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Top Interview Questions to Ask Software Engineers (Step By Step Guide)

Top Interview Questions to Ask Software Engineers

An innovative mind and an eye for detail are just two of the best traits a software engineer should have. Software engineers apply engineering principles and programming language to build end-user software solutions. If you have any gadget on you, it certainly has a couple of software programs for it to function. 

As an employer, you naturally want to work with a team that’s ambitious and passionate. This needs to be found out during the hiring stage. The type of questions you ask will help you evaluate if the candidate is a perfect fit for your vision and organization. 

Practice makes perfect…

Perhaps you’re on the lookout for your next project or employment as a software engineer. Practicing answering these questions will help you move a spot up as a viable candidate at a prospective company. Of course, questions will always be tailored to meet a company’s goals and vision. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the top interview questions to ask software engineers. 

What Do Software Engineers Do?

What Do Software Engineers Do?

Perhaps you’re curious about what software engineers do. Knowing this will help you understand why these questions are asked in the interviews. Basically, Software Engineers design and create computer systems and applications that solve real-world problems. 

Sometimes referred to as software developers, they’re also analytical thinkers who enjoy solving problems. They also make digital products easier for consumers to use. 

Read more: Best “Most Likely To” Questions

Top Interview Questions To Ask Software Engineers

Next, let’s take a look at the top questions to ask software engineers during interviews. Each question should show you what you are looking for in a prospective candidate. While the interview is conducted, you’ll need to take down notes to help you evaluate your top candidates. You can use this GKIDOER LCD note-taking tablet which comes with a magnetic stylus. 

1 Why did you decide to become a software engineer?

Why did you decide to become a software engineer?

This is most likely the first question that’s asked in an interview. It’s an important question that shows how passionate a candidate is. It gives you an idea of what their work ethic is like, especially when they’re not supervised. 

Businesses are constantly on the lookout for employees that add value to their companies. This question helps to show how dedicated a person is to their job and what type of skills they possess. It’s also an opportunity to see the potential a candidate has, especially if they’re new to the field. 

Read more: Audio Engineer Job Description

2 What Programming languages and frameworks do you prefer?

This gives you an idea of what type of programs the applicant is familiar with. It also allows for a more natural flow of the interview because of follow-up questions relating to the programs. If the programming languages being used are unusual for that company, the interviewer can ask why the candidate chose them.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for the applicant to show how much they know about the software they can design. This allows you to go over which programs they’re comfortable with. 

3 What kind of databases do you use?

There’s a good chance that one of the interviewers is a supervisor or head of a department who’s knowledgeable in computer programming. The most common databases used by companies are SQL, NoSQL, or a combination. The candidate should be familiar with one of these and should be able to work with a data set. 

Data in an SQL database is more structured than the data in a NoSQL database. NoSQL database doesn’t require a predefined schema. A suitable follow-up question is to ask how they prefer to store data. It could be on-site, off-site, on the cloud, or perhaps a combination.

If you prefer cloud platforms…

If they prefer using the cloud, you can ask if they use Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or another cloud computing service. An experienced software engineer will take advantage of this by mentioning their experience with databases or cloud platforms.

4 What project management tools do you use?

What project management tools do you use?

When coding or making new software during a project, efficient management is put into place. Sometimes, engineers won’t meet in person but will update each other digitally. This is done using project management tools. Some recommendable tools are Asana, ClickUp, and Jira. 

You could ask them how they use the project management tool they’re most familiar with. Their response tells you more about how disciplined they are and how they manage their time. It could also give you an insight into their communication skills, which is important when a team is creating software. 

5 What source control are you familiar with?

There is no right or wrong answer to this. It will simply give you an insight into your candidates’ thought processes when it comes to coding. It gives you an idea of how dependable the candidate’s workflow is for code changes. 

6 What coding mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?

More and more companies are no longer looking for candidates that give perfect answers. These hide a candidate’s flaws and limit their desire to experiment with projects. 

This question isn’t focused on the mistakes themselves but on how the mistakes were fixed. If the errors were not able to be fixed, a lesson or two must’ve been learned from the experience. This gives candidates the impression that there’s room to learn and grow at your company. 

Learn from your mistakes…

Enthusiastic software engineers have most likely worked on personal and business projects. Some projects end up failing, and that’s not a bad thing. It allows them to learn new things and try different approaches in the future. As an interviewer, you get an insight into your candidates’ willingness to admit mistakes and learn. It also shows how they improve their skills for future projects. 

7 Talk about a project you completed successfully

Talk about a project you completed successfully

Good candidates will use this opportunity to market themselves and to show the panel what makes them different. As an interviewer, you can evaluate how the engineers collaborate with teams or work independently. You also get an idea of their time management skills, interactive skills, and how they contribute to a project. 

8 How do you balance quality with speed when delivering a project?

More often than not, software engineers work on tight deadlines. They find themselves in positions where they need to meet a target release date while delivering high-quality programs. Having team members who have a similar approach when balancing quality and speed will create more unity within the team.

Asking this question shows how well a new member will fit in with your office culture. It gives you a glimpse of how committed they are to high-performance levels. 

9 Where do you see yourself in ten years?

This shows the aspirations and goals that a potential team member has. This question can be highly revealing. Many companies thrive on employee retention, so hiring an engineer that could stay with the company long-term is ideal. 

If a candidate is enthusiastic about programming, then there’s a good chance they’ll be valuable to your team. An applicant demonstrates whether they plan on reaching a senior-level position in a company one day. 

10 Tell us about a disagreement on a project at a previous job. How did you resolve this?

Conflict at work is a natural occurrence, especially when delivering projects and working in a team. It’s important to understand how a candidate reacts during a conflict. Are they an analytical person, or do they add to the conflict? An ideal employee can provide solutions or, at the very least, remain neutral. 

When a candidate describes a specific disagreement and resolution, it reveals more about their behavior. If you want to build a better work culture, read The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. You’ll get a better understanding of how to build a cohesive work culture. 

11 What are you looking for in this job?

You want to know why a candidate applied to your company. Their answer reveals if they also researched your company. Your follow-up questions will show if they know about your company’s mission, values, and culture. 

Of course, employees apply for jobs because they need the money and stability. However, showing that they did some research about your company confirms that they’ll be dedicated to your team. It’s important to hire a software engineer that has an excellent work ethic. 

12 Do you prefer working in a team or alone?

Do you prefer working in a team or alone?

Some projects require working in a team, while others can be managed by an individual. There’s no wrong or right answer. It’s just an opportunity to see the dynamics that could be created between co-workers when delivering future projects. 

13 How do you conduct software quality?

Before an engineer delivers software, they must check and reassure the quality. Conducting a quality control process ensures that the software is top-notch. An experienced engineer uses specific tools to evaluate their results. Quality control is done to test for bugs and to find ways to fix them.

14 Do you have any questions for us?

An effective way to end an interview is to ask if your applicants have any questions for you. Check this out! Whatever questions they ask show whether they also see themselves fitting in with the company. 

Allow potential software engineers to ask questions. If they’re not interested in the company, they might not have any questions prepared. On the other hand, a suitable candidate that asks several questions might ask about the company culture and company values. 

Top Interview Questions To Ask Software Engineers – Additional Questions 

Top Interview Questions To Ask Software Engineers - Additional Questions 


Interviewers should ask the right questions so that they can identify the best match for the position. Asking a range of questions provides you with an opportunity to know potential new hires. Here are more questions that you might like to use in future interviews. 

General Software Engineer Questions:

  1. What type of work culture do you thrive in?
  2. How often do you think a performance review should be conducted if it was your decision?
  3. What sets you apart from other applicants?
  4. Do you prefer close supervision when working on a project?
  5. What do you do when you’re unclear about directions given by a supervisor?

Questions about Experience and Background:

  1. Do you have any experience leading a team of coders?
  2. What do you do when you’re stressed about a project?
  3. Do you have any experience working with neural networks or artificial intelligence?
  4. What was the first program that you ever coded?
  5. When writing your database server, what do you consider?
  6. What projects are you working on now?
  7. How do you keep your skills sharp and up to date?

More Interview Info And Advice!

For further advice, check out the Software Engineer’s Interview Survival Guide: Grinding Your Way to Whiteboard Interview Confidence, the Top 50 Software Engineer Personal Interview Questions & Answers, and the Software Engineer Career: Guide To Rocking Your Next Coding Interview: How To Get Well You Perform In Your Coding Interview Part, all available online in 2023.

Or perhaps you’d like to see what the various positions entail with my Software Developer Job Description, my Software Test Engineer Job Description, and my Software Tester Job Description, as well as my Network Engineer job Description, and lastly, the difference between Computer Science Vs Software Engineering.

Furthermore, we found a few guides to take a look at, such as the SOFTWARE TEST ENGINEER – (SYSTEMS TEST), QA TESTER, SOFTWARE QA ENGINEER: JUST IN TIME REVISION GUIDE FOR SUCCESS AT ANY SOFTWARE TESTING JOB, and How to Start As a Software Test Engineer and Be Successful in an Agile Environment, along with, A Practitioner’s Guide to Software Test Design also available online today.

Top Interview Questions to Ask Software Engineers – Final Thoughts

Interviewing applicants for an open software engineer position requires asking the right questions. You’ll need to evaluate how an ideal candidate can help your company grow. 

Follow-up questions will help avoid making the interview one-sided, and the questions I’ve included are open-ended. Recruiting a passionate and goal-oriented software engineer will help your company achieve its mission and vision. 

You might have other questions that you can add based on your company’s values, which can help you pick out the best applicant. In addition, the questions I’ve included will sure make your evaluation process is easier.

Good luck with your Software Engineering Interview!

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