Good or Great Programmers: 7 Ways to Tell the Difference

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The tech industry is in dire need of excellent programmers. While there are a large number of programmers, the difference between a good one and a great one is important. But what are the qualities of a great programmer?

  1. Having a caring attitude & positive mentality.

Good programmers will do the job they are given and do it well. However, great programmers will go above and beyond. These kinds of people bring feelings into the workplace—feelings of passion and a caring attitude toward their employers. To know beforehand whether a programmer would go that extra mile, ask them questions like:

  • What kind of situation have you been in where someone you had to work with was less than cooperative? How did you handle it?
  • Was there something in particular you enjoyed at your previous job?
  • Displaying exceptional communication skills.

Being able to communicate effectively is vital in the tech industry. Excellent programmers obtain skills that help them communicate with virtually anyone in a professional environment. Testing to see how well a programmer can do this can be done by asking them to describe scenarios where they displayed exceptional communication.

  • Maintaining top-level management skills.

Great programmers should know how to manage their time well, as well as coordinating that management clearly to other necessary employees. Presenting the finished product at the time they specified is a sign of this.

  • Good at adapting & teaching themselves.

The ever-evolving technological industry needs people who can adapt to various situations professionally. Many hats may need to be worn and experienced programmers will understand the significance of being able to adapt. Teaching themselves extra skills such as how to use different software, without prompting by their employers, is a definite sign of a great programmer.

  • Having a wide array of experience.

New programmers struggle to thrive in the tech industry because of this. Having experience with all kinds of software, tools, and workplaces is essential to becoming a great programmer. Adaptability is often achieved through experiences in various workplaces or through different tasks.

  • Knowing how to work as a part of a team (or alone if needed).

It’s rare that programmers work alone in a professional setting. They almost always are part of a team and must know how to participate as a member of that team. This is where communication plays a big part as well. It helps the team solve issues as they arise.

  • Looking long-term.

Good programmers will focus their attention on the tasks at hand. Great programmers, on the other hand, look long-term at the business’s goals. They consider how each project affects a company and strive to do their best.


The difference between good and great programmers may not be very large objectively, but the impact is significant. Great programmers elevate the company they work for by delivering their best work, communicating with their team members, maintaining a positive and open attitude, and bring high-level skills to the table. Most importantly, all good programmers can become great if they are willing to put forth the effort to reach that status.