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How to Hire Developers for Large-Scale Applications

We’re often helping our clients build up their internal capabilities to support the digital products we build together. For our Drupal platform engagements the most difficult part of this is often finding the experienced Drupal talent to help seed their new platform team.

I’ll break down below how Myplanet has gone about identifying and hiring some of the most talented Drupal developers for ourselves and our clients:

Identifying Candidates

Drupal developers will often identify themselves within one of three categories:

  • Site Builder
  • Themer
  • Module Developer

Experienced Site Builders mostly work in the UI and have a deep understanding of the module ecosystem and how different modules play together in a Drupal instance. Site Builders typically require the least knowledge of software patterns and web development principles.

Experienced Themers have a deep understanding of the Drupal templating system and are able to manipulate stock Drupal to display UI elements and enhance interactions to their desire. Themers typically require minimal knowledge of software patterns but often have the strongest front-end web development experience. Themers are often great site builders as well.

Experienced Module Developers are the ones you call if you’d like to glue modules together in a new way not done before or you have a new module idea for your project. They have a deep understanding of the Drupal API which allows them to hook into any part of the Drupal bootstrap and execution sequence. Module Developers often have the most knowledge of software patterns and should have at least basic front-end web development experience. Like Themers, Module Developers are often great site builders as well.

Identify which of the three categories of candidates above you’re most interested in before advertising for an opening.

Attracting & Sourcing Talent

For our clients we recommend they screen and select candidates for knowledge of software patterns, web development experience and then Drupal, in that order of competency. We’ve found a fundamental understanding of building performant and scalable web applications surpasses an understanding of Drupal itself. That isn’t to say that rich Drupal experience goes a long way, especially for Drupal 6 and 7 where there are a lot of “Drupalisms.”

For inbound candidates we often screen candidates with questions such as; how many Drupal sites have you built, what’s your involvement with the Drupal community, what’s your level of experience with core Drupal modules and practices?

We’ve had some success with inbound candidates but I think most companies that have had to hire lots of Drupal developers will tell you they’ve had to do their fair share of networking as well. Great Drupal developers aren’t easy to come by.

We’ve spent countless hours at meet-ups, conferences, and drupal.org communities looking for the next great developer to add to the Myplanet family. We’re looking for drupal.org profiles to identify how long they’ve been members, which modules they’ve contributed to and generally how active they are in the community.

Screening & Interviewing Effectively

Our interviews generally begin with a discussion of software patterns and general web development practices before diving into Drupal specific questions. There’s almost always a set of live coding work as well where we assess speed, accuracy and a candidate's problem solving techniques.

A big part of the interview process is also selling the candidate on your company. Like any great open source software, Drupal has in large been built by passionate volunteers working countless hours towards a better web. Highlight for candidates your organization's commitment to making the web a better place and how you allow your engineering team to help share that future.

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