by Philip Acuña
Hiring a developer isn’t just about finding someone with the right technical skills. Though technical prowess is obviously important, non-technical qualities such as self-motivation and problem-solving abilities are crucial when it comes to ensuring that your vision becomes a reality. Countless entrepreneurs have hired candidates that look great on paper, but often lack the imagination or tenacity to complete the project independently or to the entrepreneur’s liking.
To help you avoid having to face this problem, we spoke to several startup CEOs and asked them to share some of the most important non-technical traits that every developer should have.
1. Understanding the Problem.
“Often the difference between a great developer and an average developer is the non-technical ability to interpret limited requirements and fill in the blanks to create a truly innovative solution. It’s not enough to know how to code to an exact specification, they should be able to understand the problem’s many facets from a business and functional need, before a line of code is ever written.That’s when the magic happens.”
– Mark Fromson, LocalSolo
“Hobbies. A developer who enjoys experimentation, logical thinking pursuits, and “tinkering” for fun, is generally far more able and adoptive than those who develop just as a job/pay packet.”
– Ian Naylor, AppInstitute
“The two most important non-technical traits in developers are the ability to communicate, and authentic passion for development. I’ve worked with developers that can sit down and talk through a problem at length, but aren’t necessarily interested in spending four hours in front of code trying to resolve a difficult problem. On the other hand, there are many developers that can tackle the most challenging issues but aren’t willing to understand your larger business goals. Find someone that can do both and make sure they don’t get away!”
– Peter Ostroske, OFI
“What we’ve come to realize is that for solving most problems, tenacity is a more important quality than attitude. With every question we ask during our hiring process, we try to evaluate the level of perseverance and tenacity the candidate would have while trying to solve hard problems.”
– Niraj Rout, Mailflo
“Communication. The ability to translate the vision we communicate to them in a real & fluent way. Demonstrating more than technical skills for the project by affirming a true grasp of the concept & direction you are delegating them to move towards.”
– Clinton Crawford, QwikTube
“By far, the most important non-technical trait I look for is self-motivation. When developers are working, they stay most of the time in their igloos, so having a self-motivated developer is a great asset.”
– Valentin Radu, Marketizator
7. Interpersonal skills.
“Developers need to have fantastic interpersonal skills that allow them to interact and work with a variety of personalities as well as understand how the company’s business goals align with the technical requirements.”
– Tim Nichols, ExactDrive
“A developer needs to be humble in order to take advice and knowledge from others when working in a team environment. Along with being a focused individual who doesn’t stray from the task at hand too often, a developer shouldn’t be too dogmatic in their practices. Being willing to change perspectives and standpoints are traits that make working with a developer a lot easier.”
– Muneeb Mushtaq, AskforTask
“Intelligence – there simply isn’t enough time in a startup for anyone who needs excessive explaining.”
– Amos Ahola, Collaboration Objects
10. Shares the Company Culture.
“We put a lot of focus on the cultural fit. It’s important that developers possess the technical knowledge, but we work as a team so ensuring their personality would be a good fit with our company culture and potential teammates. We also look for strong ability to communicate complex ideas simply, and solve problems independently, while also recognizing when they need help.”
– Zack Hanebrink, MassageBook
Philip Acuña is a journalist and PR strategist based in Medellin, Colombia. He has previously worked for organizations including the California Immigrant Policy Center and Colombia Reports.