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Top 10 characteristics of the professional software engineer

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Great software engineers are not only valuable employees, but also productive contributors and the key to the success of your online project. These days, becoming a programmer has become a boom and as a result, you can find hundreds of software engineers out there. In fact, today, there are around 26.4 million software professionals in the world. But how to determine which candidate should you hire for a long term cooperation? What distinguishes a great programmer from a general programmer?

Artelogic, the custom software development agency with a proven experience, has hired and worked with dozens of developers.  And now we are sharing our expertise regarding how to determine a great programmer with you and how to differentiate the great experts from the bad software engineers. We have collected 10 characteristics your ideal professional software engineer should possess. For your utmost convenience, we have also attached How to test this skill section so that you could test every of the mentioned above features. Let’s take a closer look.

Characteristics of a good software engineer:

  • Expertise in the particular area. Without a shadow of a doubt, the key thing in hiring a good software engineer is his or her experience in the particular area, not in general. Everything is pretty simple: if you need a .NET developer, make sure that you are hiring a person that has a proven experience in .NET development. 

    How to test this skill?

    • Ask for the best work samples and request at least some previous job referrals. Even when you are not too tech-savvy to properly evaluate the technical side, you may have a glance at how those samples look like and what the person’s previous colleagues think about him or her. Usability and performance are the main things to pay attention to.
    • Prepare some tests your candidate should be able to cope with. Today, there are dozens of Internet sites where you can find tests for IT specialists. However, it’s of key importance to ensure that you are giving the assignment, which is suitable to the candidate’s level. You simply can’t expect a junior-level developer to successfully handle tasks, which not every A-level developer can cope with.
    • If you have a friend or a colleague, who is a skillful developer with a time-proven experience, ask him or her to conduct the interview with your candidate. Definitely it is not always a great way to go, to ask a person who is not that much into your business to check the abilities of other developer. Just for the record, this step is not essential to follow, that is only a recommendation.
  •  Team player, but can work alone as well. A good developer always acts as part of the team and strives to make his or her code as clear and consistent as possible so that any member of the team could understand it. That is especially true for big projects. But the ability to work alone is also highly appreciated. How to test this skill?
    • Ask if your candidate has helped his/her previous team members and if yes, ask him or her to describe those situations in details. Luckily, there are dozens of team player texts out there where you can pick up useful questions to reveal whether the particular person is a team player.
    • Imagine that you are already working with this person and ask that person to share some innovative, out-of-box thoughts about the project. A good team player is usually open to communication and can calmly express his or her vision.
    • Sociability and ability to work alone are highly appreciated if the person is a team player. The working alone ability can be tested by asking the person to choose whether he or she prefers to conduct the assignment, which involves others or requires more time if acting alone, alone or in a team. All you need to do is simply to ask.
  • Seems attractive to you. Follow your gut a little bit. Everything is pretty straightforward here – if you like the person, you can hire him or her, if the person doesn’t seem attractive to you, pass by this person as you won’t be able to effectively work with that person in the future. How to test this skill?
    • Ask yourself if you like this person and whether you wish to work with him or her. Be mindful of that.
    • Ask your software design colleagues if they share your vision about the candidate.
  • Healthy skepticism. Good software engineers do more cross-checking and sanity checking, finding subtle bugs. Even skillful programmers make mistakes, and it is a good sign when the person can acknowledge that he/she, too, may commit these mistakes. How to test this skill?
    • Ask your candidate to find and check errors in the code. If the person offers a long-term solution instead of a one-time or short-time reprieve, it’s the one you should hire. Of course, before testing your candidate, you should prepare such a test, which involves long-term solutions and a short-time reprieve.
    • Show your candidate some code and ask him to tell you what he or she thinks the reasonable time frame for it is. Compare with what other IT specialists say.
  • Creative and innovative. Creative and innovative developers are those who are constantly looking for the novel ways to solve the already solved issues. Sometimes, it’s better to spend a lot of time to find expiration to create something really catching than to follow the generally accepted steps.  To put it simpler, a creative developer can offer really amazing solutions because he or she thinks out of the box and sees everything from different sides. How to test this skill?
    • Give your candidate an assignment, which involves creativity and check how she or he can cope with it.
  • Tech and computer addictive. A good developer should enjoy everything that is connected to technology and novel tendencies. He or she should be always willing to find out something new about novel technologies and should be updated with the latest Tech news. Such a person will always stay on curve and can offer the best solution to any problems. How to test this skill? 
    • Ask which computer and tech-related resources the candidate knows and reads.
    • Ask how the person finds solutions to the unknown problems.
    • Ask your candidate to tell you about the latest technology that has excited him or her the most (for example, self-driven cars, virtual headsets, or other things like that).
  • Ability to learn. A person who has a great ability to learn is like a treasure to your company, remember this. Nobody can do all because things and technologies keep changing, and very few can learn to do. It’s so true now – rapid change requires rapid learning. That’s why learning ability is always among the top-performing hires. How to test this skill?
    • Find a good learning ability test. Luckily, today there are hundreds of similar tests on the Internet.
    • Show your candidate how to do something in the sphere he or she specializes or in general and ask him/her to repeat this. Make sure you show something that the average person with a good learning ability can repeat from the first time.  Of course, a person who can’t program in Python, won’t repeat even simple things if he or she doesn’t know anything about this, so find a good test to check the learning ability.
  • Detests bad code. Bad code brings different kind of problems, we all know that. A good software engineer admires good code and hates its bad versions. Great engineers tend to simplify the problem instead of making something really complicated. How to test this skill?
    • Ask your candidate to show the example of a good code and a bad one. And let him/her explain why. He or she should clearly understand how to distinguish between good code and its bad analogue.
    • Give your candidate an assignment, where there are two ways out – a short piece of code and a long one. A short one, in most cases, is more difficult to make as it requires more skills and competence in the area. Check how he or she can cope with finding the short one.
  • Remains excited about what he or she regularly does. To efficiently cope up with routine tasks is a necessity for any programmer, but very few remain excited about what they do. How to test this skill?
    • Ask what your software developer likes best in his or her work and why. You can hear how passionate your candidate is about what he or she is doing.
  • Competitive. Competition drives success, it’s a well-known fact. Healthy competition ensures quality of work and promotes learning and self-improving. But to remain healthy-competitive, a candidate should be self-critical. How to test this skill?
    • Check the market and determine if the candidate wants a competitive salary for his devoted work.
    • Check how self-critique your candidate is: ask him or her to tell you about the main weak and strong points.
    • Ask your programmer to tell you about the problem he or she has previously faced and how the person handled it and what conclusions were made. Ask the related questions to help your candidate.


The bottom line

These are the most wanted characteristics your ideal software developer should possess. If you find someone with more than half out of the mentioned above qualities, consider yourself very lucky.

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