Top 10 Software Engineer Interview Questions to Ask in 2023
Looking to hire a software engineer in 2023? Check out these 10 essential interview questions to ask candidates to ensure you find the right fit for your team. From technical skills to problem-solving abilities, this guide has got you covered.
Finding the right talent for your company is tough. The problem with most interviews is that they don’t give you much insight into what the candidate can do or how they will work at your company. Do you really want to hire someone without knowing how they will fit into your team?
Here are 10 interview questions you can use to make sure the software engineer you hire will be an asset to your team, not a liability.
10 Interview Questions a Software Engineer Should Answer Before You Hire Them
What are good software engineering best practices and principles that you think should be followed?
As with any other dynamic field, there are certain best practices that are generally accepted as being good. Yet, there is also room for varying schools of thoughts and approaches.
It’s good to get a sense of what the candidate thinks is best and see if it aligns with your own company’s best practices. This is also a good time to make sure you are on the same page with regard to how your team approaches things.
As an interviewer you should look out for the candidate's opinion on software development, and how they see themselves fitting in with your team. Also, you want to get a clear picture of their coding philosophy and testing approach.
What is your favorite programming language, and why?
This question is perhaps the easiest one to answer. You will get a sense of how passionate they are about their language of choice, and whether they know it in detail.
Most engineers will have a favorite programming language. However, it's a good idea to see how many different languages they know, their comfort level with each language, and whether they have the skills needed to know how to use it.
For example, Testers should be able to work in multiple languages, especially if they are expected to support automation testing tools.
As an interviewer, you might want to ask them about the pros and cons of each language they know. This will help you understand how experienced they are with each language, and how well they know them.
What are some projects that you have worked on in the past?
There is no better way to understand someone’s experience than by learning about the projects they have worked on. The candidate should be able to walk you through their past projects and explain how they worked with their team to solve problems.
The candidate should be able to talk about the type of project, what technologies were used, and the challenges they faced during development. They should also be able to show you how their work added value or solved problems for a business.
As an interviewer, you want to know how experienced they are. You will also get a sense of the technologies they have mastered and what type of project they have been involved in.
In the end, their answer should give you a clear picture of their history and show whether they are worth hiring.
What are the steps you follow in the software development process?
The software development process is a complex one, and understanding it in detail really helps you have a sense of how well the candidate knows their stuff.
You want to see how well they know the various stages of development. You also want to understand their approach, whether it follows any methodologies, and how they keep track of the progress.
Candidates should be able to explain what each stage entails, why it's important and how it all comes together to create a final product that can be released.
As an interviewer, you want them to explain the different stages in detail and show how they can break down a problem into smaller parts. This will give you a good sense of their approach to solving problems, which is essentially what they will be doing on the job.
How would you describe your experience with software engineering tools like Github, Jenkins, Jira, etc.?
Software development tools (as well as project management tools) are a critical part of modern software development processes. They make everything faster and more efficient, helping improve overall productivity levels.
You want to know how familiar the candidate is with these tools, and how well they know them. This will help you understand their experience level better, as well as whether they are familiar with the latest tools in use.
If they are not, then it's a red flag.
A developer who has not mastered the latest tools, or has never heard of them is one who can create more work for you. So, you do not want someone like that on your team.
When reviewing a team member’s code, what important things do you look for?
A major part of a software engineer's role is to write codes and ensure that they are of the highest quality possible. This means that you should be checking their code for bugs, security vulnerabilities, and other issues on a regular basis.
A good programmer would be able to spot mistakes in codes that they have not written. So, when you ask this question, the aim is to gauge the candidate's ability to assess code quality.
The best candidates would give you examples of how they review codes and what they look for. Ideally, you'd expect them to check for functionality, readability, and security vulnerabilities.
What is the Importance of Documentation and Unit Tests for a Software Engineer?
Documentation and Unit Tests are both very important when it comes to the overall code quality.
They are also equally important in terms of speed, time, and effort savings. Documentation and Unit Tests help you understand the code and make changes to it easily.
They also help new members on your team quickly get up to speed, saving you time and money.
As an interviewer, it's important to understand what the candidate thinks about documentation and testing. This is because these are two of the most important factors in terms of code quality and overall productivity.
What are you currently working on?
This question is asked to understand what is happening currently in the candidate’s life and what their current projects are.
In most cases, you want to avoid conflict of interest.
On the other hand, you want a passionate, hands-on person. Someone who is especially involved in lots of coding projects.
You also want to know if they are currently working on anything that may make you hire them for your team, or give their current employer a competitive edge.
Outside of software development, are they interested in any other topics?
This is one of those questions that give you a sense of the person’s general interests and hobbies. You want someone who has a hobby outside of their work. This will help them relax and take pressure off the workplace, hence making them more productive on the job. In the same vein, you want to be sure their interests are not in conflict with your culture and values.
What are you hoping to get out of this job?
One of the most important things in a software development process is understanding what the candidate wants. After all, you want to hire someone who will be passionate about the job, and who will embrace your company culture.
This is one of those questions that reveal whether or not they are really interested in the job. If they are not, then it's a red flag because you don't want someone who is just there for the money or perks.
This question also gives you a sense of their expectations. If their expectations are not in line with what you offer, then it's a red flag.
Most importantly, this question also helps you understand their commitment to growth and learning. This is a very important thing as it helps you figure out how likely they are to stay with the company long term. The last thing you want is someone who is just there for a short-term gig and then leaves after you must have invested so much time and resources in training them.
Do you have any questions for us?
Well, this might seem like an odd question. However, this is one of the most important questions you could ask in a job interview.
This particular question helps you understand the candidate's general mindset. For example, does their mind work like yours? Do they have any questions that are similar to what you would ask?
This question also helps you understand their level of curiosity. It's very important to find someone who is curious enough about what he or she does. A curious person is always eager to learn more and explore new possibilities.
Finally, the best software engineers are ambitious, sought-after and expensive. This question helps you understand if they are interested in your job offer and if so, how much of a commitment to the company they want to make. They show their interest and level of commitment to the company by asking questions that show their interests and expectations. For example, they may ask about the company's future plans, growth opportunities, or even compensation.
An interview is a time to determine if a candidate will be beneficial for your company. When you ask these questions, it helps paint an accurate picture of the candidate, and you’ll have a better idea if they will be a good fit. Lastly, remember this is not an exhaustive list of interview questions - be sure to ask questions that are specific for your company, but this list will provide a good starting point.