Software Developers & Communication Skills: The Do’s and Don’ts
Over 50% of failed interviews are the result of poor communication skills among developers and not (as commonly thought) by lack of technical proficiency.
As Ionut Roghina once put it,
“…for software developers and programmers, how well you communicate is equal, if not slightly more important, to your technical skills. The final assessment, the potential offer you will receive and how much you can negotiate, all depend very much on your ability to communicate professionally.”
If a company has to decide among 5 applicants with similar technical skills, how likely is it that the choice falls on the person who has communication problems? Or, how would you stand out among 5 professionals with similar tech skills?
Communication is crucial for everyone, including developers. Not only does it play a huge role in the success of your interview process, but it will also help you collaborate with your future colleagues better.
It’s not about the ability to handle the language
We often work with people from different backgrounds whose first language is not English. Believe us, your language proficiency has little to do with basic interpersonal communication skills.
See below what we mean by poor communication and how you can improve in this area. These are all real situations we’ve been dealing with since the day one.
- DON’T DO: Poorly written emails
We’ve seen it all: poor grammar, one-liners instead of proper responses, or long texts filled with excuses. They won’t do you any good.
+ DO: Pay attention to your writing
Be polite. Make sure you spell the person’s name right. Don’t forget your thank you. Most importantly, proofread before you hit Send. Seriously. Proofread it. Twice.
- DON’T DO: Not listening to the interviewer
Some job seekers are shooting from the hip. They start answering the interviewer’s question without hearing the end of it. As a result, they either give irrelevant answers or completely misunderstand the question.
+ DO: Learn to listen
Listen to the question and make sure you understand it. Hear your interviewer: not what you what to hear, but what they are actually saying. Maybe even repeat the question in your answer to make sure you’re on the same page.
- DON’T DO: Not communicating your point clearly
Instead of getting to the point, some people go around in circles without actually answering the question. When your interviewer asks you about the main language you used in backend, don’t go on describing all your past backend projects.
+ DO: Get to the point
Answer the question directly and refrain from any unnecessary details. Give one good example — it is usually enough. If you cannot answer the question spontaneously, ask for some time to think your answer through. This will only show your discretion.
- DON’T DO: Clichéd answers of too little value
While you might have thought all your answers through, it doesn’t mean that you need to simply reproduce them by heart.
+ DO: Don’t waste time on vagueness
It may be tough for some especially under pressure. Keep it simple. Be honest. Be relevant. You have a limited time during an interview. Still, you could have spent this time on anything. Don’t make it a waste. Use the chance to present yourself.
- DON’T DO: Showing not enough confidence
You don’t need to agree with the interviewer all the time. Neither need you be silent when you didn’t understand the question. This is not politeness, it is lack of character.
+ DO: Speak up
Saying “yes” when you have not understood the question (or heard all of it) will not get you the job. The interview is about you, so make sure that you take the initiative as well. Ask your questions. Voice your concerns. Request clarification when needed.
- DON’T DO: Asking shallow questions
Instead of focusing on what is the most important for them, some candidates ask about the working hours or other issues that they can learn about later. Beware of the questions that you shouldn’t ask during an interview.
+ DO: Ask questions of value
When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, he or she is really interested in filling the gaps for you. So ask questions that are truly important to you. Ask more about the technology used, the person who held the position before you, or about the financial stability of the company. This is your chance to present yourself professionally and learn more about the company. Use this opportunity wisely.
- DON’T DO: Not taking time to do the research
If you believe you can learn about the company during the interview, the latter becomes a mere waste of time. We’ve heard about the candidates actually asking “So, what does your company do?” during the interview. This is a no-go. Failing to do the basic research reflects on the direction and the outcome of your communication with the hiring manager.
+ DO: Prepare well
If you will do one thing before an interview, it is to google the company and get an idea about their business and learn about them from the news. Show them you are serious. Prepare for the interview thoroughly. Before the appointment, put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes: what questions would you be asking yourself? If you must, do some previous training with friends or by watching sample interview videos. Going in “cold” looks really bad and reflects poorly on you as a person.
Being good at communication will let you save time, show yourself in a good light, and make an informed decision about the job in question. Your communication is the key to landing not just another job, but THE JOB you’ve wanted.
Thanks for reading!
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