How to interview a freelance mobile app developer

Got a great idea for a mobile app? Find out what questions you can ask to ensure you end up hiring the right freelancer to build it.
6 minute read
Gauri Gautam @GauriMelb
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for How to interview a freelance mobile app developer

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Finding the right freelance mobile app developer starts with asking the right questions

Looking to hire a freelance mobile app developer? If you are hiring an app developer for the very first time, then knowing what questions to ask is very important. This is even more essential if you are not a developer yourself. So, here is a comprehensive guide on the relevant questions that can help you hire the right person for the job. But first, let’s understand what you're hiring for.

Why your business needs a mobile app

Mobile apps have transformed the way we engage customers and do our business. This is mostly because mobile devices have evolved beyond functioning as means of telephonic communications. Today, a mobile device is a full-fledged business tool. And, the following reasons have made a mobile app a necessity for running a successful business enterprise.

  1. Better customer engagement as a mobile app creates a direct marketing channel between the business and its customers.
  2. Improved business accessibility for clients.
  3. Excellent tool for building brand awareness and improving brand recognition.
  4. Stand head and shoulders above the competition.
  5. Keep a hold on customers and build brand loyalty.

What should you ask a freelance mobile app developer?

Given the benefits of a mobile app, it's understandable that you are keen to launch one for your business or enhance the features of an existing app. In this emerging gig economy, hiring freelancing services for mobile app development is a smart choice. However, interviewing the right candidate for the job can be challenging. You should start by looking for a mobile app developer who can develop functional apps and understands your business. Then, question them on these 10 points to know if they are the right person for the job or not.

Ask to see their list of clients

Asking a developer about their current and previous clients is a standard interview question. You can go on to ask project specific questions and see if they have actually done the work that they claim to in their bid or on their profile. You can also ask them to provide a reference client that you can talk to. It's an excellent way to determine if they meet your requirements or not. It's also reassuring for you to know that their previous clients are happy.

Ask for a portfolio of previous projects

Every freelance developer is sure to have a portfolio of mobile apps that they have developed in the past. They can share the work which is not protected by a non-disclosure agreement. By looking at a portfolio, you can get a feeling if this is the right developer for your project or not.

Even though the project requirements are largely defined by clients, every mobile app developer will have his or her unique flavor in the final product. Therefore, even if the candidate checks all the qualification and certification boxes, a portfolio can provide you with invaluable information.

What platform are they comfortable with?

This may seem like a technical question, but it's an important one to ask. Firstly, it will tell you if the technology platform that the candidate is most comfortable with works for your project. Also, if you're uncertain about the technical requirements of your project, you can ask the candidates what platform they would recommend for the performance you want your app to achieve. This should help you decide if they're the right developer for this job or should you go on looking.

What developer account will they use?

You should never use your developer’s Google Play or App Store developer account, but you should verify that they actually have their own accounts and have published on app stores before. This will indicate their level of experience and help with your final decision. For your project, always use your own developer account. This will ensure you keep control of your app in the future.

How would they recommend monetizing the app?

You have a specific purpose behind hiring a mobile app developer. Your business needs a mobile app to reach more customers and ultimately increase your sales and revenue. That means it's very important to know how the developer is going to design the app so that it makes money for you.

The app can be a free app or a paid one. If you plan to make a free app, then make sure that your developer knows how mobile display ads work. Also, ask about the integration of options like paid subscription services and in-app purchases.

Do they include documentation in the project?

Documentation is essential for any future developments and enhancements of the app. Hopefully, you find a freelance mobile app developer you can build a long-term working relationship with. But there's always a possibility that you might hire a different mobile app developer for future updates. If you do, partial or non-existing documentation will pose a problem. Ideally, don’t hire a mobile app developer if they don't offer any documentation.

Ask them for their project and payment terms

It's good to understand your mobile app developer's fees, terms and conditions beforehand. This can let you know if they fit within your budget and business model or if you should continue looking. Agreeing on fees and payment terms before starting the project will protect both parties involved here.

Ask them if they are ok with a milestone-based payment model. What milestones do they usually work with? Ask if they will work for a fixed cost or if they want an hourly rate. Make sure their payment terms fit your budget and your goals. Also, ask if they offer free revisions to the project.

What communication process do they follow?

The clearer the communication channel with your mobile app developer, the better the end result. Ask them their preference in terms of mode of communication and the time of communication. Remember, you and your freelancer could be in different countries and time zones.

Will they hand over the ownership of the app entirely to you?

Who will own the app once it's developed and launched? While it's common understanding that the company hiring the mobile app developer will own the app, it's better to have it in writing. It's always a good idea to sign non-disclosure agreements and work contracts with clear terms and conditions before starting the project. Ask the candidates their intentions on handing over the ownership of the app entirely to you. If the candidate agrees, then sign mutually agreeable contracts.

Are they outsourcing any of the work?

If your app developer plans to outsource any of the mobile app development process, it takes control over that process out of your hands. Find out if they'll be doing the graphic design and wireframing for the app, or if they plan to outsource this. If they plan to outsource design, you may want to take more control of the process and hire your own freelance graphic designer to mock up the app and hand it over to the developer.

Apart from these, you can ask some "trick questions" to ensure that the candidate actually knows their stuff. For example, you can question them about the time that it would take for them to include features like Google Analytics, Facebook Share Dialog, Vungle, etc. to the app. None of these require more than half an hour to 45 minutes to fix. So, if the candidate is replying five days or more, it should raise some serious red flags.

What should you tell them about your project?

The interview is a key process for you to establish clear communication and expectations. Asking the 10 questions above can give you valuable insights into the working methods and skills of the freelancer. However, if you list out your expectations and give the candidate some background, then you can help bridge a potential communication gap. So, provide information to them which you feel they require to perform the task at hand. You can include details like:

  • What is your business about? Tell them your business philosophy and your vision.
  • What are your expectations from the proposed mobile app? Is it only to generate more revenues or do you want to improve customer satisfaction as well?
  • Do you require any special features in the proposed app?
  • Does your company have any standard app testing systems that the candidate should know of?
  • How do you prefer communicating?
  • What are your payment terms and conditions?
  • Tell the candidate beforehand if you intend to get in touch with their past employers for reference checks.

Most importantly, don’t forget to define a timeline that you want the candidate to deliver in. Make sure that this is a realistic time frame and is according to the industry practices.

Final words

If done correctly, hiring a freelance mobile app developer can help you get the work done at a fraction of what an agency or in-house app developer would cost. However, be smart and take appropriate steps to protect your product and your brand. These 10 questions are designed to get you started in the right direction. You can add more to the list and also let the candidates know your expectations from the project.

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