Hiring the right developers is crucial if you want your tech startup to get off the ground and grow into a successful company. 

Fortunately for you, the CTO from one of the UK’s most successful scale up companies, taxi app Hailo, has revealed a few tricks that can help you find the perfect candidate.  

Strong communication and teamworking skills are as important as tech knowledge © iStock/Sky Nesher
Strong communication and teamworking skills are as important as tech knowledge © iStock/Sky Nesher

Fast-growing startups looking to raise funding for their business need to be particularly picky when hiring talent as investors will often look at your team just as much as they'll look at your product. Corporates and large tech companies like Google and Facebook don't have it any easier. They have the same challenge on their hands when it comes to sourcing the right technical people for the job. 

Writing on LinkedIn’s Pulse network today, interim CTO and CIO Rorie Devine explained how hiring engineers can be difficult because software development is a creative process and objective measures of how good or bad a developer is are hard to come by. 

As with any role, it’s important to go for developers that have a great attitude, as well as a great aptitude, explains Devine, adding that there are three dimensions you should look at when interviewing a candidate.  

1) Great technical ability - this is essential but don't make the common mistake of thinking it's the only important thing. It is necessary but not sufficient. 

2) Ability to work in a team - there are enough good developers out there to make sure that you don't need to compromise on this one. Don't hire "brilliant jerks". As The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, put it "Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high".

3) An impact focus - presumably you're hiring a developer because you want some kind of impact. Make sure you hire people who judge their effectiveness on the results of what they do - not the quality of their analysis, fullness of their investigations or whatever.

There are a number of ways to check for these things. At Hailo, Devine said he and his team do three “screens” looking at the three aforementioned criteria before inviting anyone to an interview.  

A) CV/resume screen. Look at the CV/Resume with these three dimensions in mind.

B) A 15-minute "attitude" phone screen.

C) A 15-minute "aptitude" (technical skills) phone screen. (Ideally one of your existing developers would do this but services like HackerRank are emerging if that's not possible).

Devine, who previously worked as the CTO of Betfair, lists a number of questions that he would typically ask developers during a phone call.  

i) If you were hiring a developer what would you look for? This checks 1) , 2) and 3) above. Do they aspire to having great technical skills? Do they relate value to impact? Do they understand that software development is a team sport? 

ii) If you've had a good or bad day at work what kind of things might have happened that day? This checks 2), 3) and 1) indirectly.

iii) What has made you successful so far? 1) and 3) and implying 2) gets a bonus point.

Devine explains that candidates who pass these three filters are “good to go” for the face-to-face stage. 

“This kind of approach has worked pretty well for us and enabled us to work with some truly great people,” wrote Devine. “At the end of the day there is nothing more motivating than that.”

Hailo has raised over $100 million (£65 million) for its easy-to-use free smartphone app that allows passengers to get a taxi or licensed car quicker. 

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