There are 3 qualities that should be sought after when you want to hire top IT talent. IT hiring managers look for many qualifications in a candidate: technical skills, certifications, programming languages, operating systems and relevant project experience among them. But there are other traits that aren’t as easy to quantify that are nonetheless important indicators of whether or not a candidate will be successful in a new role. New hires who possess these qualities can be a tremendous asset to your business even if they have less experience.

When my clients asks me for hiring advice, I tell them to look for these essential traits:

Continuous curiosity

Curiosity is one of my favorite traits in an employee. These are the folks who ask thoughtful, intelligent questions during the job interview. They have a real interest in the technology, the day-to-day work, and the impact their work has on your company’s clients.

How to spot this trait: Look for people who are studious, lifelong learners who naturally pick up new skills and stay ahead of new trends and technologies. They often have personal side projects in other areas that they are passionate about.

Big picture vision

Another quality I love is the ability to think big picture. Even at the entry level, the ability to see how your work drives the company’s overall mission is invaluable. In IT it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re deep in the weeds on a particular project. But when an employee is able to keep the company’s end goals in mind, she can make better decisions and she will push harder to deliver outstanding results when she knows it’s mission critical.

How to spot this trait: In an interview, you can identify this trait by asking about the candidate’s past experience. A big picture thinker will be able to quickly and succinctly tell you how her work in each past role drove results for the business.

Strategic progression and growth

Plenty of candidates claim to be “passionate” about their professions. But how many of these candidates actually apply this passion to thoughtful career progression? Each time a candidate changes roles or companies, it should be clear that he took on more responsibility, grew his skill set, or embraced a new challenge. This demonstrates that the candidate has a clear vision of where he wants his career to go, and that he has had the talent and the tenacity to get to the next step each time. A candidate who approaches his career thoughtfully is also more likely to succeed when he joins your team: he knows exactly why he’s at your company and how to make the most of the opportunity.

How to spot this trait: While job trajectory is obvious from scanning a resume, your mission is to really dig into the “why” behind each job change and link these changes to where the candidate wants to be in the future. Ask the candidate what motivated him to move each time he changed jobs in the past and where he’d like to be in the next 5 years. Your candidate might dream of inventing a new product, being a CTO or founding his own company: all are great answers. What matters most is not “what” the candidate wants to do but “how” he plans to get there.


Next time you’re down to two candidates after your final round of interviews, remember to take a step back and reflect on whether they show any of these qualities. A candidate who demonstrates one or all of these qualities is much more likely to be an A player on your team. Hard skills can be learned on the job, but continuous curiosity, big picture vision and strategic progression are much harder to teach.


What’s most important to you in a new hire? Please share what you look for in the comments below.

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