50 Software Engineer Interview Questions (With Answers)
Updated 18 March 2023
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Interviews can be a great opportunity to show hiring managers your personality, learn more about a role and communicate your skills and experience. When preparing for a software engineering interview, it is often helpful to review common interview questions. This can help you prepare your responses and make the best possible first impression on your interviewers. In this article, we discuss common software engineer interview questions and provide some example answers.
What are the interview questions for software engineering?
The questions recruiters ask during a software engineering interview can comprise different types. The recruiter may start the interview with some general questions about your background and professional experience to help them get a better idea of your fit for the role. Situational and behavioural questions are also common in technical interviews, as employers use these types of questions to assess candidates' soft skills, including communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
The interviewer may also ask role-specific questions that help them evaluate your technical aptitude and specialised software and programming knowledge. Because of the range of questions you might encounter, it is beneficial to prepare your answers to both common and in-depth interview questions.
Related: Technical Interview Questions and Example Answers
5 software engineer interview questions
Here are some example interview questions and answers to expect during your software engineering interview:
1. What programming languages are you proficient in?
As a software engineer, it is likely you have experience working in multiple programming languages. The specific languages a company is looking for might depend on the systems they design. Before your interview, review the job description and learn more about the company to determine if they prefer experience with a particular language. When answering this question, provide examples of your experience working in different languages.
Related: 10 C# Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
2. Tell us about a recent project you worked on.
Hiring managers may ask you about your past project experience to learn more about how you work, what your priorities are and how you manage setbacks. When answering questions regarding challenges or problems, consider using the STAR interview method. This technique involves discussing the situation, the task and your specific role in the situation, the actions you took to resolve the issue and the results of your actions.
Example: "In my previous position, I had to create an internal online learning program for company employees to ensure all employees received a uniform and effective training on workplace ethics. At first, I struggled to incorporate content like the games and point-based rewards features. However, after researching similar training programs, I used Java to code an application where we could upload training courses and incentives for all employees. My implementations were successful and helped the organisation eliminate lengthy training processes."
3. Which design patterns do you use most often?
Your hiring manager may ask this question to gauge your knowledge of abstract and theoretical concepts and to get a better understanding of your work process. Before your interview, it is often helpful to review common software engineering terminology to prepare yourself for specific or technical questions. This may help you remember the technical names for patterns and processes to best articulate what you use each day.
Example: "For gaming projects, I implement my level state and player characters as singletons, and, for enemy creation, I use a factory to produce different enemies based on inputs. However, if a game is more complex, I may switch to using a compositional model, such as an Entity-Component-System. The system functions would leverage dependency injection to better separate concerns and increase the testability of the game logic."
4. How do you explain technical information to non-technical audiences?
Hiring managers ask this question to determine how well you can communicate the more technical aspects of your work in terms everyone can understand. Software engineers often collaborate with colleagues from non-technical areas, such as marketing or finance teams. In your response, discuss how you communicate with colleagues and stakeholders about technical specifications.
Example: "If I work with someone without a technical background, I do my best to simplify my language and reduce my communications to only what they need to know to understand my update or question. For example, if I was describing a complicated coding process to a client, I might just describe the end-user changes and experience. This way, the information is more relatable."
5. Describe a difficult bug you fixed in a large application.
Bugs usually appear in new applications and software programs, and it is a software engineer's responsibility to locate and resolve these issues. Errors like bugs are often the result of an unusual alignment of conditions. In your answer, give examples of your experience resolving these issues to showcase your technical aptitude, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Example: "At my last job, my manager sent me a bug report about one of our databases being stressed from an expensive query being called excessively from the UI. I started by checking the logs to determine when the bug started, and I reproduced the bug on the latest piece of code in production. I ran a git bisect to isolate the specific commit that introduced the bug and pulled the branch, and I was able to reproduce the issue. From there, I was able to use the browser's developer tools to debug the issue."
Related: 10 Python Interview Questions With Example Answers
How do I prepare for a software engineer interview?
When preparing for your interview, consider the following approaches to increase your confidence and boost your success:
Research the company. Learn about the position and current challenges or projects you can discuss during your interview to showcase your enthusiasm for contributing to success.
Match your skills to the requirements. Prepare answers that showcase the skills you have that the employer requires.
Give examples of achievements. Consider several accomplishments that can show employers how your past performance achieved successful results.
Use the STAR response technique. The STAR response technique gives you an outline for discussing a specific situation, your role in it, the actions you took and the results you achieved because of your actions.
Make a list of questions to ask. Interviewers often give applicants the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. Use this time to ask questions about expectations, specific projects you may start on and what you can expect from your team and supervisors.
Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique
Additional interview questions for software engineers
The following examples include additional questions the hiring manager may ask during your interview:
What aspects of this position interest you most?
How do you stay updated on industry developments?
How do you remove duplicates from an array in place?
What is a bucket sort algorithm? How do you use it?
Describe the development life cycle and models for it.
What are the most important factors to consider when designing scalable applications?
How do you merge two sorted linked lists?
How do you use abstract classes?
What is the purpose of a CSS style sheet?
What is immutability in Java?
How do you populate a list in C#?
What is the difference between black box and white box testing?
What are the basic functions of a stack?
What strategies do you use to make a program faster?
What are functional and non-functional requirements?
What were your responsibilities in your previous position?
What is your process for starting a new project?
How do you ensure you meet deadlines?
What are your favourite software development tools?
How comfortable are you reviewing others' code?
What is your process for reviewing code that another person wrote?
How much do you code each day?
What qualities should software engineers have?
What do you consider the key principles of software engineering?
What project management tools are most useful in your role as a software engineer?
Tell me about a time you collaborated with others to solve a complex problem.
Describe your process for completing a project from start to finish.
What scaling issues have you dealt with on past projects? How did you resolve them?
Describe the prototyping methods in the software process.
What is the difference between alpha and beta testing?
What are the types of software maintenance?
What are your thoughts on agile software development?
What do you think about software testing?
What does a system engineering model accomplish?
What elements does system model construction consider?
Describe the characteristics of software.
Are there disadvantages of the classic life cycle model?
Tell me about the general challenges in software.
What is the software quality assurance process?
What is the COCOMO model?
What steps do you use in testing?
Describe CASE tools.
What is risk management? Why is it important?
What is software prototyping?
Related: 36 Entry-Level Software Engineer Interview Questions
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