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[Checklist] How to Evaluate a Back-End Developer

Written By Dana Frederick | October 11, 2018

Illustration of a man holding up a big arrow pointing to a giant screen showing a checklist

This is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here: 


Typically, when a hiring manager asks for a Back-End Developer, a few things come to mind: lots of development experience, comfort working with APIs, and a solid background in database work.

But the reality is...on some level, it’s up to interpretation. After all, they can cover a potpourri of responsibilities, from application data access, to database administration, to addressing security, and much more; ultimately, it’s dependent on the needs of the company. This makes it not just a complex role to fulfill, but also a challenging role to recruit for.Visualisation of front-end and back-end of an application

Though day-to-day responsibilities may vary, back-end developers are an important component of any technical team, constructing and maintaining the base that front-end developers to build on.

That said, it’s worth noting that the line between front-end and backend developers can sometimes be fluid. Make sure you understand what your technical team needs before you start your search.

If a back-end developer is what your team needs, here’s what to look for:

Expertise

  • Well versed in a variety of software design patterns, security procedures, and frameworks
  • Delivers server-side code that’s scalable, reliable, well tested, and well documented
  • Knowledgeable in standards and best practices for their language(s) of expertise
  • Familiarity with cloud infrastructure and cloud providers
  • Experience using databases, and utilizing data structures at scale
  • Comfortable with web service technologies

Team Compatibility

  • A stack match for your team––comfortable with the technologies they use
  • Knowledgeable in the team’s development methodology of choice, or similar
  • Keeps detailed design docs for team reference and smooth collaboration
  • Motivated to uphold the team’s standard of quality
  • Proactively contributes to knowledge exchange within the team (e.g. wiki contributions, commentary in the design phase)
  • Team player: Leverages collaboration to solve problems, and willingly supports teammates when they’re stuck

Soft Skills

  • Shows flexibility in their problem-solving approach, with no attachment to particular solutions
  • Takes appropriate ownership as errors arise, focuses on solutions vs. blame
  • Gladly tackles problems of all shapes and sizes, no matter how minute
  • Robust technical communication skills: Can effectively communicate project needs with both front and back-end teammates
  • Strong non-technical communication skills: Can accurately interpret and execute on requests from non-technical teams (e.g. product)
  • High emotional intelligence: Self-aware and attuned to their peers’ needs

backend developer checklist

Attracting the developers you want

What’s your team’s strategy for attracting back-end developer candidates?

For high demand roles like this, syncing with your candidate’s needs early on can give you a competitive edge. Focus on showcasing desirable job qualities from the start: interesting challenges, smart teammates, and work-life balance will help you stand out as a potential employer.

Hiring for other technical roles? Learn the right skills to target for specialized roles in our full guide:

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