From the heart

How to recognise a passionate developer

Hartmut Schlosser
Passion image via Shutterstock

The perfect candidate for that developer job is hard to find, but are you taking more than their skills into account? How can you tell they’ll be a great addition to the team? Developing with passion is something that all hiring managers should look out for.

Who hasn’t been in this situation before? You’re a developer sitting for a job interview and you’re trying to convince the hiring manager sitting opposite you of your skills. Perhaps you mention your previous projects, your networking capabilities or your diligent tinkering in your spare time on hobby projects – either way, you want to come across as knowledgeable as possible, as soon as possible, by answering all of their questions.

Such behaviour isn’t necessarily purposeful, so its important to convey how truly passionate you are as a developer and to make an impression that sets you apart from your average hacker.

Developing with passion

When it comes to finding the right developer for your team, it isn’t always about what programming skills a candidate brings to the table. Of course, a certain level of technical skills must already exist, and these can usually be proven via tests and in an investigation of their previous work. The interesting part about recruiting developers is being able to spot those who carry enthusiasm about their work and can be an inspiration to the existing team.

Passionate developers don’t qualify this trait by their willingness to work overtime, or even by fiddling about on weekends on their own open source projects. Passion also has nothing to do with extroversion and sociability. Research suggests four criteria that can enable you to decide whether your candidate is really passionate about the career they’ve chosen:

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  1. Honesty: A developer may be a newbie in the ranks, but what matters is that they assesses their own situation and honestly admit to it. Can your candidate judge their position in their career path, including the challenges and obstacles in front of them? Or are they just trying to play the professional and impress you with buzzwords and technical terms? Passionate developers never shirk from who they are and aren’t afraid to share that information.
  2. Steadfastness: A passionate developer is responsible for what he or she believes in. To confront the applicant with tasks that contradict their beliefs is a good way to find this out. If they just go along with what you say, there might be a problem. If they disagree and explain why in a coherent manner, then you might have a passionate developer sitting before you.
  3. Premeditated nature: Passionate developers are thinking before they’re speaking. If the other person responds to each question like a shot from a gun, it has nothing to do with them being a developer, but rather with being able to sell themselves. If they’re not thinking about their answers, if only for a little bit, then you don’t have a passionate developer on your hands – you have a salesman.
  4. Eye contact: Passionate developers don’t shy away from eye contact, but keep it until they have understood the direction of the conversation. A developer who’s passionate will catch your eye just enough so they know where they’re going with you and the discussion. And when they do catch your eye, you can see them thinking, whether its about what they’re telling you or what you’re telling them.

The four above tips could prove useful in the search for your next dream job. The question remains in tech, however, as to whether the candidate will be seen as passionate, or if its just the recruiter.

Hartmut Schlosser
Content strategist, editor, storyteller - as online team lead at S&S Media, Hartmut is always on the lookout for the story behind the news. #java #eclipse #devops #machinelearning #seo Creative content campaigns that touch the reader make him smile. @hschlosser

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