Hiring the Best People in Drupal

Are you looking for new Drupal talent? Hiring the best people from the Drupal development community can be tough if your company does not have any Drupal expertise in house. How do you know the people you interview are any good? What questions can you ask them if you don't know Drupalese? Do you simply trust their references and hope for the best?

You may want to check out the list of things a Drupal expert should know. But, if you are the hiring manager and don't know Drupal and your technical team doesn't know Drupal, then what is the best approach for hiring the right person for the job?

One approach would be to pay a reputable Drupal company to interview the potential hires. I'm not sure who actually offers this as a service but it's something that I know I would be willing to do so I imagine that other companies would as well. It would not be cheap to get a consultant to interview for you but, if you plan on hiring an employee for the long term, it may be very cost-effective. Imagine hiring someone who's not very good, training them and then having to let them go and replace them.

How much would it cost to have a consultant interview Drupal developers for you? First off, the consultant would need to understand what type of work the Drupal developer would be doing. Just because you are hiring an employee to do Drupal work doesn't mean that you need a Drupal guru. If you have a simple site and simple needs, you may be able to hire a junior developer who's a good fit for your company. If you have a complex site already or need someone who can modify the site in more sophisticated ways, then you'll need someone with more experience. It should take one to a few hours to determine your needs.

Then the consultant will need to do the interviewing itself. If that can be done remotely, that should save on time. If it needs to be done on-site, then some consultants may charge for some travel time. In that case, it is obviously best to find someone who's pretty close to where the interviews will happen. In my opinion, I think it's best to interview in person so you can read body language and other cues that can be missed over the phone. This isn't always practical though. In either case, each interview would probably run for about an hour.

Finally, the consultant would need to discuss the interviews with your company's team and give you an opinion on the interviewees. There may not be a cut-and-dry winner, but it should give you enough information that, weighed in with references and portfolios, that you are more likely to hire the best person for the job (based on who was interviewed).

So, assuming you are interviewing 4 people, maybe it would take roughly 8 hours. At ~$150/hour consultant rate, then you are at $1200. That is certainly not chump change but if the employee will be making $75k/year, then it's only 2% of the first year salary.

The above strategies would work for other technical areas besides just Drupal knowledge. If your company wants to hire a Java developer because your one-and-only Java employee has left, then you could go to a technical staffing company or hire a consultant from a reputable Java shop to do the interviewing for you.

So what about recruiters? I'm a bit leery about recruiters myself but I imagine there are some good ones out there. I get approached by recruiters all the time from out of the blue. They only make money if they place a person in a job so there is a big incentive for them to put their recommendations in the best light possible. Maybe you can ask other companies you know if they have a recruiter who they like and provides good candidates.

Hiring the best people for your own company may not be the easiest task but it can be done with some help. Since bringing on an employee is a long term investment, it makes sense to do it right from the start. If you don't have the knowledge to find the right person for the job, find others who can help you make an informed decision.

I'm a Speaker at DrupalCon Portland