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Hiring Technical Talent

[Checklist] How to Hire the Right DevOps Talent for Your Company

Written By Dana Frederick | September 20, 2018

Illustration of a giant checklist containing Hackerrank's logo, with one person on the left holding up a pencil to itThis is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here: 

Contrary to popular belief, DevOps is not the same as an operations role. And DevOps engineers are not the same as a software developers or a QA engineers, either. Instead, DevOps specialists are a combination of the three (and then some) that work to solve high-level operational and efficiency challenges within a technical team.

DevOps specialists help to manage and optimize a development team's output, from streamlining collaboration, to performing QA, automating important processes, and more. Otherwise put: they help development teams ship high quality work consistently and quickly.


DevOps specialists—who can be called DevOps Architects, DevOps Engineers, Infrastructure Engineers, or even Operations Engineers, depending on whom you ask—come from an eclectic group of developers with both software and systems backgrounds. In that sense, finding the right DevOps hire, like many technical roles, depends on the needs of the company, the structure of the team, and the projects they work on.

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for this position, and not all of the points below may apply to all DevOps positions. Instead, it’s likely that your hiring manager will be focused on a handful of these traits. We recommend syncing with your hiring manager to understand which traits they’re looking for, and which they’re prioritizing.

If you’re searching for mid-level DevOps talent, here’s what to look for:


  • Has experience in a related technical field (e.g. software development, network engineering, or operations)
  • Track record of upholding regular system monitoring and reporting
  • Strong grasp on operational best practices within software development cycle (regarding security, data duplication and redundancy, scaling, disaster recovery, and more)
  • Adaptable, comfortable with learning new technologies on the fly—but not overly focused on new and shiny tech
  • Employs a “work smarter, not harder” attitude within their work—focused on maximizing efficiency
  • Comfortable overseeing maintenance of big data

Team Compatibility

  • Familiar with your team’s preferred development methodology (e.g. agile, scrum, spiral, and so on) and tech stack (popular asks for DevOps include, but are not limited to: Python, Go, JSON/JavaScript, Ruby [Chef/Puppet], Datadog, AWS)
  • Advocates for the long-term needs of the system, even when those needs are unpopular
  • Collaborative and team-oriented: Can work alongside teammates to solve technical challenges without pointing fingers
  • Composed and organized in stressful, ambiguous, and time-sensitive scenarios
  • Strong leadership qualities: Can align and guide various stakeholders together to pursue a common goal

Soft Skills

  • Self-directed: Able to stay organized, timely, and proactive with little to no oversight
  • Willing to work outside the limelight, and focus on the “behind the scenes” side of development
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills: Able to work with teammates across various roles to remove obstacles as they arise
  • Eager sense of curiosity, with strong problem-solving skills and investigative drive
  • Strategically minded: Consistently makes decisions that consider both long and short-term needs

open-devops-checklist-pdfTriple check your team's requirements

What are your best practices for finding DevOps talent to suit your team? DevOps roles can cover a variety of tasks, and can come from an especially eclectic set of professional backgrounds, so getting in sync with your team’s needs is a must. Share your tips for alignment below!

And if you're interested in designing your own assessment for DevOps candidates, you can sign up for a free trial here.

Hiring for other technical roles? Learn the right skills to target for more specialized roles in our full guide:

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