.NET is a free, open-source framework officially supported by Microsoft for Windows, macOS and Linux platforms that allows for the development of all kinds of applications, from desktop and mobile to web and cloud. According to a Statista survey, NET was the most used framework worldwide in 2021, and Stack Overflow Developer Survey ranked it as the #1 most-loved framework in 2019 and 2020.
The framework supports over 60 languages, with the most popular being C#, C++, F# and VB.NET. Besides these great features, it also shines for its performance, security, and developer experience. Compared to other frameworks, .NET requires less computing power and allows for better response times. Security-wise, .NET gets regular updates and security patches and is trusted by thousands of companies worldwide. As for developer experience, the Visual Studio range of products provides a powerful developer environment that – combined with other services – provides a faster and easier development cycle.
In this guide, we will review the most common types of .NET developers and how to find the best among them by assessing both their technical and non-technical skills and sharing tips on how to spot the stars in the field.
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Non-Technical Skills to Assess in a .NET Developer
After you narrowed down your search criteria and identified the skills you are looking for in a .NET candidate, you need to plan the assessment stage. The following section should help you do that, focusing first on non-technical and then on technical skills.
Communication is an essential skill in software development and relates to the ability to explain technical concepts. Over time, a .NET developer will need to reason technical decisions and describe bottlenecks that might affect overall progress. A good developer will receive and give constructive feedback, listen to peers, and engage with other people’s ideas.
Another essential skill is the ability to estimate tasks, prioritize and progress with work at adequate hours. Great time estimation skills is a clear sign of experience and will save you from the tremendous stress of unmet deadlines. It’s also important that they show some flexibility and are able to switch to different tasks when required.
A good programmer will engage with peers at a team level, sharing ideas, discussing the latest technology trends, or simply checking if team members need any help.
Lastly, an excellent senior candidate, in addition to their technical skills, will show leadership by mentoring younger, less experienced developers, always willing to help others, delegating tasks when required and caring for the team.
A great way to gauge your candidate’s capabilities and soft skills is to check what drives them in their job.
Are they collaborating with any open source project, maybe even with some part of the NET environment? Are they active contributors to a community, such as DEV or StackOverflow?
Maybe they like to teach the newcomers by writing articles, posting video tutorials, or actively discussing tech stuff at their social media accounts.
Do they have important distinctions such as a Microsoft MVP award, certifications in relevant technologies or methodologies, etc?
Any of the above are great signs of technical capabilities and also vouches for them as great additions to your team. Of course, all of these take quite some time that may not fit with everyone’s responsibilities and priorities, so they should be taken as a plus – the lack of those is definitely not a red flag.
The interview process should include a technical test. Your objectives should be to test core skills as well as knowledge of specific frameworks. The best way is to ask candidates to write code and develop something that works. This approach also enables you to engage in a conversation with the candidate, deep dive into more technical concepts, and challenge the decisions made while developing the solution. This exercise should also showcase communication skills and levels of confidence.
Lastly, the interview should be a two-way process. You want to find out how a candidate likes to work, their motivations and challenges and the goal should be to find out if they can integrate with your work environment. It’s also when a good .NET developer will ask technical questions around the project or product or challenge current architecture.
Technical Skills to Look For in a .NET Developer
Before acquiring skills in a specific framework within the .NET ecosystem, every developer should build a solid foundation of software development skills. A good developer will understand the core programming concepts, such as storage and data types, memory, decision structures, handling repetition and errors, etc.
Understanding object-oriented programming is also essential, they should have a strong grasp of the OOP fundamentals, such as the use of classes, inheritance, polymorphism and encapsulation.
A good .NET developer should be familiar with the software development lifecycle, interpret application specifications and understand algorithms and data structures.
These skills can be easily verified by asking the candidate to complete technical questions or write a code or pseudocode to solve a coding challenge.
Most of the time, applications built require interaction with databases, so a good developer should understand relational database management systems. Knowledge should cover database design, entity-relationship diagrams, normalization concepts, and characteristics of database products. Furthermore, they should know about query methods, SQL, creating and accessing stored procedures, data manipulation and understanding database connection methods.
A good .NET developer should know about frameworks such as ADO.NET or Entity Framework, which facilitate database interaction or components like LINQ to SQL. You can test someone’s knowledge of these concepts using technical questions and coding challenges, for example, writing a SQL query to extract information from tables.
Besides these fundamental skills, you should check for their knowledge in the particular domain they’ll be working with. Here are some of the skills they need according to their specialization:
Hiring a Desktop .NET Developer
If you look for a desktop .NET developer, your assessment should include questions specific to C#, WPF, WinForms or UWP. You can ask about Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) pattern for WPF or Model View Presenter (MVP) for WinForms.
Hiring a Full-stack .NET Developer
Hiring a Back-end .NET Developer
If you are looking for a back-end .NET developer to help build micro-services or high-throughput high-availability services, you should test for ASP.NET skills and asynchronous programming, micro-services architecture, containerization and design and development of APIs.
Hiring a .NET Developer for Your Mobile Application
If your goal is to build a mobile application, you should look for candidates with solid .NET, C# and XAML experience and familiarity with the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) pattern.
A good candidate should be able to develop a XAML page layout for an adaptive UI, implement data access and binding, manage user input and custom user interactions. Knowledge should also cover authentication and identity management, notifications, background tasks and reusable components.
Technical Interview Questions For Screening a .NET Developer
Question: What framework allows the development of services that run on multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS?
Question: What represents a problem that can be solved using the Model View Controller (MVC) design pattern?
Answer: The problem of decoupling user interface, data and application logic and achieving separation of concerns when building ASP.NET applications.
Question: Which component of the .NET framework interprets the code and compiles it directly to native machine code?
Answer: .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR)
Question: What statement about .NET is true?
Answer: .NET allows developers to use multiple programming languages such as C#, F# and Visual Basic
Question: What is the difference between .NET Core and .NET Framework?
Answer: .NET Core allows for cross-platform development and targets high availability applications, whereas .NET Framework only supports Windows and Web applications.
Finding the best developers to join your team is always going to be a challenge, however, we hope that this guide has helped frame the differences between .NET developers with front, back, web, desktop, or full-stack experience and skills so you can better match them against your project’s requirements.
Assessing these skills may not be your forte, either. If you’re looking for support in finding the right fit for your project, our team can match you with top-qualified, vetted .NET developers.