How to Ensure You Hire the Best Problem Solvers | BlueOptima

4 min readMay 19, 2022


Almost every software developer job description includes problem-solving as a core skill requirement, and for good reason. Building effective features and applications requires developers to use creativity and logical thought process to resolve a specific user issue.

With strong problem-solvers on your team, you can expect to enhance productivity while reducing technical debt in the longer term. However, when it comes to evaluating this key competency in the recruitment process, businesses may find they require a more robust software engineer assessment.

Continue reading to explore the differences between generalist and specialist problem solvers and learn how technology can help you hire the best talent.

Who Can Solve Your Problems?

Between technical debt, misunderstandings with clients, bugs, and legacy systems, problems are a common part of the software development workflow. If left unresolved, however, the issues can hinder the success of a project by blocking productivity and sapping employee morale.

Therefore, it’s crucial to have effective problem-solvers on the team. Problem-solvers can be split into two groups: specialists and generalists. Both options have their merits and drawbacks — and your choice will depend on the needs of your business.

Comparing Problem Solvers: Specialists Vs Multi-Skilled Developers

The Specialist Developer

A specialist in the software industry is someone who has advanced experience in a particular field, gaining mastery of a limited range of subjects.

In the world of web development, there are front-end and back-end developers who specialise in a particular part of the web development process. You can even go further. For instance, someone could be a front-end developer working with React or a back-end developer specialising in Java.

Hiring a specialist will mean your team will rarely struggle with projects related to their field of expertise. The downside is that their skills aren’t always transferable to new projects, which can limit their ability to adapt to varying projects.

The Pros of the Specialist Developer

  • Ability to provide expertise in their field
  • Ability to resolve high-level issues
  • Ability to streamline their work processes

The Cons of the Specialist Developer

  • Possesses limited abilities
  • Difficulty adapting to change (new technologies, for example)

The Multi-Skilled Developer

Multi-skilled developers have a range of skills and knowledge. Capable generalists will have widespread experience with various subjects over an extended period of time.

A full-stack developer is often considered multi-skilled, as they work with the back end of the application as well as the front end. Full-stack developers must have knowledge of a variety of coding niches, from databases to UI/UX management, in order to do their job well.

Compared to a specialist, a multi-skilled developer can improve the entire team’s productivity by offering insight into various areas and helping to solve a multitude of problems.

A generalist developer has a broader skill range and often can see the bigger picture, so they are often well equipped to find creative solutions to a wide range of issues.

The Pros of the Generalist Developer

  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to offer multiple services
  • Ability to find solutions for a broad range of issues
  • Possesses transferable set of skills

The Cons of the Generalist Developer

  • Requires continuous training to stay on the pulse
  • A lack of expertise in a specific area

Hiring to Solve Problems vs Hiring to Expand

The decision between a specialist and generalist will ultimately depend on the needs of the existing team and projects.

A specialist will be a wiser choice if the team has a specific issue they consistently encounter during projects. In addition, if you undertake a long-term project where specific knowledge would prove invaluable, incorporating a specialist into the team would be appropriate.

A multi-skilled developer would be best suited to companies that regularly take on a variety of projects. In addition, if you regularly deal with the issue of low output or time pressures, expanding the development team with multi-skilled professionals can boost productivity to deliver more quality products on time.

Using Automation for Software Engineer Assessments

You now know the difference between specialists and multi-skilled developers on paper, but identifying them when recruiting can be a different story entirely.

Conventional coding assessments often only determine the speed at which the candidate completes the assessment and whether or not they arrived at the correct solution. However, to accurately assess a candidate’s problem-solving ability, recruiters need more in-depth insights.

High-quality coding evaluations can help by leveraging technology and automation to analyse how a developer arrives at a conclusion while determining the quality and maintainability of the code.

Armed with this knowledge, recruiters and business owners can get into the minds of software developers and determine their ability to solve an array of issues.

Plus, modern assessment tools like BlueOptima’s Predictive Assessment tool can give an accurate prediction of a specialist or generalist’s future productivity levels. Recruitment doesn’t need to be a guessing game anymore.

Hire the Best Problem Solvers With BlueOptima

Whether you’re looking for a specialist or multi-skilled developer, BlueOptima’s Predictive Assessment tool can make the hiring process much simpler.

The automated solution considers complexity, efficiency, maintainability and coding behaviour to truly predict how a developer will perform in the workplace. Plus, the assessments are designed to evaluate real-world software development issues found in enterprise settings to ensure you only hire the best problem solvers.

Request a free trial of our AI-powered Predictive Assessment solution to start making more reliable recruitment decisions today.

Originally published at on May 19, 2022.




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