As a tech leader, you know the ins-and-outs of your software product development stack. However, even seasoned professionals sometimes struggle to identify whether that amazing expert you wish to hire will clash with the team or make it shine. Here are some core competencies to assess applicants. This behavioural skills are decisive factors for team success.
Chances are that if job seekers have made it pass the recruiting team and landed an interview with the tech leader, most of their soft skills are aligned with company culture. However, only the tech leader directly in charge of the new recruits can truly tell how well the applicant will fit in with the team and work routine.
Luckily, there are some situational questions you can ask interview candidates to pinpoint specific skills and competencies, most of which you will find here.
#1 Skills Related to Self sufficiency
Self-taught learning: To evaluate if the candidate keeps up to date with trends and, more importantly, is able to grow based on constructive feedback, ask questions regarding continuous improvement.
- How often do you use GitHub, StackExchange or other communities / networks to make your job easier?
- Which resources do you use to stay on top of your game, keeping skills current?
- Are there any personal or side projects you work on during your spare time? What are those about?
Problem-solving: Try to understand potential employees’ mindset and approach to challenges. Although a leader’s support is always necessary, senior team members should be able to mitigate most risks and tackle even unprecedented issues by themselves. Seasoned tech staff can draw methodologies and tools from previous experiences and apply them to current scenarios. Test this by asking:
- Can you narrate how you find patterns in order to generate ideas, issue generalizations and/or improve performance?
- What would be your course of action if X happened?
- Who do you turn to when a problem arises at work?
#2 Skills Related to Teamwork
Resilience: Everyone has to work within existing product and service limitations. However, lean development isn’t for everyone, and constant bottlenecks (heads up to Theory of Constraints) can be a blow to motivation. You want to ask:
- When you have setbacks at work, how do you deal with them?
- Do you use these occasions as springboards for career development? How?
- How do you adapt to technological advancements? Are you tech agnostic?
Empathy: Although it is important for employees to be somewhat self-manageable, they need to be capable and willing to collaborate with others. Probe for patience and empathy with the following questions:
- Which qualities do you think are essential to a successful team?
- How do you delegate and ask for help?
- How do you act upon realizing a colleague is struggling with any given task?
Communication: Distributed teams and/or remote workers have to touch base frequently and consistently. These are possibly the most crucial of the behavioural skills interview questions:
- Which steps do you take to avoid miscommunication with your team?
- How do you engage with others? Do you preserve their self-image?
- How often would you like to touch base?
#3 Skills Regarding Work Culture
Enthusiasm: Good vibes are contagious, and new hires can often boost morale if the team has been without a vacation for a while. All tech skills being equal, look for those you believe will complete assigned tasks in an upbeat and cooperative manner. Ask:
- How do you keep a positive mental attitude towards work?
- What gets you out of bed in the morning? Would this role be a good enough reason? Why?
- How does our Mission / product / service match your personal interests and values?
Distributed or remote work: Some might find it challenging working out of a traditional setting. Acknowledge needs and desires by asking the interviewee:
- Have you worked full-time outside the office before?
- How do you feel you are better fulfilled: working at home, in a coworking office, or coming down to HQ? What would be your ideal combination?
- Do you think it affects your sense of belonging?
- How do you understand solitude versus loneliness?
We hope these have been helpful — there’s plenty more where those came from! Let us know in the comments what your doubts are regarding the recruitment and interviewing of new team members. And, if you’re looking on how to improve your behavioural skills leadership strategy and better engage your team, have a look at our article on software team management.