June 24, 2018

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The 10 Qualities to Look for When Hiring Software Engineers - Part 1

Perhaps the most in-demand talent today is software engineers, as the average Silicon Valley developer receives dozens of unsolicited recruiter messages every week. That said, all software engineers are not created equal, and some are going to push your company far ahead others.

The problem for recruiters is most of them arenít overly technical, so they donít always know what the perfect software engineer looks like. To help, there was a Quora thread on this exact issue, and some highly successful engineering managers described the qualities of perfect software engineer.

Here is what they said:

1. They are able to balance pragmatism and perfectionism.

Shared by Russel Simmons, Former CTO and Co-Founder of Yelp

Great programmers have the ability to make both masterful/quick/dirty hacks and elegant/refined/robust solutions, and the wisdom to choose which is appropriate for a given problem. Some lesser programmers seem to lack the extreme attention to detail necessary for some problems. Others are stuck in perfectionist mode.

2. They arenít averse to debugging and bugfixing.

Shared by Simmons

Mediocre programmers often fear and loathe debugging, even of their own code. Great programmers seem to dive right and drill down with Churchill-esque tenacity. They might not be happy if it turns out that the bug is outside their code, but they will find it.

3. They have a healthy amount of skepticism.

Shared by Simmons

A good programmer will get a solution that appears to work and call it a day. A great programmer will tend to not trust their own code until theyíve tested it extensively.

4. They understand what the business is trying to accomplish.

Shared by Slava Akhmechet, Founder at Rethink DM

You can also call it product-awareness. Most engineers (especially the really talented ones) tend to waste a huge percentage of their time making improvements to things that wonít make the slightest bit of difference in the grand scheme of things. Great engineers are aware of the fact the company exists for a purpose Ė they have a feel for what matters and what doesnít to the customers.

5. They know when not to write code.

Shared by Jeff Dean, Director at Galvanize Stack

This goes along with the point before. Yes, coders have to follow the plan. But sometimes the plan doesnít make sense, and a great engineer will recognize that and make themselves heard.

After all, itís great to write great code. But if what your coding isnít going to push the company forward in a meaningful way, itís an exercise in futility.

Read Part 2

Author: Paul Petrone

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