Software developer interview questions and sample answers
Updated 24 July 2023
Setting some time aside to prepare yourself properly for a job interview is one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting a job offer. For software developers, it's useful to review the standard questions and prepare the appropriate answers. Knowing what kinds of questions to expect may guide you in your preparation and allow you to reveal your knowledge and confidence on the day of the interview. In this article, we look at the role of a software developer and explore a list of typical interview questions.
What is a software developer?
Software developers, engineers, programmers and coders design and build computer software. They are highly skilled technical professionals who often possess a degree in computer science. Or perhaps they may have taught themselves or may have attended a coding boot camp to acquire their skills. The nature of the job varies depending on the developer's employer, but it typically revolves around writing and reviewing code and fixing bugs. Software developers create detailed instructions that computers use to perform functions. They also maintain code, implement updates and conduct tests.
These professionals usually work for software publishers, video game developers, manufacturing companies and organisations that rely heavily on computer software. They often work in teams comprising other software developers and IT experts, and they work according to project briefs. Software developers oversee the entire software development life cycle, which includes designing, implementing, testing and deploying software, and they also assist with updates when necessary. They typically have an in-depth knowledge of software development methodologies, such as the waterfall model and the agile and iterative development models. These provide a systematic approach to software development.
General software developer interview questions
A recruiter may ask standard software developer interview questions to learn about your personality and what motivates you. This helps them determine whether you're a good fit for the company and its culture. Here are ten general interview questions a recruiter may ask you:
Why did you leave your previous position?
Why does software development interest you?
What part of programming are you best at?
What part of programming do you find most challenging?
What is your career plan?
How does getting this position fit in with your career plan?
How well do you work with other people?
How good are you at handling feedback?
How would your colleagues describe you in three words?
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Questions about your background and experience
Recruiters try to see how your background and past experience may prepare you for the role, so these types of questions usually follow after the more standard questions. Having the specifics of your CV in your mind may help you with these questions, as the recruiter may ask you about certain details you provided on your CV and how they align with the job requirements. Here are ten typical questions the recruiter may ask you about your background and experience:
Where did you learn about software development?
How many software development projects have you led, if any?
What relevant certifications do you possess?
What did you excel at in your previous position?
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
How did you contribute to the achievement of your previous employer's business goals?
What previous experience has prepared you most for this role?
How do you plan to develop your skills and experience further?
What experience have you had with software development methodologies, such as waterfall?
What coding languages are you familiar with?
In-depth interview questions
To examine the full extent of your technical expertise, recruiters typically move on to more in-depth questions in the later stages of an interview. This helps them determine how skilled you are currently and whether you may require additional training to do the job. Here are ten typical in-depth interview questions to help you prepare:
How do you overcome problems when writing code?
How do you stay up to date with developments in the industry?
What are some of the advantages and limitations of using the waterfall method?
What's your process when beginning software development projects?
When reviewing code, what's the first thing you look for?
How do you ensure you complete projects on time?
Which programming language do you find the easiest to use?
How would you present technical information to a stakeholder with no technical knowledge?
What do you think is the best project management model for software development projects?
What do you think is a software developer's most important quality or skill?
Software developer interview questions and example answers
To help you prepare for your interview and plan your answers, here are several interview questions the recruiter may ask you, along with sample answers:
Can you explain the differences between object-oriented and functional programming?
Interviewers may ask this type of question to ensure that you understand the key differences between the two primary approaches to software development. Answering this correctly shows that you know which type of programming is appropriate for each project.
Example answer: 'In functional programming, the function is the primary concern as it's an important section of code that I can use repeatedly. This type of programming relies on immutable objects. This contrasts with object-oriented programming, where the most important aspect is class. Object-oriented programming relies on state mutation and object modification.'
Can you explain the difference between method overloading and method overriding?
A recruiter may ask this type of question to ensure that you understand some key software development terminology. So, clearly explain the terms and how they differ.
Example answer: 'Method overloading and method overriding are different polymorphisms. Overloading a method means keeping the method the same but altering its parameters, signature or return type. With method overriding, you take a method that belongs to an extended class, and you manipulate its behaviour.'
Can you briefly summarise the software development life cycle?
A question like this reveals whether you understand the practical process of developing software and allows the employer to decide whether you can start working straightaway or whether you require more training. So, to show your level of knowledge, provide an overview of the required steps.
Example answer: 'The steps in the software development life cycle are the following: planning, determining requirements, designing software architecture, building software, documenting work, testing, deploying software and providing ongoing maintenance.'
Can you explain what software scope means?
This is a crucial aspect of project management in software development and refers to the boundaries of the brief.
Example answer: 'Software scope refers to the specifications of the brief and what they expect from the software product. It describes what they require to create the software and all the functionalities and artefacts it typically possesses upon completion. The scope is essentially the vision of the project and what they expect from the product. Software developers use the software scope to make various project estimations, such as how long it may take and how much it may cost.'
Can you name some of the tools you use for software design and analysis?
Showing that you know about the necessary tools to analyse and design software may reveal the quality of your software development skills. Try to list as many design and analysis tools as you can.
Example answer: 'The software design and analysis tools I know about are data dictionary, data flow diagrams, structured English, decision tables and entry-relationship diagrams, structure charts and hierarchical input process output diagrams.'
What's the most important difference between pseudocode and structured English?
This is an advanced-level question that tests your knowledge of coding languages.
Example answer: 'The most important difference between these two concepts is that developers use structured English to write the structure of program modules. It's the English language with the syntax of structured programming. In contrast, pseudocode is a programming language that doesn't resemble any natively spoken language.'
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