How To Find and Hire The Best PHP Developers — A Complete Guide

hire php developers

PHP is one of the most popular programming languages in the coding universe. You can find many PHP-related jokes, memes, and puns — and they don’t peter out with time. People laugh at its oddness and oldness but still code in PHP. Isn’t it a miracle? 

Why should you hire PHP developers? 

Many startups and small businesses use PHP in their web development and prefer it to Python or Java. Suppose you are a startup owner who’s just begun to delve into nifty programming details. You want to make heads and tails of all the available info and decide which languages and frameworks will suit your stellar plans. It means you’re in the right life spot to read our article on PHP — and what makes it unique.

We won’t dig into excessive technicalities about the workflow, functions, processes, and code benefits. All these bits you can easily find for yourself — on specialized PHP websites or courses. After all, you don’t want to learn how to code in PHP but how to hire the best PHP programmers, right? 

What does a PHP developer do?

PHP engineers work as back-end developers. Front-end development is typically associated with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and PHP is usually responsible for server-side logic. PHP professionals lay the foundation for web apps and do behind-the-scenes maintenance.

However, PHP professionals should still be familiar with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS since they work closely with all these languages. Besides, it’s logical that UI understanding helps back-enders do their job correctly.

PHP developers use their skills in various domains: they can build blogs, forums, web apps, or e-commerce resources. 

Now, let’s dive in deeper and describe the core responsibilities of a PHP developer you can hire for your startup team.

  • Write code for programs, applications, and websites;
  • Cooperate with developers and project managers to find efficient solutions;
  • Precisely and technically understand back-end development principles and PHP frameworks logic;
  • Build responsive websites and apps, making the spiral of development upward;
  • Take care of the website code;
  • Resolve security issues.
hire php developers

PHP engineers can perform different tasks and take more than one role — trying to solve a flurry of problems at once. In some cases, PHP developers are expected to have client-side abilities and proficiency in JS or CSS. Multimodal professionals are worth their weight in gold. It’s especially true for budding startups consisting of a couple of founders and their hopeful, optimistic friends. We’d go out on a limb and say that such Jacks-of-all-trades make excellent startups subsequently turn into successful global enterprises. 

  Here are some examples of why PHP still holds positions among programming languages:

  • PHP and its frameworks are easy to use — and this easiness increases the development speed. Sometimes, professional web engineers create viable MVPs on PHP (for the sake of speed), switching to the primary language/framework afterward. 
  • PHP can perform various functions very dynamically. Accepting passwords on your websites has never been so quick. 
  • One of the most substantial aspects of PHP web development is that it is supported by a wide range of databases and is compatible with almost all servers used today, making it easier to fit your project requirements.
  • Since PHP is an old programming language (designed in 1995 by Dane Rasmus Lerdorf), it has an extended dev community. Engineers help each other find solutions and add innovations. For those in trouble, many forums (like Stack Overflow), FAQs, and PHP pundits share their knowledge online.
  • Scaling and customization of your ideas to the needs of specific websites and platforms are also quite easy to handle with PHP. Moreover, PHP user interfaces bring quickness and responsiveness to the game. 
  • PHP’s learning curve isn’t so steep as to overcomplicate the Jedi path for the novices — it’s possible to master the basics very quickly. 
  • Since PHP remains a beneficial choice, many proficient PHP engineers are available to hire for your startup. 

These are by no means all the bonuses and benefits of PHP. Not so long ago, PHP made major improvements with its release of PHP 7.0+, becoming even more luring to developers and clients. 

Considering the significant number of startups that employ PHP programmers, it seems to be a very beneficial coding language and an excellent choice for you as a startup owner who would like to find and hire top-level masters. 

What should you know before hiring a PHP developer?

A PHP programmer for hire may be found in various places — if you are satisfied with web development resembling a mess of moving pieces. If not — you’d rather scrutinize all the possibilities and choose the one helping your business to reign supreme.

To decide where it’s better to hire the best PHP specialist (and how to handle it all), answer the following questions:

  • How soon do you require the services of a programmer?

If you want the PHP masters ASAP and of top quality, it’s better to address enterprises with copious experience hiring for third parties or their comprehensive database of developers. Hiring them all by yourselves can be tedious and devoid of all guarantees, especially if you don’t have much time to check all candidates profoundly.

  • How many programmers do you need to hire?

If you require just a couple of specialists to beef up your already established workflow, that’s one thing. If you need the whole team (preferably a solid, close-knit one), that’s an entirely different case (see below).

  • What kind of experience do you anticipate?

Do you want to build vertical or horizontal ties within your team? Have you already found the insightful HR Generalist for ongoing problem management? Will you be able to create a team spirit, propelling the whole team along the project axis? 

  • Are you willing to hire people who work from home?
    Offshore or onsite? Freelance or in-house? Within your country or abroad? All these questions are crucial — they help to narrow down the list of possible hiring options and locations.
  • What are your financial constraints?

In other words, how much are you willing to spend on salaries for your PHP developers? 

Where do you find a good PHP programmer?

A nice question. Generally, three strategies can be used to hire PHP developers for your IT project. 

  • Hiring them yourself;
  • Bidding platforms search;
  • Vetting platforms search.

Each option has its pros and cons. 

Hiring PHP developers yourself, you will spare money you’d given off for marketplace commissions — but are you really that professional in hiring and detecting pain points in the hot trail after the brief initial job interviews? Afterward, your new employees must dive into PHP development head first. If you suddenly detect their weak points, you’d have to find and hire substitutes pretty quickly (disrupting the workflow and slowing down all the intertwined processes).

Bidding platforms provide you with a plethora of options for various prices. Their main principle is that of a reverse auction, i.e., the lower the developer’s hourly rate, the sooner they find a job on a bidding platform. For you, it means you can pick out the PHP developer at the rate you like, which can be very low.

However, that’s also the main trap of bidding platforms: PHP developers you’ll come across will be mostly noobs and novices wishing to knock up some money for their blossoming coding skills. Freelancer, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour — all belong to this marketplace class. We don’t claim that on bidding platforms, you can’t come across an experienced PHP engineer who wants to sign up for some exciting project on the spot and fun — but the overall probability is relatively low. Furthermore, suppose an indecent developer decides to disappear once and forever. In that case, you will have to resolve all the subsequent project troubles: freelancers are free as birds, and sometimes their unrestrained freedom hits you quite painfully.

Vetting platforms are another hiring option for those wishing to find the best PHP experts. What’s their key difference from the bidding ones? Whereas for the latter, the registration is unrestrained by any preliminary tests (i.e., everyone can log in and start earning money on the spot), the former ones demand passing initial testing procedures. One more distinction between vetting and bidding platforms is their systematic hiring approach.

Frequently, several departments are there, and each is responsible for some definite stage of the client-customer journey. The Sales department is responsible for handling new customers and their requests. The Recruiting people earn their daily bread by searching for new web developers interested in registering and job searching on the said platform. The Matching department does its best to match customers’ requests with the platform’s assortment and capacity. Most often, there are several stages of vetting: marketplaces can arrange the language proficiency check (English is almost a must for the international IT market), soft skills check (communication abilities, time management, punctuality, remote work experience, and ethics), and, finally, the hard (coding) skills check — with or without live sessions.

General job interview tips to hire the right PHP developer

Before diving into the soft and hard skills interview details separately, let’s briefly introduce some general tips that will be very helpful for conducting a comprehensive and mutually beneficial talk. 

1. Avoid asking clichéd questions

If you’re planning to conduct in-depth job interviews with potential employees of your startup, be vary of including too general and cliched questions that are easily googlable and can’t demonstrate the candidates’ helpful knowledge. 

  1. What is PHP?
  2. Name the date of the first PHP release.
  3. Who is the father of PHP?

Pick the questions that will point at the candidate’s practical strengths, experience, and process logic instead: 

  1. How to set cookies in PHP?
  2. Which are the ways to encrypt data with PHP?
  3. How much experience do you have in web services? 

2. Inquire about past projects

Take a deep dive into the candidate’s work experience and ask them to elaborate on their instrumental role in the projects they partook in. It will be much easier if the candidate has a portfolio with a list of previous employers’ contacts. Such a deep check will save you much of the troubleshooting hassle later.  

3. Evaluate the candidates’ natural curiosity

The capability to stay updated on the latest trends and employ new skills is one of the most precious skills nowadays. Growing over yourself and remaining a demanded specialist is impossible without natural curiosity.  

4. Evaluate communication skills 

Below, we will give you the detailed question template for the soft skills job interview. Here, it’s necessary to underline that a decent face-to-face conversation with clients, teams, and colleagues is essential to the working process. If you hire a team of specialists, it’s of the utmost importance to guarantee that they will understand each others’ requests and requirements along the way, will be able to communicate problems, and will jointly troubleshoot them on short notice. Make sure that the PHP developers you hire are confident and transparent in all the required types of communication (emails, calls, one-to-one sessions, team meetings, etc.) 

If you hire outsource team, ensure they are OK with using the preferred project management tool. 

Let’s now briefly analyze what a soft skills check can look like (since language skills checks are primarily oral and live communication-based, there’s no possibility to formalize them somehow and provide some examples). No matter the way of hiring the best PHP developers, there will always be a need for some preliminary talk where you or the specialist in charge will try to learn about the candidates’ character as much as possible.

Main soft skills to look for when hiring PHP developers

The main aim of the discovery call or the offline discovery meeting is to learn as much as possible about the PHP developer in question — and check if their work ethics, life position, and soft skills are suitable for the vacancy. 

Here’s what a list of discovery questions for hiring the best PHP coders can look like:

  1. What resources do you use for self-development?
  2. How can you describe your dream project?
  3. Describe a project it would be hard for you to work on.
  4. What is the biggest professional challenge you faced? What was remarkable about it? (The question is not for boasting but clarifying self-evaluation and prioritization.)
  5. What demotivates you?
  6. Did you have any previous experience with US startups?
  7. What is your attitude towards working a few overlap hours?
  8. Do you have any code-from-scratch experience?
  9. How many years of commercial experience with the focus stack do you have? Have you ever contributed to open-source projects?
  10. How many hours a week can you work on our projects?
  11. What is your most significant work achievement?
  12. Have you worked remotely before? Have you worked in fully distributed teams? How do you feel about it?
  13. How do you manage your time? Do you often feel the lack of it?
  14. How do you accept tasks? What is your definition of done?
  15. How do you check and evaluate your work?

After the initial soft skills check, all the candidates who persevered and passed on to the next level should participate in the hard skills check. The following examples will come in handy for entrepreneurs who decide to hire and check PHP programming adepts by themselves and those who are curious about which questions will be prepared for the candidates passing the bidding platform triage. 

By the way, if you’re a startup owner of the third kind, i.e., the one looking for PHP developers on bidding platforms, you can use our preliminary list for checking the candidates. 

A pro tip. After using all the following questions, find the next portion about standard PHP development tools.   

Technical questions to check the capabilities of a PHP programmer

What is a PHP session, and how does it differ from a cookie? In PHP, where are sessions saved?

A session stores user data stuck to the unique session ID (supplied to the browser through cookies and used to retrieve data back). The session records are stored on the server, whereas all the cookies are kept in the browser.

What are available databases supported by Laravel?

PostgreSQL, SQL Server, SQLite, MySQL

What are queues in Laravel?

During app building, even the top PHP developers often confront the situation where the next task is due, but the previous one isn’t completed still. In such cases, we can arrange the tasks so that one of them will run in the background and won’t hinder the next one from completing. For instance, when a new user registers in the system, we can send them a registration email in the background (in the queue mode) without impeding the process. 

How can PHP and Javascript interact? 

Since PHP is a server-side (backend) and JS is a user-side (frontend) language, the two can’t interact directly. However, one can exchange variables from the code fragments in two languages. PHP can generate Javascript code for browser execution, and it is possible to pass specific variables back to PHP via the URL.

What are the main kinds of errors in PHP?

There are four main kinds of PHP errors:

Parse errors. In case of a syntax issue in the script, the script execution halts, and a parse error occurs.

Fatal errors. Happen when PHP can get the code you’ve written but can’t execute what you demand from it. One of the most common examples is using undeclared functions and variables.

Warning errors. For example, they happen when you use more (or fewer) arguments than a function requires. 

Notice errors. When you try to access an undefined variable, you will get a notice from the script.

  • What’s the difference between include, require, require once, and include once ()?

If the program can’t find the required file, it will signal with a fatal error — however, if you use include, you’ll get only a warning instead. The remainder of the script will execute. The “once” part suggests the effect scope for this operator. 

  • What is the difference between unset () and unlink () functions?

Unlink () is a file system management function applicable for file removal (if you’ve uploaded a file and wish to remove it from the code). Unset (), on the other hand, is a function for variable management and annulling the variable definition (it becomes undefined).

  • What is the difference between a function Object () {[native code]} and a destructor in PHP?

A function Object() { [native code] } is automatically invoked when you create an object from the class. A destructor is an automatic function running whenever an object is removed or goes out of scope.

Conclusion

Picking the best-dedicated PHP developers is a challenging task. The app universe has constantly been changing and expanding. The more startups emerge, the more rigid the relationship will be competition between them. However, after reading our material, we believe you’ve become a few steps closer to finding, sieving off, and hiring the most talented and proficient masters of PHP code out there. Don’t fret. Move forward!

Need some extra info? Here's a FAQ for you!

  • How to work with a PHP programmer successfully? 

    Here’s a list of our top tips:

    1. Determine your PHP short- and long-term needs and formalize them in a list for sharing with your team members.
    2. Choose the hiring mode: will you keep searching for in-house professionals or finally address the freelance marketplaces, as your friends have advised?
    3. Write an encompassing job description (and state all your requirements clearly).
    Verify candidates during soft- and hard-skills interviews.
    4. Check references and portfolios.

  • How much does it cost to hire a PHP developer?

    Prices and rates for PHP developers depend on numerous factors. First, you should decide which experience level is sufficient for you. Juniors are easy to find (on Upwork or somewhere else) and relatively cheap, but they can’t handle complete tasks. Middles are better, but if yours is a big enterprise, you’d better find seniors instead. Geography also matters: onsite US developers will be costly, whereas remote professionals from countries with moderate price ranges will cost you cheaper. An hour of a PHP developer’s work will cost you from $15 for Indian juniors to $70 for American middles and seniors.

  • Is PHP still in demand?

    To put it briefly — yes, it is, and it will be for the years to come. Don’t let the PHP puns and memes frighten you: around 80% of all websites remain PHP-based. The language remains relevant and popular. It’s easy to master, constantly updated (thanks to the big international community), and, last but not least, there’s a big market of specialists who will never let it die out.

  • Should my business create software on PHP?

    PHP is suitable for transposing your business ideas to the application realm. It is relatively inexpensive, flexible, and money-sparing, especially compared to Node, Ruby, or Python.