Full-Stack Developers Hiring Guide

Where the Jack-of-All-Trades Meets Software Engineering

When you think of developers, your mind probably latches immediately onto the idea of someone who builds one portion of a project. There’s someone who builds the UI, someone in charge of building databases, linking databases, creating server applications, SPAs, dynamic websites, frontends, and backends. You’ve siloed those developers such that it takes a metaphorical village to build the software and tools your business needs to run.

But that’s not always the case. Although most very large companies tend to work that way, some companies go a very different route with some of those software engineers. That alternative option is the full-stack developer.

Within the realm of technology, a stack is a combination of programming languages, frameworks, and tools used by developers to build fully functional software and/or services. Stacks come in all shapes and sizes, from the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack to the MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular.js, Node.js) stack.

Stacks make it possible for your developers to more efficiently build because they don’t always have to create everything from scratch. 

Full-Stack Developers Hiring Guide 1
  • Full-Stack Developers Hiring Guide 2

    Hiring Guide

  • Full-Stack Developers Hiring Guide 3

    Interview Questions

  • Full-Stack Developers Hiring Guide 4

    Job Description

For the full-stack developer, we need to clarify this a bit and break this into 2 main components:

  • Server-side - the backend
  • Client-side - the frontend 

    The backend is all of the services and software used to power a site or an app. This usually consists of a server, an application, and a database. The end user never sees this part of the stack. On the other hand, the frontend is everything that the end user sees and engages with.

    Let's look at this through the lens of a website. On the backend, you might have a combination like Apache (the server), WordPress (the application), and MySQL (the database). On the front end, you have the website, which includes dynamic content, menus, images, video, audio, and interactive features.

    Typically you'd have developers assigned to a different task. Some would work on the server, some the application, some the database, some the dynamic content, some the menus and interactive features, and others on the media. Those teams would collaborate to bring your dream to life and then update it as needed.

    But what if you could hire one developer capable of working on every component within that stack? That's called a full-stack developer and they are a valuable asset for any business.

    Now, one thing to understand is that just because someone is a full-stack developer, they don't have to build it all. You could still assign a full-stack developer to a team working on a specific component of the stack, and that engineer would bring a very special talent to the job. They get how every piece comes together to form a cohesive whole.

    The full-stack developer knows how the server serves up the application and how the dynamic content is rendered within a web browser. A developer who doesn’t understand how those pieces function together might not have the same level of troubleshooting a full-stack developer would have.

    That's a major plus.

    The Pitfall of a Full-Stack Developer

    At this point, you're probably thinking, "Why don't I just populate my team entirely with full-stack developers? Although that might seem like a great idea, you might find that full-stack developers don't have the same level of knowledge on one particular aspect of the whole that a single-focused developer might have. It's the old "Jack of all trades, master of none" adage.

    To avoid such an issue, your best bet would be to hire specific developers for parts of the stack that require very specialized knowledge and then round out the team with full-stack developers. That way you get the best of both worlds. You'll have very specialized developers for, say, developing brilliant frontend applications with JavaScript while including full-stack developers to fill in the holes.

    This is a great strategy to create a highly capable team that can turn out brilliant applications and services that are reliable and scalable. Even better, such a team would be cost-effective, because they'd be better capable of troubleshooting when problems arise. 

    This pitfall can be easily turned into a major plus for both the full-stack developer and your company. To do that, however, you must do a bit of strategic hiring such that you've placed niche developers where they need to be and full-stack developers everywhere else. Achieving such a balance would be a big win for your company because that team will be highly capable and incredibly productive.

    What Skills do Full-Stack Developers Have?

    The most important thing to look for in a full-stack developer is a solid grasp of both backend and frontend technologies. These developers will know how to build every piece of the whole and how to connect them together through software, APIs, and frameworks. Yes, it means you'll have to really dig into the hiring process, so you can be sure you're hiring someone with numerous skills.

    So what are you looking for?

    A full-stack developer will have a solid understanding of front-end languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and back-end languages such as PHP, Python, or Ruby. As well, full-stack developers should be able to work with the most popular frameworks that go along with the languages used in the project. Those full-stack developers might also have a solid understanding of project management, UX, web design, and visual design, so they are as much artists as they are engineers.

    Conclusion

    A full-stack developer can be a serious asset to your development team. Don't think that they are lesser professionals because they might not have as profound an understanding as someone who's focused primarily on one side of the stack. Consider the full-stack developer equal to those who work on one side of the stack fence or another and you can create a brilliant team to help accelerate the digital transformation of your business.

    What does full-stack mean?

    Full-stack refers to developing both the backend and frontend of an application or service.

    What are the successful factors of integration?

    1. Maintaining a code repository
    2. Automating a software build
    3. Implementing build self-testing
    4. All developers commit to the baseline every day
    5. Every baseline commit should be built
    6. Keeping the build fast

    What is DevOps?

    DevOps is the intersection of development and operations to automate builds and updates.

    What is a callback in JavaScript?

    A callback function is a function that is passed as a parameter to another function.

    What does ACID stand for with regards to databases?

    Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability

    Explain normalization and denormalization.

    Normalization is the process of reducing or eliminating data redundancy, whereas denormalization is an optimization process to increase data redundancy.

    What are the differences between == and === ?

    • == converts variables that aren’t from the same type from one type to another so an operation can be performed.
    • === Means that the process can’t succeed and will return false to the program, as long as the variables aren’t of the same type.

    What is pair programming?

    Pair programming is a software development technique in which 2 developers work together on the same machine. One developer writes the code and another reviews it.

    What are the most common ways to increase a website's scalability and efficiency?

    • Reduce DNS lookups.
    • Avoid URL redirects.
    • Avoid duplicating code.
    • Avoid unnecessary or large images.
    • Employ browser caching.
    • Defer the parsing of JavaScript.
    • Avoid inline JavaScript and CSS.
    • Use srcset for responsive images.
    • Place all assets on a cookie-free domain, using a CDN.

    We are looking for a highly skilled software engineer who is capable of both frontend and backend programming. Our full-stack developers are responsible for not only developing for both sides of the application stack, but ensuring the responsiveness of applications, and working alongside graphic designers for web design features, among other duties.

    Responsibilities

    • Develop front-end website architecture and back-end website software.
    • Design user-facing elements for web pages.
    • Build and maintain servers and databases for functionality.
    • Ensure all applications are optimized for all mobile platforms.
    • Ensure responsiveness and reliability of applications.
    • Work alongside graphic designers and UX teams for web design features.
    • Designing and developing APIs.
    • Keeping updated on developments in web applications and programming languages.

    Skills and Qualifications

    • Proficiency with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.
    • Highly proficient with at least one backend programming language.
    • Fundamental understanding of version control systems (such as Git).
    • Solid problem-solving skills.
    • Excellent written and verbal communication.
    • Good organizational skills.
    • Ability to work as part of a team.
    • Attention to detail.
    • Understanding the nature of asynchronous programming and its quirks and workarounds
    • A positive attitude.

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