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According to Turing.com, "by 2023 the developer count will reach 27.7 million, making software development one of the highest-paid and fastest-growing jobs in the IT industry."
One of the main reasons why software engineering is in such high demand is because of the rate at which new technologies and platforms are emerging.
If you're in HR, a recruiter, or a hiring manager, it's paramount that you have a process for hiring these talented and in-high-demand individuals.
In this article, we're going to cover several basic technical interview questions for software engineers.
In our ebook, "How to hire great software engineers," we lay out the steps to build an efficient interview process so you can hire a great engineering team.
The way we recommend you begin is to sit down with your hiring manager and identify which skills the candidate will need to be proficient in to succeed in the role.
Once you have a list of the required skills, you can start to build your interview process around identifying whether or not the candidate has those skills, is a fit for the team, and fits the company culture.
We recommend a screening process that includes a review of each candidate's resume, LinkedIn profile, and GitHub, and then schedules qualified applicants for a phone screen. The purpose of the screening process is to save time by weeding out candidates who don't meet the minimum requirements for the role.
Once you get to the phone screen, you can start to ask questions that will help you gauge the candidate's technical abilities.
Semi-structured questions like:
"Tell me about a time when you had to debug a piece of code. How did you identify the problem?"
"What was the most challenging problem you solved last year?" How did you resolve it?
These questions can help you get a sense of how the candidate tackles problems and whether they have the skills required for the role.
After the phone screen, you can invite qualified candidates to take an assessment or begin with an initial interview.
If the candidate passes the phone screen, the next step is to invite them in for an interview.
One of the best questions to ask any software engineer candidate is:
"What are your favorite programming languages and why?"
This question will help you gauge the candidate's level of experience and expertise in different languages, as well as their ability to articulate why they prefer certain languages over others.
Senior Software engineer interview questions will vary slightly, but will generally be focused on more complex topics such as architecture, design patterns, scalability, and security.
Some sample senior software engineer interview questions include:
"What is your experience with microservices? Can you give me an example of a project you worked on that used microservices?"
"What experience do you have with distributed systems? Can you give me an example of a project you worked on that was distributed?"
"What experience do you have with big data? Can you give me an example of a project you worked on that involved big data?"
Interview intelligence software can provide you with a list of these questions as prompts while you’re interviewing the candidate. This helps the interviewer be present in the interview, focusing their attention on the candidate rather than a list of questions.
As an HR professional, you may not be dialed in on the most recent coding languages. So it's imperative that you work with your technical, engineering, and product leaders to create a list of specific coding questions that they would like candidates to be able to answer.
Coding questions will vary depending on the specific job role you're interviewing for, but a few great software engineer coding interview questions to ask candidates are:
"Write a function that takes in a string and returns the first non-repeated character."
"What is your favorite language and why?"
"What are the most important characteristics of a good programmer?"
"What makes a great software engineer?"
"How do you approach problem-solving in programming?"
"Can you walk me through your process for debugging code?"
Coding interview questions with solutions will allow you to quickly assess a candidate's coding abilities. It's important to remember that candidates should be able to not only answer the questions correctly but also explain their thought processes and how they arrived at the solution.
Logical interview questions for software engineers should assess a candidate's ability to think critically and solve problems. These types of questions are often called "puzzlers" because they don't have a straightforward answer.
Puzzlers can be helpful in assessing how a candidate approaches problem-solving, as well as their level of critical thinking and creativity.
A few sample logical interview questions for software engineers include:
"You have a list of numbers ranging from 1 to 1000. You also have a list of 500 random numbers. How would you find the missing number in the first list?"
"How would you design an elevator system?"
"How would you assess the efficiency of a sorting algorithm?"
The important thing is to design questions that assess the specific skills and abilities you're looking for in a candidate.
Scenario-based interview questions for software developers will assess a candidate's ability to handle real-world situations. These types of questions often focus on how a candidate would approach and solve a specific problem they may encounter in the job.
Some sample scenario-based interview questions for software developers include:
"You're working on a project and you run into a problem that you can't solve. What do you do?"
"You're working on a project and you realize that the approach you're taking is not going to work. What do you do?"
"A team member comes to you with a problem they're having. How do you handle it?"
Now, to fit your customer's needs, team, and company culture, it's also important that you ask behavioral questions.
Software engineer behavioral interview questions and answers are the best way to assess a candidate's soft skills. These types of questions focus on how a candidate has behaved in the past and will likely behave in the future.
A sample behavioral interview question for software engineers is:
"Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult customer problem. How did you identify the problem, and how did you work with the customer and your team to solve it?"
Remembering all of these questions can be tough "in" the moment.
Interview intelligence software can help. Pillar's interview intelligence platform, for example, gives you a list of pre-screened software engineer interview questions to ask every candidate as well as behavioral interview questions specific to your customer's needs and company culture.
That way you can make sure you're asking the right coding questions, logical questions, scenario-based questions, and behavior questions to ensure the candidate would succeed in the role.
Technical interview questions for systems engineers differ slightly from what we've covered thus far. These questions focus on a candidate's ability to design, develop, test, and deploy software and systems.
Many systems engineers will be required to install, configure, and troubleshoot systems. As such, questions should assess a candidate's ability to do so.
A few sample technical interview questions for systems engineers include:
"What is your experience with configuring and managing servers?"
"What is your experience with developing and deploying software?"
"What is your experience with testing and troubleshooting software?
Semi-structured system engineer interview questions and answers should help you assess a candidate's problem-solving abilities, as well as their critical thinking and creativity.
As with other types of engineers, it can be helpful to design questions that assess the specific skills and abilities you're looking for in a candidate.
System software engineer interview questions should focus on how a candidate would approach and solve a specific problem they may encounter in the job.
Imagine you've just completed your first coding boot camp, built a GitHub page, and now you're minutes from logging into Zoom for your first interview.
But as a hiring manager, it falls to you to assess whether or not this candidate will be able to perform at a high level in the role.
Software engineer technical interview questions should focus on a candidate's ability to learn, as well as their technical skills.
A few sample entry-level software engineer interview questions include:
"What is your experience with coding languages?"
"What coding languages do you enjoy working with most?"
"What projects have you worked on?"
"What problems did the projects you've worked on so far solve?"
"How would you approach solving a problem you've never encountered before?"
In addition to technical skills, it's also important to assess a candidate's ability to learn new things and adapt to change. After all, the software engineering field is constantly evolving.
Entry-level software engineer coding questions should focus on a candidate's ability to read, write, and debug code. They should also be able to explain how they would approach solving a problem they've never encountered before.
In summary, when interviewing software engineers you should focus on a candidate's ability to read, write, and debug code; their problem-solving abilities; and their critical thinking and creativity.
It's easy to miss things when interviewing software engineers.
That's where interview intelligence software can help.
Pillar's video interview platform, for example, prompts the interviewer with a list of semi-structured software engineer interview questions to ask every candidate as well as behavioral interview questions specific to your customer's needs and company culture.
Request a demo to see how we can make your hiring process more effective, efficient, and equitable.