job interview questions for software engineers

The high salary and great demand for engineers have attracted numerous job seekers. However, do you know what the popular job interview questions for engineers are? Besides the technical test, general questions will also be asked during engineering interviews. Here are the ten most common job interview questions for software engineers collected and compiled through global job seeking experience, sharing from managers and human resource database.

Further reading:  9 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Job in IT


1.
What do you know about the company? 
Why do you want to join us?

The company would like to know if you have done any homework: familiarize with their products, corporate culture and working environment.
If you aren't able to answer these questions accurately, it implies that you do not know this company and do not attach importance to this interview. Presumably, the interviewer is not going to be impressed with you!

Tips

Do proper online research or ask friends around you in advance for preparation. Prior to the interview, imagine yourself as businessman ready to propose an idea. The interview process is like negotiating about a cooperation case. You need to prove that you are well-prepared and qualified, with a sincere attitude.

2.
What's the most challenging project you've participated in? What was your role in the project?
What were the difficulties and how did you overcome them?

This is a “must-asked” job interview question for engineers. It helps interviewers understand your contribution to your past projects, how you dealt with pressure and how you overcome problems.

Reminder

While you are promoting and marketing yourself, remember not to exaggerate or be dishonest. After all, the industry circle is not big and it can be very easy to ask around.

Although not every engineer has to deal with clients in person, when it comes to promotion, it is often considered as one of the most critical factors. Interviewers want to know about your emotional stability, how you deal with stress, and how you handle customers.

3.
Please share the most difficult technical problem you've faced till date, and how you solved it.

This is similar to the previous question, but it is more technical. Employers want to know how familiar you are with programming software, and what kind of resources/methods you use to solve problems.

4.
Do you have experience of handling difficult clients?
How did you deal with them?

What kind of different strategies will you adopt now?

Although not every engineer has to deal with clients in person, when it comes to promotion, it is often considered as one of the most critical factors. Interviewers want to know about your emotional stability, how you deal with stress, and how you handle clients.

Points to include in your answer :

  • How did you listen to clients' opinions / criticism?
  • How did you propose solutions?
  • How did you convince the clients and finally achieve your goal?

Remember that the focus here is "how you solve problem and persuade customers". Do not complain about how unreasonable the clients’ requirements are, or wrongly focus on discussing technical problems.

5.
How do you get access to the latest technology?

Software technology is evolving with each passing day. As a software engineer, it is necessary to keep up with the latest technology. The purpose of this software engineering interview question is to know whether you continue to learn and upgrade yourself during your spare time.

The best way to handle this question is to be truthful. Answer “yes’ if you do and “no” if you do not, do not lie. Otherwise, it would cause negative effect if you are found lying.

Template for answering this question :

  • I am currently learning … technology/programming language/software.
  • I learn it through … method/platform/channel (e.g. online course, books, cram school and etc.).
  • My purpose of learning this new technology is to … .
  • If it is required to learn any new technology for the job position, I am very willing to put effort into it.

6.
Have you developed or learned any new skills last year?

This interview question is similar to the previous one, except that this one is broader. The previous question is more focused on programming/technical aspects. However, this question is more about non-technical skills that can be helpful to the position, such as management skill, foreign language ability, sales ability, and etc.

Tips for people applying for management position :

It can be a plus to show your knowledge on Management. It indicates that you are ambitious about the position and are well-prepared.

Although the question is very broad, do not talk about skills that are not related to the position. For example, “I am learning harmonica recently”. Unless the interviewer is also learning, otherwise he/she will not be interested.

7.
What technologies/software/packages are you most familiar with? 

The purpose of this software engineering interview question is to understand your practical ability and your degree of familiarity with a technology. There are not many ingenious ways to respond to this. Answer what you know about the technology with examples to substantiate.

Further reading:  Software Engineer Resume : Do's & Don'ts of a Perfect Engineering Resume

8.
What is the coolest code you have ever written?
Which portion of it are you proudest of? Why?

This question is evolved from the previous question. In addition to your degree of familiarity with coding, interviewer also wants to know about your creativity.
The key to this question does not lie in your skill level, but whether you can come up with code or solutions that no one else has thought of.

9.
What role do you play in a team?
When team member refused to cooperate, how would you handle the situation?

Software engineers often need to cooperate with other people to complete a project. Hence interviewers want to know how you work within a team, what role you will play when the team is in difficulty, and what are the contributions you will make.

For manager position:

  • You can place emphasis on "leadership" and "guidance".
  • Provide examples of how you can inspire and lead the team to overcome difficulties.

For non-managerial position:

  • You can place emphasis on how you can assist the team during operation.
  • As a collaborator, how you can help leaders lead the team to success more smoothly.

Key points to mention while providing examples:

1. What kind of team were you in?
2. What role did you play?
3. What problems and challenges did your team face?
4. What solution did you propose?

10.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

The interviewer wants to know about your future career plan. There is basically no right or standard answer to this question, but the general direction is: do not mention about career change. No company would be happy to see their employees keep switching jobs.

Reminder

It is better to first understand the future career development of the job.
Do your research on the industry trend and forecast, to work out a plan in accord with market trend and personal goal.


Apart from well-rehearsed answers, body language is also an important factor during job interview! How to crack positive body language?