One of the biggest challenges that business founders or start-ups find is enticing quality developers to work on their website, application, software, or other products. Early-state companies have something peculiar – they may not have the monetary muscles to fund high-end developers yet they need websites or apps that place them above the competitors. Outsourcing a remote software developer can help grow your technical resources. Outsourcing and augmenting IT staff continues to offer start-ups a fast, convenient, and easy avenue to developing their software development muscle. Disruptive outsourcing has not only proved to be cost-effective by allowing businesses to save money, but it also improves performance. It’s also an instrument that start-ups use for innovation and attaining competitive advantage, according to a survey by Deloitte on U.S. 2018 Global Outsourcing.

As a founder of an outsourcing software development firm, you need to know the dos and don’ts when it comes to hiring remote software developers.

So, what are the dos?

Ask about Initiative

When hiring remote employees for your web development start-up, you need to look for self-starters. These are people who will be handling projects from remote areas and not confined in a workspace within the company. They will not have someone to look over their shoulders every time or keep them on the task or even delegate every other detail. You need to ensure that you examine who the developers organize their work, how they manage their time, and how they communicate. You also need to check how they take initiatives and how they deal with challenges or roadblocks when they face them.

You should also the remote developers to provide real-life challenges they have dealt with in the past. This should be an example of how they encountered a roadblock when doing their coding work and how they overcame it. You could even role-play a scenario in which the developer is on your engineering team and encounters a customer or client or even a team member who disagrees with the kind of decision they make – how do they deal with that situation. A remote software developer team working on behalf of your software development company will often represent your ethics, values, proposition, and code of conduct. They will be your advocates and if they don’t reflect the values of your brand, your web development start-up may suffer.

Conduct Skill-based Tests

Apart from evaluating the frameworks, languages, and tools the developers possess, you want to test how they apply them. You may want to share a scenario that relates to writing code and then ask the developer to pseudo-code a strategy or method of solving the problem. Present the challenge to them and ask them how they would hand it. Ask them to put forward the questions they would have when reviewing the code. It is not easy to whiteboard a coding problem when the developer you are hiring in your software development company is located in another location, you can use online tools such as shared text editor to allow both of you to view the coding on the screen. In doing this, you are able to see how the developer is able to troubleshoot the problem and offer the coding solution. You see how the developer deconstructs a coding problem, understands the code and then communicates the coding ideas.

When you test the skill of the coder, you see how they can deal with clients when doing a coding project. In fact, when testing the skill of the candidate along with the code reviews, you can have a small paid project. It can be something like a 5 to 8-hour project. Inquire about their hourly rate and get to the price of the small task you are giving them to evaluate their skill ability. Define the requirements and then lay out your expectations for the end product. You can ask the remote developer to illustrate along the way via screen capture, email, or program management app the approach they employ and the process they implement in finding the solution to the problem from the selection of the framework to the workflow they choose and other things.

Think about the Team fit

It is most likely that the developer will work hand in hand with other team members in your company. You need to find out if the remote developer can collaborate with the other members. Check to see if they will need more help to adjust to the work environment. For example, if the candidate says they prefer working in quiet environments and opt for scheduled meetings, they may not be comfortable in an environment where there are frequent interruptions from team members who call out from nowhere to collaborate. Your work environment should resonate with the working style of the remote software developer. Otherwise, they may find it hard to cope and will feel distract most of the time. If they are willing to adjust to that environment, that’s better.

Check with their References

You may also want to check what they have done in the past. This is an old strict that interviewers use and it proves very handy in understanding the candidate you’re hiring. You can request for sites and contacts of businesses they have coded for so that you see their work. This way, you can understand their level of coding and probably how it can be potential for your company. It also helps find out whether the developers ensure good communication or not when doing coding and dealing with clients. A good thing to do is ask the remote app developer to provide you with a reference for the project they recently did before they applied for the current job you are interviewing them. Also, ask for the second most recent project or client they engaged with. This is because such information you obtain from the clients is going to give you update details regarding the working style of the candidate.

Define ‘done’ before starting

If you are kicking off a web or app development effort with a remote developer team, it’s important you lay out the parameters for the finished product – how should it look like? Probably, your goal as the founder of the start-up is to build a marginal value product. If this is the case, then your definition of ‘done’ is going to be different from a start-up that is aiming at working on successive versions of an app or software product. You can work with the remote developers to come up with a list of criteria for the end product – what it should consist of. This will help prevent discrepancies when the project is finished and also dictates what the contract engineer needs to focus on as well as prioritize in the engagement.

Consider offering Remote Developers Equity in your Company

While software development start-ups tend to reserve stocks to engineers who are based in-house, it is also important they consider offering the same equity to engineers they will be dealing with for the long term. The remote developers want to feel that the company is part and parcel of their business. This not only allows them to grow with the company but they make an effort to see that it always delivers the best work to clients. The dedicated software developer will have an incentive that allows them to get the best work done. You need to value the external teams the same way as the internal teams because that is what defines your workforce. They are part of the team.

Having looked at the dos when hiring remote developers for your software development start-up, you may also want to know the don’ts.

So what are don’ts?

Avoid leading the Witness

When interviewing the remote developer, you need to avoid giving them the answer you’re looking for in a problem or question. For instance, you don’t want to say what your team needs from the candidate because you are giving the developer a hint on how they can answer the question you ask them. Avoid saying things like, “We are seeking a self-starter who is able to table new projects without needing many directions.” If you say that in front of them, they know how they will reposition themselves to show that they are self-starters. Instead, you can consider asking the candidate the experiences they have had that compelled them to lead the charge – experiences that allowed them to do work independently.

Avoid Sticking to Scripts

Being in the hiring panel, you probably have an idea of the level of expertise of the candidate from the details contained in the resume or their previous project or job experience. You need to avoid putting the remote developer you are interviewing on the spot through asking them to recall a language style or syntax during coding in a skills test. In case you find that they have problems understanding the problems, just move on or reframe it. It could be that they are nervous about the interview or the questions and that shouldn’t pin them down.

Don’t Overlook Diversity

You may find that the developer you are hiring has a different style or way of working – it doesn’t mean they cannot add value to your team. It is important that you set expectations for the members of the team and allow them to work together in achieving common project milestones. Ensure that the individuals are not bogged down in disputes or complaints. You may realize that although a developer works differently from other members of the team, he or she can collaborate and probably deliver quality than those in the team. You can utilize that potential by encouraging diversity in working style to see how it helps deliver to the needs of the customers.

Don’t conclude that One Poor Client Experience Reflects the Entire work of the Developer

When learning more about the past work of the developer, you may find that a client talks negative or bad experiences about the candidate. That should not be seen as the weak point to dismiss the developer. Although multiple negative experiences of clients can be a red flag, there are times when an employee and a client don’t mesh. They just don’t go together and there will arise conflicts. If the developer has a sea of positive and glowing recommendations, it shouldn’t be marred by a one-off bad experience that is given by a client. A better way to do it is to ask the remote developer to talk about the experience with the client who says they disagreed with the developer or his or her approach. Ask the candidate what lesion they learned from that experience with the client.


As a founder of a startup that deals with software development, you need to know what to do and what not to do when hiring a remote app and software developer to join your team. Working from a remote location is a bit different from working from an office. However, there are ways to collaborate and ensure that the remote developer and the other members work as a team and engage with each other. When you know what to ask and what you are looking for when you hire software developers, you are able to get reliable remote developers who are actively involved in the coding work for your clients and deliver the best results.


Author's Bio: 

I, Kuldeep Kundal, the CMO of Cyber Infrastructure (P) Limited, and is the trademark of the CIS. I have been publishing technology content for the last ten years. Being inquisitive towards technology and management strategies has impressed upon me the mantra of success is to gain knowledge to share it.