Three things CTOs must look for when hiring tech talentPosted over 4 years ago by Nick Boulton

As technology disrupts every market, it’s unsurprising the war for developer talent is at fever pitch. Whatever your technology needs, from start-up to Blue-chip, engineers are the hottest commodity on the market.

Virtually every tech leader I speak to thinks a lack of tech talent is holding back their organisation’s growth. But with the tight labour market and widening skills gap, finding, hiring and retaining top talent has never been more challenging.

There are a three fundamental things hiring managers - but in particular CTOs - should keep in mind when finding top tech talent.

1) Look for hobbits, not wizards

If you want to build a world-class development team, you need more than one superstar. The best software isn't built by one person; it's built by a team. Don’t spend all your time and resources searching for Gandalf when what you really need is a team of hobbits.

Your ideal tech team will be made up of individuals whose skillsets work together. The best way to do this is to think less about what the work is and more about how it can be delivered. This shifts your thinking towards scoping out a team than finding one person to rule it all.

2) Look for people who are both kinds of ‘smart’

This is about more than book smarts – it’s about people smarts too. The job of an engineer is to understand complex concepts and then communicate them clearly to everyone, not just techies.

The best engineers can both develop incredibly efficient algorithms in record time AND work with teams across the organisation to achieve the big picture.

3) Look for detail and more detail

When it comes time to talk about your tech stack, the best advice is to go deep.

Asking low-level questions about syntax, design patterns and general technology are aimed at finding relevant experience, but they are not the way to identify the best people for your business. The biggest mistake CTOs make when interviewing is over-valuing present skills and under-valuing future growth, skills and anticipating technology and market changes.

You should talk about the technology a candidate has used and the tech stack they’ll be working with. Go into more detail about the problems and issues they have dealt with and how they found a solution.

Don’t just pander to what they know or ask questions so narrow that you only ask about your tech stack. You will end up hiring people for what they already know.

The pool of people who do exactly what you need them to do is so much smaller than the pool of people who are smart enough to be good at that job and improve over time.

Three quick-fire questions to ask before making someone an offer

If you can answer these three questions with a resounding “Yes!” after interviewing potential employees, hire them fast!

  1. Do they want to do this job? Now and in the future, something you need to establish by painting a vison of what the future looks like.

  2. Can they do this job? This is not the same as “Can they do this job right now?” but you need to be confident they can learn how to do the job.

  3. Are they going to get better at this job? Smarts!