X-Team has worked together with thousands of developers from dozens of countries for well over a decade. Over the years, we've noticed that our most reliable and productive developers always have these four traits in common.

If you want to hire developers who can write quality code while always moving your product and team forward, then you need to find developers who have the following four traits.

They're Confident Communicators

You've just been told that you have to add a new feature by the end of the sprint. You're mid-sprint already and it's a challenging feature to implement. Slightly worried, you assign the task to one of your developers, who looks up at you and says:

A confident communicator makes you feel assured, even in high-pressure moments. They’re confident in their solutions and showcase your team as a group of professional individuals who deliver quality.

But you have to be careful. Don’t mistake confidence for cockiness. Cocky people are the ones you want to avoid talking to, while confident people are those you’re naturally attracted to.

Cocky people spend more time debating you on what the best implementation is, while confident people are empathetic collaborators who lead you to the best solution. Cocky people tend to give poor estimations, while confident people are more realistic.

Why This is Important

Consider an unconfident developer timidly talking about their progress to a project manager. The PM needs to set expectations with their stakeholders, but that’s likely to go wrong if it’s based on the shy, hesitant, or unassured estimates from their developers.

The stages of software development require several critical decisions to be made over time, and you will never be able to keep momentum if you’re constantly questioning your developers’ judgments because of their lack of confidence. Your project will move forward faster when you hire developers who can communicate with confidence.

Additionally, confidence is also a sign of experience. When someone comes across as unsure, chances are that it's because they’ve never encountered this situation before. As a result, the risk of failure is higher. If you’re building a junior team, this isn’t a problem, but if you’re relying on a DevOps hire to keep your systems running at 99.9% uptime, you want someone confident.

How to Test For This

Before you accept a developer for an interview, have them answer a set of questions about how they’d approach a particular technical challenge or how they’ve approached their biggest technical challenges in the past.

The clarity and passion of their responses should be a good indicator of whether they can communicate confidently in written form. This is important because developers (remote or not) communicate most via writing.

They’re Proactive

Being proactive is an important trait for any developer, but particularly for a remote developer. The last thing you want is a developer who sits at home waiting for someone to give them tasks or tell them what to do. You don’t want them to look like this:

Proactive developers, on the other hand, can’t sit still. They hate being bored and can’t go without a task for long. They’ll create their own tasks if none exist. They’re the developers who are never blocked and will either find ways to become unblocked or find ways to add value until they’re unblocked.

Proactive developers are the ones who finish sprint items and then go digging into the backlog without asking for help. They constantly move projects and teams forward. No surprise that they’re the most valuable people to have on your team.

Why This is Important

If you’re a development manager or a CTO and you want to do your job well, you need proactive developers working for you. Else, you’ll constantly have to hand-hold people, give approvals for the smallest things, assign new tasks, unblock people, etc. You’ll barely have time to do anything else.

You want to focus on helping your developers grow instead of pulling them along from task to task. For that, you need proactive people.

How to Test For This

It’s hard to test for proactiveness, but it’s not impossible. Here’s something you can do: put the developers you’d like to hire in a paid, week-long test project where they join a team and are expected to start adding value from the get-go.

Then add unexpected obstacles throughout the project. Requirements have changed! The API broke! New comps! Give the developer several opportunities to keep the project moving forward despite these hiccups.

Great, proactive developers will ensure that stakeholders remain satisfied by resetting expectations while also producing easily maintainable, high-quality code.

They’re Team Players

Software development is a competitive industry. This can lead to developers behaving the wrong way. If you’ve ever had a developer who isolated themselves from the rest of your team, headphones on, for eight hours on end, then you know what I mean.

Your classic “10x” developers tend to be highly skilled, but not great at working on a team. Team players are important, as teamplay combined with proactiveness results in a team that constantly moves forward.

As an engineering manager, your main goal is to keep your developers unblocked as often as possible. Team players jump at the opportunity to help unblock a teammate, whereas “silo devs” could care less and let that teammate spend 8 hours figuring it out on their own.

In addition, team players automatically create an environment that’s encouraging, supportive and full of mentoring moments. In such an environment, developers continuously learn and grow, in return receiving more respect and support from their peers. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Why This is Important

If you want to hire developers who put quality first, commit to professional growth, and support their teammates in the process, then you need team players. Lone wolves cannot create a great team. Team players can.

How to Test For This

Just like proactiveness, this isn’t easy to test for. We ask developers about their past experiences, the good and the bad, to learn what was most important to them. We want to know what’s closest to their hearts. Ultimately, we want to hear that, at the end of the day, people are more important than computers.

You also want to hear that they’ve worked on a lot of teams before, as opposed to working as a solo freelancer for most of their career. Ask them how they keep their team updated on their progress (“I go to standups” is not a good answer) or how they’ve mentored teammates in the past. Ultimately, you want to hear how they've actively communicated with and helped unblock their team.

They’re Energized

Passion is a hot topic when you're hiring developers. Some developers will say “Why should I have passion for coding when it’s just a job?” while others will say “I’m passionate about coding because it’s a craft I really want to master.”

But when we talk about passion, we’re not talking about being in love with coding. It’s a means to an end for many people and that's perfectly fine. What we’re talking about is something more akin to drive.

The best developers have forward-moving energy. They find joy in writing high-quality code and in learning how to become a better programmer. If you don’t have that energy, it’s so much harder to find the motivation to do your best work every day.

This energy is more than just enthusiasm. It runs deeper. Everyone’s enthusiastic about a new job, but that can quickly fizzle out with a few bumps along the way. Energized developers grind their way through challenges and keep moving forward.

An energized developer sees the bigger picture. They’re more patient because they want to be a programmer for an indefinite period of time. Every role, every responsibility they’re given is an opportunity to get better at doing what they love.

Why This is Important

This forward-moving energy is contagious. Developers will go about their tasks with such intensity and vigor that it can inspire a whole team. Their desire to reach new heights will do the same thing. Who doesn’t want a developer that’s self-motivated because they’re so interested in what they’re doing?

How to Test For It

“I’m passionate about it” is probably the most cliché thing to say during an interview. It’s not a good indicator of whether someone actually has the forward-moving energy you're looking for. Instead, look at a developer’s track record. If they say they love programming, have they written blog posts about it? What’s their open-source record? Any courses? Side projects? GitHub repos?

These are all great indicators that someone is interested in a particular topic. This being said, forward-moving energy isn’t something you can quite test for. It’s more something that will strike you when you see it. When you do enough interviews, a few candidates will stick out because of the way they talk and act about a particular topic. Often, that’s the energy we're talking about here. Hang on to these developers like they’re nuggets of gold.


Are you looking to hire developers? X-Team provides high-performing, on-demand teams of developers for leading brands. Let’s have a chat about your requirements.