8 successful software engineering interview questions
Author: Nicola Lumb | Date published: 30/07/20
With competition for the best software engineers and developers high, many companies are ditching 3-4 stage interviews with lengthy, time consuming technical challenges and switching it for more quick-fire Q&A sessions. With adequate preparation hiring managers should be able to ask the right interview questions to determine who would be a suitable match for their role and team.
What questions should you be asking software engineers/developers at interview stage?
Once you get past the small talk stage at the beginning, finding out how the candidate got there and how their day is going, you can hone in on their technical skills and knowledge to find out whether they will fit well into your team and technical environment.
There are 100’s of different interview questions you could ask a software engineer, from basic to advanced questions, but we’ve pulled together the top 8 that often come up when candidates give us interview feedback.
1. What kind of development are you currently doing?
Every hiring manager is looking for a candidate who can clearly outline the set of applications and technology stack they have worked with. Alongside this they want a potential employee to understand and be able to explain the business reasoning behind those applications.
2. Tell me about a time you had to build something and then support it
Another common question that often comes up is this. This question is designed to test the candidate’s understanding of the challenges that engineers/developers face when building technology for other people.
3. Describe a tough software development problem you faced and how you solved it
This is a good opportunity for an engineer or developer to dig deep into a software development problem they have faced, and how they solved it. It gives the hiring manager insight into the candidate’s problem-solving ability and how they handle potentially pressured situations.
4. Talk about a project that completely failed and how you reacted to it
Nobody likes feeling vulnerable and talking about their failures but being able to show they have learned from them is extremely important, particularly with developers/software engineers. This is because failure is a crucial part of the programming process and candidates who are able to demonstrate their resilience and ability to iterate quickly will impress the interviewer and show they are able to work well in an agile environment.
5. In your opinion, what are the principles of good software engineering? What are some basic engineering principles everyone should follow?
There are different opinions on what makes good software engineering, and those opinions guide a company’s culture. This question will allow you to see if the candidate’s philosophy on engineering matches your own. What to look for:
– Thoughts on software engineering
– Applicant’s coding philosophy
– Critical thinking skills
6. Can you describe the development methodologies you’re familiar with?
Hiring managers are looking to understand how a job candidate would fit into their organisation’s work environment and process – For example, if a candidate comes from an agile background, it will likely be easier for them to adapt to a SCRUM or Waterfall or hybrid development methodology.
7. What is your process to test and find bugs in an application?
Every candidate will have their own process and favourite debugging tools. By asking about this you will get better insight into the candidate and how they ensure they deliver quality work.
8. What are your career aspirations?
This is a chance for a candidate to be honest and reflect on what they are looking for in their career. There’s no right or wrong way to answer, as everyone has different goals, but it can impact their suitability for the position. If a candidate wants to move into management, but the employer is looking for someone to be an individual contributor and isn’t focused on developing someone into management, it’s better to know that early on instead of waiting to find that out after starting a job. Some companies may be looking for someone that wants to move into management and be a team player and others want someone who will come in, put their head down and work independently.
We speak to software engineers and developers every day and know what they like/dislike about job interviews and how best to structure your interview process to maintain a positive candidate experience. If you’re unsure about your recruitment process or what interview questions to ask software engineers, please get in touch.