Getting the best jobs in software development is all about standing out from an already competitive field of well-qualified, experienced rivals.
The thing which separates candidates from the herd is often not just their training, past positions and professional achievements, but how well they are likely to fit in with the culture of their prospective employer.
Thus understanding the importance of cultural assessment is relevant both if you want to secure your dream role, but also so that you can determine whether a business is actually going to be an inclusive, supportive place to work.
Let’s look at how you can explore and explain the cultural traits that are important to you, and those which you bring to the table as a software developer candidate, in order to elevate you above the competition.
First of all, it’s worth noting that while you might feel compelled to try and portray yourself as intrinsically aligned with the culture of a given company in your application or at an interview, this is not always helpful for either party.
If you’ve researched an organization and you feel that there are some aspects of its culture that don’t gel with your own background or preferences, then you can actually spin this as a positive aspect.
By joining the team, you will be bringing a diversity of opinions and outlooks to the table, and also be making a contribution to the culture to broaden it out and improve inclusivity going forward.
As more businesses are becoming aware of their need to not just hire developers who fit in with some preconceived idea of the ‘right’ person from a cultural point of view, this could be a strong aspect to emphasize. It will also show that this is something you have considered carefully before applying.
Software developers need to be team players, not just within their own departments, but also when it comes to collaborating with colleagues from other parts of the organization.
If you are able to showcase your teamwork skills, not just focus on your own abilities, achievements and ambitions, then you will definitely find a place within progressive, forward-thinking and productivity-focused firms.
Understanding the role that teamwork plays in pushing projects forwards is also an important managerial skill. So if you are aiming to set yourself up as a candidate that has good prospects for progression beyond the job you are applying for, this can be part of your strategy.
Another thing which a lot of modern employers will be looking for from software developers is an affinity for modern feedback techniques, and the reciprocal nature of tracking performance and providing recognition within teams of this type.
There are obviously different ways to go about receiving and providing feedback in the workplace, whether on an ad-hoc basis or within a more formal structure including scheduled reviews and analysis from managers.
You can certainly be honest about your preferences here if you wish, but it is best to demonstrate a willingness to listen to feedback, take onboard the thoughts of others in the team and move forward constructively if possible.
One of the ways in which cultural fit is assessed in software developer interviews is by asking candidates seemingly ambiguous, overarching questions that could trip you up if you are not ready for them.
For example, you might be asked why you want to work for the company, which is obviously an opportunity to outline what you think makes it attractive to you.
If you can directly reference aspects of the culture which caught your eye, whether that’s flexible working conditions, remote working support, an inclusive approach to hiring or anything else, in doing so you are also emphasizing your own cultural traits.
As with any part of the job application and interview process, preparedness and practice will stand you in good stead.