How to Hire a Programmer Online

I’ve hired over 300 remote workers over the years. In this article, I want to briefly look at a few things I do when hiring for programmers, specifically on Upwork. If you haven’t checked out my book, The Non-Technical Founder, I suggest you do as many of my tips are explained in detail there.

Tip 1: Look for programmers with no active work.

Often programmers take on too many jobs and they’ll lose track of your work. I try to find someone who can dedicate at least 30 hours a week to my job. Even if they have a full time job, 30 hours per week is something many can commit. That’s less than 5 hours per day.

If they have active work, it may also be a sign of tardiness and disorganization. Programmers who focus heavily on a project then wrap it up are organized people. As a computer scientists myself, I know programmers can be messy. So finding one who is organized in their work is important and one way to measure that is by how many active jobs they are involved in.

Tip 2: Give them a technical test.

It can be difficult to determine what they’re worth. Once you see their code and analyze it, the picture becomes clear. If you don’t understand code very well, it’s often best to work with someone technical, like a consultant to help you with the hire.

Often times programmers and computer scientists will bill $25-30/hr but code at the level of $18/hr. When I’m hiring for a role, I’m open to the idea of a programmer within $5-50/hr, but the quality must match.

Tip 3: Hire urgently.

Do not wait for your schedules to line up. I sometimes post jobs on Thursday or Friday so I can do interviews leading into the weekend. Only the truly motivated will make the time to join you on the weekend.

I will generally allow for flexibility in the time of day, as most of them will not be on my local timezone, so as long as they make an effort to chat within the next 12-24 hours, then I’m happy. You can sense the effort and cooperation even over text.

Tip 4: Talk to them on the phone.

Phone communication speeds things up. It also established a higher level of connection. This is something I wish I did more earlier on in my entrepreneurial journey. Real programmers are used to chatting by voice or on call. Especially during the pandemic, programmers collaborated at home with coworkers via Zoom and other tools to improve efficiency.

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