20 Best Software Engineering Interview Questions

software engineer interview question
Created by CakeResume

Q1: What programming languages are you familiar with?

This interview question is aimed at determining the level of experience and expertise that the interviewee has with various programming languages, and is common for junior and senior positions alike. The interviewer wants to know what languages the interviewee is familiar with and how well they can code in those languages.

To prepare for this software engineer interview question, list out the programming languages that you are familiar with and explain your level of expertise in each language. If you have worked on coding projects that require you to use a certain programming language, be sure to mention that as well.

💡 Sample answer: I'm familiar with C++, Java, Python, and Ruby. I am a proficient coder in all of these languages. In my previous roles, I was responsible for developing software using one or more of these languages. My latest project was developing an app and its marketing website for tracking pets’ health and wellness. Since its launch, it has been extremely popular with pet owners. I used Java and Python for the development of the app and the website.

Q2: Describe your process of dealing with a programming task, from start to finish.

This interview question is meant to assess how the software engineer candidate thinks and solves problems. The interviewer wants to know how the interviewee approaches programming tasks and whether they have a systematic approach to solving problems.

An ideal answer to this software development interview question describes the steps you usually take when you are given a programming task. Be sure to structure your answer well because the interviewer will be looking for clarity and coherence in your explanation.

💡 Sample answer: When I am given a programming task, the first thing I do is to understand the requirements of the task. I then break down the task into smaller subtasks that can be coded separately. Once I have a plan in mind, I start coding the solution in the programming language that I am most comfortable with. After I finish writing the code, I test it to check if it works as intended. If there are any errors, I debug the code and fix them. Once the code is working as intended, I submit it for review.

Q3: Tell me about a project you completed successfully.

This interview question is meant to assess the interviewee's experience and expertise with software engineering. The interviewer wants to know about a project the interviewee has completed successfully, what languages they used for the project, and what their role was in the project.

We suggest that during your software engineer interview prep, you list out your top 3 achievements that best demonstrate the skills required for the job. In your answer, be sure to mention your role, your team size, the technology stack you used, and the challenges you faced.

💡 Sample answer: I was the lead software developer on a team of five that developed a pet tracking app and website. The app was developed using Java and Python, and the website was developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I was responsible for coding the backend of the app and the website, as well as for debugging and troubleshooting issues that arose during development. We faced several challenges during development, such as integrating third-party APIs and ensuring data security, but we were able to overcome them through teamwork and collaboration.

Q4: Describe an obstacle you encountered while working on a project and how you overcame it.

This common behavioral interview question is meant to assess the interviewee's problem-solving skills, a required skill for software engineers. The interviewer wants to know how the candidate handles obstacles and whether they are capable of finding creative solutions to problems.

To answer this question about problem-solving, describe an obstacle you encountered while working on a project and explain how you overcame it. Be sure to highlight your creativity and problem-solving skills in your answer.

💡 Sample answer: During my 5th year as a senior software developer, I landed a freelance job to develop a mobile game for a client. The client was very specific about what they wanted the game to look like and how it should function. It was a game about aliens and it had to be developed using the Unity game engine. However, after I had completed 50% of the work, the client suddenly changed their mind about the game's design, possibly due to internal changes in their company. Instead of scraping everything and starting from scratch again, I came up with a creative solution: I used Unity's asset store to find pre-made 3D models of aliens that fit the new design, and made some adjustments to the code to make them work in the game. This saved me a lot of time and effort, and the client was happy with the result.

Q5: Tell me about a time when you worked with other software engineers.

This interview question is meant to assess the interviewee's interpersonal skills and ability to work in a team. The interviewer wants to know whether the interviewee can collaborate effectively with other software engineers.

To answer this question, describe a time when you worked with other software engineers. Be sure to mention your role in the team, how you communicated with other software engineers, and what challenges you faced.

💡 Sample answer: I am a software engineer on a team of 13 that is responsible for developing and maintaining a mobile app. We use a scrum development methodology, and we meet every day to discuss our progress and any challenges we are facing. I am responsible for coding the frontend of the app using React Native. I often need to coordinate with the backend engineers to make sure that the data is being fetched and stored correctly. We faced several challenges during development, such as integrating third-party APIs and ensuring data security, but we were able to overcome them through teamwork and collaboration.

Q6: Are you comfortable reviewing codes written by others?

Working with other people's code is as important as writing code yourself, as most software engineering positions will require you to do both. This is why this question is among some of the most common interview questions for software engineer positions.

In your answer, explain that you understand the importance of reviewing code written by others. You can also mention a time when you had to review someone else's code and how you went about doing it.

💡 Sample answer: Yes, I am comfortable reviewing codes written by others. As an experienced software engineer with 2 years of testing experience, I understand that it is important to review code written by others in order to find errors and improve the quality of the code. When I review someone else's code, I first take a look at the structure of the code and the comments to get an understanding of what it does. Then, I run the code to see if it works as intended. If there are any errors, I debug the code to find out where the errors are and discuss with the person who wrote the code on how to fix them.

Q7: What are your favorite software development tools?

This question is meant to assess the interviewee's technical skills and knowledge. The interviewer wants to know which software development tools the interviewee is familiar with and whether they are able to use them effectively. 

A good answer to this interview question would include the names of the software development tools that you are familiar with, as well as how you used them effectively in the past, providing specific examples. If you know the company's development stack, be sure to mention the tools that they use as well. 

💡 Sample answer: Some of my favorite software development tools are Eclipse and Visual Studio Code. I like using them because they are both free and open source, and they have a lot of plugins that make development easier. For example, I use the Eclipse Marketplace Client plugin to search for and install new plugins, and I use the Visual Studio Code extension for Java Development to add syntax highlighting and code completion for Java development in Visual Studio Code. 

Q8: How do you measure software quality?

How a software engineer measures software quality says a lot about them. The interviewer wants to learn about what factors you take into consideration when assessing the quality of a piece of software.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this behavioral question, as different software developers may have different opinions on what constitutes software quality. Some key factors that may be considered include code readability, maintainability, performance, scalability, and security, so consider mentioning these in your answer.

💡 Sample answer: To me, software quality is measured by how well the software meets the requirements set by the client, how easy it is to use and understand, how stable and reliable it is, and how well it performs. When I assess the quality of a piece of software, I take all these factors into consideration. I put extra emphasis on reliability and performance because these are the most important factors for users. If the software is not reliable, it will cause a lot of problems for users.

Q9: Talk about some mistakes you learned from.

Mistakes are inevitable, especially in a fast-paced and ever-changing industry like software engineering. What's important is that you learn from your mistakes and don't repeat them. This interview question allows the interviewer to see how the interviewee deals with their mistakes and learn from them.

In your answer, simply talk about a time when you made a mistake and what you did to learn from it.

💡 Sample answer: When I was first starting out as a software engineer, I made a lot of mistakes that cost me a lot of time and effort. For example, I would write code that was not well-organized and not well-commented in order to meet deadlines while working as a junior software developer, which made it difficult for others to understand and use later. This slowed down the development process because we had to spend extra time fixing my code. I learned from this mistake and now I make sure to write clean, well-organized code.

Q10: Do you have any questions for us?

This is your opportunity to ask questions about the company, the position, or anything else that you want to know. As a software developer, you should be interested in the company's development process and how you will fit into it.

Several key factors that may affect how much you like your job as a member of the software engineering team include the company culture, the team you'll be working with, and the work itself. Asking questions about these factors will give you a better idea of whether or not this is the right job for you.

5 good questions to ask the interviewer during a software engineer job interview:

  1. What is the work on an average day like?
  2. What are the long term career opportunities in this position?
  3. How can I make a difference as a software engineer in the company?
  4. What are some of the main challenges I might face in this role?
  5. Who will I be working with on a day-to-day basis?

Common general software engineer interview questions

General interview questions are just as important as position-specific questions, as they allow the interviewer to get to know you better on a more personal level and see how you think.

We've hand-picked a list of 10 most common general questions you might come across in a software engineer job interview:

1. What do you know about our company and culture?

2. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a software engineer?

3. Why are you interested in this position?

4. What do you know about our competitors?

5. What are your future goals in software engineering?

6. What do you know about software engineering?

7. What led you to pursue a career in software engineering?

8. What makes software engineering unique compared to other engineering disciplines?

9. What are the biggest challenges you see in software engineering?

10. What would you consider to be your best accomplishment as a software engineer?

And there you have it! A complete list of software engineer interview questions, both general and position-specific. Use this article to kickstart your preparation for your next software engineering interview, and you'll be sure to land the job you want in no time.

With CakeResume’s resume builder tool, resume templates and resume examples, you could showcase your best qualifications to land your dream job. Try making a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Candy Ho ---

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