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Questions to Ask When Hiring an App Developer

Posted by Sygma Technology on Mar 22, 2019
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 You have a great idea for an app. You want it realized in a way that does justice to your vision. But where do you even begin? Especially if you are not ensconced in the tech world, how do you know what software development agency interview questions you need to ask to ensure that you make the best choice possible? 

Software Development Interview Questions you Need to Ask


First things first—and this is non-negotiable:


Draw up an RFP (or a Request For Proposal)


Essentially, this is a document that outlines your requirements and asks software development companies to pitch to you how they think they fulfill your needs. Ensure that you include all the relevant details about your requirements, budget (if known or if there’s a ceiling or not to exceed number), current capacity, and goals.


In addition to this, see if you can narrow down your search by asking trusted sources for recommendations for development agencies, reading reviews, and doing adequate research before you send your RFP out. By doing so, you’ll avoid being inundated with more proposals that are not relevant to you.


Some key points that are essential to a successful RFP include:


  • About you:

    • Your main goals

    • Your culture/values

    • The scope of your current technical assets

    • Your preferred timeline

    • Your specific requirements


  • About them:

    • Have you done something similar in the past?

    • The capacity of their team (If they are already burdened with multiple projects, can they take yours on?)

    • Where are they located?  Are they comfortable working remotely if not in the same city?

    • CVs for the key personnel on their team


(Click here to download our RFP template that takes you through the process, step-by-step.)


Once you have received proposals, your next step is to begin interviewing your selections—and this is where you have to ensure that you ask the right software development, project management, and communication style interview questions.  If you have received many responses ( > 5), you probably will not have enough time to interview every agency. After reading the proposals, see if you can shortlist the strongest 3-5 agencies based on fundamental criteria developed internally and then proceed with those interviews.


TIP: Before you start interviewing, draw up a means of documenting your findings. Make it easy to compare one company to another.


Agency interview questions


The process of getting to know potential software development agencies in the interview phase should be divided into two constituent paths:


  • Evaluating their technical prowess

  • Assessing the so-called soft skills, or behavioral elements like work ethic and communication style to ensure compatibility.


We are going to dive into these two kinds of questions in more detail below. Suffice it to say, the right company will be able to conjure the perfect alchemy of these two facets.


Of course, the ideal company has to have superior technical ability—but outstanding tech know-how without excellent project management or testing skills are futile. If they cannot get organized and are not adept at overcoming difficulties and solving challenges on the spot, you will only end up frustrated.


In addition, the process of creating software is iterative. You will be going back and forth with your agency at length. To put it bluntly—you have to like your team, at least a little bit.


We’re going to start by taking you through the technical software development interview questions you need to ask, and then launch into the behavioral questions you need to know about the organizations on your shortlist.


5 technical interview questions your software development agency should be able to answer


Consider this your technical cheat sheet for hiring a development agency. If they cannot answer these five app questions to your liking, it’s a no-go:


1. Please take me through your approach to User Experience (UX) Design.

UX is your end user’s experience with your product. If your customer is not immediately drawn—both emotionally and intellectually—to your product, game or service, you will not have a successful app on your hands. Your app also needs to be user-friendly and intuitive enough for your customer to stick around after first use. An excellent agency will have a track record with both back and front-end app development that focuses on creating the best possible UX for your target niche. The right answer to this most important of app questions is one that outlines a detailed strategy to UX design.


2. Can you build for multiple operating systems?

While the Android market is larger with approximately 2,600,000 in the Google Play Store at the end of 2018, you want to know what the versatility of your potential development team when it comes to building for either operating system.


Native programming for iOS is a different animal from coding for Android. The last thing you want is to realize down the line that they aren’t able to build for a certain platform, which will reduce the number of potential users.


3. What coding standards do you follow?

Coding standards are essentially methods and systems of standardization among programming teams. By not using centralized frameworks, projects can quickly become more cumbersome than they need to be. Not only will coding standards have bearing on the timeline you have created, but they will also ensure that if any other software development company ever has to pick up the job, they will be able to slot in easily to the pre-existing structure.


4. What do you know about Agile software development, and do you embrace this in your work?

Agile software development has fast become the industry standard approach to development processes. In a philosophy that prioritizes adaptability, responsiveness and a people-centered outlook, an Agile development process serves to produce both better products and working relationships. By working with a team that embraces this approach, you will be striving for quality, efficiency and superior project management.


5. Describe your process for identifying bugs and faults.

Every agency worth their weight should have a system in play that will help them sift through the code and identify where problems lie. By asking this question, you will soon be able to discern how systematic their approach is, if they use tools to assist them with this process, and how they approach remedying faults. You do not want to find out too late that small technical issues have the ability to derail your development process.


Now onto the next important set of questions:


5 behavioral questions for software development agencies


First things first, what are behavioral questions—and why are they so important in choosing the right company?


Asking behavioral questions gives your potential fit the opportunity to describe how they would tackle the crucial project management elements of your project, as well as gives you insight into what it is like to work with them as people. These components can make or break your project and should not be taken lightly.


The problem is, you don’t have long to get to know them. You have to ask the right questions up front.


Here are our top 5 behavioral questions to ask:


1. Can you provide an example of a time your team was met with a communication barrier with a client, and how you got around it?

The reality is that you are going to be working very closely with your development agency. You have to know that they are able to communicate effectively as well as how they overcome difficulties when miscommunications arise.


2. Have you ever overcome an obstacle other development teams thought insurmountable? How did you do it?

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but problems are going to arise. That’s the nature of creating something new. While you can’t guard against issues occurring, you can ensure that you work with people who can handle them.


Which brings us to our next point:


3. Describe a moment when your team worked under pressure—and to great effect.

Because you may be up against deadlines, either to get ready for a launch date, to meet funders’ criteria, or simply abide by the internal timeline you have set, you do not want to work an agency that cannot take the heat. It’s one thing to be able to develop software. It’s another thing entirely to do it with a tight deadline.


4. What is your proudest moment in terms of reaching a company goal?

This question will give them the opportunity to show off the most glowing features on their company resume. It will allow you a glimpse into their work history to see what they have been able to achieve in the past.


As an adjunct to this question, make sure they provide references to their claims. Is there another company you can contact that will be able to verify these achievements?


5. Has your company ever felt stretched too thin? How did you cope with this?

This question is all about checking their current operational bandwidth. No matter how proficient they are, if they don’t have the time to fit your project in, they are not a good fit for your project. Simple as that.


Parting Thoughts


One thing that’s for sure is that you cannot be glib when it comes to interviewing your future partners. As is typical of a growing market, there is an array of snake-oil peddlers on the scene that boast of abilities they simply do not have. They either do not have the depth of technical knowledge needed to realize the goals of your project, or the maturity or manpower to see it through. In the worst case scenario, they have none of these. Finding the right software development agency is not a task you can afford to throw to fate. Guard against this by asking the right questions.


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