How to Hire a Coder When You Know Nothing About Code

If you’re looking to hire a great coder for your business, but don’t know the first thing about coding, how do you know you’re hiring the right person? We take a look at exactly how to hire a coder even if you know nothing about code.


Computer programmers, despite Comp-Sci’s meteoric rise in popularity as a field of study on college campuses everywhere, are still in high-demand. In fact, as of 2015, there are 7 million coding positions still available on the job market.

Right now, demand far outweighs supply.


Because of this, it can be incredibly difficult to hire a coder for your company. This is especially true if you don’t know a lick about coding yourself.

But fear not, because we’ve got some suggestions on how to find the right coder for your company.

Ask Other Developers

The first thing to do if you’re looking to hire a coder is to lean on your computer programmer friends for help, if you have them.

Ideally, they’ll have recommendations for candidates straight-up. Computer programmers are famously nomadic bunch, and many of them work strictly on a freelance basis. So it’s like that your programming friends known someone in need of work.

But if they don’t, you can still ask them for tips on the hiring process such as what questions to ask and what red flags to look for.

Additionally, you can also ask them to take part in the hiring process, either in the first or future rounds of interviews. They’ll be able to assess your candidates’ answers to technical questions more accurately.

Ask the Right Questions

Even if you don’t have a programming background, you can likely handle the first round of interviews on your own, as long as you know the right questions to ask. Here a few to try out:

Tell me about yourself a recent coding project you’ve been working on.

With this question, you’ll be able to get to know the candidate better and the enthusiasm with which they discuss their projects will help you judge their passion for their work. Coding is hard, frustrating work. You don’t want to hire someone that doesn’t care about their job.

Would you call yourself a developer, project manager, or a combination of the two?

Someone that just calls themselves a developer could possibly indicate that they don’t aspire to any sort of leadership position or like to consider the broad scope of a project and delegate.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on the nature of the position, you’re hiring the candidate for.

Someone that considers themselves just a project manager might be a fantastic leader but doesn’t like to bore himself with the minutia of actual coding work.

The ideal answer to this question is “both.” A blend of passion for coding and leadership qualities is what you’re looking for in a candidate.

What is your educational background?

The coding world is exceedingly meritocratic, meaning that not every candidate will have an education in programming from a traditional university. As long as you know how to code, it doesn’t matter where you got your education from.

There are a plethora of online courses and coding boot camps that complete novices can take to learn how to code. A candidate that says he learned from these resources may not be a bad candidate at all, but you may want to be more wary of them.

They may just have gaps in their knowledge that a graduate of a 4-year college program may not.

Go to Hackathons

If you’re struggling to even schedule interviews with competent coders, you may have to go searching for them instead of waiting for them to come to you. Good places to go to find great coding talent are Hackathons.

Hackathons are coding marathons where individuals or teams of developers work together to develop different software. Typically, hackathons have a narrow scope, so you can probably find an event in your area that is specific to the position you’re looking to fill (e.g. web design or app development).

Scour Universities

While the prospect of hiring a student for your project may sound sketchy, university students are usually very good coders already. These days, many kids in computer science programs have been coding since middle school.

Rather than just loitering outside the computer science department of your local university, you may want to reach out to professors, asking to get in touch with their best students.

Follow Your Gut

When it comes to any job position, there are universal qualities that everyone needs to be successful in the workplace. So when appraising a candidate’s fit for the job, consider their qualities that exist outside the scope of programming.

For example, you can appraise how cooperative they are in teams. You can judge how honest or easy-going they are. You can base your hiring decision on how polite or adaptable to change they are.

There are a ton of qualities you’d want any employee to have, so don’t overthink it when you’re hiring a coder. Trust your intuitive judge of character.

Test Their Skills

Lastly, you should never hire a coder without first testing their abilities. But how do you test their skills without knowing anything about coding?

Well, luckily there are third parties out there that can assess the skills of your candidates for you. A service like ours, for example, can provide skills tests in a wide variety of programming languages for you.

All you have to do is make an account, and use our interface to send coding assignments to your candidates via email. Our skills test range from short to long in length or easy to hard in difficulty.

Ready to Hire a Coder?

When it comes to hiring a coder, patience is key. Because their skills are not as self-evident, you need more time to separate the wheat from the chaff through several interviews and possibly weeks-long skill tests.

But hopefully, this article has given you the confidence to make a well-informed decision when trying to hire a coder.

If you want to take advantage of our services to test your candidates’ skills, but have more questions about how our services works, consider contacting us.

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