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How to evaluate the technical level of a developer

Today I’m going to answer a question from Benjamin, the cofounder of a virtual reality or VR startup. His question is…

How do I evaluate the technical level of a developer?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Benjamin has already developed the first version of his product with some freelancers. But because it requires a higher level of expertise which the freelancers have underestimated, the development of his solution went wrong.

What is important when it comes to selecting a developer is to define what you really need.

I often see founders going to a meeting saying that they are looking for a developer to develop their app without really knowing what it’s all about.

So the first step is to define the functional specifications of what you want to achieve, describing the business logic as well as how to achieve the said product.

And that’s the tricky part…

Because in order to develop a startup project, you need to evaluate what the quality of your next version is, and therefore, assess if your budget should be a few thousands, ten thousands or even more.

The quality of the final product will define what technology to use, and therefore the skills that you need.

So to move forward, let’s assume that you know what type of skills you need.

You published a great job ad and received several applications. How do you evaluate if someone is a poser or not?

Evaluate their ability to teach complex things

In fact, the answer is pretty simple.

”If you want to master something, teach it.”
—Yogi Bhajan

In other words, if we transpose that to a developer, we need to evaluate his ability to teach you a specific knowledge, or at least be able to explain it.

For example, let’s say that you are searching for a Virtual Reality developer.

Then what you should do is search for “VR development best practices.” You’ll find articles like this one that talks about what you need to do or how to write a better VR code.

As an example, here they mentioned “Optimizing Shader Load Time.” Even I don’t know what that means.

So do a bit more research, find an explanation that you understand and some details that you don’t. And then you ask your candidate to explain them to you.

“I’m not sure I understand what ___ is. Can you explain it to me?”

And your question would be:

The other day I was looking for best practices to develop a VR application and I came across “Optimizing Shader Load Time,” but I’m not sure I understand what the Shader load time is. Can you explain it to me?

And boom, you will have a good or bad explanation of what it’s all about.

Of course, no one can know everything, but you can do it with two to three of the best practices. And if the candidate doesn’t know any of them, that means he does not have that much experience with it.

Record meetings

A second technique I like using is performing an interview remotely with Zoom or Skype.

What that allows me is to record the meeting and be able to see how they actually are, and then share this video recording with a co-founder.

Ask an expert to interview them or to review the video interview

Many of my clients ask me to perform interviews myself or to review a small chunk of a developer interview to have a glimpse of what he or she is capable of.

Of course, the technical aspect is not the only one to evaluate, for me the human aspect is even more important. Someone who is aware of their strengths and weaknesses can learn things way faster than someone who thinks they know it all.


So to conclude and answer Benjamin’s question, evaluating the developer’s skills is extremely important. But what is even more important is choosing a developer who is also aware of their own limitations, and and who is willing to ask for help and get experts for more complex challenges.

To evaluate a developer:

  • Evaluate their ability to teach complex things
  • Record meetings
  • Ask an expert to interview them or to review the video interview

Now if like Benjamin, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on

I will do my best to answer your question by video or redirect you to any existing content that will answer it.

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I will be waiting for your questions, and I look forward to seeing you in other videos. Cheers.