Recruiting And Retention Everything You Need to Know About Hiring PHP Developers by Carlos A. Vázquez

A Complete Guide for Hiring PHP Developers 

So you are a tech company that finds itself in need of building a website or mobile app, or your company might be in need of sophisticated online forms, calculators, or login systems.  To fulfill any of these needs, you’ll require the help of Front End and Back End developers. Skilled Back End developers are especially in high demand as any website or app will have to connect to a server and make logic-based decisions. In the Back End realm, PHP is one of today’s most popular programming languages used for back-end programming. 

In this blog, we’ll explore what you should look for when hiring someone as a PHP developer from technical skills, soft skills, interview questions, and a job description template.

What Is PHP and Who Are Today’s PHP Developers?

PHP was groundbreaking when it was released. It was developed specifically for web applications, giving it an advantage over other languages. PHP was developed in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. 

It was first a simple set of Common Gateway Interface Binaries written in the C programming language. Over time more functionality was needed, and the language was rewritten and expanded. In 1995, the source code was released, and developers were able to use it and modify it as they saw fit. Over the course of the next few years, the language saw several makeovers and improvements, eventually becoming the language we know today. It was the foundation for sites like WordPress and Facebook and is versatile in a number of web functions. 

PHP was designed specifically for web applications and can be quite sophisticated. Because of this, PHP is often cited to be more complicated to learn that other languages like Python. Because of its difficulty, the learning and skillful implementation of the language is not as easy to spot. 

PHP developers are usually responsible for writing server-side application logic, developing back-end components, connecting the application with web services, and supporting the front-end aspects of the application. 

Some of the reasons why PHP has become a popular programming language include:

  • Open source and free
  • Platform-independent
  • Compatible 
  • Built for the web
  • Scaling 
  • Excellent CMS’s
  • Easily integrates with AJAX

Today’s PHP programmers are developers with a wide spectrum of experience and technical skills in the language. A PHP developer with the right skills is essential and a great asset to your company. However, finding a well-rounded PHP programmer requires a little bit of knowledge on what exactly to look for. 

What is PHP Needed For?

As a popular scripting language, PHP is used for a number of applications and solutions that can’t be handled with HTML alone. Adding PHP can make a website far more interactive, dynamic, and functional. It is especially good for sites that require a lot of text-based applications. Many of today’s websites seek more interactive features like forms, feedback, comments, online chat, forums, etc. PHP can be used for those and more including:

  • Online calculators for websites
  • Different types of converters
  • Website search and login systems
  • Dynamic signatures 
  • Cookies 
  • Content management systems

What Are Some of the Day to Day Tasks of a PHP Developer?

On any given day, depending on the task at hand, a PHP developer will be working on a variety of functions for your web application or website. They range from creating new functionalities for your website to maintaining server connections to ensuring your site performs at its peak capacity. 

Code analysis: A frequent and constant analysis of the current code, how it’s working, and ways to fix and improve it. A PHP developer will always be looking for cleaning things up through the back-end as well. 

Development and database optimization: A good PHP developer will ensure a site has an optimized database, servers are running properly, the website is dynamic and loads quickly, as well as building new functionalities. 

Testing and Implementation: Consistently testing and debugging your web applications and websites is an important task for PHP developers.

Maintenance: Like any technological application, regular maintenance, upkeep, and analysis will prevent glitches or unexpected issues from growing into major ones. 

Skills To Look For in a PHP Developer — Technical and General Skills

Like any other programmer, a PHP developer should have a certain level of technical skill and understanding in order to be a good candidate. 

Proficiency with PHP frameworks. The PHP programming language has developed a variety of modern frameworks, which make it easier and more powerful. Any PHP developer should have knowledge beyond the basics of some of the main ones, including:

  • CodeIgniter
  • Yii
  • Zend
  • Cake PHP
  • Laravel
  • FuelPHP
  • Symfony

Expertise beyond the basics. There is a difference between a developer that has dabbled in PHP and one that has true expertise in this programming language.  When hiring a PHP developer, you’re looking for someone that possesses skills beyond the basics, as you likely need for them to create, develop, fix, and maintain your software. 

Technical skills. There are a number of technical skills needed to be considered a well-rounded PHP developer. They should be full-stack developers with the ability to use JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. Today, developers working with PHP should also have knowledge of:

  • Ajax
  • jQuery
  • MySQL
  • API’s – SOAP and REST
  • Unix/Linux
  • MVC Framework Architecture
  • OOP – Object-Oriented Programming

Versatile and adaptable in PHP. Just like everything else, technology-related programming languages are always changing. Having a developer that is willing and open to the inevitable changes is monumental for the strength of your development team. 

Analytical skills. Any developer role requires the ability to analyze and solve problems. During the process of development and building, any number of issues are likely to arise. A development team is stronger when people are able to work together through the issues that arise as they arise. 

Common Interview Questions for Hiring PHP Developers 

Because of the dynamic nature of a good PHP Developer, there is no one single way to identify the perfect one for the job, especially since every job and company might be looking for different characteristics. Here are just a couple of possible interview questions provided by CodeMentor that might get you started:

  • What are the main error types in PHP, and how do they differ?
  • What’s the difference between the include () and require () functions?
  • How can you enable error reporting in PHP? 
  • Can the value of the constant change during the script’s execution? 
  • What are three scope levels available in PHP, and how would you define them?
  • What does MVC stand for, and what does each component do?

Skills Assessments in PHP — What To Look For 

Testing your candidates’ knowledge of the language is one thing. Another is seeing their technical skills in real-time by giving them a series of skills assessments that measure their ability to think on their feet, problem-solve, and use the language effectively. One of the most reliable ways to test a candidate’s PHP programming skills is through a simulation-based PHP coding test. You can get several practice tests online through sites like Interviewmocha or HackerRank. You can also customize or add on to their tests. 

However, these types of tests largely depend on what type of work you’re looking for your developer to do. It is highly recommended to create custom tests for all of your positions. It may sound time-consuming, but we assure you that it is well worth the time. You’ll see it pay off with quality hires instead of mishires. 

Keep in mind the following to create your tests and assessments:

  • What will the developer do on a practical level?
  • What type of languages and what expertise do they need to accomplish their tasks? 
  • Is there a particular skill you MUST have? How is it applied to an example task?
  • How will the different skills correlate to each other? 
  • Will their position be exposed to emergencies? If so, what is an example of that?

A Quick Overview of PHP Salary Information

When it comes to salary, there is definitely some variation by region. Because of the high demand and cost of living, the United States has the highest salary listed for developers. 

  • U.S- $85,000/yr
  • Mexico-$20,486/yr
  • India-$7,328/yr
  • UK- $58,842/yr
  • Argentina- $13,003/yr
  • Europe-  $70,000/yr

For more information about PHP developer salaries in Mexico, read our 2019 tech salary report.

Writing Your Company’s Job Description for PHP Developers

If you post a generic and broad job description on an online recruitment platform, then you are likely to receive broad and generic answers that will not give you the information you need about a candidate’s skills and knowledge. You want to make your job description stand out from the crowd and cut through the noise. We’ll outline next what we recommend you add to your descriptions to accomplish that. 

As with any job description, make sure to include information about your company’s culture, perks, and benefits. These have become more and more important over the past couple of years and can make or break a hire. 

You want to be professional, direct, and specific in your description of what you’re looking for. Begin by composing a job posting that reflects your company ethos and culture. You’ll want to be specific in terms of the soft skills you’re looking for and the kind of person you want to add to your development team. 

While most PHP developers work in back-end activities, you’ll want to hire someone that understands and has proficiency in front-end technologies as well. 

Here’s a basic PHP job description template you can use:

Job Title:

  • PHP Developer
  • PHP Back End Developer
  • PHP Full Stack Developer
  • PHP Web Developer

Seniority Level:

  • Junior
  • Intermediate
  • Senior

Years of Experience:

  • 0 to 1
  • 1 to 3
  • 4 to 6
  • 7 to 9
  • 10 to 14
  • 15+

Location:

  • City, Country
  • Remote

Employment type:

  • Full-time
  • Part-time

Salary:

Posting an attractive salary will bring more job applications, also consider posting any additional cash compensations, bonuses, and benefits.

Responsibilities:

Skills and qualifications are an important part of any job posting, as they will weed out many unprepared and unfit candidates. 

  • Integration of front-end elements
  • Data analysis 
  • Build and test  PHP modules
  • Data storage solutions
  • Solve complex problems or architectural issues that arise

Skills and Qualifications 

This list is not exhaustive but provides a guide. 

  • Strong proficiency with PHP frameworks
  • Understanding MVC design patterns 
  • Knowing front-end technologies such as JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3
  • Accessibility and security compliance 
  • Integration of multiple data sources 
  • Knowing the limitations and workarounds of PHP

Note: Make sure to add all “must-have” technical skills and differentiate them from the “desirable” skills that include soft-skills like leadership, teamwork, or creativity.

Finding the Right Candidate Through Hiring Partners and Talent Recruitment Outsourcing 

The key to the right PHP developer is in their depth of knowledge, experience, natural developer abilities, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. It’s a lot to look for! It’s why some tech companies find themselves spending too much time and resources in the hiring process. Using a talent recruitment agency or hiring partner to help your company filter down candidates is a real-time and money saver. A company like CodersLink will find the talent you’re looking for, filtering out others. In the end, of course, you use your own hiring process, skills assessments, and other processes to choose the final candidate. 

Enhance Your Development Team With the Right PHP Developer 

The right developer is out there; it’s just a matter of knowing how to search for them. The person with the right skills and attitude can be what’s missing in your tech team. Look for technical skills and the necessary soft skills to do the job. Knowing what you’re looking for will save you time and money in the long run. We specialize in recruiting qualified candidates and have learned a lot about identifying desirable skills.

Let us know how we can help or what else you’d like to know about finding the right PHP developer!