Hiring software engineers: should you look for overall experience or expertise of a specific language?


When hiring software engineers, should you place more weight on the expertise of the specific language or framework you are using, or overall skill and experience.

i.e. A great engineer with 10+ years of experience might not have used the Python programming language. But can likely learn it easily.

The downside I see is the temporary cost to the startup of such an engineer to learn your programming language or framework.

What do you suggest?

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asked Apr 18 '14 at 00:12
William Jensen
14 points

1 Answer


It depends on a few factors (some of which are both related):

  1. What stage your startup is on?
  2. Do you have the time and resources?
  3. Do you already have a technical co-founder?
  4. Does that technical co-founder have great overall experience?

If you're an early stage startup (and most at this stage have limited resources), I would recommend someone who already has experience with the specific language/framework you're building your product on.

But once you start to gain some traction and have more resources, hire great engineers regardless of their experience on your particular language/framework. Some of the best software developers I know aren't boxed into a particular language. They're generalists who are language-agnostic.

answered Apr 19 '14 at 09:11
Nishank Khanna
4,265 points

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