How to Hire a Back-End Developer in 2023
A backend developer develops what is “under the hood” of an application or website, the part invisible to visitors. Backend web developers work with databases, web servers, server scripts, and APIs. These specialists are also responsible for integrating most of the services with your website. Thanks to backend developers, functions such as sharing on social networks, reCAPTCHA, online payment, and the ability to check card balance work.
In this article, we will highlight what skills back-end software developers should have and how to hire a back-end developer for your team.
What a Back-End Is
Primarily, a back end is a code executed on the server, from which a website or web app is uploaded. Moreover, a back end comprises databases of regularly updated websites:
- Content management systems (CMS): notes on content (articles and news texts, their dates, categories, tags), users, commenters, and comments.
- Online forums: user accounts, data on topics, posts, and personal messages.
- Internet stores: customer accounts, data on products, stock, goods in carts, placed orders, previous purchases, etc.
Above all that, a back end development includes algorithms driving powerful online platforms such as:
- Social media: friend search, recommendations, community ranking; anti-spam facilities, complaints, and ad pre-processing powered by machines.
- Exchanges: trade engine, order book, trade history, and more.
A back end encompasses hundreds of behind-the-scenes processes. This means that everything visitors or users do not see but what is working, is what we call a back end.
What Does a Back-End Developer Do
Back-end software engineers create and deploy the server side of web resources. They can develop the basic logic and design the architecture of a projected web application from scratch, and compose the algorithms for its functioning after.
Back-end development is not limited to website or web app development. It also incorporates web services that connect to other websites, apps, and services. Here are some examples: pingbacks and trackbacks in the blogosphere, sharing on social media, implemented reCAPTCHA, and embedded online payments. Back-end web developers establish interaction with third-party application programming interfaces (API) and can also create one to which other resources will access.
Essential Skills for Back-End Developers
We divided skills into hard and soft ones. They are equally important to the technical person you may be hiring on your team.
To create a website’s back-end, the most commonly used language is PHP, while web applications can be created on PHP or some other languages with the help of frameworks, including:
Not every back-end software engineer knows a dozen common back-end programming languages. However, what distinguishes a highly-skilled specialist is the ability to quickly master a new language and easily sort out the tasks in which it is needed.
What other technical skills experienced back-end developers have?
- Specialists who often deal with relational DBMSs can handle SQL and ORM.
- API. Back-end software engineers who regularly configure or maintain APIs, get on well with an eXtensible Markup Language (XML), data interchange format JSON, software architectural style REST, and SOAP protocol.
- Every back-end dev is well-versed in Apache HTTP Server, Lighttpd, and Nginx.
- When a back-end dev needs to check the performance of a web application on a local machine, they may use various server software packages — WAMP, LAMP, MAMP, or XAMPP — depending on the operating system. They often deal with virtual and dedicated servers, so they delve into hosting control panels, virtualization, containerization, and Linux.
Soft skills are personal competencies that affect teamwork and self-organization. Experts from Google have found that better soft skills are directly related to the productivity of IT teams. Everyone has to interact with colleagues, management, or customers. What soft skills are critical for a backend developer to have?
Analytical thinking and innovation
Analytical thinking is the ability to process data. It helps to correctly understand, evaluate, systematize, and structure information as well as draw conclusions.
A person with developed analytical thinking:
- quickly breaks large problems into small ones;
- can collect reliable information and evaluate it correctly;
- easily finds suitable solutions and alternatives;
- builds thoughts consistently and logically;
- easily notices the relationship between phenomena.
An active and strategic approach to learning
Reality changes at an incredible speed, skills become obsolete, new tools and professions appear every year, and therefore, it is important to learn and keep your knowledge relevant.
A comprehensive approach to problem-solving
The ability to overcome complex challenges as well as the ability to deal with unexpected situations are crucial skills for a developer. For example, while working in a startup, you may encounter frequent changes in requirements.
Imagine a release in a month. Project managers join the weekly online meeting and suddenly say that now the product should focus on a completely different target audience. The task of a backend developer is not to panic, but to evaluate what is already done, what needs to be analyzed and changed, and what needs to be developed from scratch. After that, the entire development team can analyze the possible timing and text back to the client several solutions.
Unexpected problems may arise during the project’s course. For example, a client can be sure that it is better to use a certain technology for development. At the same time, he does not take into account the product’s scaling, doesn’t understand that he will have to pay twice, and does not even want to discuss the issues. It is important not to get angry, to soberly assess the situation, and constructively convey arguments. This is impossible to achieve without pumped critical thinking.
A Hart Research Associates report showed that for 93% of employers, a candidate’s critical thinking is more important than, for example, a bachelor’s degree.
Creativity (out of the box thinking)
Creativity is one of the most important soft skills for a developer. Indeed, in the development process, situations often arise, and significant changes are made, to which you need to be able to respond quickly and in an original way.
Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner stated that of all soft skills, software engineers have the least developed communication and argumentation skills. It is often difficult for them to build a dialogue and convey their opinions, especially if the conversation needs to be conducted with a person, not from the IT environment.
At the same time, programmers have to communicate a lot with colleagues, managers, and customers nowadays. For example, a developer may be invited as an expert to a presentation with a customer. Argumentation skills will also help in everyday work: when choosing a technology, agreeing on a pool of tasks, and evaluating results. The developer should always be able to defend his point of view.
Tips to Hire Senior Back-End Developers
How to hire a backend developer? You always face risk when hiring new tech employees. Therefore, we offer some important tips with which you will understand that the candidate is suitable for the development team and the company.
Be clear about who you need
To choose the best of the best, determine who exactly is needed. Write down not only hard skills but also soft ones. Consider corporate culture and values. If a person is used to wearing a suit with a tie, then he won’t more likely be comfortable in an IT company where everyone is in shorts and flip flops.
Listen carefully to the candidate and pay attention to body language
At pre-screening and next interviews, listen to the candidate, and pay attention to details and body language. Many closed and open questions reveal a candidate. You can also ask the applicant to speak with examples from life, it is easier to see sincere emotions and thoughts in that case. Leave notes with different candidates so it will be much easier to compare candidates according to the points that you’ve identified and understand who is better to hire among back-end developers for your team.
Consult with the development team
Google involves people from different departments for an objective assessment of the candidate (Bar Raiser interview). If at least one of the employees is against the candidate, a specialist is denied a job. Be interested in your team’s opinion about the new employee: they will tell you more than you see.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Back-End Developer
The back-end candidate can be asked the following questions:
- Describe a difficult negotiation situation you find yourself in. What was the result?
- How do you change your schedule if something unplanned happens?
- How do you prioritize your work when there are several impending deadlines?
- What is the difference between object-oriented and functional programming?
- What are SOLID, DRY, KISS, and YAGNI?
- What are the pros and cons of microservices?
- What is the UNION operator for?
- How would you migrate an app from one database to another, such as from MySQL to PostgreSQL?
- What do you mean by NoSQL?
- What are the types of NoSQL DBMS?
- What is MapReduce?
- How to connect CI/CD to GitLab/Github?
- How can you deploy an application to the cloud? How to do it regularly? (How to link with CICD?)
- What is an index in the context of GIT?
- How to remove a file from the Git index? (the file itself should remain in its place)
- What branching patterns do you know in Git?
The questions and their number vary depending on the tasks that will be assigned to the specialist and the specifics of the team. There is no universal interview questions template and you need to focus on specific requirements.
Why Hire Back-End Developers From Intelvision
Do you have a project that you need to hire a dedicated development team or a back-end developer? The tasks which the backend developer is needed for unconditionally can be summarized as follows:
- web app architecture design;
- writing optimal calculation algorithms to speed up the application and save resources;
- creation, processing, and revision of the site core;
- strengthening the security of the service or site;
- API development for integrating the service with other sites;
- optimization of server code;
- creation of databases, their optimization, and database management;
- building a backup system.
Unfortunately, finding such a specialist won’t be easy, and there are several reasons for this. But there is a solution — you can hire a backend developer or choose a team extension model from Intelvision. Our quality of the development is confirmed by the already completed projects which can be found in the Case Studies section on our website.
Our Senior backend IT specialists develop, maintain, and improve the backend of websites and web apps. They have the following competencies:
- work with databases MySQL, PostgreSQL, and others;
- principles of object-oriented programming;
- principles of work of UNIX systems;
- the use of frameworks that speed up the work of sites;
- Git version control systems, and more.
The Main Features of Hiring a Back-End Developer
Back-end developers are always in high demand in the market. Recruiters and hiring managers need to understand that a lengthy hiring process can scare off in-demand programmers. A suitable candidate needs to be led through the entire recruiting funnel in just 3–4 days so that competitors do not have time to poach him.
In some cases, it will be necessary to minimize the time for communication between the recruiter, development team leaders, and the hiring manager. In addition, a test task can also become an obstacle for many qualified developers. If the conversion rate for your vacancy falls precisely because of this, it may make sense to avoid many hours of testing applicants.
What is a backend developer?
A backend software engineer is a specialist who writes server code. Backend developers are needed wherever websites and applications are used.
How is backend development different from frontend development?
Back-end development involves creating and maintaining the back-end of web apps. Back-end developers deal with data processing, database management, business logic implementation, and interaction with other systems. Frontend development is the creation of a user interface.
How in demand are backend developers?
Backend developers are very much in demand. Most of the apps (mobile, computer games, websites, and more) have a backend part. It is in it that most of the business logic is located, without which any modern application is impossible.
What are the best countries to hire a back-end developer?
Eastern European countries such as Ukraine, Hungary, and Romania are now among the top global software development centers. For example, the volume of IT exports in Ukraine was $3.74 billion in 2022.