5 questions to find if a Talented developer is also a Hard Worker

Are you about to hire or outsource for your tech team? If so, this article was written for you.

Your company is trying to find qualified and experienced developers to ramp-up your tech team. You already searched the market, made a first interview and selected two candidates with more or less the same skills and experience.

Now it’s time to choose.

Candidate A worked hard before getting where they are now: majored in Computer Sciences from a top university and got their first tech job while still attending classes. All by the book with a lot of sweat and tears.

Then you have candidate B, a self-taught programmer to whom coding just seems to come naturally. Currently working at a tech startup.

They both have similar experience and hard skills, and still, you’re inclined to choose the natural talent over the hard worker.

Even if you wrote in this job vacancy that hard work and perseverance are desirable in a candidate.

Even if you are, yourself, a hard worker.

Several studies have been conducted to understand which one do we prefer: the hard worker or the talented. Both in music and business, the people who participated in these studies preferred the latter.

If everyone loves stories of overcoming adversities – it inspires us to care more and to work harder – why do we keep choosing the talented over the hard worker?

New Yorker science writer Malcolm Gladwell says “It’s about a particular cultural fascination with the idea of potential”.

The talented have a mysterious source of inspiration that guides them, and helps them do things right: their talent. They have something hard workers don’t, and so, we imagine that it can help them achieve something that goes beyond all the hard work.

There’s only one problem: talent is limited, while hard-working is not. If one is not willing to put some effort into growing their talent, then the talent itself won’t automatically bring success.

So while you might be so fascinated by candidate B, and how they learn how to programme by themselves, make sure they know how to deal with a situation in which their talent might just not be enough.

Is your talented candidate also a hard worker?

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” – Kevin Durant, NBA Player

Talent can be a good kick-start, but in the long run? Great results won’t be obtained solely through talent, hard work is essential – even for the most talented people.

Therefore, before making your choice – which is not really a choice, we already know who you prefer – make sure the talented programmer is also capable of working hard to achieve their goals.


Here’s what to look for and how to test if talented candidates are also hard workers.

1. Hard workers adapt to different schedules and environments

You know working conditions can change very fast and regardless of your will – or your tech team would be working from the office right now.

Hard workers are efficient with their time management and so they can manage their schedules regardless of the workplace.

How to test it in a job interview: ask your candidates how they managed to adapt to the remote work. How was their individual performance? How were the results of the team?

2. Hard workers are trustable

Hard workers are trustable with their own work – if they said they were going to get it done, they will – but also among colleagues, who trust them because they know how good their work is.

How to test it in a job interview: ask your candidates what was the biggest challenge they faced at work and how did they react and help solve it.

3. Hard workers keep working hard after the first months

They want to do a good job, and not just to impress you or to receive a bonus.

How to test it in a job interview: ask what motivates your candidates about the job and observe their reactions. Are they passionate about it? Hard workers love what they do and take pride in their work.

4. Hard workers look for new challenges

If it’s the work itself that motivates hard workers, then it makes sense that, over time, they will look for new challenges and ways of outdoing themselves.

How to test it in a job interview: ask how your candidates see themselves evolving from the job they are interviewing for. Perhaps they would like to become managers? Or maybe they would like to evolve from frontend developers to full stack developers?

5. Hard workers are always trying to improve

And so, hard workers will appreciate your feedback. They know that your experience can help them evolve, and so they will try to make the most of it.

How to test it in a job interview: ask your candidates how they deal with critics. Or, better than that, give your candidates a challenge and then observe how they react to your feedback. Do they recognize you are right? Do they get angry? Do they insist on their point even if they’re wrong? Do they insist on their point but present you with evidence to support their opinion?

Talented vs hard worker: final thoughts

More important than that scientifically proven attraction towards the talented, for the long run, you want to make sure you’re hiring a hard worker. Someone who can easily adapt to the changes in the schedule or environment, someone who is reliable, who takes pride in their own work, and finally, someone who wants to be challenged, improve, and evolve.

So, when the time you have to choose between the hard worker and the talented comes, you should choose… both!

If you can’t find a person that is both talented and hard worker or if you’re not sure if the talented developer you’re interviewing is also a hard worker… give us a call.

At KWAN, our recruiters are experts at finding talented developers and assessing if they are also hard workers. Get in touch so we can start looking for the right candidates for your tech team.