If you’re looking to hire a software engineer, you need to be sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. Here are 15 software engineer interview questions that you should always remember to ask.
Computer science, despite its birth in the ’80s and ’90s, is still a rapidly growing job field. Globally, there are an estimated 18.2 million software developers. It seems like the common advice for college-aged people is to learn how to code.
This is a good and a bad thing for an employer. A larger hiring pool means that you have more candidates to choose from, but it may also dilute the overall quality of said hiring pool. Because of this, it’s harder to find the most qualified candidates.
If you yourself don’t have programming experience, it can be doubly difficult. But we’re here to help. If you’re having trouble with your hiring process, you may want to check out these software engineer interview questions.
15 of the Best Software Engineer Interview Questions
Drafting up questions to ask a programmer can be tough, especially if you aren’t a programmer yourself.
That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you. Check out these 15 questions if you’re struggling with your interview process.
1. Explain one of your previous projects to me. How did you complete it?
This question will allow your candidate to talk about his past work without getting mired in the minutia. From his answer, you’ll be able to determine what his experience in programming has been like.
You’ll be able to get a sense of how well he works in teams and manages his time.
2. What kinds of obstacles did you run into with your project? How did you solve them?
This question will give your candidate the opportunity to be self-reflexive about his past work. You’ll be able to see how he approaches problems. Does he manage them himself? Does he communicate effectively with coworkers? You’ll be able to discern all this from this question.
If he says he didn’t encounter very many problems, he’s likely not being very forthright.
3. Do you have any leadership experience in project management?
Even if you’re not hiring for a leadership position, you’ll want to know if your candidate has any experience as a leader.
Ideally, you’d your new hires to be overqualified for their position.
4. If so, how big was your team and how big were the projects?
The size of his teams and the scope of his projects as a leader will reveal the difficulty of his position during those projects. If you hope to promote your new hires to be bigger roles, this will be useful information.
5. Why does this opportunity with our company excite you?
As with any job, you want to hire people that are passionate about their work. If your interviewee has a half-hearted enthusiasm for your company before even getting started there, it’s big red flag.
It’s likely that her enthusiasm will only wane with time if you were to hire her.
6. What hobbies do you have outside of work?
It’s always better to hire well-rounded individuals. Hobbies make people happier, and if they don’t have any, they might not be very fun to work with.
This is an oft-overlooked consideration when it comes to hiring people. Your hires have to be pleasant to work with. If their life is their work, the likelihood of that drops.
7. Describe your ideal workplace culture.
This question will tell you if they’re the right fit for your company. They can be the most qualified candidate ever, but if they’re the type of person that likes rigidity and structure and your company culture is fast and loose, they won’t be a good match.
This question will also tell you whether or not they’ve done their homework about the company. If they don’t describe a workplace that closely matches yours, they’re either being very honest or they didn’t do their research.
8. How would your current or former co-workers describe you?
The answer to this question will speak to their self-awareness.
If they don’t have a good idea about how they’re perceived at work, they may not notice when they’re being difficult to work with.
9. How do you like to keep track of your project requirements?
Software engineers all have their preferred method for keeping track of coding tasks for a large project. Some coders like physical to-do lists on whiteboards, others like virtual bulletin boards. Some even prefer more in-depth organizational programs like Asana.
Ideally, your candidate will answer with something that closely matches your current setup.
10. What is your coding process like?
This question will get to the heart of how their work might integrate into your existing team. If the steps your candidate takes closely match your current system, she’ll be a great fit.
11. How do you go about correcting bugs in your code?
Debugging code can be half the battle when working on a project. And when solving a coding problem, there’s always the fast way to fix it, and the right way to fix it.
You want your candidate to give you a thorough answer about their process.
12. Tell me about a project that didn’t work out. What you say went wrong?
This answer will tell you if your candidate has the ability to be self-reflexive. A good coder is one that makes a ton of mistakes, learns from them, and then retains that information.
If they can’t tell you about a project that failed outright, they’re either lying, inexperienced or lacking in self-reflexivity.
13. What is multi-threaded programming?
Multi-threaded programming involves splitting your code over multiple processors to make it run faster. This is a technical question that any experienced coder should be able to answer thoroughly.
14. Tell me what you know about OOP design.
OOP stands for Object-Oriented Programming. It’s a coding process that segments code into classes for better understanding and organization. Like with the previous question, your candidate should be able to tell you all about it.
15. Would you mind taking a skills test for us?
When it comes to hiring software engineers, you always want to give them a skills test before hiring them. Of course, if you don’t know anything about coding, you won’t be able to run a test yourself.
But that’s where a service like ours comes in. We can design and administer, and assess coding tests for you.
These software engineer interview questions are a good foundation for your hiring process. With these questions, you’ll get a sense of who your candidates are, their expertise, and how well they’d fit in with your company.
And if you’re feeling iffy about the necessity of a coding skills test during your hiring process, you may want to check out our article on the importance of coding assessments.