Five Signs of an Undervalued Software Developer

Matan Borenkraout
Nov 28, 2018 · 6 min read

I’ve been interviewing for a while now and right after my first session of interviews with some candidates, I came to an epiphany, I’m doing this all wrong.

I decided to map out my desired skill set.

Some of them are “soft” skills that can be seen in an interview, and some are technical that can be tested or sometimes even asked in an interview. I’m here to share my thoughts on what is a good developer in my eyes. Keep in mind, these are my thoughts, it can be subjective.

Looking for our superman/wonder woman by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash


To understand if our candidate has passion, try focusing on “Why” and not “How”. Let me reference Simon Sinek in his Ted lecture on a different subject: “Every single person on the planet knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few people know why they do it”. The person who searches for the “Why” behind the “What”, has the passion. Ask “Why does React hooks work the way they do?” rather than “What is React hooks?”, “Why did you start programming?”. The one who has passion will search for the why, and not settle on the how or the what.

Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

Self learner

To understand if our candidate is a self learner, try asking “Tell me of something you’ve learnt and loved” and try going deeper with that question by asking “How did you learn it?”. This skill can also be tested in a technical test.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Social skills

Figuring out if the candidate has the social skills we’re looking for might be tricky since we’re not seeing him in his neutral environment. The interview can be a good place to start and look for it. If you see the potential, then a follow up meeting with the wider team can be a good way to see how the person fits in.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sees the whole picture

To see if our candidate has what it takes, look for responsibility between his words, see if he says “I took the decision”, “It was my responsibility”. Try asking “Tell me of things you’ve did and didn’t go well” and see if he takes responsibility or ditches it aside.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Strong opinion

This one is pretty hard to figure since no one will argue with you in a job interview, a good talk about a technical issue might help you with it. Try seeking something the candidate did and they took ownership of, give him the opposite opinion, see if his opinion is firm.

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Experienced developer !== Good developer

Don’t disqualify a developer because he doesn’t have enough experience.
We all get to see jobs with high experience requirements, some are even fictional for an example “At least 7 years React experience” — Come on, the framework was open-sourced in 2013.

What does this experience even mean? A developer can sit for years and work on a specific feature or worst, just sit and do nothing. We want the one that can learn and progress with the technology and not stay behind with his valuable “X Years of experience in jQuery”.

Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

Summing it up

Mastering job interviewing is pretty hard but can be a valuable skill for us.
Interviewing isn’t a nice situation for an interviewee, try making him feel comfortable, both sides will benefit from that.

The main point is that you’ll need to read behind the answers or the stories. Try looking for a reason rather than an explanation, see what drives your candidate, what he likes, what he’s proud of, keep in mind that this is the interviewee’s stage and not yours.

With all these, I believe you’re set to go.

Feel free to ask me any question, I’m here and also on twitter.

If you enjoyed, give me some claps :)
— Matan.


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Matan Borenkraout

Written by

Frontend Engineer | Creating better software, one word at a time |

Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Bettie Jones, Botham Jean