Complete hiring guide for Drupal developers

If you are looking to hire a Drupal developer and need help, look no further. We have assembled an extensively detailed hiring guide for Drupal devs so that you can match the best developer to your project’s needs.

Marija Neshkoska

Marija Neshkoska

Complete hiring guide for Drupal developers

Drupal is currently in high demand, considering it is an incredibly popular CMS (Content Management System) in web development. It’s no wonder why many companies rely on it. Researching and choosing the best candidate for this job title can be time-consuming and challenging, but it is much easier when you have all the details and directions.

To find the best Drupal developer, you need to know how to start the search, where to look for the best devs, what and how to assess their skills, and keep some key points in mind for this whole process. It’s not as easy as copy-pasting a job ad and replacing all relevant skills with the keyword ‘Drupal.’ There is also in-depth research of the job market, skills comparisons, relevant numbers and stats, technical skills assessment, and the overall recruitment process that should be considered.

In this complete hiring guide for Drupal developers, we have gathered all the crucial information to start the recruitment and hiring process. We encourage you to skim through all sections to better prepare before making the final decision of hiring a Drupal developer.

About Drupal

Drupal represents a CMS (Content Management System) that is free and open-source, backed up by a massive community of users and developers.

As a popular content management software, Drupal is in high demand for websites and apps due to its easy-to-use features, incredibly fast performance, and excellent security. It allows for simple content management with many flexible features and predominantly relies on modularity as a significant asset.

Content authoring has never been easier since Drupal has made it more prominent. For all those that want to create versatile type of content, a dynamic web experience, and unique theming, this is the right CMS choice.

The beginnings of Drupal started with Dries Buytaert, the original author who intended to create a simple board for messaging between users. Thus, the process resulted in Drupal as a successful open-source project in 2001.

Useful stats about Drupal

You'll need to remember specific valuable stats when you’re looking to hire the best Drupal developer for your project.

A Drupal dev's salary ranges between $94,496 - $114,134 annually, with the lowest ones going between $65K, to the highest sums of $177K annually.

Regarding the popularity of Drupal based on geographical location, most business owners using Drupal are in Europe (61,1%), followed by those in North America (57,2%), with the rest in Australia, and South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

According to industry usage and coverage, Drupal is most applied in the charitable and non-profit fields. This is followed by education, healthcare, government, media, and IT, which is in the top as the most popular field, among others.

Why and when do you need to hire a Drupal developer?

Since Drupal is beneficial and practical for content management, it goes without saying that companies like using it for simplifying the work regarding content production and content editing. Hence, adding talented Drupal developers to the team would be beneficial to meeting the content project requirements.

There are many benefits when you decide to go for such a hire, but the most notable are:

  • Increase in efficiency—With numerous features for practicality regarding content management, this aspect of the work is truly outstanding for creating content in an efficient manner.
  • Higher scalability—Drupal differs from its alternatives and competition and offers more flexibility and features.
  • Excellent security—If there is one notable thing that instantly describes this open-source CMS, it is robust security. Additionally, it has all the essentials for launching a website without hassle.

Alongside this, you can expect many other benefits for the business growth and company if you hire a Drupal dev (or assemble a team of Drupal devs). With a good developer practice, the content should always be mobile-friendly and load fast. In the same context, the content authors can just as quickly enter and edit the mobile versions of the content directly from their mobile devices—proving practicality without limits!

Translations get more manageable as far as linguistic versions go, so Drupal’s system allows for easy integration of multiple languages in the CMS. Similarly, with this CMS, you’ll notice considerable success in the SEO segment—all content stays that way and is not altered, enabling fast loading speed.

Regarding the overall benefits that a company has when using Drupal (and hiring the developers for it), Alain Paulikevitch, a full stack developer at Proxify, said:

“There is no doubt—Drupal is the top CMS in demand because foremost, the permissions and security features are all unified, and it delves even to individual items, instead of just a page-level. For module implementation, there’s no need for permissions management. Other perks of Drupal are the unified caching and unified libraries declaring, all of which simplify the dev’s work. Let’s add the presentation layer decoupling for easy theme handling and numerous internal hooks (for the modules). We get a fully functional CMS that brings significant positive changes in day-to-day working with content overall.”

author Alain Paulikevitch

Here are some notable brand names that use Drupal (out of many others):

  1. Tesla Motors
  2. Nokia
  3. McDonald’s Australia
  4. Charles Schwab
  5. Harvard University
  6. Oxford University
  7. Grammy
  8. University of Chicago
  9. Warner Records
  10. New York State Senate
  11. NASA website
  12. European Commission

Types of Drupal developers

Before you start the research, recruitment, and selection process, you’ll need to know what Drupal role, i.e., job title, you need to fill in for your project/business:

1. Drupal site builder

The Drupal site builder is responsible for creating a functional website and utilizing all configuration options of Drupal for it. This dev will also need to know more about content types, creating view lists, and managing permissions. For any upcoming issues (while working with this CMS) the dev can rely on Drupal site builders to understand all the extensions, modules, plugins, and how to use these tools cohesively.

2. Drupal module developer

Also known as Drupal backend dev, this role encompasses many PHP writing and handling, including a required knowledge + experience in other programming languages. A backend Drupal dev will conduct automated tests, deployment, and creation of customized modules.

3. Drupal theme developer

The Drupal theme developer is also a front-end developer with graphic design experience. They are expected to create customized themes and make the website visually attractive and functional. With visually pleasing themes and functional navigation, the Drupal theme devs help visitors stay on the website for longer.

Interviewing a Drupal developer

Helpful tips for a pre-screening interview

Even if you are skilled to do the entire hiring process yourself, hiring a recruiter and delegating the interviewing to talent acquisition specialists is most advisable. This type of external assistance ensures only the top talent will be selected and shortlisted, and the hire would most likely be successful (picked out of the best possible candidates).

The talent acquisition specialist will know what to focus on in the prescreening stages and determine if the candidate is an excellent match to continue forward with the hiring process. This will be followed by more specific interview questions, along with an evaluation of the candidate's soft skills from the start.

According to the punctuality, professional dress code, and communicativeness of the candidate, as well as the response to more specific technical questions, the recruiters can come to a better decision on whether to hire them or continue the interviewing process.

Technical skills of a Drupal developer

  • Proven experience in PHP and PHP Frameworks
  • Good knowledge of the development of Drupal Themes
  • Good understanding of Git and GitHub
  • Expertise in Drupal Security
  • Experience in creation of Drupal Modules and their installation
  • Experience with updates and resolving bugs on a Drupal-powered website

Additionally, the Drupal dev needs an excellent understanding of databases, as well as working with cross-platform software. They shouldalso be able to easily create and customize a theme from scratch using the latest CSS and HTML coding standards. They should master Drush (command line tool for Drupal), and use the API for the creation of forms.

Non-technical skills of a Drupal developer

The non-technical skills of a prospective Drupal developer should be as essential and focused on as the technical skills. You hire for personality and skillset, so keep this in mind.

As a rule, recruiters and talent acquisition specialists will focus on English proficiency, overall communication, and openness during the initial interview conversation. It’s essential that the candidate has a polite and professional attitude, listens well without interrupting, is curious about the job and asks questions directed toward the company.

Of course, punctuality, dress code, and the room and equipment used for the interview are other things that recruiters should pay attention to.

Essentials and assessment of a Drupal developer

A great Drupal dev will have specific skill sets and essentials that will stand out from the rest. For example, all essentials, must-know technologies, as well as factors in assessing their skills are summed up nicely by Alain as:

“A great Drupal dev must know how to work with CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, and the Twig template engine. Then, suppose I had to assess the next Drupal team candidate. In that case, I’d ask about the years of experience they have working with this CMS and their level of familiarity with its components—I would also try to assess how well-versed they are in creative solutions regarding the usage of tutorials and guides to resolve a technical task or to debug. Of course, the ideal candidate would need to be a master in web farm load balancing, clustering, MySQL, integration of third party services, and individual server optimization too.”

Drupal interview questions and answers

  1. Elaborate on Ctools in Drupal.

Expected answer: Ctools can be defined as the grouping of tools and APIs for a better overall work and dev experience. They represent a contributed project aimed strictly at the developers, and these tools are a collection of classes that can be used in various workflows and applied to many functionalities. They bring easier code handling and easy library creation too.

  1. What is PDO?

Expected answer: PDO is short for PHP Data Object, making database accessing easy by enabling devs to create simple and portable codes. PDO is excellent to work with because it resembles an API (Application Programming Language) based data access layer. Enabling of PDO is easy, through --with-pdo-sqlite-with-pdo-mysql and --enable-pdo

  1. What are ‘hooks’ in Drupal?

Expected answer: Hooks are the interaction ways of the modules in Drupal with its core code. With hooks, we can define not just pages but URLs as well, all through the modules. We can add content on certain pages and even set up and use custom tables of databases. In a nutshell, hooks are the API code of Drupal that enables easy Drupal core interaction with the module.

  1. Elaborate on render array.

Expected answer: The render array represents a type of building block for the Drupal page, and this array is associative, i.e., establishes and confirms the data structures and standards of the Render API in Drupal. These arrays are the basic but most useful building blocks in Drupal, allowing the dev to have an excellent structure to display the alterings of the content.

  1. Elaborate on Drupal preprocessor.

Expected answer: The preprocessor in Drupal is a function used when we need to manipulate variables, and the themes get permission for this. Themes will handle the variables in the Twig template through PHP functions for data preprocessing. After that, the data will be exposed in each template. The templates, in this case, are the .tpl.php files.

  1. What are Drupal ‘weight’, ‘cron,’ and ‘drush’?

Expected answer: Drupal weight can be defined as the priority and order of a specific function that is yet to be processed and displayed, thus, enabling sorting in a customized way. For example, a weight field is applied to enabled nodes. Now, if the node has a lower weight, that node will always emerge in the top positions of lists, but with a heavyweight, it will ‘sink’ lower on a list.

Drupal cron is a task scheduler that’s time-based, and allows for a configuration where there is automatic task execution and no need for manual maneuvering apart from that configuration that is used already. The scripts and commands are executed efficiently and at a precise time and date.

Drupal drush represents a UNIX interface for scripting, a command line shell that is excellent for experts in command line tooling work. The Drupal drush enables PHP updates, executing queries of SQL, simplifying content migration, and more.

  1. Tell us about Drupal SEO modules.

Expected answer: Drupal SEO modules are:

  • Related Links—This module enables related URLs to be displayed to the user through various blocks.
  • Google Analytics—This is the ideal solution for following and analyzing the traffic for your website, especially when combined with Drupal 8.
  • Pathauto—A module for creating neat and clean URLs by using the page contents. This is great for analysis of the page body, title tags, and headers.
  • Meta tags/Node words—With the meta tags module, we can dynamically provide title tags, and the metadata gets an excellent structure too, applying it to each website page we work with.
  • Search 404—This module utilizes the capability for searching on the Drupal website to show us relevant results/pages, yet it doesn’t provide searching on its own.
  • Url list—This module enables the easy creation of a list displaying the node URLs. Later, these URLs will be submitted to search engines.
  • Site map—For an accessible site overview, we use this module. It provides a neat site map for visitors and shows the RSS feeds of all possible categories and blogs.
  • Service Links—This module enables adding social network links within content or JavaScript buttons. It is excellent for themers and devs who like to experiment with customized display options.
  1. Elaborate on Drupal distributions.

Expected answer: The complete copies of Drupal are called distributions. They contain the Drupal Core and also themes, libraries, modules, and installation profiles too. e divide the distributions into two categories:

  1. Full-featured, which are fully complete solutions for specific uses.
  2. Others, starting essential points and tools for quick-start.

Drupal has many distributions, such as Cappuccino Starter Kit, deGov, Guardr, Conference Organizing, Open Social, and others.

  1. How would you execute the optimization of a Drupal website?

Expected answer: This process is quite simple. First, we start by page caching or enabling the caching process. Then, we must compress all the CSS files before enabling JS aggregation. Then we move the media files to CDN (Content Delivery Network), and we do the same with the static files too, before we finalize optimizing the theme. Usually, this process of Drupal website optimization includes optimization of the MySQL too, and usage of various caching methods like Page Caching and View Caching.

  1. Can you compare and elaborate on ‘alter query’ and ‘update’ in Drupal?

Expected answer: Update in Drupal represents a DML type statement (Data Manipulation Language) and is used solely for data updating.

Alter query represents a DDL type of statement (Data Definition Language), and it is used exclusively for table structure updating, such as adding and removing indexes or fields.

What distinguishes a great Drupal developer from a good one?

It would be obvious who is a better Drupal dev out of a minimum of two or more promising candidates. Whether you make this choice out of a Drupal community group, on a Drupal platform, or using other job platforms, there will always be a developer who will stand out from the rest.

Compared to the good ones, the great dev will have more years of experience with Drupal and more projects in the portfolio involving this CMS. Then, they would also have excellent English proficiency and an overall proactive attitude. You must ensure that someone is a great cultural fit for the team, not just an excellent fit for the technology/skillset you’re hiring for. A proactive dev is the one who thinks in terms of improvements and solutions and doesn’t blindly follow through with delegated tasks.

And of course, the apparent factor is acing all the answers and technical tasks during the interview stages.

Here, Alain also added:

“A great Drupal dev is always curious to find out more and to use the best possible practice for a certain feature. A great dev doesn’t stop at the first obvious and easy solution but instead explores what else there is to use and implement”

Possible challenges during the hiring of a Drupal developer

As with all job positions and hiring processes, some challenges are also expected in this case.

For example, there is the risk of selecting candidates who might not be top tier, and to avoid this pitfall, you must rely on experienced recruiters and talent acquisition specialists to do this for you.

Another possible challenge is the competition, who, in most cases, are ready to “splurge out” more for the dev that is the most skilled and wanted by everyone. Knowing your hiring budget in advance goes a long way—both for the recruiters and the selected candidate.

Benefits of using Drupal

When someone starts using Drupal for a project/business, they can expect the following:

  • Availability of resources—You can find many valuable features already made by another person, and everything is easily accessible. An example is the Drupal modules as part of the community sharing.
  • Reliability—Drupal is a CMS that is among the most popular ones out there, and this is because of the stability it offers in the long run.
  • Flexibility—As a highly flexible CMS, Drupal confirms how the dev can just as easily create various content as they like and which to customize it later.
  • Robustness and convenient features—With a precisely written and defined source code, Drupal boasts of the easiness and convenience of the tasks at hand.
  • Scalability—With the help of Drupal modules, you can extend the Drupal core much better. And if there isn’t an existing module that you precisely need, you can easily create or edit it from the existing ones.
  • Security—The security of Drupal is quite stellar; achieved through numerous precise testings and strict rules for testing, with proven built-in protection/security in the end. Everything installed or every important data import will be locked for safety.
  • A large community—Drupal has had a vast community of users since 2001, and there are constantly news, updates, learning materials, and other useful resources to be found there from all sorts of Drupal experts.

Additionally, Alain further added a benefit of using Drupal:

“When I work on other CMS frameworks, it doesn’t feel as good as working with Drupal, which simplifies all possible workflow challenges. But overall, if you pay attention and do every step correctly, the amount of reusable code from a project (often as module format) is much better and higher than using another framework.”

Three steps to your perfect Drupal developer

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  • Step 2

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  • Step 3

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