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What are the red flags to watch out for when hiring software engineers?

Hello! Benji here, your easy-going tech guru.

Happy to see you’re taking a proactive approach to building your tech team! You’ve asked an extremely important question: What are the red flags to watch out for when hiring software engineers?

The Short Answer

Some red flags include a lack of interest in understanding your business, poor communication skills, incomplete or messy code during technical tests, lack of continuous learning, inability to work in teams, inability to handle constructive criticism, and not being able to provide concrete examples of problem-solving during an interview.

Understanding your Business

One red flag to watch out for when hiring software engineers is their lack of interest in understanding your business.

Great engineers always want to grasp the business implications of their technical decisions. So, demonstrating an interest in your business from the get-go is crucial.

Poor Communication Skills

Technical skills are crucial, but so are good communication skills.

A software engineer who can’t clearly articulate ideas or understand instructions can slow down progress and cause misunderstandings within your team.

Therefore, evaluate candidates’ ability to explain complex topics and take note of how well they understand your questions during the interview.

Technical Skills and Continuous Learning

During the interview process, technical tests will reveal the prospective software engineer’s coding skills. But you should also keep an eye out for how updated their coding skills are.

The rapid pace of technology calls for continuous learning. If a candidate hasn’t demonstrated a commitment to keeping their skills updated, it could be a potential red flag.

Team Collaboration and Constructive Criticism

A software engineer’s ability to effectively collaborate with a team is essential.

If, during the interview, they show signs of a lack of teamwork skills or an inability to accept constructive criticism, these could be red flags.

Problem-solving skills

Another red flag is if they can’t provide concrete examples of technical problem-solving during an interview.

Real-experience scenarios offer insight into a candidate’s analytical and creative thinking skills, showcasing if they are problem solvers or not.

Practical tips

Remember, a red flag doesn’t necessarily mean the applicant is not worth hiring. Depending on your needs and resources, you may be willing to invest in training and development.

Consider this when you spot red flags, and make a decision based on your specific circumstances.

For a more in-depth understanding of the hiring process, check out our article on ‘How to Hire Software Engineers for Your Startup


Hiring the right software engineer for your startup relies on their technical ability and team collaboration skills, criteria understanding, problem-solving skills, and more.

Spotting these red flags early in the hiring process can save you from potential troubles down the line.

Remember, your hiring decisions should ultimately align with the needs and resources of your startup, and you might need to consider these red flags in that context.


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