What Factors Should You Consider When Looking to Hire Developers?

Hiring engineers will have you looking at technical and soft skills. But you should definitely go beyond them and also consider these “X factors.”
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When your company is looking to expand, one route you will probably have to take is hiring new developers. You could hire those software engineers to work in-house or even hire them via an outsourced development firm. From where you hire your developers and whether or not they work on-premise or remotely isn’t nearly as important as hiring the right people for both the project and your company.

And that is often the trick to getting the perfect fit for your company. If you hire the wrong developers, not only will your project suffer, it could damage the fragile nature of your company’s internal workings. It’s a very fine line to cross when looking for the ideal developer and the ideal teammate. 

So what do you look for when hiring new developers? You can’t always just apply the standard metrics and assumptions used for other types of staff. And you probably already have a few requirements those new hires must meet.

What about the X-Factor? Those qualities can’t always be taught, but are so highly sought because it’s in those qualities that you’ll find the real gems.

Let’s take a look at some possible X-Factors you should be on the lookout for, regardless if you’re hiring from an offshore development firm or for in-house positions.

Look for developers who can lead (but not demand to be in charge)

Developers must know how to lead a project. But there’s a very fine line between taking charge and demanding to be in charge. One is about getting a project done and the other is all about ego. 

When interviewing candidates, you need to set them up with questions that can help you determine which side of the coin they fall on. If you’re interviewing someone who seems as though they’d be more likely to insist they lead a project, know that could be a red flag. You want developers who know when to take charge and when to allow others to take the reins. 

Fail this and you’ll wind up hiring a developer that will clash with your other engineers and, quite possibly, your entire hierarchy.

Look for developers with a strong sense of curiosity

Most people believe that developers don’t just color within the lines – they create the lines that are to be strictly followed. That’s far from the truth. In fact, really good developers redefine what lines are and can see beyond the standard perspectives. 

You want developers who display a strong sense of curiosity. It’s from curious developers that truly brilliant solutions arise. Curious developers don’t feel confined by the usual constraints and are willing to get creative to come up with a solution that might never have been considered. 

If you only ever hire software engineers who color within the lines, your business might miss out on truly unique ideas which can transform and pivot your company into something you might never have achieved otherwise.

Look for developers that can help develop value for your business

You might think the only reason you’re hiring new developers is to get a project shipped. That may be so, but the right developer can also help bring value to your business (and not just the project at hand). 

Think about it this way: there are some developers who can look at a project and see that it’s missing a feature no one else is offering and could take your company ahead of the competition. That’s adding value to your business, not just the project.

You want developers who can think from multiple perspectives to get an advantage over your competition. This type of developer can do just that.

Look for developers who are brilliant, yet humble

Developers tend to be very single-minded people. They focus most of their time doing one thing—developing software. Because of that, so many developers can become quite brilliant at what they do. The problem lies when a particular developer lets that intelligence go to their head and they wind up spending too much time reminding those around them just how smart they are. 

You want to look for brilliant minds that either aren’t aware of how brilliant they are, or are aware and don’t let that intelligence go to their head. You want brilliant developers who are humble. The problem with too much ego (even if it’s earned), is that it not only can become an issue with other developers, it can even cause problems with management.

Look for developers who are willing to accept criticism without letting their ego get in the way thereby pushing back at every turn.

Look for developers who are loyal…to a point

Loyalty is a tricky issue. You don’t want to hire a developer who will be loyal to a fault. When you hire a developer who would rather remain in constant deference to their superiors, you could wind up hiring staff who refuse to point out when management is about to make a crucial mistake on a project. 

You want developers who are loyal to a project first, those who will do whatever it takes to deliver the best product to not only put the company ahead, but fulfill the needs and wants of those who’ll be using the software (be they consumers, clients, or the company itself).

Look for developers with a diverse portfolio

Let’s say you have Project X, which is being developed primarily in GoLang. So your inclination is to hire a developer who has mastered GoLang. That’s great, but what happens when that project is delivered, and the next project is being developed in Java or Rust? Can that GoLang developer get up to speed quickly enough to continue on?

When you hire developers, look for those with a specialty, but can also handle other languages. You want to find developers who have a portfolio that shows off a variety of skills and languages. They don’t have to know 10+ languages but having the skills which highlight a range of programming languages will do more for your company than you can imagine. 

Look for developers that can fill necessary holes

In the same vein, you should also look for developers who can fill the gaps your current teams have. You might have 3 different teams that are great at creating web apps, but not so hot with mobile app development. You might have teams who are great with backend development but struggle with the frontend. 

You’ll want to go into those interviews knowing precisely what needs your current development teams have and meet them with the new hires.

Conclusion

Outside of the standard considerations (such as teamwork, skills, and general compatibility), you should approach all of your developer interviews with an eye to these X-factors. If you can land a new hire who displays these traits, you’ll come out of that process with a real winner for your team.

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