Mary Yasensky Delivery Manager

    Surf Team: How We Hire Mobile App Developers 

    Surf has been operating on the market since 2011. The company story began with three friends having graduated from the same university. By 2022, the company counts more than 200 people, and we are actively growing.

    Surf team diagram

    At the end of 2021, our 10th anniversary, we had 25 new projects in the portfolio and 13 new clients. 63% of the company’s client base are long-term clients. Businesses trust our team of tech enthusiasts who are reliable and deliver quality results.

    In this article, we want to tell how we hire mobile app developers to form a high-performance team so that our clients’ projects are in good hands. 

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    How Surf hires mobile app developers 

    Inbound and outbound recruiting

    When hiring mobile app developers we practice both inbound and outbound recruiting. And both proved to be effective for our business. 

    The outbound recruiting is a more traditional approach. The recruiter receives a task to fill a certain vacancy and mobile application developer requirements and searches for appropriate candidates. The outbound recruiting works well for vacancies with high competition in the market. And mobile development falls under this category.

    Our outbound hiring strategy includes the following activities:

    • Our recruiters search manually by target companies, relevant cities, and required experience and skills.
    • We successfully launched a referral program among Surf employees.
    • To speed up the funnel processing, we started using a Telegram bot for outbound recruiting.
    • We are actively advertising on social networks.
    UI/UX Designer requirements
    Mobile apps development is a team work: frontend and backend developers, business analysts, designers, and QA. We carefully select candidates for every position.

    Inbound recruiting is about creating an environment that attracts candidates.

    As part of inbound recruiting, we practice:

    • sharing our up-to-date information about the company life on our website and company’s blogs, social networks;
    • owning Telegram channel devoted to our product expertise in our focus industries such as banking, fintech, retail;
    • participating in industry-specific conferences, hackathons and organizing our own events.
    • sharing our latest achievements and best practices with the community.
    SurfGear tool
    SurfGear at GitHub: a set of libraries and tools used by Surf when developing with Flutter

    Inbound recruiting allows us to improve our employer brand and build long-term relationships with the community and potential candidates. 

    Regarding the outbound and inbound approaches, our company has its own specifics:

    • The outbound recruiting channel is more active for native developers.
    • The inbound recruiting works well for Flutter developers. Surf is a pioneer and trendsetter in Flutter development, and sometimes we have whole teams of candidates who want to work with Surf. 

    But we do not practice team-wise employment and select each candidate individually and according to the established procedure.

    Surf virtual stand, DartUp 2021. Open interview for Flutter junior developers

    Surf educational activity

    Another way to build a high-performing app development team is to teach and train experts ourselves, and we do this. We set high education requirements for mobile application developers. Good education is the groundwork for further successful experience, and we are ready to dedicate time and resources for educational activities. 

    Most Surf employees graduated from the central university of the company’s hometown. And we have been actively cooperating with the educational institution: our developers conduct courses and teach during summer and winter schools for students, and organize conferences and hackathons.

    Over ten years, Surf employees have trained more than 1000 students in iOS and Android development, project management, QA, and business analytics. Upon graduation from the university, the best students join our team as new starters and continue to grow professionally.

    Online event organized by Surf for those who are ready to check their skills

    What we expect from candidates

    Cultural fit

    When choosing candidates, we focus on how strong they are as engineers and how close they are to us in spirit. Both factors are crucial for us.

    Over ten years in the app development market, we have determined what we want to do and achieve as a team. We want to make the world more digitalized and help businesses and people unlock their potential. To achieve this, we, together with industry leaders, implement projects that ease people’s lives. We give talents the opportunity to prove themselves in working on large-scale projects with a great challenge and impact.

    So, we are looking for people ready to work in such a team. For us, good soft skills and the ability to work in a team play a significant role. Proactivity and personal motivation for growth are additional advantages.

    Surf recruiters interview potential candidates and set direct or projective questions to select candidates with soft skills that align with our values.

    Surf people features

    Hard skills

    Any programmer is first and foremost an engineer. For any software engineer, it is vital to have a solid foundation covering fundamental knowledge that never becomes obsolete. It includes the basics and principles of programming, algorithms and data structures, understanding and knowledge of design patterns, working with databases, and so on.

    For a mobile developer, it is paramount to know and have experience with the programming language depending on the platform (Kotlin for Android developers and Swift for iOS developers) and Android or iOS SDK. A mobile developer cannot do without it to ensure the performance of system operations and features.

    Android&iOS developers skills
    Surf requirements to Android and iOS app developer skills

    The mobile app developer hard and soft skills are further evaluated during interviews by experienced Surf employees (team leads or heads of departments). The person in charge of hiring should not only have a great technical background, but also extensive experience in terms of team collaboration, people communication, and working in stressful circumstances. 

    We have developed and successfully implemented an efficient practice of dividing the technical part of the hiring process into two stages:

    • The technical stage lasts about 2 hours. It may include various questions on the basics of the programming language and operating system/framework. To be sure that the candidate understands what they are talking about we set the questions that allow us to go deeper into the subject matter, like “What happens if….?”. We check the skill sets required for a mobile application developer with some online tasks. It allows us not only to judge by the end result, but to watch the candidate during the work process.
    • The soft-engineering stage lasts about 1 hour. It may take any format — from discussing life-related questions to a thorough and detailed check of architecture knowledge. The interview is conducted by the head of the department. The main goal of this stage is to understand whether it will be comfortable for our developer team to work with the candidate. The interviewer finds out the candidate’s strengths, drivers, and motivation and whether the candidate matches the project’s specifics.

    The second stage makes sense only if you are ready to reject the candidate because of soft skills incompatibility. And we are ready, as we are sure that one person hired by mistake can cause problems in the team.

    Adaptation skills

    After the successfully passed interviews, the hiring process runs smoothly into the workflow: for two weeks, the selected candidate works in the sandbox under the guidance of an experienced mentor. The candidate receives a task that could potentially arise in a future project. We evaluate the candidate’s ability to adapt quickly to a new environment and team. If at this stage a person does not prove their competency, we part ways. Candidates that proved their skills join our team and start working on new challenges and projects.

    team feedback on project
    The Hole project team readily shares their experience with non-standard video challenges, avoiding unnecessary overloads, finding out points to grow.

    Bottom line

    The hiring practices at Surf allow us to build a reliable and stable team. Here are some points that we would like to highlight once again at the end of the article:

    • We are confident that evaluation of soft skills is an indicator of team maturity. At Surf, the rejection rate due to soft skills is not high when compared to hard skills. But still, it exists: we avoid any toxic people in the Surf team, even if they have excellent hard skills.
    • We organized our hiring process in close collaboration between the recruitment and technical teams. Such a synergy allows us to consider all aspects and share experiences within our team.
    • We have an accurate and balanced assessment system and established procedure that can be applied for any hiring campaign we need.

    If you want to get acquainted with our team and discuss any possible ways of collaboration, do not hesitate to contact us.