This is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here:
Full-stack developers are the ultimate jack of all trades; they’re developers that can, in theory, work across the front and back-end to create a minimum viable product (MVP) without any additional support.
They’re a hot topic in tech—and a controversial one, at that. Though a whopping 24% of developers call themselves Full-Stack Developers (according to our 2018 Developer Skills Report), the tech community disagrees on what, exactly, full-stack means.
You can get a quick taste of the controversy here and here. And if you’re interested in learning more about the ongoing debate, bookmark this piece for later. It’s a loaded term, so it’s worth understanding the backstory before jumping into the hiring process.
Otherwise, for the purpose of this checklist, we’ll be focusing on the closest consensus definition of the role, based on a literature review of the top 5 most referenced definitions available online:
“Full stack development is a methodology which addresses all stack layers and in doing so creates a complete, implementable solution to business requirements. Full stack developers have broad experience among all stack layers and expertise in a few layers. They should be able to render a minimum viable product in a given stack.” – Shropshire et al., 2018
Within this definition, a Full-Stack Developer should have working knowledge (or better) of all layers of a stack, including front-end technologies, back-end technologies, databases, and DevOps:
Note: each company (and even project) utilizes its own preferred stack of technologies, depending on the demands of the project. If you’re looking to deep dive into the tech your company utilizes, check to see if they’re on StackShare.
With all that in mind, here’s what to look for when assessing a Full-Stack Developer:
The term “full-stack” has a multitude of meanings, depending on whom you ask. If your team decides they’d like to bring on a Full-Stack Developer, it’s likely they want someone with full-stack knowledge, but a focus on either front or back-end technologies. You’ll rarely find someone that’s an expert in every layer of the stack: make sure you understand what your team is prioritizing.