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4 Tips Developers Can Use In Their Next Job Hunt + Example Interview Questions

June 26, 2023

Author: Cat Hicks, PhD | Read time: ~ 5 mins 

For developers on today’s job market, finding a role that helps you thrive involves more than just technical skills and compensation. Developers also want jobs that support them as whole people, giving them the chance to learn and grow, share their triumphs, and feel truly valued at work. This is called Thriving: being in a place that lets you flourish. As a developer, thriving means you’re truly supported, motivated, and able to do your best work–and it significantly predicts how productive you can be at work. 

At Developer Success Lab, we use the Developer Thriving Framework to understand how the most innovative software teams learn, grow, and solve hard problems together. We’ve studied what we can learn from how those teams succeed, and we’ve found that Developer Thriving includes four factors: Agency, Learning Culture, Motivation & Self-Efficacy, and Support & Belonging. In our research with over 1,200 real software developers and 13+ industries, these four factors predicted higher productivity in technical work. 

You can put the science of developer productivity to work for you and your career. Here are some ways you can use the factors of thriving to improve your job hunt:

4 Tips from Developer Thriving that You Can Use In Your Next Job Hunt

1. Agency

Ask whether a role gives you autonomy, flexibility and control over your work. Think not just about what you’re working on, but how a team works for signals of agency. Look for a team that trusts and supports you to make decisions and take ownership of your projects and includes developers’ voices in their processes. Ask for examples of managers involving developers in their decision making, and whether leadership includes developers’ experiences as a key piece of information to steer technical investments. Ask yourself: "Will I have the freedom to work independently and make choices that impact my work?"

2. Learning Culture

Look for a company that values continuous learning and professional development and puts real action behind this for its developers. Ask whether a role will allow you to grow your skills and knowledge, and will give you opportunities to experiment and try new things–and whether a team will value you bringing that back to them. Ask for example of how developers have been able to change, try new technologies, and how a team handles failure. Ask yourself: "Will this role provide me with opportunities to learn and grow in my career?"

3. Motivation & Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is a psychological powerhouse that helps us get through hard and unfamiliar tasks, and it means believing that we have the ability to solve problems even when they’re unexpectedly challenging. Ask how managers think about keeping their teams motivated, and whether they can share stories about times they’ve worked to rally developers’ energy and focus. Ask whether a role will combine new challenges with things you already do well, and whether you’ll find the problems and topics of the role interesting and exciting to think about, even when you face hard tasks. Ask yourself: "Will this role challenge and motivate me?"

4. Support & Belonging

Look for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and provides a sense of community and belonging throughout its engineering organization. Seek out a role that values growth, different perspectives, and look for a team that can offer tangible examples of ways they support each other. Ask managers how they seek to be open-minded to different perspectives, and where developers find role models, supportive peers, and communities in your organization. Ask yourself: "Will I feel a sense of belonging and support within this company and team?"

Developer Thriving Based Example Interview Questions

Here are some interview questions you can ask to assess each of the four factors in the Developer Thriving Framework:

'Agency' Interview Questions

  • Can you tell me about a time when you were given autonomy in a project? How did you handle it?
  • How does the company support developers in making decisions and taking ownership of their work?
  • Can you describe the decision-making process in the company? How are developers involved in it?
  • How does the company encourage creativity and innovation among developers?

'Learning Culture' Interview Questions

  • How does the company support professional development and continuous learning for developers?
  • What opportunities are available for developers to learn and grow their skills?
  • Can you describe a recent project where you learned a new skill or technology?
  • How does the company encourage experimentation and trying new things? How does the company share learning?

'Motivation & Self-Efficacy' Interview Questions

  • How does the company encourage and support developers in setting and achieving challenging goals? How do developers build self-efficacy through this process?
  • Can you describe a project that you found particularly challenging? What motivated you to succeed?
  • Can you describe a time this team faced an unexpected friction? How did you figure out how to solve it?
  • How does the company encourage and reward innovation and creativity among developers?
  • Can you describe a time when you felt particularly proud of your work at the company?

'Support & Belonging' Interview Questions

  • Can you describe the team culture and dynamics? How do team members collaborate and support each other?
  • How does the company encourage socialization and team building among employees?
  • Can you describe a time when you felt particularly connected and supported by your colleagues at the company?
  • How does the company value and support diversity, equity, and inclusion?