September 15, 2020

What Should I Look For In My First Mobile Engineering Hire?

By Wes Winham

Recently, I was talking to a Head of Recruiting at a high-growth SaaS company who was facing a problem: his team was looking to make their first mobile engineering hire and they didn’t have anyone on staff who had the skillset to assess mobile engineering talent.

Their engineering leadership wasn’t well-versed in what a good hire would entail, so they were in the dark about what they should be looking for. It felt like all they could go on were applicants’ resumes, which are historically terrible predictors of success on the job.

I sat down with a few friends who had been in similar positions to get their perspective. I wanted to know about two specific kinds of situations:

  1. Times when they had to hire someone without having first-hand knowledge of how to do the job.
  2. Times when they had to hire mobile engineers, specifically.

Regarding question number one, the answer was simple: you need outside help that you can validate and trust.

A self-serve coding challenge that you can find online isn’t going to give you the information you need in this context. You need to either find a trusted and knowledgeable advisor who can help you with the interview process, or you need to use a service like Woven, that does deep discovery on relevant, job-specific hiring criteria before they automate your assessment process.

That leaves question number two: what should I look for in my first mobile engineering hire?

Question number two is trickier, because mobile engineers are hard to hire. It’s a highly specialized skill in the world of development, and the option that many organizations take is to pay a headhunter’s high premium to find a great candidate – (to say nothing of the high price they’ll have to pay to actually hire them).

This isn’t the best route for most organizations. Instead, we believe that a dose of Moneyball is appropriate here.

The question isn’t, “How can I find a great mobile developer?” The question is, “How can I build a great mobile app?” There are a few possible answers:

  1. Double-down on outbound and hustle hard to find a talented specialist that you can roll the dice on.
  2. Hire an elite-level React engineer with a nose for UX design and great communication skills (the biggest factors in predicting success for this role) and then invest in training them on the specifics for mobile.
  3. Hire a consulting firm and pair one of your developers with them to build V1 of your app together, then have that developer take over the app post-V1.

We believe that the best option is option number two.

Instead of spending months looking for a unicorn, why not invest a fraction of the time and money into finding a world-class React engineer who is great at UX, which, as we’ve stated, are the best predictors of success anyway?

You’ll have far more options, you’ll save a ton on headhunter fees, and you can re-invest that money in building skillsets that are specific to your needs.

This post is part of Woven’s 100-Day Challenge, aiming to solve 100 problems related to developer hiring in 100 days. If you have a problem you want us to tackle, email Tim Hickle at