8 skills programmers must master before a technical interview

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3. Business sense

Developers often thrive best when they have some business sense–that is, when they have the ability to look beyond the immediate uses of their code, said Anna Daugherty, digital marketing manager of PITSS. “They need to be able to see how their software or application fits into the wider scope of the enterprise, how their project drives ROI, and how they’re contributing to the overall organizational health,” Daugherty said. “If they have this skill, they’ll work harder, smarter, and be able to speak the language of the executives who need them to produce better results.”

Companies are usually not only looking for programmers that write good code, said Greg Hoffer, vice president of engineering at Globalscape. “They are running a business, and need programmers that understand that there is always more than one way to skin a cat,” Hoffer said. “Pragmatic problem solving that builds business value or makes customers happy is just as important as broad and deep experience in any given programming technology.”

4. What you did at your last job

Be prepared to answer questions about your last job, said Marco Cirillo, application architect at Clearbridge Mobile, such as:

  • What were your roles and responsibilities at your last job?
  • What were some difficulties you experienced at your last job?
  • Explain something you built that you are especially proud of.

“These are mostly just to see what they’ve worked on, and to possibly assess the culture fit of the individual,” Cirillo said.

5. Proficiency in core programming languages

Make sure you are fluent in the main language and framework used at the company, said Peter Sugihara, co-founder of Open Listings. “Smaller companies have less resources to teach new hires, so this can seriously tip the scales in your favor because you’ll get up to speed quicker when you start,” Sugihara said.

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