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What qualities should you look for when hiring a Developer?

Written by Rhona Kennedy
02/12/19 - 09:26

Someone recently asked me “what qualities should you look for when hiring a Developer?”. I thought it was a great question and I got some really interesting answers when I chatted about it with some of my fellow Recruiters, CTOs and Development Managers (AKA people who are almost always hiring Developers – for some of us it’s our full-time job!).

 

Beyond the boring “job spec” answers – x number of years working with y programming language – it’s actually a pretty big question!

 

Some common themes that came out of my conversations were:

*Humility and the ability to admit when they don’t know something/aren’t an expert.

*Good problem-solving skills and the ability to go away and research/find answers to new problems.

*Curiosity and a keenness to learn new things.

*Receptive to feedback.

*Adding something new to the team/complementing the existing team.

 

One response I really liked was “is this someone I’d sit down and have a coffee/beer with?”

 

Another angle is to answer the question “what qualities should I not be looking for when hiring a developer?”. Here’s my two cents on that:

 

*Degree/educational background. I’m obviously not dissing a good CompSci degree and there’s value in education BUT some of the best Developers are self-taught or moved into tech from another area. If you’re focusing on a Degree and insisting on a 2:1 from this-or-that Uni then you are very possibly missing out on some really great talent.

 

*It's great when a Developer has solid personal skills as well as good tech experience but it’s important not to hire on charisma alone – you might miss someone who is more introverted but a great programmer. You’re hiring an Engineer, not a sales person.

 

*Ninjas/rockstars/heroes/gurus – massive ego is not generally a good indicator of skill, talent or graft!

 

What do you think? What non-technical qualities do you look for when you’re hiring Developers? Another interesting question; how do you interview/assess these attributes? 

 

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or give me a call (0131 510 1500) or drop across an email (rhona.kennedy@cathcartassociates.com).