Top 5 Software Developer Interview Questions

Being a software developer is an exciting opportunity to gain exposure to the tech industry and learn about innovative technologies first hand. If you’re considering a career as a developer, then you might be wondering what to expect from the interview and how you can set yourself up for success.

Here are some of the most common questions you’re likely to encounter during the interview process.

1. How do you interface with a team?

This question is considered a “fit” question and it’s designed to get a sense of the type of work environment you prefer to work in. Although culture fit questions are common in all types of interviews, the fit questions you’re likely to encounter during a tech interview are generally targeted towards getting a sense of how well you work with other team members and how comfortable you are working on software engineering processes on a team — including things like code review, version control and communication. To answer this question effectively, it’s important to talk about your prior experience of working with a team (either at a previous job or on a class project) and to explain how you approach working with others.

2. Tell me about a time that you had to build something and then support it.

Another common question you’re likely to encounter during a tech interview, this question is designed to test your understanding of the challenges engineers face when building technology for other people. The key to answering it well is demonstrating that you understand how to elicit feedback from end users and stakeholders, and that you know how to weave it into the product. From an engineering perspective, many employers want to see that you’re “thinking 100 steps ahead” but “building 10 steps ahead” — in other words, that you’re thinking ahead but not overengineering today.

3. Tell me about a project you worked on and explain how and why you chose to architect it the way you did.

This question is designed to test your critical thinking and problem-solving ability by asking you to describe the path you chose to take when architecting a specific project. When answering this question, it’s important to outline the steps you took in proceeding with the project and to explicitly state why you made certain decisions. For example, what tradeoffs did you consider when making those decisions? Mention this and be sure to justify why you chose the path you did. This will show the hiring manager that you’re thoughtful about your decisions, aware of possible drawbacks and that you take calculated risks when necessary.

4. What are some projects you’re working on in your spare time?

Being a great developer involves building your skill set by continuously learning new things. The best way to do that is by exploring projects on your own. When hiring managers ask this question, it’s because they want to know that you’re passionate about the work you do and that you’re learning about new technologies by working on one or more side-projects. A great way to answer this question is by referring to something you’re developing (or have developed) and highlighting the reason why the project is important to you. Are you trying to solve a specific problem or excited to try out a new programming language? Mention that and explain how it connects to the work you’ll be doing in the role you’re interviewing for.

Pro Tip: If you’re not currently working on any projects of your own but you’re collaborating on projects on an open source platform like Github, be sure to mention that. This is a great way to demonstrate that you’re involved in ongoing projects in the industry and eager to learn more.

5. Tell me about a project that completely failed.

Talking about your failures is never fun but being able to show that you’ve learned from them is extremely important, particularly when it comes to being an engineer. This is because failure is a crucial part of the programming process and being able to demonstrate that you’re resilient and able to iterate quickly will go a long way towards impressing the interviewer and showing them that you’re able to work well in an agile environment.

Interviewing for a job as a software developer might seem a bit intimidating at first but by knowing what to expect and how to prepare your answers, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager and get one step closer to landing the job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be Effective in a Remote or Virtual Job and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About Yourself.