Today, when hiring software developers businesses have to consider their competencies and the tech stacks they work with. Though, just about 20 years ago there wasn’t so much clear division of specializations. One software developer could work with an application’s front-end, back-end, databases, testing, and more, creating the solution from start to finish. Basically, at that time every developer was a full-stack developer.
Does this mean that nowadays companies don’t need full-stack developers anymore? In reality, the demand for full-stack developers is only growing. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, full-stack developers are considered “a valuable asset to any company” with a hiring growth rate of 35% since 2015. So, why do companies hire full-stack developers, and how to find and hire a good one for a software development project? Let’s find it out. In this article, we explain when to hire full-stack developers and share the questions that can help find qualified full-stack specialists.
Who Is a Full Stack Developer?
A full-stack developer is a specialist who sees the full picture of the developed application. It means that they know how to work with the three layers required to build a successful solution – the presentation layer, logic layer, and data layer.
Each layer has its own set of tools, programming languages, and frameworks which are piled in “stacks”. Therefore, a full-stack developer is a specialist who knows how to use tools, languages, and frameworks from the three application layers and can create an entire application themselves.
Essential Skills for a Full-Stack Developer
Every full-stack developer should possess a combination of particular skills to be effective at software development. Let’s have a closer look at the technologies a software developer should be familiar with to be called a full-stack developer.
Presentation layer or front-end skills include:
- Libraries: React.js, jQuery, D3.js, Backbone.js, DOJO toolkit, Google Polymer, and others
- Frameworks: Vue.js, BootStrap, Angular.js, Ember.js, Flutter, and others
- Other technologies: AJAX, JSON, DOM, XML, Ionic
Logic layer or back-end skills include:
- Python – is a popular programming language used for creating versatile solutions from web development, to game development, to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The technologies a full-stack developer should know to work with Python are Django and Flask frameworks, REST API, Nginx web server, cloud services, and more.
- Java – is a general-purpose programming language used for building diverse applications that run on any operating system software thanks to its Java virtual machine (JVM). The most common technologies used with Java are API Java EE specification, Spring framework, Google Cloud and Azure cloud, microservices, Servlet, and more.
- PHP – is a time-tested web-development programming language. Popular web solutions written in PHP are WordPress, Facebook, Tumblr, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Vimeo, and many others. The popular frameworks for PHP are Yii, Symfony, and Laravel.
- .NET – is a free, cross-platform solution from Microsoft that allows building any type of app including web, mobile, desktop, games, IoT, and many others. The most common programming languages used in .NET are C#, F#, and Visual Basic.
The data layer involves working with databases and data structures. It requires knowledge of database functions, message queuing, relational databases such as MySQL, Oracle Database, SQL Server, and others, and non-relational databases such as NoSQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Redis, and many others.
Other important for full-developer skills are:
- Knowledge of a control version system such as GitHub or GitLab
- Basic web development skills such as HTTP and HTTPS protocols
- Mobile development Objective-C and Swift for iOS, Kotlin or Java for Android, Ionic, Xamarin, Unity for Cross-Platform development
- DevOps includes infrastructures such as Azure and AWS; automation with Jenkins and Ansible; virtualization with Docker and Kubernetes, and many other tools
It’s not necessary that a full-stack developer should know all the technologies listed above. Although, knowing one of the software development spheres such as web development or mobile development is certainly a must.
When to Hire a Full Stack Developer
Full-stack developers are valuable specialists for any software development project. However, there are cases when they are the most needed for a business. Here is when hiring a full-stack development specialist will benefit the most to a company.
- A small business or a start-up. For a small company or a start-up with a unique product having a knowledgeable specialist who understands the product well is practically a business lifeline. A full-stack developer can help these companies build their software solutions from scratch, create the product architecture, establish project processes, select and deploy the necessary product components, and much more.
- When technical lead is required. Big companies can also benefit from having full-stack developers on their projects. A full-stack developer as a technical lead can merge together the knowledge of narrow specialists to create an effective and robust solution. They realize the differences of each software development role and can see the issues and bottlenecks from the perspective of back and front-end developers. This way it’s easier for full-stack developers to understand what is required to make a project run smoothly.
- Building an MVP. Launching an MVP to test the waters in the market and gather feedback from end-users is a common practice many companies use to align their product together with customer requirements. Full-stack developers can see which features are lacking in the product and how to implement them effectively on the presentation, logic, and data layers to make the developed solution more effective, performant, and appealing to the public.
- Hiring issues. Hiring software developers is often a real challenge for businesses and it’s not always possible to find the right specialists at the right time. In this case, they can hire full-stack developers to compensate for the lack of skilled professionals. Moreover, one full-stack developer can replace front-end and back-end developer specialists, saving a company’s budget up to 40%.
How to Hire a Full Stack Developer
There are several ways companies can opt for when hiring full-stack developers. They can contract the required specialists locally, search for freelancers, or turn to outsourcing software development services and find full-stack developers there. Let’s have a closer look at the three options.
Hiring full-stack developers locally
Hiring in-house full-stack developers is a viable option for big tech corporations. The developers are within proximity to the company’s office. Moreover, in-house specialists usually have a deep understanding of the ongoing projects in the company. On the other hand, it can be rather difficult to find full-stack specialists fast and their rates can be quite high for a company.
Freelance full-stack specialists usually work remotely. Therefore, companies that opt for a freelance option have a wider choice of locations and have access to more software-development talents. However, freelancers are harder to organize as they’re usually self-employed specialists with a number of projects.
Hiring dedicated full-stack developers from outsourcing vendors
Hiring dedicated full-stack specialists from outsourcing software development companies is a popular strategy for many businesses. With outsourced specialists, companies can significantly reduce their hiring time and costs. Moreover, they can choose the experts who would precisely match their development requirements. Outsourcing vendors provide only selected experts who have worked on various international projects.
Above all, if hiring a dedicated full-stack developer, a company books the time of a particular specialist for the duration of their project. It means that the specialist works only on one project, getting deep into the specifics of the developed product.
Of course, hiring from an outsourcing vendor option also has certain limitations. For example, developers’ language proficiency, time zones, level of expertise, and more. Therefore, companies should carefully choose outsourced software development specialists.
Full-Stack Developer Interview Questions
When companies search for a full-stack expert, they strive to find the specialist who would perfect fit for a specific project. And since each project has its own tech stack, each such interview should be prepared individually.
If the company already knows its project tech stack then it’s worth searching for the questions related to the used technologies. For example, GitHub has detailed sets of questions for each software development technology used on the front-end and back-end.
Meanwhile, there are sets of tech questions that businesses can ask potential candidates. They can be:
- Why do you need a web server? (Web server displays a website content by storing, processing, and delivering web pages to users)
- What are the web security vulnerabilities? (CSRF, SQL injection, XSS, butter overflow)
- What are role-based access control and an access control list? (Role-based access control is an approach software developers use to restrict system access to authorized users. Access control list is a list of permissions for users to access the system)
- What are SQL join types? (inner join, full join, left join, right join, cross join)
- What are the types of NoSQL databases? (document stores like MongoDB, Couchbase, key-value stores like Redis, Volgemort, column stores like Cassandra, graph stores like Neo4j and Graph)
- What are the drawbacks of not utilizing separation of concerns? (This leads to fixing and debugging issues and difficulties with code optimization)
- What are deadlock and livelock? (Deadlock is the situation when several competing actions are stuck and wait for each other to finish. Livelock is the same as the deadlock state, though the processes constantly change with regard to each other without any progression)
- How do “thread” and “process” differ? (Threads run in a shared memory space and processes run in separate memory spaces)
- What are MVC and MVVM? (All of them are software architectural patterns used to separate program logic from user interface controls. MVC is Model-View-Controller, MVVM is a Model-View-ViewModel)
- What are horizontal and vertical scaling? (Horizontal scaling is when a host adds more machines to an application infrastructure to handle its demands. Vertical scaling is adding more computing power to the existing machines in the infrastructure)
More general questions interviewers can ask their candidates can be:
- What projects have you worked in and which tech stacks have you used there?
- What were your job duties at your previous work?
- Which is your strongest programming language?
- Which frameworks are you comfortable working with?
- Which tools do you generally use for code testing?
- What is the course of action when a build doesn’t build and the code shows an error?
Hiring a full-stack developer for any company that relies on IT technologies in their work is a valuable asset. Full-stack developers are generally highly-qualified specialists with much software development experience who know several programming languages, frameworks, and tools. They apply these technologies to work with the back-end, front-end, and data layers.
As full-stack developers are able to see a full picture of the developed solution, they are a perfect option for small companies that develop a unique product, large companies who require tech leads for their teams, those businesses that develop an MVP first, and those companies that are struggling to compensate for the lack of skilled professionals. If you’re one of those companies, then we’re ready to provide you with dedicated, experienced full-stack specialists who can contribute a lot to your current software development project.