Carlson explains that too many candidates think about meeting short-term needs and whatever is trending in the moment, when hiring is really a long-term play. In technology, constant learning is almost guaranteed, so some employers will be less concerned about which specific technical skills you have and a lot more interested in the soft skills and less-tangible traits and abilities you bring to the table. Remember, an employer can always teach you a new process or platform—but it’s hard to teach someone to be a team player or a motivated problem-solver.
Computer science skills: Beyond technical know-how
Soft skills stand out a lot more than you might think in technical interviews. These skills can be a mixture of natural personality traits as well as aptitudes developed from experience and practice.
1. Communication and collaboration
You probably saw this one coming. It’s no secret that managers in deeply technical positions crave applicants who demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills. For Jane Vancil, founder and CEO of IncentiLock, the search is even more specific. “I wish more candidates came in with face-to-face communication skills,” she says. “When someone can make eye contact and not glance at an electronic device during a 30-minute discussion, it imparts a respect and sincere interest that I feel will be extended to team members.”
Vancil points out that the best applications are built upon a communication of ideas and instructions that are often difficult to put into a messaging platform, making communication skills vital. But this skill can go much deeper than talking and listening. During interviews, Vancil checks for clues to see if candidates become flustered easily. “Even if that is a yes, does the person self-regulate?” she asks.
Working well in a team is essential for almost any job, and many employers in technology are interested in seeing a true spirit of collaboration. “How many times does the person use the word ‘I’ when talking about a group project?” Vancil asks. “Giving credit to others for their contributions is a huge plus.”
Most people feel nervous in interviews and may not believe they put their best foot forward. But after the interview, you have the chance to score lots of communication points by following up with a phone call. “You will likely only get to leave a message, but it lets us get a feel for how you communicate,” Vancil says. “It’s amazing how many people will simply not talk on the phone.”