How the Best Software Engineers Provide Exponential Value by Taking Initiative


Do you have the ability to keep trying, even when the odds seem to be against you? When dealing with problems that have numerous constraints, are you able to come up with creative solutions by thinking unconventionally? Do you seek out solutions to problems that you encounter without being asked?

These are valuable traits when trying to orchestrate change and get things accomplished within environments that are tightly constrained. You will find that regardless of your company size or culture, there will be times when you need to do some outside-of-the-box thinking to get something done. Your ability to accomplish objectives in spite of difficult constraints will brand you as somebody who "gets the job done!"

Potential Interview Questions to Identity Initiative

What Things Do You Do to Stay Current with Technology?


The pace of change in technology is ever accelerating. If you are not actively investing time in learning new technologies, you will soon become obsolete. To keep up with an ever changing context, you need to be constantly engaged in your education. This may be through formal or informal means. You might attend conferences, conduct self-study on new technologies, enroll in formal education, or participate in a variety of other training courses. Whatever your preference, you need to make sure that you are doing things that are continually growing your skills and knowledge.

Good Response

  • "I try to attend at least one or two major developer conferences a year. Last year I attended AWS re:Invent, and this year I plan on attending SpringOne."
  • "I'm continually researching and learning new technologies or skills. Currently I've been studying the Gang of Four design patterns and their application. Prior to that I was investigating Docker as a dev ops solution."

Poor Response

  • "I read and follow a number of blogs." (This is the answer I hear most frequently if a candidate doesn't actively do much to keep up-to-date).
  • "I read lots of books on technology." (Usually a follow-up question about which specific books doesn't yield much of an answer).

Positioning Possible Negatives

It's usually a bad sign if you are not actively investing in your technology education. However, you may be able to temper the negative reaction a bit if you commonly contribute to open source projects or if you conduct other coding exercises in your spare time. Unfortunately, if you are not actively investing in your education, you probably are not coding in your spare time either.

Interested in the Importance of Intellectual Curiosity in Great Software Engineers?