Spotting a great software developer can be a tricky and tedious task if you’re uncertain about what exactly you are looking for.
Surely, excellent technical skills are the first criteria your candidates need to fulfill, but that doesn’t make them all that desirable if they lack some other traits to perfectly fit your business.
Still, to make a selection, you first need to separate the wheat from the chaff and push aside all the bad matches before the actual interview.
You’ll probably have a bunch of resumes waiting on your desk, so the first step is to narrow down your choices:
1. Pre-interview round
Eliminate the resumes that do not fit the job requirements.
Resumes with capital grammar mistakes are the next to go, as your business can definitely do without a software developer who is not even attentive enough to brush it up before sending.
After you’ve made your eliminating round, examine carefully the rest, and search for those who seem to positively differ from the others, either by their experience in projects similar to yours or well-known previous employers. If you still have a large list of candidates, you can shorten it a bit more, by having a brief but very direct online or phone discussion, and see how they cope with stressful situations.
Now that you’re ready for the interview, you’re probably wondering how you will choose the best match for the project ahead.
Here are the other 9 traits to look for in a developer of your dreams.
2. Knows a Few Programming Languages
Chances are high that a great software developer won’t stop after mastering just one and will have experience in at least two, or several programming languages.
Stats say that most programmers are well-versed in four different languages on average. Great developers are not too prone to thinking one-dimensionally and don’t really like being stuck in a situation they can’t solve.
Searching for various solutions usually goes with acquiring new expertise and skills, as this process broadens their scope.
So, if your candidate has experience in just one programming language, and shows no signs of being in the process of mastering another, look further.
3. Takes Up Side Projects
While at work, developers mostly don’t have the chance to explore new techniques or to improve their skills.
Those you are looking for are curious and love to learn, and their craving for tech and new skills needs freedom, so they are usually engaged with some project on the side.
If you want to know more about your candidates’ perception of their own development, ask them about side projects they are working on, or their personal goals for the next year and see if something of the kind will pop up.
4. Has a Technical Mind
Surely a software developer needs to have a great technical mind, but what makes a great developer is the ability to comprehend the logic behind and within technology.
They are able to break the processes into pieces which are easier to understand and work them through in a systematic way.
A technical mind will be able to explain the concept of coding to a six-year-old, without any difficulties, as they perfectly understand it themselves.
This is of great importance because the developer will have to explain complex concepts to his non-tech colleagues whose understanding of tech-related issues is, in certain cases, similar to those of the previously mentioned child.
5. Has an Analytical Mind
To be able to solve problems they run into, software developers need to have a great analytical mindset.
They pay attention to detail and know how to investigate the problem and find an efficient solution. They are good at brainstorming, detecting patterns, observing, interpreting and making well-informed decisions.
If you want to make sure your developer has these necessary skills, you can ask them if there is a website or an app they don’t like, and why.
You’ll see whether they are capable of not only recognizing existing bugs and issues but of offering an efficient solution too.
6. Has Good Communication Skills
A great coder needs to have good communication skills, in order to be a good team player. Besides being able to explain complex things in a simple manner, you will recognize your perfect candidate by their assertiveness at the interview.
A developer you need on your team will ask you some questions too, in order to make sure everyone understands and is on the same page.
Also, they won’t just nod along to your every request – they will know when to say no and set boundaries to protect themselves and the job they do.
It is a good idea to ask your candidate to tell you more about a situation where they had a disagreement over the project they were working on, and ask some in-depth questions to determine whether they use strong arguments or tend to be opinionated during a discussion.
7. Is Flexible
Coding can sometimes be unpredictable, and your ideal developer needs to be flexible.
They need to be ready to accept the change of circumstances and adapt easily. They are aware of the fact that anything can change and have enough self-confidence to know they will be able to land on their feet.
That’s why they will quickly adapt despite the distractions, as they will find a solution to get them through.
Asking your candidate for the reasons they’ve quit their last job, can give you an insight into their level of flexibility, as you will find out what their greatest challenges were.
8. Knows how to manage time
You don’t want a coder who can’t meet or won’t respect deadlines.
You need someone with a strong work ethic and great organizational skills, and who will show up to a meeting and finish their task within a predefined time frame.
Ask them how they organize their time at work, and how they prioritize their tasks.
As your business mission is to consistently deliver high-quality software, avoid developers who sacrifice quality in order to meet deadlines or vice versa.
9. Is a Team Player
As you are looking for a coder who will fit into your team, you need to make sure they are able to cooperate with others on different projects and tasks.
A good team player will be ready to own their mistakes or better solutions suggested by others, as well as offer help to other team members when they need it. You can get your answer about this trait from the previous disagreement question.
See how they handled the dispute, and whether they are able to talk about the situation with empathy and understanding for every side involved.
If they put all the blame on others and are not ready to take any responsibility for a disagreement, the odds are they will bring more harm than benefit to your team.
10. Has Great References
Your best candidate will be able to provide you with good references from their previous employers, as they most certainly did well at their previous jobs.
They will also be able to straightforwardly answer the question on what sets them apart from the other candidates, so make sure to include such question in your interview – they won’t be afraid to talk about their achievements.
Still, don’t get too technical while discussing this issue but look for the answers on their communication and cooperation skills, as well as their willingness to do more in order to make your customers happy.
Developers are aware that demand is high and won’t just accept any job.
So, if during your interview you spot the candidate who fits your technical requirements and has the traits you value the most, don’t hesitate to make a bit more generous offer.
Even though they are rarely out in the market, great software developers are not impossible to find, if you have your disqualifying criteria all set and ready.
I’m a tech writer and a marketing enthusiast with a penchant for cats, shopping, and sneakers.
You can always find me online, working on a new blog post.