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How to Identify a Great Junior Hire For Your Dev Team

Are you looking to hire a junior developer this year? Great idea!

Creating a talent pipeline now that helps you fill your development team later with skilled workers who know your business is the best way to prepare for changes in technical capabilities. Unfortunately, companies looking to add a junior dev often run into one problem: how do hiring managers who aren’t familiar with the technologies they need to recruit for identify solid junior developer candidates?

It seems like a challenging issue, but there is a pretty simple answer for it – Hire for attitude. Train for skill.

That’s right. Beyond foundational skills and understanding, some of the best indicators of successful and productive junior dev hires are found in soft skills and personality traits – and those are much harder to train for than programming languages.

First, determine the minimum technical knowledge your potential hire needs to have to be able to start working. Usually, this means they should have a basic understanding of the primary languages in your tech stack, and be familiar with a few of your company’s other must-have supplemental processes. (Ask your dev team if you’re unsure where to start!)

Then, schedule interviews with those applicants who have the right type of foundational skills. During the interview, ask questions that help you determine if they possess the 4 traits outlined below. (Hint: use the included indicators as a place to start!)

Are they:

Innately curious

Curiosity is a huge driver in learning. By hiring someone who is innately curious, you’re increasing the likelihood their skills will always be cutting edge because they will continuously want to learn new things.



Active tinkerers

Tinkerers are passionate about the work they do. Active tinkerers enjoy their work, are internally motivated to spend time on projects, and are interested instead of depressed when something doesn’t work quite as planned.



Thoughtful communicators

Good communicators are team players that know how to move stressful projects forward smoothly. They’ll also be able to handle constructive criticism and feedback better than less communicative types, which is a great quality, especially as a junior employee.



Goal aligned

They don’t want a job just for the paycheck. Your business speaks to who they are as a person: their interests, goals or personality. This means they’ll be a more engaged, productive employee.


Hire someone with foundational knowledge and these four traits, and you’ll be able to give them the tools to learn everything they need to be productive for your business. And not just that, they’ll bring a mindset from junior to senior level that is focused on exceeding, not just meeting goals. Sound like a great step in preparing your business for the future?

Get out there and schedule some interviews! And remember: Hire for attitude. Train for skill.

Interested in offering learning opportunities for junior developers or interns? Check out Treehouse for Business!

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