33 Concurrency Interview Questions And Example Answers

Updated 3 March 2023

If you are passionate about creating, modifying and testing the code that allows computer software to function at its best, a career as a computer programmer is a great role to consider. Programmers have a vital role in computer functionality as they turn designs from developers into instructions a computer can follow. If you are considering applying for a role as a programmer, you can expect to encounter questions about concurrency in your interview. In this article, we explore general, background and in-depth concurrency interview questions and outline some example questions and answers to help you prepare for an interview.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

10 General Concurrency Interview Questions

General concurrency interview questions enable hiring managers to develop an idea of who you are and why you are passionate about working for them. Your answers can help employers understand your broad career goals, what you consider your best attributes and how you may fit into their organisation in terms of your personality and values. Here are 10 general interview questions you may encounter regarding concurrency and programming:

  1. How might your past employer and coworkers describe your working style?

  2. Can you describe your greatest strengths in terms of programming and concurrency in the workplace?

  3. Where do you see your career progressing in the next five years with regard to programming? Can you explain how concurrency may help you accomplish these goals?

  4. Can you explain what attracted you to our company specifically?

  5. What do you enjoy most about working in DevOps generally and with concurrency models specifically?

  6. Can you describe areas within programming where you would most like to improve your skills and why?

  7. When you are experiencing difficulty working with concurrency models, what resources do you turn to for help?

  8. What, in your opinion, is the future of concurrency as it relates to the world of programming?

  9. How would you describe the concept of concurrency to someone who does not work in programming?

  10. Can you describe what you hope to accomplish within the first five months of working for our company and how concurrency would help you accomplish this?

Related: Top 50 Java Interview Questions For Experienced Programmers

10 Questions About Background And Experience

Other questions you can expect to encounter in a programming interview are those that relate to your background and experience. Hiring managers may ask questions about your past experience working with concurrency to establish the depth of your knowledge and skills, to determine if you have the right expertise to suit their needs and to see how much training you may need in this area before you can work independently. Here are 10 concurrency questions concerning background and experience you may experience in an interview:

  1. Can you describe how you have had to use concurrency models in your past employment roles?

  2. Can you explain your past experience working with Java?

  3. Can you describe a time in your past roles when you had to explain concurrency to a non-expert? How did you do so in a way that they understood?

  4. Can you describe an occasion when you had to work through a concurrency problem that you had never previously encountered? How did you do this?

  5. Can you describe a programming project you have completed where concurrency was an important factor?

  6. Can you explain any common issues you have encountered using concurrency in programming?

  7. Can you describe a time when you had to learn a new computer software application quickly? How did you ensure you gained all the relevant knowledge within the timeframe available?

  8. Can you describe your main duties at your last place of employment?

  9. What background experience do you think would be the most useful to you in this role?

  10. Do you have any other relevant experience in programming that you think would be beneficial in this role?

10 In-Depth Questions

Because concurrency is a highly specialised programming concept, interviewers may ask you several in-depth questions about concurrency models to test your knowledge. Hiring managers want to establish your level of technical expertise to determine how you can apply your skills to their role and how you may confront complex programming issues. Here are 10 in-depth concurrency interview questions you may encounter in your next interview:

  1. Can you explain the concept of concurrency as it relates to computer programming?

  2. Can you explain the difference between asynchronous and parallel programming as they relate to concurrent models?

  3. Can you describe what a deadlock and a livelock are in terms of concurrency and how they can occur?

  4. Can you tell me the difference between a process and a thread as they relate to the concept of concurrency?

  5. Can you explain at least three advantages of using Java concurrency when programming?

  6. Can you explain what an atomic operation is?

  7. Can you describe an example of a shared memory system?

  8. Can you describe in detail why concurrency is essential to modern programming?

  9. Can you explain in detail what a race condition is as it relates to concurrent programming models?

  10. Can you compare a synchronised method and a synchronised block as they relate to the concept of concurrency?

Related: Coder Vs Programmer - Fundamental Differences

3 Interview Questions With Sample Answers

When preparing for an upcoming interview, considering several different questions and how you plan to answer them can help you feel confident and prepared. It can also enable you to organise your thoughts before you answer the hiring manager's questions. To assist you with this process, here are some interview questions and examples of how you may answer them:

1. Can you describe why it is important for a programmer to understand concurrency?

This is a general interview question regarding the concept of concurrency. Employers may ask questions like this to determine what your general knowledge of concurrency is and how much you understand of its importance in relation to computer programming. Briefly describe what concurrency is before explaining a few reasons why you think it is important for the world of programming.

Example answer: Concurrency is the ability to execute multiple sequences of a program, problem or algorithm at the same time, out of order, or in partial order without affecting the outcome. In modern programming, concurrency is crucial for any operating system as most systems run multiple applications in tandem. As such, concurrency is important to understand for any role in programming for several reasons. It results in better resource utilisation, performance and response time. It also helps programmers coordinate aspects like the scheduling and execution of processes and memory allocation to maximise throughput.

Related: What Is Computer Programming? (With Definition And Types)

2. Do you have any educational background or certification in programming?

Interviewers may ask you about any formal certification or training you have in the area of programming. It can help them establish a benchmark for your abilities in the field, as certification indicates that you have accomplished a particular level of knowledge. Explain how your certification has given you skills that you can apply to their role specifically.

Example answer: Yes, I have completed a qualification to become a Certified Associate Java Programmer, which I think would be beneficial working with concurrency models in your organisation. I chose to pursue this certificate specifically because Java is one of the most extensively used software development programmes in the industry, and because it gave me the opportunity to become fully proficient in many aspects of programming. For example, it taught me important skills in front-end, middleware and back-end web developer technologies.

3. Can you explain the two main models of concurrent programming in detail?

This is an example of an in-depth question about concurrency that you may encounter in an interview for a programmer role. Hiring managers ask questions like this to test your technical abilities in the area of programming because it gives them a sense of your hard skills and technical abilities. When answering in-depth questions like this, give detailed but succinct responses.

Example answer: The two main models of concurrent programming include shared memory and message passing. Shared memory refers to a model where concurrent modules interact with each other by writing and reading shared objects in memory. For example, A and B can be two different processors in the same computer that share the same physical memory.

Message passing is a model where concurrent modules relate to each other by sending messages back and forth through a communication channel. Incoming messages form a queue for future handling. For example, A and B may represent two computers in a network, communicating via network connections.

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