A Tenth Revolution Group Company

Six things to look for in your next Java developer hire

By Jamie Mercer

computer screen and lines of code to show examples of the java programming language

In the era of digital transformation, hiring great Java developers has become a top priority for business looking to stay ahead of the curve.

Java continues to evolve, and these new advancements have seen increased adoption of the programming language in the business world.

The good news is the software industry acts as an incubator for burgeoning talent, so you’ll never be short of options in the Java marketplace.

If you’re looking to add your development team, here are six things to look out for in a Java developer to help you hire the perfect programmer.

1. A Java skillset that reflects your spec

Java developers play a huge part in the software development landscape, and before committing to process of hiring new developers, it’s essential you figure out the skill set that suits your business needs.

Every developer should improve the performance of your business. But if you have a particular framework or offset of Java, such as Groovy, in mind, you’ll need to make that clear from the outset.

If you already have an in-house development team, you’ll probably have a good idea what the missing link in your team is, and where in the process you need to add more resource. But if you’re building your first team from scratch, formulating a plan can help you to pinpoint the right developers for you.

If you’re looking for niche development skills, take a look at their coding proficiency.

By heading over to GitHub, for example, you can examine the code repositories of development candidates and see examples of their work, and this extra clarification can help you make a concrete decision.

But to really size up a developer, you also need to speak to them one on one, advises Prasad Vara, Co-Founder of Invoke Cloud. Pick up the phone or arrange an interview and you can actually “find out how much they know about the inner workings of code.”

This interview will also allow you to pinpoint their knowledge of basic Java concepts and other wider skills including how they would “triage a bug within an application, or how they’d find the root cause of a problem and come up with a relevant solution,” says Vara.

When looking for a new member to add to your team, ticking the boxes in their coding proficiency should be one of your first exercises. If they have the talent to stand out from the crowd, no doubt they’ll have the skills to help your business grow.

2. A great cultural fit

No matter where you are in the recruitment process, if a developer has the correct Java skills but doesn’t have the mindset to fit with your company ethos, it should be a red flag.

Developers can showcase themselves during the interview process but, before offering them a contract, have them meet with other members of your team. If there isn’t a connection, then they might not be the right person for you.

Finding a good cultural fit should be a top priority when hiring a Java developer, and to bring in someone who can instantly make an impact on your team, you may need to broaden your search.

But remember that securing the services of a developer who matches the culture of your business isn’t just vital for a new permanent hire, it’s also something you’ll need to consider in the contract market.

Finding a person who is the right cultural fit is very important, and it’s something championed by Ben Townsend at FRG Technology Consulting.

“A contractor comes into a business, they’re quite highly paid, and you don’t want to upset the apple cart,” says Townsend. “So you need someone who not only has industry experience but is also a people person and not just a technical contractor.”

By taking this extra time to ensure they fit culturally within your business, Townsend also notes that you may discover a developer who will stick with you for long-term projects and could even become a permanent fixture.

3. Java problem-solving skills

Every Java developer should have the skills to create, deploy and manage code effectively. Part of their core remit should also be to solve any problems unearthed during the testing stage and offer working solutions.

When recruiting, you’ll need to look beyond a developer’s CV to see if they have the attributes to join your development team. To discover this, have them take a live technical test where they can showcase their practical problem-solving skills.

But no matter how good a developer is, if they fail to include any advanced techniques within their CV, remember to dig deeper to discern whether they match your requirements.

When sourcing any new Java hire, Barnali Sabhapandit, Director of Recruitment at Synechron advises you go for a developer who is strong technically but can also show practical experience of solving Java issues.

For this reason, you’ll need to ensure that your chosen developer “has knowledge of working with large-scale enterprise applications, design patterns, and multi-threading techniques, as well as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML,” says Sabhapandit.

The good news is, whichever role on your team you’re looking to fill, there will be a wide range of developers available.

Every Java certification, additional project, and extra skill a developer can showcase should be a key indicator of whether a programmer has a logical problem-solving mindset, and for competency-focused questions, you could implement the STAR interview strategy to gain a better handle on their skills.

The Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) technique allows interviewers to pose behavioural questions, prompting the candidate to offer real-world examples and scenarios of where they’ve used Java to fix development issues.

So when looking for your next hire, one way to ensure they have the right core Java skills is to set them logical problems, as these will allow you to discover the problem-solving skills they possess while also assessing their coding ability at the same time.

Find out what you need from your next Java hire by taking a look at our downloadable CV.

4. A flexible approach to Java development

While you may need a specific skill set, looking at the wider picture and hiring for the future can be more beneficial in the long run.

Without thoroughly checking a CV when searching for the right developer, you may discover they’ve only worked with one version of Java, which, if you’re looking to expand your business, probably won’t fit the bill.

It’s plausible that a developer may have only worked with one platform in their previous role, but even so, a developer passionate about their work will take the time to learn new skills to help them further down the line.

To avoid hiring a one-trick pony, take the time to search both the permanent and contract marketplace for a developer who can show technical skill but is also willing to learn new techniques and build on theoretical Java knowledge.

Java as a language is widespread across the development spectrum; it’s constantly evolving and increasing its user base, so Jonn Farr, Development Manager of Ideagen, advises the developer you hire should be able to cope with these changes and advancements.

“When looking for a Java developer, we need someone flexible in their approach to development,” says Farr. “We need an individual who can keep on top of the rapid release cycle that Oracle is taking with new versions of Java and utilise the latest and best methods that are being made available with each new JDK.”

When making your final decisions, ensuring your chosen developer can handle the release cycle as a whole is vital. To be successful in the role, it won’t only come down to what they know about the current JDKs; it’s also about the experience they can offer when it comes to past and future cycles of Java.

5. Specialist Java knowledge 

When hiring a Java developer, the main talking point in the interview should be whether they have the skills and technical expertise to perform the basic Java concepts required to develop applications. There are many key pillars of Java development, so before going ahead and making your next hire, take a look at the cornerstones of the Java family, and think about which one best matches your requirements.

Depending on the route you wish to take when it comes to development, your business may need to budget accordingly when making a hire. Our recent salary survey shows developers who specialise in specific areas of Java have higher salary expectations, so if you’re a smaller business, you’ll need to offer favoured perks such as flexible or remote working to secure their services.

But remember, whichever developer you choose to introduce into your business they’ll need specialist Java knowledge as well as some of the key fundamentals listed below to get the job done.

Basic Core Java Skills

  • String and string method knowledge
    • When developing a Java application, your business will store the data in variables, and you’ll need developers familiar with objects and string classes to help categorise
    • A class is a template for anything in Java, while an Object is a single instance of that class. Each class in Java will have a specific method that when will return the length of a string.
  • Arrays strings and vectors
    • When used in Java development arrays vectors are objects. For your next hire to be successful, they’ll need to know that an array has a fixed size that needs to be defined upfront and that a vector grows and shrinks to fit its content.
  • Flow of control
    • You’ll want your program to behave correctly, so having a developer who knows the ins and out if statements and loops and can implement them depending on the circumstances should be a top priority.
  • Operators
    • The Java programming language is full of mathematical symbols. When hiring a Java developer all of them should be able to introduce characters such as + – / * into your code.

Spring framework knowledge

  • Spring — Beans
    • If your team chooses to implement the Spring framework, the objects that form the main parts of your application and are managed in the IoC container are beans.
  • Spring — AOP Analysis
    • Aspect-oriented programming (AOP) complements Object-Oriented Programming by adding additional behaviour to code that your business already has in place, but without making any actual modifications.
  • Spring — Test Analysis
    • Your developer will need to know what needs to be tested when it comes to an application. To get the test right and then gather your own data for future analysis, you’ll need to look at the basis of a test, the objectives, and the product risks.

Hibernate – Query Language

  • Similar to SQL, Hibernate Query Language (HQL) is the object-oriented query language used with the framework.

Knowledge of Git

Your business will need a place to store each version of their application; hiring developers familiar with the source code management platform GIT will allow you to revert back to previous versions and will also help you merge files by allowing multiple team members to work on a project.

A deep understanding of the skills listed above can demonstrate a strong working knowledge of the basic Java concepts, and before you commit to a hire, Kapoor also advises you to consider their experience of these tools:

  • Build automation: Maven
  • Continuous integration/development tools such as Jenkins
  • Agile/Project Management/Bug Tracking tools such as Jira, Bugzilla

If you can find a developer, who has all of these skills on their CV, sign them up.

6. A good grasp of Java frameworks

Every business uses different technology and frameworks to get their application up and running, so it’s crucial you hire someone who knows your chosen tech.

To successfully develop an application, your business will need to keep on top of the current Java lifecycle and the latest product releases.

When hiring a developer, you’ll need someone familiar with not only the latest LTS version of Java, but also the rapid release version, and previous versions still regularly used in a business environment.

It’s this ability to learn, as well as flexibility, that Rafi Zikavashili, CEO of Pramp, believes is essential when hiring a Java software engineer. So before making your final choice, he advises you ensure candidates are “familiar with Java 8 streams and libraries such as Guava and RxJava, and also how Java 9 modular systems will affect projects.”

Finding a developer with added working knowledge of Java libraries and less familiar frameworks can see you secure a higher class of Java developer, as this demonstrates they’ve not only taken the time to educate themselves, but they’re also prepared for the wider business world.

Whether you choose to go for a permanent or contract developer when hiring the newest member of your team, following our six steps and ensuring they have the skills to match your requirements and fit well culturally within your business will allow you to make a top hiring choice to assist your growth and expansion.

Want to improve the performance of your development team? Browse our candidate search to find the perfect developer for you.

Sign up for tech tips

Get the latest tech news and careers advice delivered straight to your inbox

We'd love to send you FRG Technology Consulting tech insights and tips by email, phone or other electronic means.