How to Hire a Front-End Engineer

How to Hire a Front-End Engineer

I recently recruited and hired a front-end engineer for one of our portfolio companies — and it was a tough search!

As we all know, the engineering job market is a highly competitive one, and it’s difficult to pull a great candidate from their current company into a new one. Well, I did it! And I would like to share my learning’s from the process.

Tips on How to Hire a Front-End Engineer

1) Clarify the Role

Before you get started on a front-end engineer search, as a recruiter I recommend you speak with the hiring manager about exactly what he/she means by that title. Just as many job titles don’t always reflect specifics of the responsibilities, front-end engineers can vary from one to another.

For example, one front-end engineer may be dedicated solely to updating a website, adding graphics, performing basic code to make sure everything looks pretty, etc. Another front-end engineer role might involve using more advanced techniques and actually developing web-based applications for a company that are easy to use (and also look pretty).

The former example is more of a designer, and the latter example is really someone who is a programmer/developer — however, I have come across both types of candidates with the same job title as front-end engineer. These are very important distinctions to know once you begin your search. Each have very different skill sets.

2) Get Specific with Your Listings and Outreach

Once you realize who you are looking for, start out on your search. I do always start with LinkedIn and search engines in order to build a pipeline of candidates. When posting your listings or reaching out to candidates, I recommend including the specific technologies they will be working with in the new role.

For example, will they be working with open source programming languages? Will they be working in HTML5 and CSS3? Not only do you want to interest them in the position, including some of the programming languages can also help the candidate themselves understand how qualified they are for the role.

3) Ask Candidates the Right Questions to Qualify Them

Once you start interviewing candidates, here are some tips on qualifying them:

  • Ask what their skill level is on a range from 1-10 with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. A great front-end engineer will be rank themselves highly in all three. Being skilled in each of these languages is very critical for a front-end engineer to perform well.
  • Although software engineering is generally considered more of a science, front-end engineering is a bit more artistic. Ask candidates about recent web-based applications they have developed, and what their intended goal was for it to look like. This can give you insight as to how they perceive the end user and the visual aspects of the application, which is important to know for this type of role
  • Understand their past experience with collaboration. A front-end engineer needs to be able to interact with different parties in order to do their work well, including product managers, designers, engineers, and end users. Communication skills are key.

4) Ask for a Portfolio

Although front-end engineers are focused on developing, there is also a visual aspect included. Because of this, I always ask candidates for a portfolio to share with the hiring manager. A portfolio can say a lot about the quality of a candidate — it can either speed up the process for a candidate who has an impressive portfolio, or result in you cutting those with sub-par portfolios loose.

Hopefully learning more about what front-end engineers do, and how to properly qualify their candidacy will help you recruit more effectively and quickly for this role.

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