Avoiding Common Pitfalls In Hiring Developers: Tips For Non-Tech Founders



Choosing developers for a startup is possibly as important as it is complicated, particularly for non-tech founders who have to venture onto unfamiliar ground.

Nonetheless, picking the right developers doesn’t necessitate a degree in computer science; there are a few key strategies that can help any non-tech founder build a crack development team by just looking at the right factors.

Namely, a solid base of technical requirements and collaboration skills, bulletproof problem-solving abilities, and a healthy dose of cultural fit can help you find the right developers to help build your startup.

In choosing developers for a startup, non-tech founders play a critical role in the early stages. The right developers obviously will possess the technical skills necessary to hit the ground running with your startup, however, a non-tech founder’s unique understanding of the startup’s needs and goals makes these hires unique in a critical way.

If you’re looking for more ways to succeed in hiring developers for a startup, check out this detailed guide by A2 Design, where they collect the best available resources to give you as much insight as possible into making your team the best it can be.

Understanding Your Startup’s Needs

As a non-tech founder, it’s crucial that you understand what your startup needs technically. Before you start looking for tech talent, research what skills, technologies, and programming languages your product or service requires.

This will allow you to vet candidates properly and assess them according to what your company actually needs. For example, if you’re building a mobile app, you would likely seek developers with experience in iOS or Android development. In addition to understanding the basics, when you’re evaluating technical talent, it’s critical to know enough to ask the right questions to qualify them.

Leveraging Connections and Networks

One critical advantage you do have as a non-tech founder in the tech industry is your network. Use your personal and professional connections to spread the word and locate potential candidates. Attend industry conferences, network at mixers, and join online communities where talented developers congregate.

Additionally, your network can be a great source of candidates. Instead of posting a job, when you’re trying to fill a position, notify your connections in the space and obtain a referral. If you’re fortunate, you’ll find someone who can hit the ground running and who comes recommended as a capable and reliable worker, increasing your chances of identifying a strong fit for your startup.

Asking for a Demonstrable Portfolio

 developer's technical skills

While it can be hard, even for a chief to gauge a developer’s technical skills, one way to effectively measure them is by looking at their previous work. Ask your developer candidates to provide a portfolio or examples of their work. Take a look at their projects.

What is the quality of their code? How is their attention to detail? Simply, how competent are they? What you specifically want at this point is a developer whose previous work aligns with your startup’s technical requirements. A thorough review of any projects will give you a good look at what level of quality they meet.

Focusing on Problem-Solving Abilities

A developer’s technical skills are no doubt crucial, but the ability to solve problems is just as important. They face difficult technical challenges every day, and their effectiveness in overcoming them will be determined by their problem-solving ability.

During the interview process, ask your candidates about their problem-solving process, and get them to discuss a difficult technical problem they faced in the past, and how they went about solving it. You’re looking for someone who has a logical, analytical approach to problem-solving and is proactive in tackling obstacles.

Assessing Communication Skills and Collaboration

No matter if your team is newly formed or well-established and experienced, having the ability to communicate and work well with others is essential to an effective development team.

You’ll want to know how your potential candidates handle conflicts and obstacles and what their preferred style of communication and collaboration is to ensure their style matches your current team’s dynamics.

Strong communication skills at development meetings, during problem-solving sessions, and when hashing out obstacles can improve productivity and understanding while allowing team members to forge better relationships.

Ask questions like, how do they handle conflicts in a team setting? How do they communicate progress, or obstacles, to the development team, non-technical founders, or other stakeholders?

Conducting Technical Assessments or Coding Challenges

Having potential candidates complete a technical assessment, or coding challenges, can help verify their coding and problem-solving skills, as well as their software development approach. Look for candidates who display an understanding of the technologies and methodologies that are relevant to your startup.

Remember, even though they are crucial, a coding challenge is only a piece of the puzzle. Cultural fit and communication skills are a few of the many other things you should consider before making a final decision.

Don’t Overlook Cultural Fit

Cultural Fit

While technical skills are important, don’t underestimate the significance of cultural fit. Cohesion, shared values and goals, and a strong work ethic among team members are essential for the long-term success of your startup.

Prioritize candidates who align with the values and mission of your startup, and are thus more likely to be committed, collaborative, and able to maintain positive working relationships with the rest of your team.

During the interview process, evaluate a candidate’s potential fit within your startup’s culture and their ease of adaptation to your team dynamics as much as their technical skills.


Partnering with a Technical Advisor or Consultant

Non-tech founders can greatly improve the quality of their technical hires by partnering with an experienced technical advisor or consultant.

A technical advisor can provide indispensable guidance, vet candidates, and help ensure that the technical requirements of your startup are met.

Their expertise will help bridge the gap between your non-technical background and the technical aspects of the hiring process, including the evaluation of technical skills, the review of code samples, and the proper assessment of whether or not a candidate can be challenged with relevant technical questions. Their insight can be crucial in making well-informed hiring decisions.


While hiring developers as a non-tech founder may seem daunting, it can be an immensely rewarding experience with the right approach and understanding.

By learning your startup’s needs, leveraging your networks, assessing candidates’ technical skills and problem-solving abilities, prioritizing communication and collaboration, and focusing on cultural fit, you can build a robust development team that propels your startup toward success.

Above all, remember that the hiring process is iterative, and learning from experiences is essential. Evaluate your approach, continuously refine your strategies, seek feedback, and discover the ideal candidates for your startup.

With persistence and a defined hiring process, non-tech founders can confidently navigate the hiring process and build a strong development team that contributes to the growth and success of their startups.

By avoiding common pitfalls and adhering to these tips, non-tech founders can assemble a team of talented developers who are poised to execute their vision and propel their startups forward on their journeys to successful startups.

So don’t be disheartened by your absence of technical knowledge. Embrace the chance to learn and collaborate with experts, and to make informed smart decisions in your hiring process. Together with your development team, you can steer your startup towards innovative and successful growth, and transformative impact.

The possibilities for your startup are limitless with the right developers by your side. So go out there, find your perfect fit, and watch your startup thrive with a team that shares your passion and vision.

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Nabamita Sinha loves to write about lifestyle and pop-culture. In her free time, she loves to watch movies and TV series and experiment with food. Her favorite niche topics are fashion, lifestyle, travel, and gossip content. Her style of writing is creative and quirky.

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