Software Developer Technical Interview Questions

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Software Developer Technical Interview Questions

Whether you've been hiring software engineers for a month or a decade, it seems like technology is always changing. I still recall when Ruby on Rails made its debut, followed by the rise of Java, SQL, and now Python reigns supreme in the world of coding. But with all of these new languages and frameworks, the core principles of software development have remained the same. To help you find the best candidates for your team, here are some software developer technical interview questions concepts that you should be familiar with.

Understanding Fundamentals:

Before getting into specific coding questions, it's important to assess a candidate's overall understanding of software development. Here are some general questions to have on hand- there's a good chance your candidates will have found them online during their software engineer interview preparation.

- What is the difference between programming and coding?

- What do you believe are the essential skills for a software developer?

- Can you explain the Agile development process and its benefits?

- How does version control work, and why is it important?

Data Structures:

Data structures are an integral part of any software development project. A strong understanding of data structures can lead to more efficient and effective code. These are some interview questions that can help assess a candidate's knowledge of data structures:

- Can you explain the differences between an array and a linked list? When would you use one over the other?

- What is the difference between a stack and a queue?

- How would you implement a hash table in your preferred programming language?


Similar to data structures, a strong understanding of algorithms is crucial for writing efficient code. Some possible interview questions related to algorithms include:

- Can you explain the differences between a bubble sort and a quicksort? Which one would you use for sorting a large dataset?

- How do you determine the time complexity of an algorithm?

Object-Oriented Programming:

Many modern programming languages are built on the principles of object-oriented programming. Here are some questions to assess a candidate's understanding of OOP:

- What is an object, and how does it relate to a class?

- Can you explain the difference between inheritance and polymorphism?

- How do you handle exceptions in your code?

As you ask these questions, you'll be looking to assess their proficiency through their responses. Software engineering interview questions and answers play a vital role in the interview because they showcase how a candidate approaches problem-solving. As technology continues to evolve, so will the questions that software developer interviews ask. However, by understanding the fundamentals and staying up-to-date on new technologies, you can ensure that your team is filled with top-notch software engineers.

These questions and many more are available in Pillar's interview question library. In fact, we have over 1000 questions, specific to each role, that you can add to our interview intelligence software as prompts to ask during the interview. This way you can focus more on the candidate's responses and less on asking the questions.

Entry-Level Software Engineer Interview Questions

Software engineers who've just graduated or recently received certification are usually well prepared for, and even excited for, their first round of interviews. Everyone wants to make a good impression and secure their first job as a software engineer. To help you navigate their enthusiasm and help them continue through the process confidently, we’ve compiled some common entry-level software engineer interview questions and tips on how to answer them.

It's okay to start with softball questions to build a foundation of rapport and help you understand their potential fit for the roles you're hiring at the moment. Questions like:

"What inspired you to become a software engineer?"

This is a simple, possibly even elementary interview question for most of you, but it's a starting place that will help you understand whether their starting their career, making a career transition, or just "adding to the resume."

"Tell me about your recent (education, certification, etc.) How do you think it prepared you for this role?"

As you transition from simple questions like the ones above to technical interview questions for software developer candidates, you'll want to have some familiarity with basic concepts, such as data types and algorithms. You might want to ask the following software developer technical interview questions:

"What coding language are you most familiar with?"

"Do you have a portfolio that I can view and share with our team?"

"What projects did you work on and how did you develop them?"

These questions aren't extremely technical but they will give you a baseline of a candidate's experience. Now, let's transition to the candidate's answers. Software engineer technical interview questions and answers are a crucial part of the hiring process. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind:

1. Ask open-ended, semi-structured questions. This allows the candidate to show their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, rather than just regurgitating memorized answers.

2. Listen carefully and ask follow-up questions: This will help you understand the candidate's thought process, how they approach problem-solving, and their level of expertise.

3. Pay attention to their communication skills: As software engineers often work in teams, it's essential that they can communicate effectively. Look for candidates who can explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner.

4. Don't just focus on technical skills: While it's crucial to assess a candidate's technical abilities, don't overlook other qualities like adaptability, teamwork, and creativity.

Overall, software developer technical interview questions and answers should be a mix of skills-based and behavioral questions. This will help you determine a candidate's technical proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and overall fit for your team. Remember to keep the tone of the interview friendly and conversational to put candidates at ease and allow them to showcase their skills confidently.

Software Engineer Interview Questions And Answers

We started off this article with a foundational understanding of software engineering interview questions and answers that you may not be familiar with if you're new to hiring for these roles. Now, we will dive deeper into the technical aspect with a focus on software engineer interview questions and answers.

Technical Interview Questions And Answers For Software Developers

As mentioned earlier, technical interviews assess a candidate's proficiency in coding languages, algorithms, data structures, and other fundamental concepts. Here are some common technical interview questions and answers for software developer candidates that you can ask to evaluate them.

Software developer technical interview questions and example answers:

Q: Can you explain the concept of recursion and provide an example?

- A method that calls itself until a base condition is met.

- Example: The factorial function, where n * (n-1) * (n-2) * ... *

Q: What is the difference between a stack and a queue?

- Stack follows the "Last In First Out" (LIFO) principle, while Queue follows the "First In First Out" (FIFO) principle.

Q: How do you handle errors in your code?

- I use try-catch blocks and exception handling to gracefully handle any potential errors or exceptions that may occur during runtime.

Q: Explain the difference between SQL and NoSQL databases.

- SQL databases use structured query language and have a predefined schema, while NoSQL databases are non-relational and do not have a fixed schema.

Q: Can you walk me through your debugging process?

- I start by identifying the issue, then I review the code to find potential causes and finally use debugging tools or print statements to pinpoint the source of the error.

- I also make sure to document any changes I make for future reference.

Q: Can you implement a sorting algorithm of your choice?

- I can implement quicksort, which uses the divide and conquer approach to sort a collection of elements in an efficient manner.

Overall, it's essential to remember that software developer technical interview questions and answers are not only necessarily about getting the correct answer. Yes, the foundation of knowledge must be present, but more importantly, the candidate's thought process and problem-solving skills are what make them stand out.

You'll want to incorporate both technical and behavioral questions (which we talk about in other articles) in your interview process so that you can identify top candidates who not only have the necessary technical skills but also possess qualities that align with your company culture. Remember the the best coders may not be the best "team players." So building a mix of questions that will help you find the right people for your team will be essential in creating a successful team of developers.

In conclusion, software developer technical interview questions and answers are crucial in finding the right candidate for your team. With the right mix of technical and behavioral questions, you can evaluate a candidate's skills, thought process, and fit for your company culture. So don't be afraid to get creative with your questions.

If you'd benefit from having access to more than 1,000 interview questions, book a demo with someone on our team. We'd love to show you how interview intelligence software can make your software developer interviews more efficient and effective. Happy Hiring!