Why Chemistry and Character Are Often Afterthoughts When Building Software Teams
Interviewing someone for a specific role on a software team is difficult. When you’re putting together a group intent on creating the next big mobile app, you have to make sure you choose testers who have a wide base of knowledge or developers who understand how different operating systems function.
However, one aspect of the interviewing process you can’t forget is chemistry. We so often look at someone’s skills and competence in certain areas of the job and completely forget that if that person can’t work well with your current team, development won’t go smoothly.
Andy Kaufman, the founder of the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development, recently spoke with StickyMinds about how there are three major areas that need to be considered when hiring: character, competence, and chemistry.
The one people often fall in love with? Competence. You see someone with sharp skills, a depth of knowledge higher than most people you’ve worked with, and a forward-thinking approach to software, and it can be difficult to not hire them on the spot. But Kaufman claims that before you do anything, you need to interview for a person’s character.
“Listen during an interview. How do they talk about the people on their team at their last job? Do they tend to be somebody who points fingers and blames other people? Do they seem to be somebody that takes responsibility?” he said. “If they don't make it through that test, then it doesn't matter about the rest.”
From character, you can better judge how that individual will blend with the other members of your team. If they’re technically competent but often pass the blame or avoid collaboration with the team, it’s easy to assume the chemistry just won’t be right.
But what if the character is there, the chemistry feels right, and yet this person isn’t as competent as the rest? According to Kaufman, competence can be taught.
“Certainly, you have to look at competence for sure, but there's an element of which you can also train some of the competence,” Kaufman explained. “You know? Keep that in mind, but that chemistry part, don't lead with it, because like you said, you can't forget it, but it's part of that trifecta there between the three of them.”
Think about not only the skills someone on your software team has, but how they work with others and what they say about those around them. Without character, competence isn’t nearly as appealing.