Software Engineer Interview Questions
A Software Engineer helps bring your company’s vision to life through integrative development and programming. These computer science experts draw upon a variety of techniques and tools to create user-oriented PC software and mobile applications. Virtually every industry has a need for skilled Software Engineers, so you will be able to find one who is perfect for your job by asking the right interview questions.
While there are many successful self-taught Software Engineers, most hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science. They are fluent in a variety of programming languages and understand the methodology of agile development, enabling them to motivate a team and stay on-track without ever losing sight of the consumer’s needs and end goal. In addition to technical skills, candidates should also be excellent communicators who can gather information from users and translate them into meaningful programs.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Software Engineer interview questions to help you get started:
1. What is your favorite programming language to use?
What you want to hear: Although they will need to know several in order to succeed in their profession, every engineer has their go-to language. Answers may include Java, Python, C++ and Perl. These are the fundamental languages that are integral to the development process.
Red flag: Watch out for candidates who say they are unable to choose a favorite or avoid elaborating their choice. They should be able to explain which language(s) they enjoy the most. This question is also an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the depth of their applied knowledge.
2. Are you familiar with agile software development? If so, what has your experience with it been like?
What you want to hear: Agile software development is a methodology that emphasizes continual feedback and collaboration between individual teams. Philosophies like scrum help transform software development into a team effort that is grounded in users’ needs. If the candidate has limited agile experience, look for a response that at least demonstrates familiarity with the concept and a willingness to learn if it is a part of your existing culture.
Red flag: Although not every candidate will have agile development experience, they should know what it is. If they have never even heard of it, they likely do not stay current with industry trends and evolving standards. This could negatively impact your software products if major advancements and trends are overlooked.
3. Define “responsive design”.
What you want to hear: Since the majority of internet users access content from mobile devices, it’s crucial for software to fit multiple screens. Greater compatibility translates to a wider user base, so candidates should mention that responsive design is user-friendly across all devices due to its fluid layout.
Red flag: Candidates who are unfamiliar with user stories will not be able to create the backlogs integral to scum. Without user stories, the entire heart of agile development is gone. Avoid any applicants who do not understand the definition of product backlogs or cannot articulate the value of user stories.
4. Describe the difference between black box and white box measures.
What you want to hear: Black box software testing is conducted with the internal structure of the product unknown to the tester. In white box testing, the tester does know the internal design of the software they’re using.
Red flag: Candidates should know the entire software development process, which includes testing and implementing feedback. Without understanding how to run tests and why different measures are important, you may be prone to software with more errors.
5. What is the difference between validation and verification?
What you want to hear: Both are key features of software quality control. Verification activities ensure that software executes everything it was designed to do; validation confirms that a product meets the needs of its intended audience.
Red flag: Limited knowledge of testing can also translate to poor troubleshooting skills and limited scope. Every software developer needs to know the entire lifecycle of software development to do their job well. Your strongest candidates will be able to quickly describe the difference between software validation and verification and explain why they are important.
6. How do you decide which SDLC model to use for a project?
What you want to hear: Software development lifecycle models (SDLC) vary by project. To choose one, a Software Engineer should assess the needs of stakeholders and consumers, define project criteria and compare several models to determine the most efficient and effective.
Red flag: Choosing the right SLDC organizes a project’s development and can optimize productivity. Candidates who are unfamiliar with the methodology behind various SDLC frameworks may overlook risks and frequently encounter avoidable setbacks during the development process.
7. Do you like to work on any personal projects in your free time? Tell me about them.
What you want to hear: For most engineers, software development isn’t just a day job but a passion. They may be working on their own app idea or enjoy redesigning existing applications’ interfaces to see what types of features they could bring into their own work.
Red flag: A candidate should care about programming outside the workplace. Even if they love the projects they work on at the office, they should also have personal interests and look for ways to align them with their skill set.
8. How would you describe cloud data to someone who can barely use a computer?
What you want to hear: Software Engineers must be able to break down big ideas and complex structures into simple, everyday language. Cloud data is information typically saved on your computer stored on the internet instead. The cloud is just a metaphor for the web.
Red flag: At the worst, a candidate wouldn’t even know how to define cloud data. Overly technical and redundant responses are also not preferred as they ignore the question prompt and demonstrate poor listening and communication skills.
9. If you’ve used our products, what’s one change you’d recommend?
What you want to hear: The candidate should have researched your company and tried some of your existing software. If the company is in an industry that they’re not wholly familiar with, they should at least know what you specialize in and have some suggestions on what directions you could take your development.
Red flag: A candidate who is completely unfamiliar with the company’s software has not done any pre-interview research. This indicates a lack of dedication to the position and a possible dislike of the actual work if they are unsure what type of software they would be programming.
10. How do you familiarize yourself with a project when you first join a team?
What you want to hear: The software team must have collaboration and mutual respect to deliver the best possible results. Asking questions, getting to know everyone’s individual role and finding the biggest needs to work on is a good way to respect existing boundaries and naturally integrate into the development process.
Red flag: Any response that does not express the importance of communicating with the team indicates poor interpersonal skills or inexperience working with a group. The team model in development spans beyond simply tolerating coworkers; a good engineer knows that working with others is integral to creating a good product.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Software Engineer position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Demonstrate fluent programming skills in the core software development languages such as Java and C++.
- Are self-motivated workers with a strong team spirit.
- Stay up-to-date on industry standards and always strive to bring the best strategies into their work.