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Applying for an engineering position? Be prepared for these software engineer interview questions

Applying for an engineering position? Be prepared for these software engineer interview questions

Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina

  • What makes a good software engineer candidate?
  • 3 Tips for preparing for a software engineering interview
  • What questions are asked in a software engineer interview?
  • How can I impress a software engineer interviewer?
  • 4 Questions to ask your software engineer interviewer
  • Key takeaways

Engineering is a popular career choice because it has the promise of longevity, it is a rewarding industry, and it offers a high paycheck. If you are interested in pursuing a career in engineering, this blog will teach you what types of software engineering interview questions to prepare for.

Software engineers are in high demand, which makes the industry promising for those interested in beginning a new career. However, since it is a highly specialized field, it is competitive and you may find yourself struggling to land a great job if you aren’t prepared for the interview process. In this blog, we will take a look at some of the software engineer interview questions you should prepare yourself for as well as some of the other things you can do to improve your chances of getting a job offer.

Here are a few of the things we will be covering:

  • What makes a good software engineer candidate?

  • Tips for preparing for a software engineering interview

  • What questions are asked in a software engineer interview?

  • How can I impress a software engineer interviewer?

  • Questions to ask your software engineer interviewer

What makes a good software engineer candidate?

Whether we are working or enjoying our time off, software touches just about every portion of our daily lives. The people behind this important software are the engineers that create it. 

Software engineers are responsible for creating technical specs, designing and testing software, overseeing projects, and more. It is a rewarding career that can have you building the technology of the future while improving the lives of people all over the world.

If you are interested in joining this important group of employees, there are some things you will want to do to stand out in the crowd of other talented software engineers. Here are some of the characteristics you will want to have to be a talented software engineer.

  • Ability to prioritize tasks Every project a software engineer works on will come with a long list of things that must be completed before the project can end. It will be up to you to determine which of those tasks are the most important and what should be worked on during any given day. You will also need to learn how to work through setbacks and interruptions so that projects can still be completed on time. 

  • Time management skills Since you will be juggling so many tasks at once, another important skill to get a handle on is time management. Along with being able to prioritize tasks, you will need to discover ways to complete your work as quickly and efficiently as possible while producing accurate and high-quality results.

  • Communication 

As a software engineer, you will likely be working with a variety of people throughout the organization, and it will be critical that you can communicate on all levels to share and obtain the information you need. 

  • Adaptability

One thing you will learn as a software engineer is that nothing stays the same for very long. That includes project requirements and specs, which means you will need to adapt to changes as you go.

  • Problem-solving Not only will you need to solve the problems you face, but you will need to be able to creatively think about what caused those issues in the first place. This requires a love of learning and a desire to discover how things work.

  • Fluency in computer programming languages You are likely going to need to work with an abundance of computer programming languages as a software engineer. Plus, as new languages are developed you will need to adapt and learn those as well. Currently, some of the top languages you need to know are C++, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, Ruby, PHP, CSS, and Python, among others.

3 Tips for preparing for a software engineering interview

After you have developed all the skills that are necessary for becoming a software engineer, it is time to begin preparing for a software engineering interview. As with most industries, the engineering industry is rather competitive, which means you will need to do something extra to stand out from the competition so that your hiring manager will remember you after the interview is over. These tips can help with that.

1. Research the company

One great approach to take when preparing to interview for any position is to research the company you are interviewing with. Not only will this give you a good insight into the type of work that you will be expected to complete, but you can learn more about the company’s needs, wants, and desires for the future. It will then be up to you to show your interviewer how you can provide the company with those things.

2. Prepare for skills tests

Part of many software engineering interviews is often skill tests that help a hiring manager learn more about your skills as a software engineer. Before an interview, it’s a good idea to brush up on some of the skills and languages you might be tested for so that you have a fresh understanding of how they work.

3. Anticipate questions ahead of time

You will also want to consider what types of questions an interviewer might ask you during your interview so you can have answers ready for them. Having a few key answers, stats, and achievements at the forefront of your mind can help make the interview go smoother. It will also help you to feel more relaxed, which means you can provide your interviewer with better information and a better impression of your skills.

What questions are asked in a software engineer interview?

Before you can prepare answers to popular interview questions, you will first need to know what those questions typically are. While each company you interview for will ask a different set of questions, these are typically some of the most important things an interviewer will want to know during a software engineer interview.

  • “Which programming languages are you most familiar with or are your strongest?”

  • “What types of software testing do you feel strongly about?”

  • “What steps do you take to ensure your code is accurate, safe, and fast?”

  • “Of the SDLC models, which do you feel is the best?”

  • “What type of team do you work best on?”

  • “How do you navigate setbacks/problems/conflicts within a project?”

  • “Why are you passionate about software engineering?”

  • “Of the projects you’ve worked on in the past, what would you say is your greatest achievement?”

  • “Have you ever had a time when you weren’t able to finish a project within deadline constraints? How did you handle that situation?”

  • “Describe a project or situation where you’ve needed to be adaptable. How did you handle that and how did the project turn out?”

  • “What does your process look like for making difficult decisions? Can you give examples of times you had to make a difficult decision?”

  • “What aspect of the software engineering field provides you with the most satisfaction?”

  • “What is the biggest development you’ve ever managed?”

How can I impress a software engineer interviewer?

The goal of any interview is to ultimately impress your interviewer enough so that they present you with a job offer. Here are some of the things you can do to impress your interviewer during all phases of the interview process.

  • Have a great resume package From your cover letter to your resume and follow-up email, your documents should be geared toward maximizing impact and catching the attention of your readers.  

  • Being prepared Having a strong grasp on the industry, understanding what the company does and how it operates, being able to supply an interviewer with facts, figures, and examples, and having questions prepared in advance are all ways to prepare for an interview.

  • Display confidence By the end of the interview, you want your interviewer to believe you are the only choice for the position and that any other decision would leave them missing out on your impressive skills.

  • Be professional Always display professionalism in an interview and treat your interviewer with respect. Make sure you show up on time for the interview, be gracious, and thank them for their time after the interview is over.

  • Follow up After your interview, send a follow-up note or email to your interviewer that thanks them again for the interview and displays your excitement to join their team. End your follow-up with a strong call to action that encourages them to reach out with any further questions.

4 Questions to ask your software engineer interviewer

Another important factor in going through any interview is determining if the position and the company are the right fit for you. One way you can learn more about what to expect as an employee of the company is to ask probing questions that can give you insight into important aspects of employment.

These are some examples of the types of questions you should ask your interviewer during a software engineer interview:

1. “What expectations do you have for this role?”

It’s always important to know what your new employer will expect of you when you start a new role. Asking this question can help you learn how your skills will be utilized and how you need to prepare for your first day on the job.

2. “How do you expect the responsibilities of this role to change in the future?”

Software engineering is a dynamic industry, so you should expect changes along the way. However, asking this question could give you insight into what specific changes a hiring manager is expecting to see in this role.

3. “How are projects planned and what technology is typically used to complete them?”

This question can help you determine how organized the company is and if there are any shortfalls in the project planning process. You can also learn more about the type of work you will be completing daily.

4. “What are the next steps in the recruitment process?”

Knowing what comes next can allow you to better anticipate when you will hear back from the hiring manager about a particular role. You can then plan how to handle other potential job offers you receive while waiting for information on other roles you’ve applied for.

Before you can tackle that software engineer interview, you will first need to find the perfect job to apply for. You can get started with that search by using our Job Search tool that you can find on our website. 

Key takeaways

  1. To perform well in a software engineer interview, you should prepare ahead of time by researching the company and thinking of answers to common questions.

  2. Knowing what questions you are most likely to hear in an interview can help you better prepare.

  3. Along with practicing interview questions, you can improve your chances of landing the job with a great resume package.

  4. Don’t forget to ask your interviewer important questions about the role before concluding your interview.

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