The 9-step guide to hiring a mobile app developer
Mobile apps are literally everywhere. So, if you’re a tech recruiter, chances are one day soon your colleague will come to you and say, “we need to hire app developers for our team.”
This guide will show you, step-by-step, how to find app developers for hire. Not only how to hire any mobile app developer, but how to hire a mobile app developer who is right for you. We’ll also talk about the cost of hiring an app developer. For example, on average, do Android developers earn as much as iOS developers?
Remember, if you need to test a mobile app developer’s skills, DevSkiller TalentScore is the most advanced developer screening tool on the market – Learn more
In this article, you’ll find the 9 steps to hire a mobile app developer. Let’s get started.
Step 1. How to hire a mobile app developer: 20 essential questions to get started
- Do you want to hire an iPhone app developer or an Android app developer?
- Do you want someone who can program pretty well for both platforms?
- What languages will the new app programmers be using? Will they be writing in Objective-C, Swift, or X-code? Or maybe they’ll be writing in Java? Or in Kotlin, the new kid on the block?
- Is it useful if candidates also have the ability to program in C++, or is that not important in this case?
- Would it be valuable if a candidate has experience of cross-platform development (for example, React Native)?
- What type of mobile app or apps will the newly recruited app developers be working on?
- Is it a mobile version of your current desktop or web-based software?
- Does it need to integrate with GPS and some other mobile technology?
- Or is it simply a mobile version of a website?
- What is the nature of the work which will be carried out by the developers you’re looking for?
- What tech stack should they be able to use?
- What domain will the new developers be working in? For example, will it be useful if they have background knowledge in the area of financial transactions?
- What is the nature of the work which will be carried out by the developers you’re looking for?
- What is the budget to hire a mobile app developer?
- Is it a realistic figure? (To see how the proposed budget compares with current mobile developer salaries, see the section below entitled “How much are app developers paid?”.)
- What is your project deadline?
- What other specific developer skills and experience are required for this post?
- Is it useful for them to:
- know about a specific build system (i.e. Gradle)
- have experience with continuous integration
- have knowledge of particular testing approaches
- be familiar with particular libraries and components (MVC, Dependency Injection, Observer)
- have a handle on, for example, the Android open source ecosystem?
- Is it useful for them to:
- Which Android version do candidates need to be able to deal with? And which APIs?
- Must candidates have experience of any particular platform, such as Apple Watch or Apple TV?
- Must they be familiar with the process of publishing an app to Google Play or submitting an app to the App Store?
What does an app developer do?
An app developeris a software engineer specializing primarily in creating, testing, and programming apps for devices such as computers, mobiles, and tablets. App developers typically work on app-related projects both in teams and individually.
Mobile app development: domain-specific requirements
Developing for mobile apps is quite different from developing for other devices. This is mostly because the challenge is to meet the increasingly high expectations of users, even though mobile has only limited screen real-estate.
It’s therefore worth asking your tech team about how well developed your candidates’ knowledge and skills in the fields of UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design must be. Bear in mind that, for Android, there are official Design Guidelines and User Interface Guidelines, whereas Apple has its own Human Interface Guidelines. At a higher level of abstraction, do candidates need to know something about established, well-known design processes, for example, Design Thinking?
Pay attention to UX/UI
If you get the UX/UI right in developing a mobile app, then you’re more than half-way to success.
Creating a mobile application is more than just coding. Every smartphone user can download an app in seconds from a choice of millions of other apps, so a priority for any app is to attract users’ attention. The second priority is that an app must function correctly, but a very, very close third priority is that users must have a positive experience when using the application. If they don’t, believe me, the user will delete such a “useless” app instantly from his or her mobile.
In practice, this means that an app should be easy to use, have great design and stand out because of its usability. Using it must be intuitive and fast. Otherwise, it will be lost in the sea of other, similar apps. And, in most cases, it is the role of a mobile developer to design an app in such a way that it meets those criteria. It’s a good idea to bear this in mind when starting out to hire a mobile app developer.
Step 2. Write the mobile app developer job description
When writing the job description, try to make both the job itself and working for your company sound as attractive and interesting as possible. Above all, be as clear as you can about what you expect from a candidate. For example, state up-front any project-specific skills. Here’s an example from No Fluff Jobs ad showing how to find a mobile app developer for a Senior Android Developer:
Remember that the job description is the first contact that potential candidates have with you and your company. For more tips, see our post on writing your job description. When you’ve finished writing the first version of the job description, we suggest asking your tech team to review it – it’s important that the job description is technically correct, clear, accurate, and honest.
Step 3. Sourcing: where to find iOS and Android app developers
Once your job description is written, it’s time to post it. To get you started, we offer some suggestions below of potential locations to post your job description. However, remember that you’re targeting mostly passive candidates, so use our suggestions by all means, but you’ll need to be as creative as possible in thinking of other, maybe better, places to post.
So here are some of your options:
Never underestimate the value of asking for some local help. For example, you can:
- Ask your current development team to share the job description with their friends
- Share the link to the job description with your family and friends
- Find relevant Facebook groups, and share your job offer there
- Find the LinkedIn profiles of mobile app developers, and contact them
- Check out job boards like Angel.co and workinstartups.com
- Attend Android conferences, hackathons, meetups
- If full-time remote work is acceptable for this post, post your job description on weworkremotely.com, workingnomads.com, and upwork.com
Mobile developer communities
- Find app developers in specialized online directories, such as They Make Apps, and job boards like Get Apps Done
- If you’re looking for an iOS developer, try the iPhoneDevSDK forum, the MacRumors Forum, iOS Developer Forums, and Stack Overflow
- Alternatively, if you’re trying to find Android app developers, check out Android Forums or AndroidPit.
App stores & GitHub
To find app developers, you can:
- Look in app stores at mobile apps which are similar to the one which will be developed, and then approach the developers who made those published apps.
- Carry out a key-word search in GitHub or GitLab open-source repositories – you’re looking for the mobile app projects or code samples which have been uploaded by developers who could be suitable candidates.
Step 4. How much does it cost to hire an app developer?
According to PayScale’s data, the salary levels of iOS and Android developers in the US are similar and reach on average over $82,000 per year.
Average iOS Developer Salary
Average iOS Developer Salary
For a more in-depth analysis, we suggest taking a look at DevSkiller’s articles on Complete iOS developer salary data and on Complete Android developer salary data.
Although Android and iOS developers earn more or less the same, iOS app developers can be harder to track down. According to Evans Data Corporation, “the number of mobile developers who target Android first is 5.9M vs 2.8M that target iOS as a first platform. …”, so that means, in essence, that there are fewer iOS mobile developers available for hire than Android developers.
From a business point of view, it probably only makes sense to hire iOS developers if the app you want to develop will be only (or mostly) aimed at the Apple market. In the same way, it only makes sense to hire an Android developer if you want to build an Android app.
Step 5. Set a benchmark for coding skills
It’s a good idea to create in DevSkiller a benchmark for coding skills by inviting one of your internal developers with similar skills to the ones specified in the job description to take a test. This guarantees that your benchmark is specific to your company needs.
If you don’t have a developer with similar skills in your organization, you can always use our AI Benchmarking Engine. By applying a machine-learning algorithm, the AI Benchmarking Engine looks at various factors like score, difficulty levels, and time consumption to determine if your candidate will be successful with an 85% accuracy.
On the basis of the test, the DevSkiller dashboard shows clearly whether a particular candidate is likely to succeed in the advertised post,
Step 6. Shortlist your mobile app developers
It’s now time to make a list of the most suitable candidates, looking objectively for the best fit for the job. Of course, you need to check out your candidate’s experience because you need to hire a mobile app developer who knows his or her stuff. Given that the cost of hiring a bad developer can reach up to $485,371.38, the last thing that you want is someone who doesn’t make the grade.
When looking at a candidate’s CV, does he or she have experience in a similar field?
Is the candidate a specialist in this field, or more of a ‘jack of all trades’?
- Great portfolio?
It’s a good idea to ask to see examples of a candidate’s past work. If you’re lucky, a candidate will be able to give links to Google or Apple’s app stores to real apps which he or she has worked on.
Whether or not a candidate can give such links, we suggest that you discuss the details of the projects which a developer took part in – what did they actually contribute to the project? Did the developer provide some creative input to the project and/or app when it was at the stage of an initial concept.
Later, take a look at any apps which a candidate has created, not so much from a technical point of view, but more from a user experience perspective – How does the app look? How engaging is it?
- Communicates well?
Given that mobile app development is a fast, iterative process, it’s clear that communications skill and team skills are two of the most important aspects when you’re hiring the best app developers. During the interview, try to get a feeling for the developer’s communications skills. Ask questions about how he or she cooperates with all the members of the team, not only with the developers but also with others, such as UX designers or graphic designers.
- Learns quickly?
You’re best off hiring someone who already knows something about the relevant business domain (or someone who shows an aptitude and an interest in learning about it pretty quickly).
Of course, to be able to truly judge a mobile app developer’s skill, talent, and personality, you’ll need to move him or her along to the next step, which is testing their programming skills.
Steps 7. Technical screening tips
It’s one thing for a candidate to say they can code, but can they really? And how well do they code? So it’s a good idea to use a technical test to filter those who can walk the walk from those who can only talk the talk, as they say. By using DevSkiller’s iOS and Android coding tests, you’ll get a more thorough insight into a candidate’s skills and ability than with any traditional pen and paper test.
Imagine that you’re looking for a Mid-level Android Developer to work with machine-learning. Here’s your set of ready-to-use questions. Similarly, if you’re looking for an iOS developer, and need to assess a candidate’s knowledge of Objective-C and Swift, here’s an iOS coding test you can use.
What’s more, the DevSkiller platform gives you access to a fully secure testing environment which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Step 8. Soft-skills interview
Although this part of the recruitment process tends to be overlooked by developers, it’s a valuable source of information about the candidate.
The non-technical interview allows you to get to know your candidate better through behavioral questions. In this interview, your HR team gets the chance to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behavior patterns in order to evaluate their potential for your company.
Behavioral interview questions typically have the following structure:
- Tell me about a time when you …
- Describe a situation when you …
The non-technical interview also gives you a chance to evaluate how well a candidate will fit into your company, as well as indicating how well he or she will work as a part of the team.
Here’s a couple of examples of behavioral questions which are suitable for an iOS developer:
- Have you had any experience of tutoring and mentoring someone in Swift?
- Which of your solutions and projects are you most proud of?
Step 9. Technical interview questions & tips
Technical interviews are carried out by your development team. These interviews are there to evaluate a candidate’s technical skills and experience.
Technical interview questions for a mobile app developer:
- Given that you program for both the Android and iOS platform, which is your preferred platform? And why?
- Please compare Swift and Objective-C.
- Which iOS technologies are commonly in use at this time, and which may become popular in the future?
For more iOS and Android specific questions, make sure to read the following articles:
- How to screen Android developer skills to find the best – guide for IT recruitment
- How to screen iOS developer skills when you hire iOS developers – guide for IT recruitment
A good technical interview focuses on practical skills and allows your candidates to use exactly the same resources they would normally turn to while they’re working. A great tip is to invite candidates to carry out live coding interviews (aka CodePair), which don’t require the candidate to travel to your location. Here’s what they look like in action:
For further information, take a look at DevSkiller’s article: Online coding interview and how to CodePair remotely.
What to do next
So now you have a thorough, in-depth understanding of every candidate that interests you. It’s time to take a decision about who is on your final shortlist, and then send out those job offers to the lucky ones.
Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash