Job interviews are uniquely stressful events. What many don’t appreciate is how much interview stress goes both ways. The interviewer tasked with hiring the best candidate is under almost, but not quite, as much stress as the interviewee facing the questions as there’s a lot at stake and many small details to tease out in just an hour’s worth of conversation.
A good interview is just barely enough time to get a professional first impression. Yet, from that impression, you’re expected to find out if they have the credentials, experience, and aptitude for the role while assessing if they’re a good fit for the office culture.
With so much to cram into just one or two short meetings, it’s important to get things right. Having the right plan, technique, and asking the right questions will go a long way to making that time go just a little bit further. And remember, if you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
Before you get to the tough questions and technical exams, it’s good to sit down to talk to the candidate face-to-face about the work they’re doing now or what they’ve done in the past. Despite being comparatively informal, this conversation is the one that often generates the most insight into a candidate’s professional experience and knowledge.
Ask to see their portfolio and talk about apps they have worked on or delivered for clients in the past. Experienced app developers invariably have a portfolio to show. They are usually keen to talk about their past apps and successes too.
Ask for details about technologies used and problems encountered when creating specific mobile applications. These provide a great jumping-off point to talk about the features and technologies you want to create in your apps. It’s a great way for the candidate to warm up to the interview by talking about something they know in-depth. If you think you might need help with the conversation, let us help with our article on the future of mobile app engineering.
Starting with some simple, on-topic technical questions is an ideal way to get an interview off on the right foot. General topics such as popular platforms, useful apps, and their favourite developer tools can serve as a helpful introduction to more technical subjects further down the line.
Starting with the general before moving to the specific serves two main purposes:
Some good starting points may be to look over some features or code that your developers have worked on previously. Identifying new features or fixing simple bugs can be a great way for candidates to show off their practical experience in a real-world setting.
Alternatively, more general questions about apps and programming can help to provide a technical warm-up to more in-depth conversations. To get started you might want to be up to date on the latest mobile app frameworks.
One of the critical skills you need a candidate to have is knowledge of the languages you’re employing them to write. Some short, relatively simple questions to this effect will seem almost trivial to the right candidate. Yet, every hiring manager in the world has stories of candidates applying for positions without knowing the language specified. It pays to be safe rather than sorry.
A five-minute test, near the top of the interview, can save a great deal of time further down the road. There's no substitute for simply looking at code. Theoretical questions just don’t test the same skill-set. Code examples used later in the interview should be more complex than those used to test the basics.
Removing comments and asking a candidate to describe its functionality is a great way to determine how much they know and what they can quickly pick up. The payoff is that a candidate who can show an understanding of production code at an interview will have no problem settling into the team and getting up to speed.
Alternative options would be to implement a simple program in the language specified. This can be a short question on pen and paper, to sort a simple list or complete a function specific to the firm’s area of interest. The goal of the exercise should be to demonstrate an understanding of the language and its features rather than write picture-perfect code.
A mobile app developer with some experience under their belt will bring a lot more value to the team than just coding know-how. Experience with various architectures, alternate ways to implement features, and different deployment methods are all invaluable when it comes to outlining the right strategy to move products forward.
It’s important to get an idea of each candidate’s experience in fields such as testing and continuous integration (CI). These are fundamental parts of professional app development that an experienced candidate should know.
Here you can build on work already done at an earlier round of questions. Asking a candidate to outline or write tests for code described earlier provides them with an opportunity to demonstrate a deeper understanding and gives you the chance to dig deeper too.
Almost as important as being able to write code is being able to deploy, test, and publish it. Candidates with mobile app development experience should know each of these processes back to front.
Ask a candidate to talk through this process from beginning to end to get to know their understanding of the application development lifecycle. Compare their answers to the company’s existing processes and assess how the candidate will fit into them. It may be that the company can learn as much from the candidate as the other way round.
Ask for a rough timetable of each stage of the application development process. It can be helpful to understand their estimates and the type of application development they have done before. Candidates from smaller teams tend to skew towards shorter timescales with less room for slip. Candidates more accustomed to process and verification lean towards longer stages, increased time for testing and refinement, and more room for changes.
In most areas, very little of the interview is about the specific answers to the questions asked. It’s more important how the questions are answered.
Pay close attention to how candidates solve problems and, more importantly, how they communicate those problems and solutions to the rest of the team. How a candidate communicates in an interview should provide an insight into how they will communicate in a development team.
While no interview process will ever be 100% perfect, asking the right questions can provide the window you need to find the right candidate for the role. If you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
An excellent way to get a candidate talking about mobile apps is to talk about some of their best previous work. This helps to identify their existing skill-set and allows them to discuss how they have learned new technologies in the past. Being able to point to successful apps in the marketplace or app store at the current time is a significant bonus.
Here you’re interested in finding out the depth of their experience as much as their ability to solve problems. A candidate who has faced their largest challenges in IDEs and tooling is likely to have comparatively little experience of complex development challenges.
Candidates should understand the implications for performance, UI, and functionality when using web apps over native or cross-platform applications. They should be able to contrast this with the rapid time-to-market of a hybrid app and cost-benefit advantages.
Candidates should be able to state some pros and cons of each system outside of mere preference. The comparatively open platform, flexible design, and wider reach of Android are likely favourites, as are the UI priorities, security, and privacy offered by iOS.
Candidates should demonstrate an understanding of the complete lifecycle of app development rather than just the immediate requirements. Some suitable answers would include details about deployment, target audience, existing products, design documents, and application assets.
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