How to Hire a PHP Developer Rock-Star?

QArea Expert by QArea Expert on December 26, 2016

How to Hire a PHP Developer Rock-Star?

Whenever a company wants to hire PHP developers for launching an important project or to maintain an existing one, they want to ensure the candidate is fit for the job. It’s obvious that one short interview is not enough to evaluate an applicant properly.

 Therefore, in order to make sure you hire PHP developer rock-star able to do the intended job, the biggest part of of the selection should happen before the interview. Below you will find a list of recommendations of streamlining your hiring process to make sure you don’t waste time and money and maximize the chances to enlist a true professional that will get the job done.

 First, we have to clarify this guide is intended for companies who want to hire PHP developer professionals to work full-time, to become team leads and form teams around them. If your goal is to hire a PHP developer freelancer for a one-time job – the first three points of the guide might suffice.

 Now, let’s try to depict what the hiring process looks like for both parties. A company wants a long-term partnership with a professional who is able to launch and maintain lots of successful projects, which will bring profit and promote the company brand. If the company makes a bad choice, it will most probably fail to accomplish said goals, which will result in reputational and financial losses.

 From the candidate’s perspective we see quite another picture – their goal is to promote themselves as the perfect choice to get the job. If they are good indeed, they will have their salary for a long time and will grow as a professional. If they are not fit for the job, they do not lose, however – they will get their salary for several months, will add one more line to their portfolio and will get some skills as a result. Therefore, they only get positive results, even if they fail.

 As you can see, possible risks for a company are much more serious than for a developer. How to hire PHP programmer with the skills and personal traits you need then? The nature knows the answer.

How to hire PHP developer that will get the job done?

 If we replace company, candidate and projects with female, male and children respectively, we can see that job interviews hold huge resemblance with reproduction partner selection. And this perspective gives an answer to the question – females in wild nature choose the males that survived DESPITE certain traits, rather than THANKS to them.

 For example, argali have huge horns, and the one with the biggest is chosen by the majority of females. Why? Because if it was able to survive long enough to reach reproduction stage DESPITE having these horns – his genes are valuable. Peacocks have huge bright tails, and if a male with such a tail was not eaten by carnivores before – his genes are valuable, and so on, and so on.

 How can we use this pattern in the hiring process? The most important traits and deeds of a great professional are not the ones he is paid for, but the ones he developed for free (the ones he developed not for gaining profit, but out of the need for self-improvement). For example, good PHP developers tend to take part in some open-source projects, local user groups, discussion boards and even at question-answer communities like Quora or Stackoverflow. They can be participants or even speakers at various PHP-related events, meetups and conferences, or take part in some scientific researches, etc.

 However, clear distinction should be made, as there is a huge difference between being a subject matter expert (SME), providing useful and meaningful solutions to problems – and a forum warrior, engaging in never ending useless flaming. How to understand who of these two possibilities a candidate is? Ask another professional!

A workflow for hiring a great PHP developer

 At some point of their careers, all professionals understand they have grown to the top of their own capabilities and feel the need to position themselves as SME’s in order to increase their market value, become known as educators and continue learning by teaching. Thus said, they become interested in selling their expertise in addition to selling their hard skills. Here is how a thoughtful entrepreneur can use this opportunity:

  1. Full-time employees are less prone to help companies with hiring professionals (for several obvious reasons, from the lack of time to refusal of helping their competitors). Therefore, the best way to reach such experts is by contacting them on freelance portals like UpWork and other marketplaces.                                                                                                                Contact the most-appraised and expensive to hire dedicated PHP developer on each of these marketplaces (5-6 would be better) and offer them a chance to prove their expertise not through coding, but through evaluating. As their reputation is at stake, they will most likely agree to this offer. How to choose the most trustworthy of experts? Compare their portfolios, past experience and appraisals – or even ask them about each other. Chances are, they’ve already worked together or have any other experience and can provide invaluable feedback on each other’s expertise. One of them might be the person you need, after all…
  2. If none of the freelance experts agreed to work for you full-time, yet one (or several) of them agreed to evaluate other candidates, you can move on to the next step. Tell them what you want to get in the result and describe the project specifications. The SME will help you understand what needs to be done, how the code structure in general should look, what parts of it should be written by seasoned professionals and what can be done by less experienced PHP developers; what knowledge is needed and what tools should be used in order to accomplish the project.
  3. This knowledge will help you formulate position requirements for job offerings on different freelance marketplaces. Be strict but consistent – the more accurate your requirements are, the better. Use different wording for different job offerings to evaluate which proposal brings the best results.
  4. Refuse low-skill candidates at once, as you are going to hire a PHP developer rock-star! Choose about 10-15 who have good portfolios and positive reviews.
  5. Ask your SME to create a series of tests to check candidates’ skill. Codility helps in doing this greatly. Make the tests harsh, you need to make sure the candidates have great technical background.
  6. Once the tests are completed, you will have 3-5 candidates with the best technical background to choose from and at this point you can appoint the date of the final interview.
  7. Do some homework and research the stories of these candidates to find the traits they developed AN ADDITION TO or DESPITE their paid responsibilities, as mentioned above. Use SME’s help to evaluate if the candidate’s efforts were worthwhile or merely a waste of time.
  8. On the final interview you can now check if the candidate has soft skills needed to run a team, as you can be sure they have the technical background to do this. You can also offer them solve a code problem on the fly to make sure they can deal with unexpected challenges (bad things happen, and in PHP development they can happen pretty much often).

 Keep in mind that rock-stars perform greatly on the stage, but there is lots of work to be done aside of singing – setting light and sound, building the stage, etc. Therefore, your future team lead should be able to build and manage a team in order both to launch new projects and maintain the existing ones. If you need to hire a whole team for a project – repeat this workflow until the team is complete. From our experience, such approach helps cut down months of interviewing with uncertain outcomes to a couple of weeks of selection with a granted positive result.

 QArea followed this workflow to build an outstanding team of PHP developers that launches and maintains a plethora of different projects. We hope this guide will help you hire a PHP developer rock-star and a great team for them – or just contact us and have them at your disposal at once!