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    What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?

  • FlexJobs

    We’ve developed a hiring process that allows us to assess communication skills, attention to detail, and critical thinking. We want people who are comfortable working independently and can be decisive, yet enjoy collaborating with a team too. We’ve developed a practical exercise for most of our positions that give the candidate a good look at what kinds of things the job really entails and gives us a sense of their ability to do the work. For example, if I were hiring someone to be a company description writer, I might send them a company and ask for a writing sample. Beyond that, we look for a good cultural fit and a passion for what we are doing.

     14 votes |
  • GitHub, Inc.

    My personal opinion is that the things you should look for when hiring for a remote position are essentially the same things you should be filtering for with any position, remote or not. That said, there are definitely a few things that stand out to me as being key for anyone to be effective as a remote employee:

    • Written communication. The importance of this cannot be overstated. When you’re remote, a majority of the way you interface with the world will be through written word, so it’s critical that you can articulate complex concepts and subtleties. Giant walls of text aren’t fun either, so it’s important to keep things concise.
    • Discipline. Some people work best with lots of structure and external pressure, but working well autonomously is a big part of our culture at GitHub. We need people to be self-motivated enough to stay productive without someone looking over their shoulder and checking up on them all the time.
    • Decisiveness. Timezones are tricky, and it’s often necessary for remote employees to make decisions with imperfect information, even if the right person isn’t around in the moment to make the decision themselves. Most decisions are temporary, especially in a growing company with a rapidly evolving product, so what’s important is that a reasonably sound decision gets made so that work can move forward.
    • Interests outside work. If someone is going to be working from home, then it’s really important that they have hobbies, friendships, and things to do outside of work. Without something else to help them switch off and decompress, it’s much easier to end up burning out.
     14 votes |
  • Automattic

    We look for people that are self-starters/have a high degree of independence, value continuous learning, and are receptive to feedback. If during the trial process a candidate needs a lot of “hand holding” and waits for specific instructions before moving forward on work, they probably won’t be a good fit.

     7 votes |
  • Beutler Ink

    It’s so crucial for anyone working as part of a distributed team to have great communication skills and that can be obvious from the first couple of interactions. Anyone who writes a clear, well-presented note and includes all the requested enclosures with their application is going to get our attention. Even more so if they reply in a timely manner to our initial response. A confused (or confusing!) application email, with missing enclosures (no CV or cover letter) is a sign that an applicant is not going to follow written instruction well and is not going to give clear updates on project status.

    We also love to see signs that a candidate is self-motivated and tends to proactively look for ways to improve work processes. There are ways to show this through any type of past experience, great candidates don’t have to have had the most amazing work history to show their potential.

     7 votes |
  • Attentiv

    Like most places, we want self-starters that are good at budgeting their time and that don’t need babysitting. Working from home can be tough for some personality types as well, so we make sure to confront that requirement during the interview process.

     6 votes |
  • Five Q

    We’re looking for productive, good-spirited, balanced, adaptable, learners and service-minded colleagues who will become friends too. Life is too short to not work with people you like. Also, we want folks to truly like this work style and not strain against it.

     5 votes |
  • Formstack

    Some of the questions in the culture interview are pretty goofy, so one big red flag we have seen before is just a general bad attitude. When candidates act too cool to answer the questions or like the culture portion isn’t worth their time, it’s generally a sign they won’t really mesh with our team. We know that scissors probably aren’t that essential to pizza delivery, but when we ask candidates how they would use scissors if they worked for a pizza shop, we hope they approach their answer with a sense of humor.

     5 votes |
  • Workfrom

    Emotional maturity, strong written communication skills, time management, self-direction, appreciation of animated gifs and virtual high-fives.

     5 votes |
  • Greenback Expat Tax Services

    We look for people who have shown initiative and ability to work independently and place a high value on those who have previously worked remotely. Success in a remote position is one of our priorities, as we understand that as attractive as it is to work from home, it is not for everyone. We also look for those who have an extreme focus on customer care and attention and are organized and disciplined. The discipline trait is obviously critical since there is no day-to-day monitoring of their activities. We have to trust that they are doing their job and that distractions are minimized during working hours—and that takes discipline.

     4 votes |
  • Incsub

    We rely heavily on written communication. So candidates that may have a great background or experience, but that are not precise in their communication, seem to not understand our written instructions for the short test projects, or are slow to reply, won’t make the cut.

    The most important trait is eagerness – which is often shown by demonstrating an understanding in what we do. The majority of people we hire have actually interacted with us already as a customer in some capacity.

     4 votes |
  • Jackson River

    I’m struggling with this question because I’d like to say that people who have worked on their own before (freelance) are usually successful, although sometimes that can backfire because they aren’t capable of or shy away from collaborative work. Most of the time, the fact that we are a virtual company is one of the main reasons we attract talent. They might really like our clients and our work, but they fundamentally want the flexibility and lifestyle. If we get the sense in the interview process that remote work isn’t a good fit for an individual’s work habits or they require more in-person time, or even mentorship around structuring their day efficiently, we’ll talk about it. Basically in the interview process we talk a lot about working remotely and we have specific questions we ask to evaluate a candidate’s ability to be happy effective in a virtual company.

     4 votes |
  • LoveToKnow

    One trait I look for is great communications skills – We stay productive by staying in touch, offering status reports, working through challenges and these things are all easier when everyone is communicative.

    Also, while it isn’t required, I like hearing that potential candidates are experienced with remote work already. It means they have already learned how to manage their time and organize their day for working from home. It also usually means they like it and appreciate that style of work, versus someone who might think it sounds appealing but discover they miss the hubbub of a busy office environment.

     4 votes |
  • Scrapinghub

    Good communication and proper English is a must. If the cover letter or CV are badly worded, your chances to move forward in the hiring process decrease a lot. Being strongly technical, we pay a lot of attention to code. This is how programmers express themselves, and you would be amazed at how much we can tell by just looking at people’s code. However, this is not related to remove working per-ss. Having worked remotely in the past is a plus, but too many freelance jobs isn’t. Having switched jobs too often raises doubts. Freelancing is often attached to poor routine and work schedule. We want people that are looking to keep a consistent work routine, and be available when they’re expected to be available. This, of course, doesn’t mean working fixed hours every day.

     4 votes |
  • Sticker Mule

    I haven’t found any particular traits that indicate a person won’t be a good remote worker. Occasionally, we talk to people that say they would rather work in an office environment. In those cases we try to clearly set expectations so they know what they’re getting into if they join us. Some people might not enjoy the culture of remote work and that’s fine. I wouldn’t want to put anyone in a situation that didn’t make them happy.

     4 votes |
  • The Cheat Sheet

    Someone who is accustomed to having a huge part of their social life come from work can raise a red flag. We lean towards candidates who love to travel, value having a flexible lifestyle, or have worked remotely in the past. These types of candidates are often strong culture fits and successful at The Cheat Sheet.

     4 votes |
  • Toptal

    I look for energy. High-energy, proactive people are much more likely to succeed here. Am I excited talking to this person or am I glancing at other things trying to occupy my mind? If they can’t keep my attention during a first conversation, it’s going to be a struggle working with them.

     4 votes |
  • Trello

    The ability to get things done, be self-motivating and driven are all important factors.

     4 votes |
  • Universal Mind, Inc.

    We lean towards candidates that have a good sense of humor, ideally have worked remotely in the past, and have a passion about what they do while enjoying being flexible enough to work remotely.

     4 votes |
  • Articulate, Inc.

    1. If they’ve worked remotely before
    2. If they’ve done independent consulting
    3. Demonstrated responsibility
    4. Great team member
     3 votes |
  • CloudPeeps

    I look to see if a candidate’s freelanced or worked independently in the past. I also look for someone who’s been through a redundancy or period of change and uncertainty. These qualities build up a deep resilience and mature career mindset. Not everything is secure – even long-term employment. Startups are tough – there’s lots of challenges and it’s not always possible to offer a smooth sailing experience. I need someone who thrives with change, and can operate with unknowns.

     3 votes |
  • Codebusters, Inc.

    People who have worked independently before is a positive. Confidence in their skills is a big positive as well. Shyness and lack of confidence are negative traits as remote work requires more consistent results.

     3 votes |
  • Doist

    It’s a huge plus if they have worked in a remote position before.

     3 votes |
  • Groove

    Candidates must have experience working remotely or running their own business. They have to have already built the accountability and productivity skills required for remote work.

     3 votes |
  • Hubstaff

    After skills and qualifications, we look for previous remote work experience in our candidates. It’s good to see that someone has been able to succeed at remote work before. We also look at personality traits and the candidate’s ability to multi-task.

     3 votes |
  • Simple [A]

    These are the guidelines we look for when hiring a candidate:

    • You like to work from your own home or other workspace, and do not need step-by-step guidance by a supervisor.
    • You can communicate well with the team through the day.
    • If you do not need a single well-defined job or limited set of responsibilities.
    • If you are available during working hours (8:30 AM – 5:30 PM) based on Central Standard Time in the US.
    • If you’re proactive, even heroic, and fundamentally an honest person.
    • If you work well as a team member, and love both learning and teaching.
     3 votes |
  • SoftwareMill

    We hire only senior developers who can work independently and have reasonable experience. That’s because we believe mentoring remotely is very hard and ineffective. We make it easier for both sides by not having to do it 🙂

     3 votes |
  • Speak

    There are two traits that we specifically look for – the ability to be self-motivated and driven. Those that have side projects or have previously worked freelance often fall into this category. We also look for great communication skills!

     3 votes |
  • TeamGantt

    They should be a good self-starter that doesn’t have to be micromanaged.  It’s extremely hard to micromanage remotely and not something that we want to have to do.  We look for people that don’t just have certain skillsets, but who also have proven results at previous jobs.

     3 votes |
  • Teleport

    We have a strong bias for people who have proven remote collaboration experience (if not full-time work then even as freelancers, participating in international communities, whatnot). And also we have bias for people who have lived in multiple countries and cities. This way you can at least know they can appreciate basic things like timezones and long-distance communication tricks.

     3 votes |
  • World Wide Web Hosting

    We’ve found that it is imperative to find candidates that have a social foundation outside of work. People that rely on work for this tend to be unsuccessful in remote positions, so we focus on finding people that gain their social side of life from other avenues. We always ask candidates about what they enjoy doing outside of work as this glimpse into their activities and hobbies provides a solid indication for assessing this trait.

     3 votes |
  • Balsamiq

    Previous work-at-home experience is a plus, especially if they’ve done it for a long time. Working at home is amazing for the first 6 months, great for the first 2 years, and can be tough after that unless you come up with your “system” for separating work from personal life.

     2 votes |
  • Canonical

    Although our focus is always on academic rigor, skills and experience, if a candidate has prior experience in home working and a stable career then this is always reassuring.  

     2 votes |
  • Ciao Bambino! Inc.

    People who are very focused and don’t need to be in a “group” environment to be motivated and work hard are ideal for remote work. People who get distracted easily find it more challenging.

     2 votes |
  • GitLab

    They have to be able to work independently. They have to be disciplined enough to be effective and to work without having a manager watching them all the time. They also need to be self-conscious about how to manage time.

     2 votes |
  • Go Fish Digital

    One thing we’ve found is that the more entrepreneurial-spirited candidates tended to have a harder time focusing on the tasks at hand when working remotely. I think the nature of remote work gives a sense of freedom, as it should.  However, that freedom to someone who wants to run their own business can translate into them spending more time doing their own thing rather than their actual job.  So we shy away from people who are ultimately looking to eventually start their own business.

     2 votes |
  • ICUC Social

    We focus on individuals who excel and thrive in self-directed, entrepreneurial environments.  We are also very focused on cultural fit, we seek to hire people who will work well within the ICUC team culture this would include personality, confidence, openness, and communication style.

     2 votes |
  • Inspired HR

    I lean towards people who are self-motivated, organized, work well with deadlines, and are very driven. We find these to be the best traits for a remote work environment.

     2 votes |
  • MomsRising.org

    We do want people that are highly motivated and collaborative team members.

     2 votes |
  • Toggl

    One of the most common traits is previous experience with remote working. This helps the new team members fit in easier and also helps us learn from their experiences. Everyone contributes to the culture at Toggl.

     2 votes |
  • Lullabot

    The fact that we’re fully distributed means we highly value strong communicators, both verbally and in written form, so that’s one of the first things we look at no matter what skill set or discipline we’re hiring for.

     1 vote |
  • SitePen

    We lean toward people who are active participants in outside communities. This demonstrates leadership, organization and passion being pursued by the applicant, all characteristics that we greatly value!  

    Arrogance is what we don’t want infiltrating our team. Though we’re very good at detecting it, we’re always surprised that it comes through during an interview!

    Oh, and we also really like people who think they’re as funny as we think we are — that way you know someone is laughing at your clever wit – even on a muted Skype call.

     1 vote |
  • Sutherland Global Services

    One of the most sought after qualities in a remote worker is that of independence, being able to thrive without face to face interaction.  This quality is an intangible one to be sure, so one that the recruiter is trying to discern during the interview process.

     1 vote |
  • Wordfence

    You’ll notice this is a common theme with us, but “trust” is a big one. The ability to trust that your teammate is going to go away and do an amazing job and check back in when they’re ready to.

     1 vote |
  • AgileBits

    A prospective hire should be confident of their skillset and have a positive disposition.

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  • AnswerConnect

    Not specifically for the remote aspect. We look for the same traits that we would be looking at for an in office position, which, in summary, are great customer service skills, computer skills, and culture fit.

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  • Appen

    People who have worked remotely before are ideal candidates. We also look for people who have a strong work ethic, exhibit the ability to work independently, and possess strong communication skills over all platforms.

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  • Big Universe, Inc.

    Candidates must treat the job seriously, like any other job. We emphasize that many times our staff actually works harder than people that go into a non-remote work since they have 24/7 access to work. We also expect professionalism during interviews, not necessarily a tie/suit type professionalism but how well they are prepared (e.g. having researched our company, dress, background noise).

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  • Blossom

    Being able to communicate well in written form is a plus. Being able to show that you can work without micro-management and supervision is also pretty important. A red flag to me would be people who are sloppy when writing emails, not responding for a long amount of time without an explanation.

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  • Bright!Tax

    Their experience, credentials and achievements are the most important factor, whether they’ve worked remotely before or not. Self-discipline and desire to do the job are perhaps the most important factors in terms of working remotely, and you can soon get an idea about someone’s aptitude for location-independent work (or not).

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  • Collage.com

    We look for nice, self-motivated employees who are good communicators and who are excited about the freedom a remote workplace provides.

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  • DataStax

    We don’t look for any particular traits. We’re upfront with candidates to make sure they understand our culture so they can make their own decision. If an employee is willing to give it a try, even if they have not worked remote before, we are happy to work with them to ensure it is a good fit.

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  • DevriX

    Many interviewees attend an interview without learning anything about our company or team members upfront. We have realized that there may be a huge gap between us and those people who apply randomly at different places and are not motivated to work with us exclusively.

    Therefore, we admire people who explore our website, follow us on social media, and can quote some of our services or products during an interview. Our best team members apply based on certain things we offer and having followed our CEO or some of our team members for a while, being excited to join our team.

    Additionally, we ask them to send us feedback, criticism, and “attack” us with various questions, including suggestions for our site, service offerings, documents, or products. Remote work requires proactiveness, creative thinking and excellent communication skills.

    Since we’re very community-driven, we also lean toward candidates who have been involved with a community for a while, or have ran a business/freelance consultancy for a couple years. While this may sound odd to some, often it means that interviewees were able to provide complete services to customers, manage their time, priorities and responsibilities, and possess the required minimum for joining a distributed team that lets them deal with what they do best without spending all of their time on sales, negotiations, lead generation or legal/financial challenges.

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  • DVMelite

    The remote worker is unique as they have to have initiative and discipline to work from home successfully.

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  • Edgar

    Written communication is a big deal in a remote company – after all, this is how we communicate with each other for the majority of the work we do. We also look specifically for people who are highly self-motivated, with a natural inclination toward working closely with a team. Remote work is ideal for people who prefer isolation over collaboration, but our company’s structure is very team-oriented, so we look for people who are interested in that sense of connection.

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  • Eyeo GmbH

    Yes; there are some traits we look for in remotees that are even more important in remote employees. We are looking for people who can work independently as we are not micromanaging people.

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  • FlexProfessionals, LLC

    Candidates for remote positions in our company must have excellent communications skills and a comfort level with learning new and using technology. We look for and evaluate these traits throughout the interview process. We also look for candidates that are very motivated and self-directed. We are pretty good at assessing motivation, but we often have to probe during the interview and when checking references to get a sense of one’s history of working successfully with limited direction, etc.

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  • GobySavvy

    Independence is a trait we lean towards. The ability for someone to take a project, and make it their own is key for our remote workforce.

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  • Hanno

    We’ve had great success with looking for people who’ve worked as freelancers in the past. Working remotely is not necessarily for everyone and some people find the experience to be very isolating. Former freelancers tend to deal with this experience better and we’ve found that they are also likely to be quite good at self-management and prioritisation (which is important for remote work, but isn’t necessarily the case with many people who’ve only ever worked as employees). Being disciplined and proactive are two traits we value very highly when looking for new team members.

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  • Help Scout

    Good communication, especially writing, is key! Most of our communication happens over chat so we look critically at their ability to explain complicated things clearly in writing.  Also, if they have not worked remotely before, I pay careful attention to the questions they have about remote work.  If they don’t have a lot of questions, it’s a red flag.  

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  • Inpsyde GmbH

    Lean toward a remote position, a person who can manage themselves, be focused at work and able to work on their own, make their own schedule and being communicative. Leaning away, a person who is the opposite of the previous points, who needs someone who gives him always instructions what to do now, a disorganized person, who has difficulties to focus.

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  • InVisionApp

    When we hire, we look for people who see remote work as an upgrade—an improvement to their lives. They’re driven individuals who have the self-awareness to know how they work best. Some people function better in a physical office environment, or might be at the outset of their careers and want that sort of structure. Our team sees remote work as a big benefit, even if it has its own set of challenges.

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  • Kin HR

    We put emphasis on how well a candidate can collaborate with other team members in a remote setting. Also, having a sense of humor can take you places!

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  • LiquidSpace

    New hires must be self-starters. To be successful at LiquidSpace, employees must set and achieve their own initiatives.

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  • Mavens

    Someone who has worked remotely before is beneficial. Someone who is less experienced in general and has only worked in an office will be identified as perhaps needing more support to start out.

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  • Modern Tribe

    For sure – we look for outgoing, positive, articulate, curious people. When we meet them they need to be able to project their personality through a video chat. We look for someone that has both a passion for work and for life! Usually we connect through talking about what they do when they are _not_ working.

    When working remotely, you really need to be a self-starter, with the discipline to actually accomplish the tasks you say you will rather than spending your days on Netflix binges. So people that have great habits in place for time tracking, organization, and self-management are an ideal fit for us. We always like to ask about the latest apps or tools that they might be testing out or using in their day to day. We recently found out about Calendly through chatting with an applicant and it has changed the whole work flow around booking interviews – hurray!

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  • Mokriya

    Although not deal breakers, we do look for certain questions we look to answer affirmatively. Is there alignment with our values? Has she/he worked remotely before? Is she/he an effective written communicator? Does she/he have attention to detail?

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  • Parse.ly

    We consider our remote candidates no different from in-office candidates. Most of our business team is in office, and most product is remote, but that isn’t a hard, fast rule for who we hire for which location.

    In the interview process, we look for people who are self-starters, entrepreneurial, and good communicators. These are three skills that are absolutely necessary among any distributed team member.

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  • Plex

    We look for people that are “capable, humble and kind“ (we stole that from another remote company, but I can’t remember which one).  Being capable is kind of an obvious requirement, but humility and kindness are absolute must-haves for us too.  You might be able to hide a pompous ass in the very back row of a soul-sucking cube farm and tell him or her not to talk to anyone, but that doesn’t work very well in Slack :-).

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  • Sanborn Media Factory

    We tend to hire more experienced candidates now. Before remote, we could sit a newbie down with an expert and have them learn as much as possible. We haven’t found a way to translate that experience to remote working yet. We also like to hire experienced folks because they can appreciate the value of a remote workplace. If you’re a 20 year old developer, heading into an office and hanging out with everybody is something you look forward to. When you’re 40, with a spouse and children, you have other priorities. And remote work lets us balance all of them.

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  • Simple Texting

    Same traits as in conventional candidates. If a candidate is flighty—moving from job to job frequently, they may be a bad fit. Candidates who speak poorly of prior employers or co-workers are a no-no. Those that exhibit very strong opinion for certain tools or doing things in a very particular way we also shy away from. Having strong opinions may be good, but we’re a small company and we usually need utility players. Guys and gals who are willing to help and use whatever tool is best for the job, not the tool that is best to grow their resume.

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  • TaxJar

    One of the biggest is a candidate has to have worked remotely before, preferably for at least 2 years. Bonus points for working previously for a completely remote team. If someone has thrived in that environment before, that’s a good sign they can join TaxJar and contribute right away. Also, a majority of our team members have operated their own successful businesses before. That proves they can be self-motivated and get things done.

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  • Timely

    Some experience of having worked remotely, or from home before is important. You don’t really know until you’ve done it, if you will be happy. It can take some time to find the right balance working remotely.

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  • Working Solutions

    Prior remote work experience certainly helps, but it’s sometimes just the way a candidate describes what they’re looking for, or what they liked or disliked about a past experience that tips you off.

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  • Worldwide101

    We look for individuals who have made a conscious decision to work remotely. These days with the rise of flexible working, many people apply for our positions without having necessarily thought it through, and it just seems like a novel idea, and one that should be “trialed”. We look for applicants who desire this lifestyle, who value the flexibility that it provides, and who will work hard to retain that privilege.

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  • X-Team

    There are indeed, and we even wrote a blog post about our three favorite traits to look for.

    Put briefly, we look for people who are…

    1. Confident communicators: Everyone sleeps better at night and moves forward with projects faster and more confidently when you hire people (yes, even developers) who can communicate with passion and confidence.
    2. Proactive and take charge: Developers who get bored…get bored on their own. Proactive developers can’t sit still, they can’t go without a task and they will create tasks if none exist. A proactive developer who takes charge is someone who is never “blocked.” They continue pushing forward to get answers to become ‘unblocked’ OR they find tasks that they can do in the meantime until they are unblocked.
    3. Selfless: If you want a team of developers who will always grow, dedicate themselves to quality, commit themselves to their teammates and moving forward together, then you need people with selfless values.
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