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Jess Lee
Jess Lee

Posted on

What skills, besides purely technical, do you look for in other developers?

Discussion (42)

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cschmitz81 profile image
CS

Someone who learns fast and wants to learn. I can teach skills to anyone, but if they don't have the drive to learn then the lessons are not going anywhere.

Also, I look for humility and lack of embarrassment re: their code. I think a lot of devs suffer bc they're to afraid to show other people their code till it is "perfect". Code is never ever ever going to be perfect and in the mean time those that are embarrassed are missing the opportunity to learn and teach their code and perspective. There is plenty to be learned from reviewing in progress code and if the person can't get over their fear of sharing code (and really, understanding that everyone writes"bad code" at points) they're missing out.

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cschmitz81 profile image
CS

Yeah, and in general to all devs: with code I find that the end isn't nearly as valuable as the journey there. If you work w a team of devs, share and review each other's code and talk to each other about it. It's one of the most valuable resourcs you have access to.

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Andreas Henicke

The first question I always do is to ask them to explain what they working on recently. What was the overall project, what has been their contribution, what was the benefit to the customer, what has been the biggest challenge and how did they succeed. Tells you about communication skills, strategic understanding, empathy and customer focus.
Plus patience, curiosity, and a sense of humor.

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Mike Zavarello • Edited on

I'm going to add to the chorus of folks here who have mentioned "communication" as a key non-technical skill. Whenever, I've been on the hiring end of the table, this always ranks towards the top of the list.

The ability to effectively and clearly relate concepts from the development team to non-technical, "layman," or "Luddite" colleagues is vital to gain respect as "subject matter experts" versus "button pushers," and goes a long way to building cohesion and mutual understanding among and between teams.

Excellent technical communicators are also vital for bringing business requirements to their team and seamlessly articulating them into code.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, developers with strong communication skills are the best at sharing their findings, techniques, and processes with their peers, both in vocal conversations and in documentation.

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schwarzmaler20 profile image
Andreas Henicke • Edited on

The first question I always do is to ask them to explain what they working on recently. What was the overall project, what has been their contribution, what was the benefit to the customer, what has been the biggest challenge and how did they succeed. Tells you about communication skills, strategic understanding, empathy and customer focus.
Plus patience, curiosity, and a sense of humor helps a lot.

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Mike Simons

In less senior developers I look for curiosity, the willingness to learn, the ability to listen, the ability to admit when they're stuck and the confidence to disagree with others in a constructive way.

In more senior developers I look for the willingness to teach, the ability to admit they are wrong and the absence of condescension & arrogance to less senior devs or non technical folk (in addition to all of the attributes I look for in less senior devs). Being able to deliver a decent presentation is also up there for senior devs.

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Alex Roan

Very well said. I feel as though hiring managers often look simply for the best skillset on paper, backed up by memorable definitions that you can come up with. Instead, taking the time to talk about what excites you as a developer and what you want to achieve can go a lot further.

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Gregor Gonzalez

I agree with you. Communication is really important on a team. Learning new things and adapt to the implemented work. Teaching and share information is also good for new developers or new teammates.

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Ben Halpern

After reading about "makers vs menders", I have started looking for developers whose favorite things to do compliment the current makeup of the team. We need makers and menders. This is sort of a technical skill, but it's more of a personality type. We need both types of people.

I really appreciate good old fashion hustle. If I get the idea that you're going to pour yourself into something and really care about it, I will probably want to hire you. If you're very smart and technically skilled, but picky about how you contribute or "too good" for certain kinds of work, I'm going to have a hard time with you.

Ultimately I want to give you work you like, but you can't be too good for what needs to get done right now.

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Pablo Rivera

Exactly. Way too many people out there who think they are too good to do the dirty work. Guess what? That's where you show your real skills. Anyone can look good on green field projects. Few can take a piece of crap codebase and improve it. I take pride in being able to do so.

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Naftali Friedman

Curiosity. Love for the craft. Positive communication.

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Bob van Hoove

I very much agree!

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afroisalreadyin

The ability to express themselves clearly and efficiently in writing. This includes hitting the right tone in terms of their emotions, and taking into consideration the needs and emotions of their counterparts, without being too deferential or condescending.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

That's a great call. Do you have any thoughts about approaching someone who is (unintentionally) bad at this and helping them improve without making them feel too guilty?

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yelluw profile image
Pablo Rivera

I once worked with a lady who helped me level up in this area by showing me how to do it and providing templates. I quickly learned without my ego taking a hit. I really owe her a lot of my following success.

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Michael Scott Shappe

Communication skills are key. If they can't communicate their ideas clearly, they probably can't code clearly, either. Code is communication.

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April Wensel

Most of what I look for falls under the umbrella of emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to recognize and manage one's own emotions and to be considerate of the emotions of others. Empathy is a big part of that. Humility is also important, and on a related note, open-mindedness to new ideas and suggestions from others. Embracing a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset, when it comes to the developer's own abilities and the abilities of coworkers and interview candidates is also key. I actually teach workshops and mentor engineers on developing these human skills, so feel free to reach out if you want to discuss further!

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Daniel Dvorkin

Humility

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James Ford

Unbridled enthusiasm is great, it really distinguishes those who have passion for programming and see the magic, and those who do it because they can and it pays well.

The ability to explain topics clearly and concisely as well - I think that's a big indicator of a solid understanding of a topic.

I've blogged about what I look for in interviews here

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Christopher Payne

I look for the desire and ability to adapt, problem solve, and participate. Nothing (outside technical) is more frustrating than having a co-developer who refuses to learn something new or to help out another developer when the situation arises.

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Tryggvi Björgvinsson

Inductive reasoning (to indicate the ability to dive into and solve complex problems). I call it the Sherlock Holmes ability. I think this is a great developer ability, especially for debugging. 💩 will hit the fan and when it does, inductive reasoning increases the probability that you look for the reason in the right place.

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Jim O'Brien

Put simply, you need the guy who rolls up his sleeves and says, "Right, let's go and de-💩 the fan. Who's with me?"

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Kim Arnett 

Ability and drive to learn. Have they taught themselves anything new?

Tech is constantly changing - you must be able to keep up!

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Albert

Oh yes.

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Tim Severien

Their learning capacity, curiosity, ability to listen, humbleness, communication and debate skills, willingness to teach, honesty and competitiveness.

The best developers I've met qualify for most if not all of above.

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billperegoy

A desire to share, teach and mentor.

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Bryan Baldwin

Someone who knows programming at the hardware level as their platform and the ability to reason about costs incurred by their code whilst transforming data upon it. Understanding that code is not what a programmer does, it the tool she uses to do it. Resistance to popular dogmas in technology, willingness to put her ideas to the test and eagerly replace her methods once it has been established that another one is the better solution.

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Aaron Pfalzgraf

Good verbal and written communication

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Arpit Mohan

What & how many books do you read? This helps me separate the "Grower" from the "Shower". Voracious readers inevitably have the following qualities:

  • Better communicators
  • Understand new concepts faster
  • Ability to dissect an idea quickly
  • An intrinsic attitude about discovering new things
  • Much more interesting to have lunch with :)
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Carlos Vigil

An outward focus, giving others undivided attention in a genuine way. A willingness to help others. Devotion or passion in their work, being alive and present.

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Kat • Edited on

People who add their opinion, but will work as a team if the team decides something. Allows for forum and safe psychological spaces.

Be friendly when doing the opinions as much as you can! :) It's a hard balance to do this sometimes, I've noticed. Not only myself, but others as well, especially when we get defensive or insecure. It kind of sucks.

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yelluw profile image
Pablo Rivera

Humility, empathy, and patience.

Being humble about their own skills.

Seeing the world from the point of view of others.

Understading that things take time and sometimes decisions affect them on nthe short term but are the best long term plan.

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Josh Smith

The ability to write an effective email.

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Federico Sörenson

Really good point! :)

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Tina Coleman

Put bluntly, the "not an asshole" criteria ranks high on my list...

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Edwin Foster

Humility, team work attitude, and desire to become a good leader/mentor/teacher.

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Alex

Simplicity. Pragmatism. To accept that, in the real world, second best practice is often good enough.

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Kevin Path

Curiosity, communication, and the ability to help others

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talytr

An understanding of his/her own skills & ability to meet objectives. Willingness to align goals with mine or to advocate for his/her own goals.

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W. Brian Gourlie

The ability to adapt and humility.

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Anthony Pilloud

Make internet a better place, it's the most important skill that a developer must have !