Interview Questions

The 19 Best Interview Questions For Software Engineers

By Maya Kosoff

Last updated: Mar 7, 2023

Whether you’re a software engineer looking for a new role or a hiring manager looking for new questions to ask in interviews, use these questions we’ve compiled as a guide.

It’s a good time to be a job seeker — particularly if you’re a software engineer. One of the most in-demand jobs for 2022, software engineers command an average base salary of $117,000, according to Indeed data.

And that number is only likely to grow. Projections from human resources consulting firm Robert Half, which has reported on salaries for over 70 years, says tech jobs in particular will see starting salaries increase this year. Its researchers have projected a 6.9% increase in the average starting salary of database administrators, and a 6% increase for frontend developers.

But what makes a good software engineer — and what questions do you ask as a hiring manager to determine a candidate’s hard and soft skills, and what questions should you expect as a job seeker?

First, it’s important to know that software engineering jobs typically belong to one of two categories — they’re either general programming or domain-specific. General programming and web development interviews tend to assess a candidate’s problem-solving abilities and general coding proficiency, so questions can range from behavioral to more technical. In domain-specific jobs, interview questions revolve around the specific technologies you’re using in those roles, so highly-technical interviews focus on things like AWS or cloud infrastructure, for example. It's important to also assess candidates on their culture adding aspects, where it's useful to get inspiration from common interview questions.

Recruiting software engineers can be difficult because in addition to finding someone who is a fit technically, the right candidate also has to complement company culture. Asking behavioral questions can help illuminate how a software engineer may contribute to your organization’s performance.

Whether you’re a software engineer looking for a new role or a hiring manager looking for new questions to ask in interviews, use these questions we’ve compiled as a guide.

  • Do you contribute to open source projects? Have you flagged issues before?
  • What resources do you turn to to keep on top of software engineering?
  • When do you consider a product to be finished?
  • How do you keep your coding workflow organized?
  • Describe the qualities your ideal product team would have.
  • What’s important to keep in mind when you check a team member’s code?
  • Have you ever had to update systems that were using old or outdated code? How did you modify and update the code and check for errors?
  • Tell me about a software development problem you’ve faced, and how you solved it.
  • What are some ways to make websites faster? Name as many different techniques as you can.
  • How do you assure software quality?
  • When writing your own database server, what factors should you consider?
  • What is the smallest building block of ReactJS?
  • Describe a situation you’ve had in which you disagreed with a client or a stakeholder on a software engineering best practice. How did you resolve the situation?
  • How would you explain APIs to non-technical stakeholders?
  • Explain big-O notation in the simplest terms.
  • Which programming languages do you use? Which three do you prefer, or are most familiar with?
  • Tell me about a project that you were a part of that was mismanaged. What would you do differently?
  • What systems do you use for managing task lists and projects?
  • How do you make sure that your code is capable of handling different error situations?
  • Please describe the process you use for writing a piece of code, from requirements to delivery.

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