Technical Skills Are Great, but Communication and Curiosity Are Better

Kyle Galbraith on April 11, 2019

Emily Freeman posted this thread on Twitter not long ago. Emily Freeman @editingemily LISTEN TO THIS MAN. You can teach someone a skill. It... [Read Full]
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Been in the industry all my adult life. Technology is not strongly correlated with project success at all. You should of course use the right technology for the right job, but the best predictor of project success is team health and effective honest communication.

I did not understand this in my early career, but later was taught the importance of effective teamwork and honest communication. You can have two projects that are very similar, with similar technologies and similar skill sets, but wildly different outcomes caused by differences in teamwork.

When we talk about communication it isn't just speaking and listening, it is the wider culture of open discussions, respect for each other, treating everyone equally and valuing everyones views.

Too often prima-dona developers have so much invested in their reputation they actively undermine effective communication and teamwork. They do things like pull apart the work of other developers in code reviews and become possessive over their patch of code. A real professional is enthusiastic about mentoring less experienced developers, about leading by example, by being open when they make mistakes.

There is so much more to communication than simply communicating.


In our own hiring process recently, our company also looked a lot at how curiosity and communication work with the applicant. This consists of:

  • Ask what recent development articles they've read and what they learned
  • Ask about recent side-projects they did to see if they're exploring new ideas and tech
  • Pair programming on a coding task, focusing less on the solution reached and more on how they work with others to get there
  • Having them talk 1-1 with most of the team to ensure there's no deal-breaking friction

They all boil down to making sure the applicant is curious and communicates well. This structure hasn't let us down so far!


Awesome post totally agree with this article.

I would always focus on the soft skills aspect of the developer.

If the developer is not able to communicate well it or generally being human it might be red flag for me.


Awesome write up. I appreciate you shared this with us.


My CEO is always reminded of the importance of communication

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