6 interview questions for non-tech founders to ask when hiring the right tech talent
You don’t need to learn the ‘jargon’ to find the best prospective tech hire.
2018 saw the greatest achievement ever accomplished in the business world. Apple became the first $1 trillion company and amazingly, it was founded by a non-tech founder…Steve Jobs.
For Jobs, finding Steve Wozniak must have felt like matching with the perfect partner on Tinder (also founded by a non-tech guy). It’s hard to believe it but Steve Jobs really struggled with finding the right people to help him create his vision and this is the case with many non-tech founders.
Indiez has closely worked with 600+ non-tech founders and we have learnt and developed the right tactic to hiring the best tech people for you.
Never be disheartened at your inability to understand technology. These questions will help you hire the best tech talent without having to learn all the ‘jargon’ that goes with it.
Before we jump into it, I think we need to learn one bit of advice from Apple. You don’t need to hire the most experienced professional if this is not right for your company.
In the 1980s, during Apples first hires — they focused their tech recruitment on heavily trained professionals.
“It didn’t work out at all. Most of them were bozos. They knew how to manage but they didn’t know how to do anything.” Steve Jobs
You have come up with this product idea, you know what you want, you need to hire what is right for your startup.
Jobs and Wozniak are famous for being the 20th century’s biggest innovators. Hiring seasoned professional techies was never going to be right for them. He needed passionate people who understood where technology was at that time but then needed to take it to the next level.
Personality needs to fit your product vision, once you know what you want…you can take this advice on finding the right ‘techie’.
#1 Tell me about yourself
You need to hire someone that fits your company, culture and brand. This question will be so important to getting to know the candidate. If they have similar likes and interests then you are going to know whether you can develop a good working relationship with them.
You will need an excellent rapport with this person as you are not going to understand the technical side of your project. You can also check their communication skills and whether they will be able to clearly explain certain technical aspects that you will never know.
After you find out about their personal interests, you move onto asking them about themselves on a business level.
You probably won’t understand everything they tell you about their business acumen but as a non-tech founder you have an advantage — you can gauge their passion.
Switch off, don’t listen to the words….watch the way they talk about their work, their expressions and their hand movements. This will help you truly understand whether they love it or they just do it for the sake of it.
#2 Do you have a personal blog? Are you active on social networks?
This isn’t a necessity but an interesting parameter. If the candidate has a blog, this should put them ahead of other potential candidates.
You will be able to truly understand their thought process and whether programming is a ‘job’ or a ‘passion’
I would advise you take a look at StackOverFlow — check if the candidate is active on it and check their karma score. Any passionate developer will be active on this platform and constantly providing feedback and innovative ideas.
Other social media attributes to check are Twitter and Quora, these platforms are brilliant for different reasons. A Twitter presence will tell you that they are regularly checking industry news while a Quora handle will let you see they want to help others who don’t share the same knowledge.
#3 How much time can you commit to my project?
Now this is for those who are hiring freelancers or part time staff. Indiez is a 100% remote working community and we have the greatest talent from across the globe. We have ‘moonlighters’ and people who commit 100% to Indiez alone.
Depending on the length and complexity of your project, you may only want to hire someone you know is dedicated to your project.
Decipher your needs and then be very clear at the interview stage of the commitment the ‘techie’ needs to have. Many developers and programmers do work on multiple projects and so it is very important that you use the interview as a way of providing clarity of both expectations.
#4 Do you think of yourself as a software developer or a product manager?
The ideal answer is both. This question helps you assess the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and how they will compare to the team you are creating or going to create.
Product managers are great at designing new features and interfaces and can comprehend the business side of your project. So if you find a software developer that has the qualities of a product manager, you are going to win.
If a candidate takes this question and doesn’t feel they have any attachment to the product side, then avoid the hire. They just create, they don’t develop.
#5 How would you manage a team of programmers?
Even if you don’t plan on having a large tech team, find your leader. This should be asked to every single techie who has more than 2 years experience.
As a non-tech founder, you will understand the importance of growth and this will likely be on your mind 24/7. If you are going to build your $1 million startup, you need to find the initial leaders from the initial interview.
Understanding their capabilities with leadership helps you know where you can place them when you expand a tech team. You will know who out of your ‘tech wizards’ are confident enough to lead when expansion inevitably occurs.
#6 Explain to me about the code you used
You do not need to know any coding or understand anything that they tell you.
The reason you are asking this is to see whether you are able to understand their way of explaning. Will you be able to understand some technical things because this person has explained it in a clear and simple manner?
The interviewee will know you are not technical, so asking for some examples of their work will see whether they are capable of working with a non-tech founder
You will also be able to guage their passion and belief in their previous work.
So now you know about them, how do I know they’re actually good at tech?
This is the hardest challenge for any non-tech founder.
I have based the 5 questions on finding out about the personality of the candidates. Now is the time to set them real questions about their technology knowledge.
You can get a lot from seeing how a candidate solves a real technical problem. Save yourself some time and don’t fall into hypothetical talks, instead see how they perform in a real-life scenario. Look at approaches, mindset, and methodology, rather than aesthetics and scrutiny. Ask the candidate to think aloud, even if you’re a non-techie you’ll be able to have an idea of how he thinks and if he is contradicting himself at any point
Use this excellent collection of real-life questions with the answers available so you know what is correct or not.
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