Top Interview Tips and Key Questions for Hiring PHP Developers
Tech Candidates Assessment

Tips and Interview Questions to Hire PHP Developers

Ihor Shcherbinin
VP of Recruiting at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

As experts in tech hiring, we recognize the challenges businesses face when seeking to hire PHP developers. The complexities of identifying scripting language nuances, assessing actual coding skills, verifying technical knowledge, and dealing with the scarcity of talent in certain regions or markets., can be exhausting especially if you don’t want to end up with a bad hire and impact the company’s performance.

If you’re up for the challenge and wanna go hunting for PHP developers by yourself, take a look at our tips below. We’ve got everything you need to make the best call for your project, from how to spot a good coder with killer interview questions, to understanding what all of this might cost you. Plus, we’ve got some handy tips on how to get the most bang for your buck and find a PHP developer who can turn your ideas into reality.

What to Consider When Recruiting a PHP Developer?

When recruiting, you want to keep in mind the following:

  • Experience and qualifications: What kind of experience does the candidate have and do they have any relevant certifications or qualifications?
  • Technical skills: What specific technical skills and coding languages does the candidate have
  • Problem-solving skills: Are they able to troubleshoot, debug, and solve complex problems
  • Communication skills: Are they able to clearly explain technical concepts to non-technical colleagues?
  • Time management: Can they manage their time effectively and work within deadlines?
  • Reviews or References: Can past clients vouch for them?
  • Teamwork: Are they able to work effectively within a team environment?
  • Adaptability: Are they able to adapt to different working environments and technologies?
  • Cost: You want to make sure to hire someone whose rates are within your budget.

How to Hire a Good PHP Developer? Go Remote

First and foremost, when it comes to hiring a PHP developer is to take your time to evaluate and don’t rush the hiring process. It’s better to spend some extra time upfront to find a competent developer than it is to have problems down the road.

Based on your business needs, budget, desired level of commitment, and availability decide what type of colleague you want to join your team, either an in-house, freelancer or a full-time remote developer. Our expert recommendation? Go with the remote option. Why?

Woman working from home with her laptop

Why? – Here are five (of many) benefits of hiring a full-time contractor: 

  1. Project Scope and Duration: For a short-term, clearly defined project, a freelancer may be a good fit. They often have broad experiences working on various projects and can hit the ground running. However, for long-term, larger projects with no defined end date, a remote developer may be more suitable.
  2. Budget: Freelancers might be more cost-effective for short-term projects because you only pay for the work done, devoid of operational costs and benefits associated with full-time employees. But for long-term and continuous development work, a full-time remote developer could be more economical.
  3. Management and Availability: If you want someone who is committed to your business during specific business hours, a remote employee might be a better fit. A freelancer, on the other hand, might juggle multiple projects and not stick to standard business hours.
  4. Skillsets: Both a freelancer and remote developer can have specialist skills. However, since a remote developer is more like a full-time employee, there’s also the benefit of them being able to evolve with your business needs and learn new skills.
  5. Better retention and increased productivity: What is better than working with people that enjoy their job and will deliver great results? Remote employees are happier than Onsite employees. Owl Labs surveyed 1,200 US workers between the ages of 22 and 65 for its 2019 State of Remote Work report. Full-time remote workers said that they are 22% happier in their job than people who never work remotely.

Now that you know you want a remote developer, how can you screen and spot the right one?

What Makes a Good PHP Developer?

A skilled PHP coder dives head-first into projects of all shapes and sizes, doing everything from whipping up code for webpages, to debugging, and keeping that code running smoothly. They also know their way around PHP’s latest features and the popular frameworks at the back of their hand.

Always staying one step ahead with trending technologies, an excellent PHP developer has their eyes on the future with a continuous learning mindset. A good PHP coder knows the value of clear, regular communication, and they’re just as comfortable talking to a team as they are getting lost in their code.

Here’s a fundamental rundown of skills that any top-notch PHP programmer should possess:

  • Comprehensive Knowledge of PHP: They have an in-depth understanding of PHP and can efficiently use it to create web solutions. They are comfortable using the latest PHP standards (like PHP 7.x or 8) and techniques.
  • Familiarity with Frontend Technologies: While specializing in PHP (a server-side language), a good PHP developer should also have a basic understanding of frontend technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to cooperate with frontend developers effectively.
  • Knowledge of PHP Frameworks: They should be adept at using various PHP frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, or CodeIgniter. These tools speed up the development process and ensure more secure and reliable coding.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: An effective PHP developer is skilled in identifying problems, troubleshooting issues, and finding efficient solutions.
  • Knowledge of Databases: Good developers should be able to work effectively with databases, have knowledge about SQL, and understand how to work with different DBMS like MySQL, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL.
  • Organized and Detail-Oriented: Good developers write clean, organized, and commented code that other developers can understand and edit if needed.
  • Experience and Qualifications: Look for programmers with practical experience in PHP development and formal education, certifications could be a plus but it’s not mandatory.

4 Key PHP Interview Questions To Screen Your Next Candidate

Here’s a list of key PHP interview questions to ask your future team player. Should you require more complex and detailed interview questions, feel free to explore our set of questions to help identify the ideal candidate for your needs.

Yet, if you want to skip the grunt work, don’t worry; the only thing you have to do is contact us and we’ll do the heavy lifting for you.

1. Explain the difference between == and === operator in PHP.

This question is relatively simple but helps us understand if your potential developer knows common operators in PHP and understands the concept of data types. == is an equal operator and will return TRUE if $a is equal to $b after type juggling. ===, instead, is the identical operator and will only return TRUE if $a is equal to $b and they are of the same data type.

Let’s take a look at an example:

<?php
$a = true;
$b = 1;

// Below condition returns true and prints "a and b are equal"
if ($a == $b) {
    echo "a and b are equal";
} else {
    echo "a and b are not equal";
}

// Below condition returns false and prints "a and b are not equal" 
// because $a and $b are of different data types.
if ($a === $b) {
    echo "a and b are equal";
} else {
    echo "a and b are not equal";
}
?>

2. Explain what a session is in PHP and how to remove data from a session.

Essentially, PHP sessions are used to directly store data for individual users and clients against a unique session ID to maintain states on the server and share data across multiple pages. The session IDs are typically “sent to the browser via session cookies and the ID is used to retrieve existing session data.” If, however, a session ID is not present on the server already, PHP creates a new session and generates a unique session ID.

Let’s look at an example:

<?php
// Starting a session
session_start();

// Creating a session
$_SESSION['user_info'] = [
    'user_id' => 1,
    'first_name' => 'php',
    'last_name' => 'scots',
    'status' => 'active'
];

// Checking session
if (isset($_SESSION['user_info'])) {
    echo "Logged In";
}

// Unsetting (removing) a value from the session
unset($_SESSION['user_info']['first_name']);

// Destroying the complete session
session_destroy();
?>

3. Show how to register a variable in a PHP session.

There are two ways to register a variable in a PHP session that your PHP developer to hire should know. In PHP 5.3 or below, it should be registered via the session_register() function. Now, however, it’s possible to directly set a value in $_SESSION Global.

Here’s an example of both:

<?php
// Starting session
session_start();

// Use of session_register() is deprecated
$username = "PhpScots";
// session_register("username"); // This line is commented out because session_register() is deprecated

// Use of $_SESSION is preferred
$_SESSION["username"] = "PhpScots";
?>

4. In PHP, what are constructors and destructors?

Constructor and Destructor – although it sounds like the relatives of Optimus Prime or Megatron – it’s quite (a lot different). 

They are special type functions called when a PHP class object is created and destroyed. 

Constructors are typically used to initialize the private variables, while destructors free up the resources created and used by the class.

Here is a sample:

<?php

class Foo {

    private $name;
    private $link;

    public function __construct($name) {
        $this->name = $name;
    }

    public function setLink(Foo $link) {
        $this->link = $link;
    }

    public function __destruct() {
        echo 'Destroying: ', $this->name, PHP_EOL;
    }

}

?>

Over to you

Describe your dream PHP developer. You might be thinking of someone who has expertise in the area, who delivers projects on time, knows how to handle problems the right way, is a team player, has initiative, and communicates clearly. 

Is hiring someone with these traits hard? Yes, very hard. 

We all know that the hiring process is time-consuming and it requires a lot of work to handle. And the IT area is one of the hardest areas to hire for. Taking aside the fact that talented programmers are usually working for other companies, the tech marketplace is crazy competitive, and not all the options will make the best suit for your company. 

Choosing DistantJob to hire a PHP Developer is the best way to ensure that you are getting the best tech talent for your company. With over ten years of experience in headhunting the best IT talent, you can rest assured that you will find the perfect fit for your company in just a few weeks. We also take care of all the payroll – making the entire process of hiring a PHP Developer much easier for you.

Hire the right PHP developer for your company now with DistantJob! 

How much does it cost to hire a PHP developer?

The avergae hourly rate for a PHP developer in the US can range anywhere from $30 to $150, with the median being around $75 per hour, while in Latin america, due to lower cost of living, can range from around $15 to $50, with many experienced developers falling into the $20-$40 range.

Are PHP developers hard to find?


There are plentiful developers with PHP skills. However, finding a highly skilled, experienced PHP developer, or one who is adept in a specific framework or type of project may pose more of a challenge. These developers are in high demand and can be snapped up quickly. It’s also crucial to remember that finding a developer is one thing, but finding one who fits your company culture and works well with your existing team is another task altogether.

How to find PHP developers?


Job boards and freelance platforms, exploring developer communities like GitHub, engaging with a specialist recruitment agency such as DistantJob can be a good place to find PHP programmers.

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor, is the VP of Recruiting at DistantJob. He specializes in sourcing and placing top remote developers for North American companies. His expertise covers the entire recruiting cycle, from pinpointing job needs to finalizing hires. Known for his skill in remote staffing solutions and offshore team integration, Ihor excels in matching the best tech talents with U.S. organizations. His approach to virtual developer hiring is marked by insightful candidate selection and strategic offer negotiation, ensuring the right fit for every role.

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