It’s a crowded market out there – lots of firms promise to address any and all of your staffing needs instantly by drawing from a world-class talent pool. Skepticism is warranted – do these firms have the engineering experience to properly understand your needs in detail? And, how exactly are they selecting candidates to fill critical roles? Other than trying to match up some bullet points in a job description with a candidate’s claimed experience, what criteria is this supplier using to evaluate fit?

Key developer traits that make engagements successful

The only way we know to engineer a successful engagement outcome is to carefully analyze each client’s requirements, and identify and test for the key traits of a successful outsourced developer (or other team member) who can meet the client’s needs.

What are those key traits?

Clearly, technical proficiency is at the top of the list. If the baseline skills aren’t there, nothing else matters. And good luck making a determination on those skills from resume info alone – even the best candidates sometimes have a little padding on their CV. You have to talk to the candidate, at length, to dig into the details of their background and qualifications. Live coding exercises play a role also.

The tech fit, though, isn’t the whole story.

Communication, particularly for remote staff, the majority of our teams, is critical. Not just language skills, but the ability to relay information verbally and in writing, across multiple platforms, dealing with varying levels of detail, is a trait we evaluate vigorously. We know from deep firsthand experience the value of solid communication.

How about the cultural fit? Is the client a small, edgy, fast-paced startup pushing the limits of their tech stack (and their people)? Or are we talking about a more established firm where process rules and communication is more formalized? A developer who thrives in one of those environments might be a terrible fit in the other. You need to be able to talk about team composition, reporting structures, and particular agile methodologies, plus various other topics to get the best resource engaged.

Then there’s the ‘mystery factor’ loosely defined as consulting acumen. Can the resource perform at a high technical level, communicate flawlessly, mesh with the client culture, AND serve as a trusted consultant? Can the developer be someone who evolves into a valued resource with client and domain knowledge who not only cranks out work product but also guides the client, constructively recommending new features and directions that help the client’s bottom line?

I’m proud to say we’ve had the great good fortune (thanks to a ton of hard work) to assemble a pool of such individuals, and it’s a delight to see how they empower our client base. I’m eager to hear your feedback on this critical issue – fit – that we face in our business every day.