For Employers

7 traits to look for when hiring top-level remote developers, excluding the hard-skills

August 30, 2022

Robert L. Glass once said - “The best programmers are up to 28 times better than the worst programmers”.  But what sets apart exceptional programmers from typical ones? Well, having great coding skills in a specific programming language doesn’t make a software programmer successful. There’s so much more needed to become an exceptional programmer in a remote-first work environment. 

At Index, we have worked with thousands of developers from dozens of zip codes. Over the years, we’ve noticed that our high-performing remote software developers have these seven personality traits in common. 

High-performing remote developers are confident communicators

In the remote environment, effective and timely communication is the glue that keeps the software development teams strengthened. Skilled communication is one of the most essential skills of a high-performing software developer. It sets them as valuable team members who can explain technical concepts in a reliable way to both techies and non-techies. 

Proficient communicators are always professional. They ask the right questions, break down complex problems into smaller chunks, and effectively manage high-pressure moments. They are confident with their solutions and establish themselves as a well-founded source of information in the company. 

Additionally, a developer's confidence is a sign of experience. So, if you are relying on a top developer hire to keep your software development lifecycle running smoothly, opt for a developer who will confidently talk about their progress and collaborate with a project manager and other team members. 

Killer tips on how to screen effective communicators 

Software development requires great decision-making over time. Your project will most likely move forward faster when you hire developers, DevOps, or QAs who can communicate with confidence. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Before you accept a developer for an interview, have them answer a set of behavioral questions. 
  • Make sure to find out how they’d approach a particular project or technical challenge in the past. 

High-performing remote developers are effective team players

As an engineering leader or CTO, you want to hear that the devs you hire have worked on a lot of teams before, as opposed to working as solo freelancers for the big period of their careers. 

Although there are many great developers out there who can bring a lot of expertise to your software development project, not all of them are brilliant team players.

The most exceptional developers are effective team players. They share their knowledge and best practices with other team members and upskill their aptitudes. They also create a positive, encouraging, and supportive work environment, where other developers seek feedback, learn from each other, and grow their skillset. 

Team players are essential for software development as team play merged with dedication and energy results in a team that leads to better mentorship and performance. 

Killer tips on how to find top team players

Teams are units. If one fails and the other does nothing, your project can turn into a nightmare. 

  • During the hiring interview, ask behavioral questions about their experience, the good and the bad, to learn how they fare in a team.
  • If you work with a global team, make sure you look for tech professionals who consider other team members’ time zones and keep meetings convenient for everyone. 
  • If you scale your team with diverse tech talents, verify if they all get along well and understand their purpose as a team. 

High-performing remote developers have a positive attitude towards work

As a CTO, your choice of software engineer should have a positive impact on the project, team, and company. 

Being proactive is an important trait for any developer, especially for remote working ones. They often have an excellent work ethic that goes hand in hand with the team’s workflow. In addition to this, they are always optimistic about their work, can seize their impact, and constantly move teams forward. 

Once finishing sprints, such kind of programmers will go directly to the backlog without asking for help. No surprise that they’re key players in any task, challenge, or project. 

Killer tips on how to hire a developer with an upbeat attitude

Even if it’s hard to assess for proactiveness, it’s not impossible. Here’s what you need to do: 

  • If you are a CTO, put the new hires in a paid, week-long test where they will join a new team and workflow. Then add unexpected obstacles - The API broke! Requirements changed! - and so on. 
  • Look for developers who have a positive outlook on the project and all these hiccups.
  • Hire developers who understand problems faster, provide creative solutions, and don’t go without a task for long periods. 

High-performing remote developers write clean code and document everything 

Documentation is a fundamental aspect of being a developer, especially when working in a global team or remote environment. Your entire team depends on the developer's ability to document a code. 

An exceptional developer writes clean and maintainable code and has a solid knowledge of development tools. 

Killer tips on how to screen great coders who document everything

  • During the interview, run code assessments. Look for developers who write and communicate well with other team members.
  • Recruit developers who explain what each part of the code does.

High-performing remote developers don’t need supervision

In an office work environment, it is much easier to get updates and check the progress of a project. When it comes to remote work, however, it takes an extra level of follow-up. This is where the dev’s accountability comes into play. 

Elite remote developers are those to whom you assign tasks and you know that they will be done by the deadline. A programmer with this kind of accountability is a gold mine and makes all the difference, especially in a remote work environment. They simply don’t need constant supervision. They have the right mindset and skillset to work independently without check-ins and get the job done within the timeframe. 

Tips on how to bring developers who take ownership of their work

  • During the hiring interview, ask questions that will help you determine what motivates the applicant and how they analyze development issues from all angles.
  • When you review their resumes, look for experienced developers who take responsibility for the projects and know how to manage their workload.
  • Chase candidates that have the natural ability to establish a routine that makes them more productive without check-ins and emails from their team leaders. Procrastination simply doesn’t work for remote workers. 

High-performing remote developers ace time management and can track their KPIs

Well-versed software engineers understand that solving technical issues, coming up with inventive solutions, and absorbing new information take time. 

An excellent developer knows how to estimate the amount of time needed to manage, deliver, and complete certain tasks. This is achieved through exceptional time and project management and a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

Tips on how to screen a developer who aces time management 

  • Look for a detail-oriented person as they have the right mindset to excel at a remote job.
  • For anyone you hire to work remotely, make sure you have clearly defined KPIs for their work output, so you can know how well they perform and manage their time. 
  • If you have a large, complex project, make sure you hire developers who can prioritize important tasks and break workloads into smaller chunks.

High-performing remote developers follow trends

As long as technology is continually evolving, innovating, and changing for the better, learning becomes a constant fixture in the daily software development process. 

There will be new programming languages, frameworks, methodologies, and libraries popping out at any moment. A first-rate developer should quickly adapt to them. If they don’t do it, they risk being left behind.

To be on the crest of waves, software developers always need to have a curious mindset. With such a mindset they can easily discover new problems and generate effective and timely solutions. 

Tips on how to hire devs that follow trends

  • Look for developers who have a flexible approach to their work as technical knowledge is always enough for professional growth. 
  • If your new hire will be working on multiple projects, make sure they are experienced with various languages, frameworks, and methodologies.
  • Hire developers who adapt to project demands and modify their work patterns according to the updated project’s requirements. 

Summing up 

High-performing software developers are hard to come by. Sourcing, screening, and hiring a remote developer with suitable skills is quite challenging and cost-demanding. Index aims to offer job opportunities for remote software developers and only the top 3% of applicants go through, which means that every engineer we pair with a company, is guaranteed to be the best in terms of qualifications, quality, and performance. 

Are you looking for remote developers? Index provides high-quality, on-demand developers for any tech stack and industry. Let’s have a talk about your requirements. 

For more in-depth recruitment, read our practical guides on how to hire top Java programmers, .NET developers, and Software Engineers at different levels.