How to hire an iOS Developer

As of July of this year, the iTunes App Store has the outstanding count of 1.5 million apps to choose from. And whilst discovery is a long way off from being solved, there is certainly a lot of demand for iOS developers in technology businesses.

iOS Developers have become more and more of a requisite in every company. Regardless of their market, having mobile Apps has become a need and a feature no company wants to ditch. According to Apple there are now 380k registered developers on Apple’s paid developer program (iOS + OS X).

So the 8 Billion dollar question is: How to stand out in the mirkwood forrest of iOS Hiring?

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First things first. Before you start writing the Job Description you need to put yourself in the Developer’s shoes. Weather you are searching for a Junior or Senior iOS Developer, you have to understand what you can actually offer and what the Developer really wants and values. Things like “Possibility to work with an amazing team” is right in the center of bullshit-land. Every single Job Description has it, and there’s no way around it. You feel naked if you don’t right that, but the key is to focus away from that. What developers really want to know is what they are actually going to do. Will they be the only iOS Dev in the team? How many are then? What kind of apps do you develop? Do you use external APIs or just in-house frameworks? Do you white label apps for others or develop your own products? Do you develop apps in Objective-C or Swift?

These are the questions that make developers tick. Projects aren’t awesome, projects are projects and so tell as much as you can before anything else!

Unless you are a huge company like ustwo, and then there’s no doubt of what kind of apps you produce, such as Monument Valley, we need to have some solid lighted ground to step into.

Tell us which frameworks do you use, or if you are willing to use others. Be specific in what do you actually need an iOS Developer for. Do you need improvements in the UX/UI section? Or is it in connectivity? Data models? What?!

After you’ve find the answers to these questions, you need to do 2 major things before starting the hiring process.

#define tech_Challenge

First you need to setup a good challenge. You should rely on the saying “Put your code where your mouth is”. If you start the hiring process of a developer that can’t even solve some basic coding tests and answer a few specific questions about iOS Development, then it will be a waste of time.

Yes I know, creating a code challenge isn’t easy or cheap but boy is it worth it! With some outside experts, I actually helped pull together’ own iOS tech challenge that’s run on the HackerRank platform, which they now prescreen all candidates with.

However, don’t let the challenge results filter 100% of your decision to go forward with a candidate. Use it as an extra tool for filtering. You may fall in love with some candidate that wasn’t Bullseye on the challenge but has a 100% DNA match with your company’s values and culture, you never know.

#define interviews

The second thing you want to do is structure the questions for the interviews. And don’t think for a second that these questions are standard for every job position or even for every developer out there.

Apart from the technical issues I mentioned before, developers also value your commitment to the search you’re doing. Can you imagine being asked the questions you know that company has asked 20 or 40 other developers before you? We are not assets, we want to be groomed, seduce and above everything else valued.

You have to make us feel special, not necessarily important, but special.

Ask us about the other projects we worked on, what was exactly our role. Ask us why iOS and not other platform, ask us about our life and most important: relate to that. Ask us what we think about the new features on the new SDKs, let us debate on things, more than show that we know this and that. By doing this you’ll be able to understand what kind of personality we have and what are our views in terms of change and passion about what we do.

You should also ask what kind of tools do we use. If none of this apps and frameworks, like Sketch, xScope, CocoaPods, etc, ring a bell to the candidate, it should raise a lot of Warnings in your head.


Great! You’ve landed the perfect candidate and you are more than thrilled with you decision! Now what?

Now, let the games begin…

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Even though iOS development is fairly easy, the learning curve to go from “knows their shit” to Neo’s bullet dodging is a bit steep.

Working with a mentor is the best way to help a junior evolve rather quickly, but it also benefits the senior developer to “give back” and even learn a thing or two from the different perspective it gives. Because developers do have a tendency to become lazy in the things they (think they) know. Suffice to say, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

You also want to distinguish between making a junior hire accountable and responsible for critical project elements. They’ll have much value to contribute, but also much to learn.


Lessons learned

  • Focus in standing out amongst other Job Descriptions;
  • Be specific about what you want developers to do;
  • Get to really know who you’re trying to hire;
  • Evaluate;
  • Don’t act like a compiler;