In the fiercely competitive world of hiring technical talent, what interview approach differentiates top technicians who will work well in your company? Surprisingly, assessing “soft skills” may be as important as evaluating the candidate’s technical skills.

In a recent blog post by Christine Zimmerman for the Startup Institute, “Four Types of Technical Interview Questions to Prepare For,” Neville Samuell from Pathgather says he prefers to ask a vague, open-ended question like “Walk me through the design of a grocery checkout system.” He listens for how the candidate models the problems and breaks it down into manageable parts. Most importantly, Samuell assesses how the candidate asks questions to clarify the requirements of the project.

As Samuell put it, “Practical software engineering relies a ton on good communication around “what to build,” whereas the “how to build it” part is often pretty straightforward.” Even in highly specialized of software development, being a good listener and collaborator is a key success factor. Check out the blog post.

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