Outsourcing software development raises a lot of questions. Where should I start looking for a development team? How can I tell that a company is reliable and trustworthy? And finally, how do I verify the technical knowledge and skills of a remote development team?

We’ve been writing articles for our company blog to answer these and other questions about outsourcing. 

In this post, we’re going to focus on one of the most challenging aspects of hiring a remote development team:

Ensuring that the developers we hire have a high level of technical knowledge and skills.

At Sunscrapers, we have experience in hiring remote developers. As a result, we’ve developed a set of proven recruitment tactics to ensure that all the people we hire are qualified. This is the reason why only 3% of developers who apply to us become part of our team.

Read on to find out our recipe for success and learn how to verify the tech skills of software developers who will be working on your project remotely.

What kind of tech skills should you look for?

Technical skills are a broad category that needs to be broken down into smaller parts. Here are the most important tech skills your developers should have.

Programming languages and software frameworks

You need to recruit developers with a strong background in at least one programming language relevant to your project. And you should find a way to check their mastery in that language. If your project uses popular languages like Python or JavaScript, you’re likely to find the people you need easily. A closely related technical skill is proficiency in a software framework because it increases the quality and robustness of applications. For example, if you’re planning a web development project in Python, be sure that the developers you hire are familiar and skilled in one of its frameworks like Django, Flask, or Pyramid.

Problem-solving skills

You not only need software developers to create products but also know how to improve their quality. Building bug-free solutions is next to impossible. That’s why the development team you hire needs to have all sorts of problem-solving skills on board to understand what could go wrong in your code and how to resolve issues. 

Data and algorithms

Another key area of technical skills related to data science and data engineering. If you’re planning to build a software solution that deals with vast amounts of data, you need developers with specific skills. In particular, they should be able to build algorithms, which are instructions for performing a calculation or solving a problem. Developers with strong experience this area will help you to organize data and use algorithms to solve problems efficiently.

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Another key technical skill is knowledge of IDEs. This is how development teams write, compile, run, and debug code. An IDE will also accelerate the development process, so it’s a critical aspect to check during the hiring process.

Databases

You also need your developers to have skills database management systems (DBMS) like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and others. They need to properly back up, secure, and manage your database.

Source control

Developers also need to know how to use version control tools like GIT. They’re essential for managing, storing, and securing code. 

Learn more: Building a remote team? Look for workers with these 4 traits

Naturally, you should also dedicate time to assessing soft skills such as teamwork, approach to decision making, time management skills, communication, leadership skills, and collaboration.

How to evaluate tech skills of a remote development team

Now that you know what skills you need to look for, here are a few smart tactics that help you find developers with the best skillsets for your project.

1. Check their portfolio of work

Developers use portfolios to demonstrate their coding skills through personal projects. A portfolio can take on many shapes and sizes, from web pages to complex software projects. Portfolios are a key tool in recruitment because they showcase the candidate’s development level, the skills they have, and even the direction of their professional development.

When reviewing the portfolio of a team or individual developers, be sure to check how the projects are described in context. How did the developers integrate it with other tools and libraries? Did they work on the project alone or with others? Do you see many unfinished projects? 

A portfolio will help you to come up with tailormade questions for the candidate interview if they reach this stage in your hiring process. 

2. Analyze their GitHub account

GitHub is one of the best resources available to those looking for skilled developers. The platform works as an online showroom of developers’ work. You can see what open-source projects they work on and whether they contribute to any initiatives. 

Developers create their GitHub repository to show that they can write readable and maintainable code that others can understand easily. Take a look at the account, and you’ll get to learn many things about the developer – or an entire development team. For example, here’s our company GitHub account where we share our Django open-source projects.

So what exactly should you look for? Here are a few ideas:

  • Does the developer have any followers? A large number means that the person has gained a great reputation for their skills.
  • When did they join GitHub? This indicates their experience level
  • What technologies do they use in their projects?
  • How many repositories so they have?
  • What is their public activity (pull requests, commits, issues opened)?

GitHub offers the best way to check how developers collaborate with others in collective projects.

2. Carry out a tech interview

If you’d like to vet the candidates provided by your outsourcing partner, a tech interview is a must. Here’s what our recruiting process looks like:

Once the candidate passes the first step, which is an initial interview with our Talent & Payroll Manager, we ask them to create a specific functionality. This stage lasts around 3 hours and aims to test their technical skills but also see their problem solving skills in action. If everything goes well, we schedule a meeting with our CTO or tech leads to discuss the test task in detail.

Read this: What is offshore software development?

3. Ask the team about the development process

Does the team you’re looking to hire have a solid development process in place? You need to know that before making any decisions. If they do, it means that the team is aware that software development requests planning and strategy. As a result, you also get to check that the team has the organizational skills required to complete projects within the set timeline and budget.

4. Consider live coding

Live coding interviews are performed via screen sharing where applications are given a brief and then complete the task with the recruiter. They can be a rich source of information about the skills of a developer or an entire development team. You’ll get to see their logic, way of thinking, as well as ability to explain what they’re doing.

This is a great opportunity for seeing how candidates perform in real-time, as a team or on their own. It’s especially useful for learning how the team members communicate and cooperate with each other. And collaborative skills are critical in any software development project that relies on many people to succeed. 

5. Launch a pilot project

A smaller project is a low-risk method for testing the skills of the remote development team you’re planning to hire. Ask the team to build a prototype, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), or Proof of Concept (PoC). 

This will give you a chance to see how the team works and verify their performance. You’ll get to learn from small mistakes instead of big ones and minimize the risk of hiring a badly fitted team for the important job of building your product. 

6. Immerse the team in your company life

This method is particularly great for team extension services and remote team cooperation, where you’ll be looking to expand your in-house team with external resources. That’s why you need to be extra careful to ensure that the developers you hire are a great cultural fit.

And the best way to find this out is to throw them in at the deep end and immerse them in your company life. For example, you can ask the developer to work with another developer for the day and contribute to the actual coding. That way, they get to experience the pace of work at your company and check whether they can keep up with it. They also get to see how your remote meetings work. 

Make sure that the candidate gets to interact with other team members. Their opinions will help you decide between the top choices.

How to carry out a tech skills assessment test for a software development company

Technical screening is a smart move for companies looking to outsource software development tasks. You don’t want to commit people’s time to a live interview when there are so many tools you can use to quickly test the coding abilities of the development team.

Tech recruiters use online assessment tools like HackerRank and Codility. You can use them to design a test by choosing from a list of coding challenges and questions. Candidates are sent a link to the test and can work through it within a given amount of time. The tool will test the correctness of the implementation with the help of various inputs and edge cases (like empty input data, input data with one element, etc.).

When using these tools, be aware that there are many more technical skills developers need to address challenges such as changeability and maintainability of code, clean code practices, ability to find a solution collaboratively, working in small and test-driven increments, code readability and naming practices. You can’t assess all of these skills with one tool. 

However, if you team up with an experienced software development company, there’s no need to carry out this type of screening. Such agencies provide their clients with vetted software developers who have been tested and passed the most demanding recruitment processes where – just like in our case – only a small percentage of candidates are accepted.

Conclusion

It’s a good practice to verify the technical skills of a remote development team you hire for a key project. You wouldn’t want to involve developers with insufficient skills in building your product. These strategies help to check whether the developers provided by an outsourcing company are really as skilled and knowledgeable as advertised. 

If you’re looking for remote development teams that have experience working on demanding projects, get in touch with us. 

We help startups, SMBs, and enterprises to make the most of technology by equipping them with the skills and expertise they need to achieve their goals.

Sunscrapers Team
Sunscrapers Team

Sunscrapers empowers visionary leaders to ride the wave of the digital transformation with solutions that generate tangible business results. Thanks to agile and lean startup methods, we deliver high-quality software at top speed and efficiency.

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