit our information to a set of general requirements for both Android and iOS mobile app developers.
Much of the information is transferrable to the other OS platforms, however, the skills we outline, as well as the example interview questions below, are limited to either Android or iOS, as indicated.
If you need further help, the simplest solution is to briefly send us your general project requirements via this form and one of our experts will get in touch to arrange a complimentary call to answer any questions that you might have.
What Kind of Mobile App Developers Do You Need?
Ok, so we are going to assume that you plan to develop either custom native Android/iOS apps or a hybrid Android/iOS app. We will also assume that your apps will incorporate only general functionalities and not more complex technologies such as AI, blockchain, etc.
Once again, if we miss anything, the simplest thing is just to get in touch and we can address your specific requirements in full.
With that said, let’s start.
General Mobile App Developer Skills
Mobile app developers require a diverse set of skills to design, develop, and maintain successful applications for smartphones and tablets. Here are some key skills that are essential for mobile app developers:
- Programming Languages: Proficiency in programming languages is crucial. For Android app development, Java and Kotlin are commonly used, while iOS app development relies on Swift and Objective-C.
- Cross-platform Hybrid Development: Familiarity with frameworks like React Native, Flutter, or Xamarin enables developers to create apps that work on multiple platforms with a single codebase. Important if you plan to go the hybrid development route.
- Mobile User Interface (UI) Design (Not essential but a huge benefit): Understanding user experience (UX) principles and having an eye for mobile UI design is vital to ensure that you get a visually appealing and user-friendly end product.
- Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): Developers should be adept at working with APIs to access and integrate various services like location-based services, payment gateways, social media platforms, etc.
- Database Management: Knowledge of database systems like SQLite, MySQL, or Realm is essential to ensure your app stores and retrieves app data efficiently.
- Version Control: Familiarity with version control systems like Git enable developers to collaborate well as well as efficiently managing changes in the codebase, etc.
- Debugging and Testing: Proficiency in debugging tools and techniques help identify and fix bugs. Knowledge of automated testing frameworks is also valuable for efficient testing.
- Performance Optimization: Mobile devices have limited resources, so developers should know how to optimize app performance to ensure a smooth user experience and battery efficiency.
- Platform Guidelines: Understanding the specific guidelines and app store policies of the iOS and Android platforms is essential for app submission and approval. Your app must conform with the relevant guidelines.
- Security: Knowledge of secure coding practices and encryption techniques is crucial to safeguard user data and protect the app from potential vulnerabilities.
- Problem-solving: Mobile app development often involves overcoming various difficult challenges, so strong problem-solving skills are highly beneficial.
- Communication and Teamwork: Collaboration with designers, product managers, and other team members is common, so effective communication and teamwork skills are essential.
- Continuous Learning: The mobile app development landscape is constantly evolving, so developers should desire to learn new technologies and stay updated with the latest trends.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the specific skills you will need from your developer will vary depending on the specific platform and type of app or apps that you plan to develop. However, possessing a solid foundation in these areas will undoubtedly make mobile app developers more versatile and effective in their work.
A Note on Hybrid App Development
While all custom mobile application development is complex, developing two applications using the same codebase (hybrid app development) effectively doubles the complexity in certain areas, i.e. UI implementation, etc.
Our clients frequently choose React Native for their hybrid development as it is a solid and reliable tool that has a great deal of community support.
Note: Your hybrid app developers must know and follow both Android and iOS guidelines when it comes to each respective app. Failure to do so will result in your app being rejected for publication.
This is a key skill requirement in hybrid mobile app developers – they must know both OS platforms that they are creating apps for inside out. You will need to tailor your interview questions to ensure you cover both. We have included a few example hybrid app development questions at the end to help you.
While React doesn’t quite match native app performance, we describe it as “near-native”. Again, you will need to assess if your project requirements suit using React Native, i.e. a less complex, “general” app without complex technologies or functionalities, etc.
In many cases, React Native can be a viable alternative. React Native lets you reuse a significant part of your code and deploy it for both Android and iOS. This dramatically reduces the amount of time, money, and expertise you need to develop an app for both Android and iOS.
However, and this is a big however, you must make sure that you have good developers who have the right amount of skills and experience creating similar apps to yours using React or whichever hybrid development technologies that you plan to use.
We have a surprisingly large number of clients come to us every year to ask us to rescue their failing projects on account of a single problem – bad developers.
We cannot emphasize enough the risks that come with bad developers, particularly freelance developers. Bad developers can doom all your hard work with a few bad lines of code. Don’t let it happen to you.
The simplest solution is to only hire your developers from a reputable software development company like DevTeam.Space that not only fully vets each individual developer before hiring them onto the platform on a full-time basis but also assigns an account manager to monitor their performance at all times.
However, to ensure that you can explore all options, we will now move on to a few more in-depth specifics that you need from your developers before going into specific interview techniques and providing example interview questions to ensure that you get only the best developers for your project.
Different Developer Experience Levels
To give you a better idea of what you need, here are the different iOS developer skill levels:
- Junior iOS developers: This level starts with beginners and goes up to around 2 years of experience. Developers at this level always work under the direction of more senior colleagues. Assign them the more basic coding and testing tasks.
- Mid-level iOS developers: Developers at this level have 2-5 years of experience. They have worked on multiple projects already, and they can work independently. Assign them the complex coding and testing tasks.
- Senior iOS developers: Programmers at this level have more than 5 years of experience, and have already worked on multiple complex-level projects. Assign them any task. Since they have the skills and experience to guide their junior colleagues, they are often assigned to be team managers too. They can also make valuable contributions to various tasks, e.g., architectural decision-making, code reviews, etc.
Naturally, as you go down that list, the cost per hour gets higher and higher.
Additional Skills to Look for When Hiring Mobile App Developers
Here are a few obvious but very important competencies to insist on when you hire any type of mobile app developer:
- Passion for excellence;
- Commitment to the organizational/project objectives;
- Proactive attitude;
- Continuous learning and improvement;
- Communication skills.
It gets a little hard to go any deeper when we are talking about mobile app developers in a general sense. However, there is one other important hiring option that we need to cover as many of you will be considering it. That is the complete development team.
Benefits of hiring a development team
Many of our clients come to us having chosen to hire a development team rather than individual developers that they manage themselves.
There are a number of benefits to this option:
- Already formed into a cohesive, well-oiled team;
- Comes with a project manager meaning that you don’t need to manage the team;
- Familiar with all the tools and channels they will use throughout the development process;
- No language barriers;
- Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses;
- Better accountability;
- Often more bandwidth.
Over the last decade, it is more often the case than not that we end up finding that our clients benefit more from outsourcing a cohesive, complete development team than individual developers.
Naturally, this really comes down to their specific product development requirements, however, the overwhelming benefits usually outweigh the pros of hiring individual developers.
If you are one such case, i.e., without the bandwidth to manage the project yourself or lacking in experience, etc., then it will certainly benefit you to hire a complete dev team.
We will cover how to hire a good development team in the next section. First, we will start with how to hire a great mobile app developer.
How to Hire a Mobile App Developer?
Having covered what type of developer, and what skills you will need from them, you will now find yourself wondering how to make sure that you hire the best ones.
Not to put too much focus on the obvious (but in need of mentioning), it is the interview process as well as your testing approach and reference checking that will really decide if you get the best possible developer or development team.
Or will it?
Well, that statement is only true if you completely ignore the option to hire from a dedicated software company that has already done the heavy lifting for you.
Take, for example, DevTeam.Space. We undertake a comprehensive interview and vetting process for each and every one of our developers and development teams. For those that pass and join our community on a full-time basis, our account managers performance monitor their output at all times to ensure that our high standards of excellence are being met.
Add to this, further training to ensure that all our professionals are at the very edge of their specific technologies, and the fact that we hold all payments to our developers until you approve their work, and you can see that there is little chance at all of you getting a bad developer from a software development company with DevTeam.Space’s high standards.
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1,200 top developers
us since 2016
This means that you really only need to conduct a superficial interview with your new developer or dev team when outsourcing from a reputable software development company.
Ok, so assuming you are hiring yourself, let’s focus in on the interview.
How a Good Interview Can Help You Find That Top Application Developer
“I can write good code and always get my projects completed on time.”
Anyone who has ever tried to hire iOS developers or Android app developers has most certainly heard a variation of this line.
The problem is that it tells you almost nothing about the individual you are interviewing.
While hiring a remote app developer or dev team is not quite the same as taking on a new member of office-based staff, many of the same techniques can be used to recruit and test out suitable candidates. This goes for Android application developers, iOS developers, and hybrid mobile app developers too.
This means that provided you are relatively experienced at interviewing, you already have the skills that you need to find a great mobile app developer.
When it comes to interviewing iOS or Android app developers, the main problem that most interviewers face is the gap in their own knowledge or experience.
Those with little to no background in coding and mobile app development usually have a hard time trying to hire good development engineers.
One of the things that inexperienced companies learn very fast about developers is that being able to code well is not what makes a great app programmer.
In most cases, the developers who apply for the position that you are offering will almost certainly be reasonably good at writing code.
A top-notch developer will obviously have no problem when it comes to coding, but will also need to have all the other necessary soft skills. In other words, your ideal candidate should be able to:
- Be highly motivated
- Work well with others
- Communicate clearly and effectively
- Own and learn from their mistakes
- Understand what contributes to a good user experience
- Most importantly, they should be passionate and reliable.
So, how can you find all this out in an interview to hire mobile app developers?
Well, the good news is that after examining the list above, you will most likely already have a few tried and tested methods or questions to establish whether or not a candidate meets each individual one.
If you don’t then we really recommend getting in touch so we can help you.
We will now share with you a few of our insider tips on how to best interview mobile developer candidates.
Interview tips to hire a mobile app developer
We have been interviewing developers and development teams for almost a decade or so. It is fair to say that we have seen and heard just about everything you could imagine (oh yes, we have even had candidates trying to sneakily find answers via ChatGPT while in the interview, etc.).
To date, we have interviewed thousands of developers and dev teams and have learned all the tricks of the trade when it comes to nailing the best from the rest, which is why we can proudly say that our developer community consists of only the very best professionals in the industry.
While we cannot reveal too many insider secrets (we are, after all, in a very competitive business), we can give a few tips on how to ensure you get only the best developers or development teams for your project.
Unlike every other post on this topic, we will assume that you know how to undertake a general interview. Yes, you got it, arrange a screening interview, ask relevant questions, check their resume and past projects, arrange a second skills interview, give a coding test, and then undertake a final interview.
Now that’s covered, let’s start.
- AVOID FREELANCERS – We cannot emphasize more strongly the need to avoid hiring freelancers. Individuals who work on your project on a part-time basis cannot give your project the due care and diligence it deserves. Some of the shocking examples of poor behavior by freelancers that we have to pick up the pieces from have done nothing less than bring shame on our profession. Why take the risk? Hire developers from a dedicated software development company. The price for failure is just too high.
- Be prepared – We cannot emphasize enough the advantages of preparation. You should know your project requirements back to front and understand exactly what you need from your developer. You should have planned your interview carefully and, as mentioned above, have either the expertise yourself, or have someone with you who can truly put the candidate on the hot plate to make sure they know their stuff.
- In the screening interview, we like to throw in a seemingly random question that allows the candidates to quickly deal with a change of direction that tests their logical abilities. A classic example is the ‘Where am I standing in the world’ question used by Elon Musk.
- During the skills assessment interview, you must have someone on hand who is more senior in experience than the candidate. This is a top tip that has really allowed us to immediately double down on our candidates’ answers by getting them to solve a further problem, etc. We have caught out a huge number of candidates this way.
- From time to time during the coding assessment we have inserted a few lines of poorly written or functioning code into the candidate’s code. We then explained the resulting problem being caused by this code and asked the candidate to explain what is going on? It is a great indicator to see how quickly the candidate spots the problem and how sternly they defend their position, up to and including the words “this is not my code”.
- Don’t wait until the final interview to quiz the candidate on how they work around time zone issues, religious holidays, etc. This is very important as all such issues need to fit into your project. Interviewing a great developer and then finding out at the last minute that they won’t have more than an hour a day to communicate with your team is a total waste of time.
- Finally, make sure that you standardize your interview questions and record your interview so that you can compare candidates effectively.
Top Tip 1: We really value honesty in our candidates. When you are dealing with remote employees, one of the central pillars is that they are honest.
Don’t over-penalize a developer because they couldn’t find an immediate solution to a problem during the interview. The way that you effectively test this is (assuming they impress you sufficiently in all other areas) to let them pass into the next round of interviews and then ask them the problem once again.
In our experience, any great developer worth their salt (regardless of experience level) will have wanted to find the answer to that problem and will have done so after the interview. If they have not, then probably you will be better off giving them a miss to be totally honest.
Top Tip 2: We prize motivation above anything. With high levels of motivation, you get someone who not only guarantees high levels of productivity and dedication but also someone who will go the extra mile to ensure your project is a success.
To put it bluntly, you can find lots of unmotivated, talented developers, but you don’t find a single unmotivated great developer.
Top Tip 3: Ensure that you have at least a 4-hour time zone overlap either in the morning or afternoon. Ideally, you want time at both the start or the end of the day, if not all day, where possible.
Time zone issues can be very frustrating, particularly at times during the development lifecycle where you need a lot of back-and-forth communication. Examples include project sprint planning, dealing with roadblocks, etc.
Save yourself the nightmare and plan for this upfront. This issue is one of the biggest affecting remote work and is why DevTeam.Space has tailored its developer community to ensure that we have developers all over the world.
Added to this, we assign a dedicated account manager to all our developers and development teams to ensure that you get quick and reliable communication at all times.
How to Hire a Development Team?
Hiring a complete development team can seem like it is more challenging as most project owners or managers feel they have more control when they hire individually.
However, as we mentioned a little while ago, there are a number of very important advantages to hiring a complete development team rather than trying to put one together yourself. We have covered these so won’t repeat them here.
The real trick here is simply to view it as a group of individuals that you not only can interview one by one but also have the luxury of being able to interview all together to see how well they work as a group.
We love development team interviews for this very reason. You can undertake the exact same interview approach as you do with individual developers.
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Start with a screening interview with the whole team before undertaking individual skills interviews (this will include a specific interview for the project manager too) before assigning the whole team a test coding exercise. You will then finish up with a final interview if fully satisfied.
If you have any doubts, for example, about an individual developer, then get them back in for an additional interview or test. Don’t accept the whole team until you are 100% with each individual. Trust us on this, we have interviewed hundreds of development teams over the last decade and never accept one unless we are 100%. This is exactly how you get the best development teams.
Another important thing that you can learn from a lengthy interview process is just how motivated the team really is. If you see any kind of drop-off in work quality, communication, etc., you will have an indication that perhaps the team is not as committed to your project as you might want.
The only drawback to this process is that it takes a long time. Happily, you can bypass this lengthy chore almost entirely by hiring directly from a dedicated software development company like DevTeam.Space.
We’ve already done this all for you.
Ok, so assuming you are still pressing ahead with hiring your developers or development team independently, then here are some handy interview questions to help you nail that great developer.
Ask questions to test the hands-on skills of mobile app developers. You can refer to the following list of interview questions offered by us:
- Android interview questions;
- iOS interview questions;
- Swift interview questions;
- Java interview questions.
Here are some quick reference sample questions:
Android Interview Questions Examples:
A. Explain the differences between vectors and arrays in Java.
Answer: Vectors in Java are dynamically allocated. They have dynamic lists of references to other objects. Vectors can hold data from different data types, and their size can change as needed. Arrays are static. They have a fixed size and fixed primitive type.
B. When should you test an Android app on a real device and not on an emulator?
Answer: You shouldn’t test an Android app on an emulator in the case of interrupted scenarios.
These are as follows:
- Insertion and removal of memory cards;
- Incoming calls when the app is active;
- An incoming SMS when the application is active;
- Bluetooth connection;
- Low-battery notification.
C. What are some of the preliminary steps to troubleshoot an Android app that frequently crashes?
- Check memory usage;
- Clean up the memory;
- Remove app data usage;
- Check for compatibility issues.
Review our Android interview questions for more examples.
iOS Interview Questions Examples:
A. How will you define a “base class” in Swift?
Answer: Swift has “superclasses”. Other classes can inherit methods, properties, and functions from a superclass. You can define a “base class” by not defining its superclass.
B. Which API should you use to write test scripts to evaluate an iOS app’s UI?
C. Explain the differences between non-atomic and atomic properties.
Answer: An atomic property will always produce a fully initialized object. iOS developers often consider it risky to retrieve an uninitialized value of a property. In some situations, it might not be risky if they can configure the property as non-atomic. iOS developers do this to achieve better performance.
Review our iOS interview questions if you need more examples.
Hybrid App Interview Questions (Using React Native) Examples:
A. How does React Native facilitate cross-platform development?
B. Explain the meaning of “props” and “state” in React Native and detail when you would use them and how they contribute to building reusable components.
In React Native, “props” stands for properties, and “states” are fundamental concepts that are used to manage and pass data between various components.
Props work by passing from the “parent” to “child” components. As well as static data, they are also able to pass configurations, however, they are designated as read-only within the child component.
States are mutable objects within components that hold dynamic data that can change over time. States are used to manage a component’s internal state and render UI elements based on specific changes.
It is essential to use props when building reusable components to create inputs that are constant across instances of the component and use states for managing unique and dynamic behavior within a specific instance.
C: How would you optimize the performance of a React Native application, especially when dealing with a large and complex UI? Mention some techniques and tools you would use.
Optimizing the performance of a React Native application is crucial for providing a smooth user experience. Some techniques and tools include:
- Component Lifecycle Methods: Properly using lifecycle methods like shouldComponentUpdate and componentDidUpdate to prevent unnecessary re-rendering of components and to handle updates efficiently.
- Virtualization: Leveraging FlatList and SectionList components to efficiently render large lists of data by rendering only the visible items on the screen, which reduces memory and processing overhead.
- Memoization: Using the React.memo higher-order component to memorize and cache the rendering of functional components, preventing redundant renders when props have not changed.
- Performance Profiling: Utilizing tools like the React DevTools and React Native Debugger to analyze component renders, identify performance bottlenecks, and optimize the rendering process.
- Code Splitting: Employing code splitting techniques to load only the necessary code and assets for the current screen, reducing the initial loading time.
- Minimizing UI Thread Blocking: Offloading heavy computations and operations to worker threads or native modules to avoid blocking the UI thread and maintain a responsive UI.
These strategies, along with continuous testing and profiling, can help ensure that the React Native app performs well under various conditions and on different devices.
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Looking to hire an app developer for your app development team?
You should now have a much better idea about what makes a good mobile app developer. Remember that you should arm yourself with a good understanding of your product specification as this is key to finding the best developer for your needs.
When hiring app developers from an outsourcing company, try to avoid freelance app developers, instead, hire software developers who work full-time for the software development companies you hire from.
If you would like to learn more about our community of vetted expert app developers then simply fill out a DevTeam.Space product specification form. Once you have done so, one of our dedicated account managers will arrange a complimentary call to answer any questions you have.