It Starts With People: Qualities to Look For When Building Your Technology Team

April 15, 2021 James Phillips

This blog post is the first in a five-part series examining key insights from our CTO James Phillips on how to build an effective technology organization.


At the heart of any successful technology organization is quality people. In my 20+ years of leading tech teams both large and small, my first job is to assess and reassess the skills and passions of my team members on an ongoing basis.    


Beyond “traditional” markers of skill that can be found on a resume and proven by past work experiences, an ideal technology team member needs to possess three key qualities: (1) a passion for learning and growth, (2) critical thinking skills, and a (3) receptiveness to change. 


Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these qualities individually for a complete explanation. 

A Passion to Learn (and Desire to Grow)  


It is important to start here, because gauging a prospective employee’s passion for learning will help you understand their desire for consistent self-improvement over time. Just like you expect your business to evolve in the coming years, you need to expect your team members to stretch and grow at the same time and embrace those changes.


Some questions you might ask candidates to assess their passion for learning: ”How do you stay up to date on industry trends?” “Have you progressed to new roles in past companies? Where do you see yourself at our company two years from now? If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?”


A candidate’s responses to these questions can reveal whether they strive for more or feel content with the status quo. Neither category should necessarily qualify or disqualify a candidate from a role, but fast growth technology teams rely on employees with true growth mindsets to lead them and achieve scalable success.  

Critical Thinking to Solve Problems


Old school interview questions that candidates rehearse for won’t reveal their ability to process new information in the moment. To gauge how much “outside-the-box” thinking and critical processing ability a candidate has, you will need to ask questions that force them to come up with solutions on the spot. 


On these, I like to get creative: “What is your favorite band and why? What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What are examples of big ideas you have? If you could solve a major problem facing the world, what would it be and how would you do it?”


A candidate’s answers to simple, but potentially expansive questions like these, can reveal a lot about their ability to think critically and adapt on the fly. If they struggle to come up with examples and seem thrown off by this sudden adjustment in the interview, then they may lack the processing ability necessary to earn a role on your fast-paced tech team. 

Change Happens. How Receptive are They?


Businesses, like individuals, evolve. The right technology candidate recognizes change as inevitable and a constant in the advanced communications space, and will embrace that reality. 


Some questions I like to ask: “How did you adapt to changes in past work environments? What was the most surprising change that happened to you in your last role? How did you adapt to that new situation? What’s the biggest change you have made personally in the past year?” 


A candidate’s response will provide insight into their receptiveness to change. If their response focuses more on the negatives of the experience and not on how they overcame these challenges, then they may not be the right fit for your technology team. 

Contact for More Tech Leadership Insight 


By prioritizing these qualities in your candidate pool, you can succeed in building an effective tech team that can do the work to help your business realize its technology vision and company culture. 


At, our culture is a critical factor in our success. The talented team members we bring in surpass a high bar to join us and then raise that bar even higher. By having these “bar raisers” on your team, your technology will be set up to strengthen well in the future. 


Check back periodically for more insights from James in our Tech Leadership blog series! To keep the conversation going on our key tech leadership insights and’s approach to building technology teams, contact us today.

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