[Checklist] How to Evaluate a Back-End Developer
This is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here:
- Assessing Junior vs. Senior Developers
- Assessing Data Analysts vs. Data Scientists vs. Data Engineers
- Assessing DevOps Talent
- Assessing Front-End Developers
- Assessing Full-Stack Developers
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.
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.