Software Engineer Interview Questions

Marie Berdini / Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hiring is a tricky process. Employers need to identify a need for new skills, first being sure they aren’t somewhere already, hidden in their organization (it is so much better to hire from within).  Then, they need to advertise and get viable candidates.  Depending on the difficulty of sourcing good candidates, companies may partner with recruitment agents to assist.  Once they get to this stage the really hard work begins - the interview.

Conducting an effective interview is a learned skill, and endless articles and advice exists on what to do (and just as important, what not to do).  We are going to focus on one specific area - good questions to ask during the interview.  The questions below are designed to address the following:

  • To tell you as much about the interviewee in the short time given
  • To test the interviewee on his/her CV and what you think you already know about them
  • To test the interviewee on their raw coding ability and problem solving skills
  • To judge if the interviewee is a cultural fit for your organization.

These questions aren’t foolproof, and they don’t drift into Google style abstract territory, but we hope you will find them useful next time you are hiring.

About the CV

1. “Tell me a little bit more about your role at X company.”

You want to check how well the interviewee’s CV stacks up.  Getting them to talk about it is the simplest way.

About coding and problem solving

2. “Explain the difference between ‘equality’ and ‘equivalence’.”

If a candidate can’t successfully answer this question then they should be considered ‘entry level’ at best.

3. “Tell me about design patterns, and give me an example of when you used them last.”

If the interviewee has never used design patterns, this will tell you a great deal.  If they have, the details should give you a view on how they solve problems.

4. “What language are you most comfortable in and why?”

If you are looking for a .NET person, and your potential candidate is exclusively PHP then you may have an issue.  But a good answer should have some thought and rationale behind it.  This is much more important than the actual language cited in the answer.  Ask about databases as an addition/alternative.

5. “How do you test your code?”

This doesn’t test any particular coding skill, but it does tell you a lot about their process.  All developers should be doing some kind of testing.  Depending on what you are looking for the answer might reveal someone who is conscientious in their work, or someone who knows all about test strategies and methodologies.

About character and personality

6. “Describe the work environment in which you feel you are most effective.”

This will tell you if the person is a cultural fit for your company. Their answer can’t really be right or wrong, but it can be an indicator of the cultural fit you're looking for. 

7. Why did you apply for this job?

You want a new teammate who wants to work for you, not someone who is simply working down the jobs ads from A-Z.  This question will root out these sort of applicants, and show the level of research the candidate has done on the opportunity and your company.

Interested in a career here at Infragistics? Check out our current openings!