How to Recruit and Hire Great Software Engineers for Your Startup?

Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner

If you are a business owner in the 21st century and a member of the startup community, chances are, whatever it is your business does, it’s got a digital presence. From the simplest functionality to complex software engineering, your project needs a software developer. Or, most likely, a team of them.

There is so much to think about, honing your service or product – the what, the why, the how of it – all of that has taken you and your partners so much time and effort to think up. So why wouldn’t the digital aspect of it requires just as much attention and professionalism? In this article, we’d like to research the steps of hiring software engineers best suited for your business or project.

What Questions You Should Answer Before Recruiting

The first decision, or rather estimation, you have to make is what kind of hire you need. By now you should know whether you’d like to hire a full-time developer or development team to work in the office, if you can do with a part-time team/developer or if you can actually not compromise with the limited local talent pool and broaden it by hiring an offshore development team.

Your next step is determining how big a team you need for your project/business. But before you can recruit that team, you have to understand what software engineers do and what kind you specifically need. Oftentimes, if you’re not a tech person yourself, the difference and the diversity might not be obvious, especially in relation to technical roles, such as coders, programmers, software designers and developers. These are usually interchangeable terms, but there is some difference. Essentially, software engineer designs and develops computer software and/or applications.

A lot of engineers have computer science degrees, but the software design created by the engineer is sometimes passed on to a programmer who writes and implements the actual code that the software/application runs on. Then there are UX and UI designers, usually a joint qualification, who are responsible for the look, appeal and smooth navigation experience for the future user. This division of responsibilities is often referred to as “front end” and “back end” programming.

This is a list of abilities a solid wield of which,, said a software engineer needs to possess:

  • Programming, coding, and databases
  • Software design and architecture
  • Computer science
  • Algorithms and data structures
  • Information analysis
  • How to debug software
  • How to test software
  • Interpersonal and communication skills

Naturally, every developer has personal preferences when it comes to the craft. Some prefer working with the front end, others really like to dig themselves way deep into code and create the labyrinth that is the back end of every software or app. Based on this, deciding how many developers you’re going to need in your team will require the following:

  • Determine the amount and scope of tasks your project has
  • Figure out how soon you want it done
  • Make sure to understand how different the tasks are and whether you need to hire specific engineers for specific objectives
  • Establish a budget and how you want to employ it
  • Set priorities

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Are You Looking for Onshore Developers?

If you decide to hire an in-office full-time or part-time web developer or team, then before even posting openings or going to recruitment sites, you need to make sure your business is an environment people, and specifically, web developers, would want to work in and where they would thrive. This could be setting flexible work hours, loosening up the dress code and ensuring your hardware is up to the standards – working with outdated technology would be torture for anyone in IT.

Recruiting Resources

Now, to the actual hiring part. Make use of the services of recruiting platforms. These are centralized digital spaces for such purposes. You can list candidacies and look for very specific employees thanks to all the filters and conditioning. In Ukraine, you can use the services of platforms such as or There is always LinkedIn, too. If you are looking in other countries we have an article with site list where to find programmers.

Recruiting Agencies

You can also delegate this task to a recruitment agency or an HR firm. It will save time and rid you of the need to filter the initial pool of candidates while giving you the benefit of recruitment professionals doing it for you and probably better and faster than you.

Interviewing Candidates

Once you’ve shortlisted some candidates, it is time to conduct interviews. It is for the candidates to be tried and tested, but don’t underestimate the importance of your preparedness. Be sure to prep your questions in advance, create a test task, figure out your strategy, research different ways of conducting interviews. There are some really innovative and progressive ideas on the matter.

Software engineers need to do more than know-how to design and program software. Engineers work with clients, colleagues, other engineers/developers and users to better understand the challenges of their creations and to improve it. Communication will be a key factor in your future collaboration with the team, so your developers should possess some decent interpersonal and communication skills as well. One way to assess this is through game-based assessments and EI interviews. Do not forget to run a background check to cut risks.

Here are some question examples to consider at your interviews:

  • Can you tell me about the tech certifications that you hold?
  • What certifications have been the most useful to you and why?
  • What additional certifications, if any, are you considering?
  • What online tech resources are you familiar with?
  • Are you working on any tech projects as hobbies?
  • How do you keep your tech skills current?

You read more on the topic and find some tips in this Monster article.

Do You Want to Hire Offshore Developers?

In case you decided (or had the option) not to limit your search for the perfect IT specialists by locality and look for an offshore engineer(s) for your startup, your task becomes easier and harder at the same time. Not to worry though, the chances of you finding the best match have just grown significantly, along with the talent pool – hiring engineers offshore you can get your developer or development team literally anywhere in the world. With this in mind, it’s important to know where to look.

What Country to Choose

In the past decade very specific IT hubs have emerged and been outlined by the community. You can learn more about different hubs for IT outsourcing in our “Best Countries for Offshore Software Development”.

One of the most prominent hubs happens to be Eastern Europe. The region has proven to become a golden mean where you can hire high-quality software developers at lower rates without compromising the end quality of the product. The number of software developers in the region has gone up to 1 million with an impressive 1.3 developers per 100 people ratio.

Outsourcing to Eastern Europe is a win for businesses in many aspects – geographically and time-wise, these countries have a working-day overlap with almost everywhere on the globe; tech education here is among the best in the world; the quality per cost ratio is probably the best available, and there is no issue with English proficiency or work ethic.

Once you’ve done your research and chosen the region/country you want to find your developer(s) in, you have a couple of options: look for individual freelancers (especially if you need just one developer for your project), hire a recruitment agency or go to an offshore development center.

1) Hire Through a Platform

If you’ve decided one web developer is going to be enough for your project, then going to a freelance platform to look for your guy or gal is probably not a bad idea. You can start with the world’s biggest freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.

It is very rare, however, that you will need just one specialist and this is where things get trickier. Even though sites like Upwork have an option of hiring talent through an agency and you won’t need to pick the entire team out by yourself, they will help you find a team encompassing the necessary skillset. This will cost you a pretty penny though. Another pro to this option is that the agency might have worked on a similar task and could assist with scoping the work ahead and later scaling the team to match the work.

Agencies are usually worth hiring for bigger projects and longer-term contracts. This comes along with bigger financial responsibility and higher risk. Most of the time an agency would hire a separate person to lead the communication with the developers and you won’t have direct interaction with your team. It has happened that an agency would take advantage of that lack of direct communication and replace developers without notifying the client. So, a middle developer could be replaced by a junior and no one in your company will know.

2) In-house Recruiting

You can also go directly to a recruitment agency. This will probably cut the extra cost of paying a website’s commission, but will not necessarily turn out cheaper in the end. This really depends on the agency.

The reason to turn to a recruiter is that the candidates you really want to work for you, already work for someone else and the recruitment agencies can do a good job finding those passive job seekers, and fast. The downside of working with an agency however, can be the price and the fact that they can’t guarantee to find you a team that will perfectly fit your company, be it culturally or ethically.

3) Offshore Software Development Center

More and more businesses today are realizing the trumping benefits of sourcing their IT through an offshore software development center – it’s fast, secure and set up to give you freedom and control at the same time. Ukraine has become a prominent hub for offshore outsourcing and is home to Qubit Labs, a leading offshore software development center where a top-tier team of Ukrainian developers is already waiting for your project.

You can focus on the very process of your software development project, while vendor runs back-office and takes care of recruiting, solving administrative questions, managing the HR processes, accounting, and legal issues (depends on company).

We have been helping startups all over the globe create their dedicated teams for unique projects through cost-efficient outsourcing models and flexible project management. For a thorough guide on outsourcing your IT to Ukraine, you can read our “How to hire web developers” article.

Offshore development team can become the solution to your developer hiring problems and navigate you through some of the thorniest aspects of finding your offshore development team. We value clear and transparent communication and strive to implement it in all our interactions, be it with clients, developers or within our own team.

Qubit Labs’s sole mission is to make hiring dedicated teams easy and risk-free. Every team is unique and hired based on the client’s requirements and needs; the teams can be scaled to work on additional tasks or projects, while developers essentially work with your company as if it was your in-house team.

We try to be as flexible as possible with our clients, after all, the whole idea behind offshore hiring is making use of the new technologies for more convenience and better outcomes, for both the client and the developer. This way we can all stay locally, work globally and vouch for the impeccable quality of deliverables. Here at Qubit Labs we know the merit of Ukrainian engineers and are simply trying to share that asset with the world.

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Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner

Iva Kozlovskaya is a Managing Partner of Qubit Labs. Founder of social project created for women – WIT Ukraine.
Iva has been working in operations, sales and project management, started her career as a recruiter and went through all stages up to HR Director and then Founder of her own IT initiatives. Iva is experienced in working with international clients for IT outstaffing, handles complicated challenges in any field including company process, finance, marketing and administration. She is also a speaker for global tech conferences, and author of webinars and articles on tech topics.
Nowadays Iva runs her company that helps clients from the USA, Europe, and the Middle East to establish their development teams worlwide.