What to look for from a (prospective) Developer

I’ve been doing a lot of interviews recently – at least one a month for a few months now – so I thought I would share a little more information about what I’m looking for, as a sort of snapshot of what it means to be a web developer in 2017.


Enthusiasm.

First things first, you have to love what you’re doing. Not necessarily the naïve, overenthusiastic puppy-dog love for it, but you have to have a passion to drive you to constantly learn new things and improve your skills. If you don’t have that passion, if you can’t demonstrate to me what you’ve learnt recently and what you plan to learn in the future, then you’re going to get left behind and (frankly) become a drain on our resources.

Understanding.

There’s a real distinction between voodoo coding and proper programming. Voodoo coding when someone is repeating patterns they’ve seen before without understanding how they actually work, and that’s a route that inevitably leads to an inefficient and unmanageable codebase. Understanding how those patterns work leads to better usage, smarter integration with the surrounding code and fewer unexpected side-effects. Simply doing something because that’s how everyone else does it is not enough, you have to know what’s actually going on in the background.

As an aside, it’s getting harder to pick faults in technical test results from just standalone code – thanks in part to amazing projects such as Bootstrap – because the readily available code samples are all production-ready and demonstrate best practices. As a result I feel compelled to push candidates to their limit during the post-test interview and make them explain everything they’ve done and why, and make them account for every line of HTML or code they’ve added to uncover what amount of it is development voodoo.

Willingness.

Working with us means adopting new technologies such as the Kentico CMS, it potentially means going off-site to work with clients, it means embracing Agile and the way that we deliver projects — all of which requires willingness to learn. It’s a little hard to properly judge such things in an interview of course, but the main indicator of a willingness to adapt is evidence of previous flexibility, and a range of previous experiences is a great start.

Communication.

If you get the job, we’re going to put you in front of clients, unfiltered, and on a regular basis. You can’t hide from it, so – are you ready for that? 

Communication is key, verbal communication especially so. We rely heavily on the ability of everyone to eloquently express themselves and what they do. Developers especially can be painfully awkward when it comes to both communicating confidently and expressing abstract concepts like programming in a way that non-developers can understand. 

A continual part of the interview process — from the initial telephone call right through the technical test and the follow-up interviews — is testing communication skills.


And that’s pretty much it. Well, the ‘soft skills’ at least.

By the way, we’re recruiting: https://www.mmtdigital.co.uk/careers

Header image c/o Ilya Pavlov / Unsplash