Expert Tips on How to Hire the Best PHP Developer?

PHP is the 6th most popular language in the PYPL (Popularity of Programming Languages) rating by GitHub. 

In fact, almost 8 out of every 10 websites today use PHP for their functioning.

So it’s no surprise that this demand has generated a massive influx of PHP developers in the industry. As of 2019, there are over 6.1 million PHP developers across the world.

And if finding and hiring the best PHP developer from that massive pool has been a challenge for you, then read on.

In this guide you will learn:

  • How to hire the right PHP developer for your project 
  • Skills to look for while hiring a PHP developer (beyond the basic certifications and experience)
  • Where to find the best PHP Developer for the job (no matter your budget)

How to hire the right PHP developer for your project (in 4 simple steps)

1. Be clear about your requirements 

Apart from setting out the project scope, ensuring you are looking for the right kind of PHP developer is crucial.

In fact, mentioning vague or inaccurate skill levels could set your hiring process back by a few weeks (or even months). And while you may be familiar with the standard skill level categories, knowing which one to hire for your project can be tricky.

Save time and skip the initial confusion by using the following details to narrow in on the right type of candidates for your needs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the general capability levels of each type of PHP developer:

Beginner level PHP developers 

These are developers who are just getting started and have worked on 0-1 projects in the past. Individually, they can handle only basic web development projects. 

But they work best in teams to offer support and handle all the monotonous details for a lower price. 

Skills to look for: 

  • PHP, HTML programming languages
  • main PHP functions and MVC design pattern;
  • ability to work with Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • well versed with 1 major PHP framework (ex: CodeIgniter, Laravel, CakePHP, etc.)

Mid-level PHP developers: 

Developers at this level usually have a few projects under their belt and can develop an entire web app by themselves. They can work independently on most medium-scale projects, and on larger ones as long as they have a support team under them.

Skills to look for:

  • ability to analyze basic product requirements
  • well versed with 2-3 PHP frameworks 
  • skilled at the implementation of various databases
  • can add back-end features to improve app performance
  • following development standards for simple code refactoring and debugging
  • can code troubleshooting

Expert PHP developers: 

Developers at this level usually have expertise in a specific niche, and offer immense expertise in handling complex projects. So finding the expert with the right expertise is essential at this stage.

Skills to look for:

  • experience in analyzing complex product requirements
  • ability to suggest features to add & improve source code
  • well versed with most PHP frameworks
  • advanced tech skills (like blockchain, machine learning, etc.)

2. Look beyond their coding skills 

Knowing what skills (and experience level) you need is essential for hiring the best PHP developer for the job. 

But this is no good if you’re going to look at just their PHP development skills. A candidates’ soft skills are just as important. Without those, even a programmer would not be able to fit in and perform well, either in a team or individually. 

Soft Skill
Source

So here are the top 3 soft skills to look for, while hiring a PHP developer:

Communication

Surprised this is at the top of the list? Yes, this isn’t an HR or even marketing role, but communication is still key. 

A developer may not need to be eloquent enough to give rousing speeches, but they will need to be comfortable in meetings and presentations. They should be able to present, share & exchange ideas. 

But it doesn’t end with just language fluency. Ensure they are able to openly communicate any roadblocks they hit or support they need to ensure a smooth flow of work. 

Learning abilities 

Technology is evolving, and your ideal PHP developer will need to stay up to date. 

They will need to be someone who is able to quickly pick up new skills on the go as the project evolves. Plus they must be proactive in constantly upskilling themselves to stay relevant

Attitude 

This might be a bit vague, but hiring a person with the right attitude is key to getting great results. Over 40% of new hires fail to perform in their first year of work, not due to a lack of skill, but because of having the wrong attitude.

Make sure you are looking for more than just their technical abilities during the interview process. 

Get a sense of the candidate’s mindset by asking questions about their ambitions, goals, and how they’ve handled roadblocks in the past. Look for people with a confident, positive attitude, with an enthusiasm towards the projects and it’s goals.

3. Ask the right questions

Once you’ve filtered through candidates, interviews are your real chance to hit the jackpot. Here are the key interview questions you should be asking to ensure you hire the right PHP developers.

  1. How much practical experience do you have as a PHP developer? 
  2. Which technologies and PHP frameworks are you conversant with?
  3. What projects have you executed, or assisted in executing?
  4. What was a challenging development issue you’ve faced in past projects? How did you solve it?
  5. Have you been able to think outside the box to find creative solutions in the past?
  6. How do you handle being stuck or hitting a roadblock in a project?

Follow these up with detailed technical questions, based on specific tasks they will need to execute on the job. This will help you understand if their knowledge level meets your needs.

4. Test to evaluate their expertise

If you’ve narrowed it down to the last few candidates, and are unable to decide between them, a practical test might be your way out. This is especially crucial when you’re making the bigger commitment of hiring a full-time employee. 

Get your senior programmer to put together a quick test, to ensure the candidate you hire is able to deliver on everything their resume promises. 

Where to find the best PHP developers (no matter your budget)?

LinkedIn ads might convince you otherwise, but there isn’t one perfect place to find the creme-de-la-creme of PHP developers. 

Where you need to look for talent depends heavily on your scope of work, the engagement type, and your budget for hiring talent.

Here are the best locations for you to start with, depending on your scope and engagement needs. 

  • For a full-time hire in a limited time: Your standard job portals like LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter will get the job done for you.
  • For a small scale, one-off project: Hire a freelancer on freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork, Github Jobs and Upstack.
  • For larger projects, with a one-off or ongoing work: Outsource it to a reliable agency

Next, consider your budget for hiring this employee/freelancer/agency. 

Now obviously the more experienced and skilled the developer is, the more you’ll have to pay for their services. But it’s not as back and white as that in real life.

The salary expectations for a PHP developer vary greatly depending on the country or region you’re looking at.

Here are the average salaries for PHP developers (full stack) based on location:

Salaries
Source

So if you’re open to hiring remote offshore teams, your options are endless. You can afford to hire the best PHP programmers by hiring talent in countries in Southeast Asia, like India. 

Offshore outsourcing agencies offer to take it all off your plate with full-cycle development projects at a much more reasonable cost.

And many offer you access to a pre-vetted talent pool of affordable PHP developers, for you to build a remote team. So you can hire PHP programmers, with top-notch skills on a much lower budget.

References

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