By Nathan Klarer, technology entrepreneur.
According to The App Association, there are nearly a quarter of a million unfilled software engineering jobs in the U.S. Clearly, demand for talented engineers far outstrips supply. When hiring, you can expect your software engineering talent will have multiple opportunities in front of them. This often leaves the hiring manager feeling like they aren't driving the conversation.
The following are three traits to look for while hiring a software development team that will put you back in the driver's seat. Instead of being flustered, you will come away with a tactical approach that will help you identify people who are the right fit for your project.
Trait 1: Prioritization
A side effect of talent and intelligence can be lack of prioritization. Creative engineers are often found broadening the scope of a project. On one hand, your company must ensure they capture the best of these ideas. On the other hand, this tendency leads to missed deadlines and compromised deliverables.
I learned to hire engineers who are aware of this tendency and can manage it. Your ideal candidate should have enough work experience to understand their particular tendencies and manage them. Learn to work with them on their weaknesses and how to promote their strengths. Ask what tools they like to use for project management, and about a time they missed a deadline and what they learned from that experience.
Trait 2: Aptitude
It is obvious that you need to hire technically excellent developers. However, I'd like to focus on how you can future-proof your development resources. Specifically, the emergence of technologies such as AI, scalable computing and embedded IoT devices should change how you look at your growing team.
In time, it will become a prerequisite that your project utilizes at least one emerging trend in software development. The trouble is, much of the technical landscape for these technologies is still in development. Therefore, you need to hire quick and curious developers. The faster they pick up on useful technologies, the greater your competitive advantage. Ask about their free time. Look for activities that require creativity and construction. These aren't necessarily technical (cooking is a good example). Make sure they read!
Trait 3: Responsiveness
I work under the assumption that no news about engineering progress is bad news about engineering progress. There is a tendency among some engineers to "submerge" work that they are having difficulty with. This can be due to a variety of reasons, but it invariably puts the project in jeopardy. You should also beware when managing -- this can be a delicate matter of pride for the employee.
I look for engineers who have worked with difficult problems before. They should understand that it is natural to get stuck. Sharing difficulties with your team is often the fastest route to a solution. Work with them to create a win-win situation for your project. Make sure to ask for frequent progress updates. Ask how they solved the most difficult problem they've ever solved: Look for an answer that includes other people.
Nathan Klarer is a technology entrepreneur living in California. He was recently named "27 CEOs Under 27″ by Entrepreneur.com.