That Killer Coding Guy – Get Him on Board

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Hiring a great programmer in a start-up is no mean feat. Here, your networking skills can save the day for you but if you are completely a non-technical guy, it might be like finding a needle in a haystack. Sachin Gupta, a former Google executive and Cofounder and CEO, HackerEarth, helping companies hire programmers unravels the science of hiring great programmers in a chat with Entrepreneur.

Entrepreneur India
Sachin Gupta, a former Google executive and Co-founder & CEO, HackerEarth

What key areas entrepreneurs must look at before hiring a programmer?

Earlier programmers would perform one aspect of a large system like just being a back-end programmer or a front-end developer, but today, software development is becoming a little complex as things are interconnected. A programmer today is expected to know how to interact with different data bases, how to build web applications and APIs, etc. He/she should also know how scalable systems and large applications are built instead of just writing code on a small level. So the amount of knowledge expected from a good programmer has increased significantly.

How a non-tech entrepreneur should hire a programmer?

Non-tech entrepreneurs should also have at least basic information about the language their programmers are going to work upon. For this, they should hire programmers who have previously worked in smaller teams and set-ups because programmers from companies like Google or other large companies will have tough time in start-ups if they would be asked to build a product grounds up. This will take lot of time, whereas for start-ups rolling out their first minimum viable product (MVP) quickly is important instead of spending time on building the most optimized product in the first go.

How compensation has to be structured for new hires?

Every programmer switching job expects 20-30 percent hike even if they are joining a start-up. If that is not possible, a start-up has to compensate him/her by giving equity. A good developer salary varies as per experience, skill-sets and demand. For a Python developer of around 2.5 years of experience, the salary can be Rs 10-25 lakh per annum, whereas a good fresher today would get Rs 8-9 lakh per annum. In the last three years, programmers’ salaries have increased across all levels.

What should be the basic rounds of interview process for a start-up?

There are certain basic rounds of interviewing for hiring programmers. First, resume screening; second, technical screening to rule out those who are average or bad programmers by checking their logical thinking, problem solving approach, etc; third, project-based evaluation where you give small project or task to be done that we also do and is quite effective; fourth, detailed evaluation of a programmer’s skills with tougher problems, checking their knowledge on other aspects of programming, etc; fifth, checking how they respond to real world open-ended problems large companies are having currently. The idea is not to look for what solution they come up with, but to understand their thought process and what tools they would use in that situation.

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (January, 2016 Issue).