I'm helping an e-commerce start-up hire their first Developer and was curious to know if anyone has been through an interview process with a non-technical audience? If so how was the interview structured and how did they check for technical ability? We've been thinking about asking for them to show us a mock-up of something, or asking them to explain something technical to a non-technical audience. We have also considered a contract CTO to assist us with hiring but not sure if this would be seen as a problem for IR35

Any suggestions, advice or examples would be greatly appreciated!

  • I don't think there's a good way to have an interview where the interviewer doesn't have expertise in the area (technical or otherwise)..
    – 17 of 26
    Jun 5, 2020 at 14:45
  • 1
    I don't think this is answerable in this form as your are explicitly soliciting stories and opinions, so I VTC for that reason.
    – Aida Paul
    Jun 5, 2020 at 14:46
  • Thanks for your feedback Tymoteusz. Jun 5, 2020 at 15:01
  • Yes just not for a developer. Mostly marketing and creatives. I have hired lots of people for tech roles at others companies before but not performed deep dive technical interviews. Jun 6, 2020 at 18:26

2 Answers 2


We have also considered a contract CTO to assist us with hiring

This (or something very similar) is what you need to do - you don't have anyone internal who is capable of evaluating developers, so you need someone who can. While the ability to "explain something technical to a non-technical audience" is important for the first developer inside an organisation, it's of secondary importance to the ability to actually write code in the first place.

Of course, the question is where you find this person. That's what your network is for.

but not sure if this would be seen as a problem for IR35

[ For non-UK folks: IR35 is the piece of legistation which determines whether a person is a contractor or employee in the UK ]

That's what your lawyers are for. Talk to them.

  • For IR35 you need an accountant not a lawyer just FYI. If it goes very very bad, then you need a lawyer :D
    – Aida Paul
    Jun 5, 2020 at 14:47
  • Thanks Philip! Yes agreed on the need to determine the ability to code. Sounds like the contract CTO is the right way to go. Regarding IR35, from a business perspective, you are right it would usually be the legal team in conjunction with HR that determines whether we are asking a contractor to do something with puts them inside of IR35. Jun 5, 2020 at 15:09

A contract CTO makes absolutely no sense for this given the narrow scope of the assistance required.

You want to simply hire a technical adviser to assist with hiring. Yes, it could be an individual (a recruiter). But, there are also companies out there that whose purpose is to match candidates to roles who are very well resourced.

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