A large component to finding suitable work is being a proficient interviewer. One of the things many devs lean on when landing a better paying job is their ability to do well during the technical interview. They put so much emphasis on the code and think it’ll be all they need to secure that next opportunity. However, nailing the technical interview is only the first component of finding suitable work as a developer. To be qualified for most higher-level positions in tech, you need to be well-rounded.
What do I mean by that? Working for a company is more than just coding. Whether you’re helping build something from the ground up; maintaining an established product; or stepping away from code to focus on strategy, hiring managers need to know you can truly handle all of the aspects of the job. They need to see you are capable of communicating effectively and working well with your coworkers. Beyond that, they need to be fairly certain you aren’t going to make their lives harder.
Here’s what we know about managers. First, they need to be good motivators; great managers know how to engage their employees to get the most out of them. To this end, they need to build solid relationships with each of their team members while also holding those individuals accountable. In short, a manager’s job is twofold: to complete their technical tasks and ensure their team members are completing theirs as well. That’s why when managers are looking to fill out their staffs, they want people who know the value of putting the team over the individual.
We are living in a world which is increasingly more connected. The internet and ever-advancing technology has given companies the chance to truly sell anywhere. Huge, well-funded companies have always had access to the world beyond their city or state. But now, local mom-and-pop shops can put their products on sites like Etsy and go global. They can do it in the time it takes to fill out a profile and upload a few pictures. What this means is most of the work we do, we cannot do alone. We need to be collaborators.
And that’s why great managers are looking for people that value making their team successful. They know team success trumps individual success every time. Take the example above of the small local company going global via Etsy. Etsy is created and maintained by a team, just like the small artisan selling their wares online. Even if they are solopreneurs, they had help along the way from people that believed in them. Those people helped by asking questions about what was needed and how they could assist.
Do you see the pattern? Teams of people can achieve more than individuals can by themselves. No one becomes successful alone; and for that reason, we are truly all collaborators. And to be good collaborators, we need to be good communicators.
When looking to add a few more people, great managers value strong communication skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentence: “They were a great developer, but I couldn’t hire them because there’s no way they I could put them in front of a client.” It’s no longer enough just to be smart; being innovative and having good ideas are great traits. However, if you can’t communicate those ideas, all of those wonderful qualities are worthless. There is indeed a time and a place for hacking away in a corner; situational solitude can result in a significant push when necessary. A lot of the time, though, you’re going to have to talk to people.
This is the reason communication matters even more than talent. Conflicts will arise. Differences in opinion can escalate to full-blown arguments. Brainstorming sessions need to take place. Presentations occasionally happen. Having a good command of code will only get you so far; you need to be a solid communicator. When you have command of that, collaboration will become a lot easier.
I’ve talked about a lot of big picture concepts and examples, so let’s relate this back to getting hired on a great team. Good collaborators propel projects forward. They do this by knowing their strengths and how those strengths relate to their place on their team. You can show this in an interview by highlighting your ability to work well with others. Maybe you played an integral and specific role on a big project recently; tell them how you articulated your role to your team and what you accomplished.
Good communicators speak eloquently to their team members and managers, and they tackle problems head on through empathetic communication. Showcase this in your next interview by describing a time you were involved in a conflict at work and how you handled it successfully.
Bottom line, hiring managers are looking for people that play well with others, communicate effectively, and can do the technical aspects of their job well.