Top 9 Questions to Expect in a Software Developer Job Interview (with examples)

Paul Brown
03.05.2022 Published: 03.05.22, Modified: 03.05.2022 11:05:45

Software Developers, also known as Software Engineers, are one of the most in-demand job roles in the modern-day. With high-demand also comes great competition. Whether you want to become a Full-stack Engineer, App Developer or SDET, getting your foot in the door can be challenging and how you perform during your interview is critical.

Employers don’t just want to know about your experience and skills, but also about you as an individual and the value you can bring to the company. Here are our top tips to answer all the possible questions that may be thrown your way during a junior Software Developer job interview, help you wow your interviewers and land your dream job – featuring some example answers, as well as some practice questions to ask after the interview. We’ll cover:

Top 9 Questions to Expect in a Software Developer Job Interview

  1. Why did you choose to become a Software Developer?
  2. What are your preferred programming languages and which do you use most?
  3. Are you familiar with any development methodologies? If so, which ones?
  4. Are you currently working on any personal projects?
  5. What are your career goals? Or where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  6. What challenges have you faced during a Software Development project? And how did you overcome these challenges?
  7. How would you explain a technical concept to someone without any technical knowledge?
  8. What would be your key areas of focus when reviewing a colleague’s work?
  9. How do you keep up with the latest technology trends?

1. Why Did You Choose to Become a Software Developer?

Here, the employer wants to see how passionate you are about the role and how dedicated you will be to the profession, and the company. The answer to this question will look different for everyone but, ultimately, companies are looking for keen individuals who are truly passionate about Software Development and the wider industry, and are not solely driven by competitive salaries or popularity.

When forming your answer, we recommend that you include a little bit of information about how you got started with coding, your personal experiences in development and what you enjoy most about the industry.

2. What are Your Preferred Programming Languages and Which Do You Use Most?

This question will help provide employers with an indication of your programming knowledge and preferences. There are a number of programming languages out there and you’re not expected to be proficient in all of them. However, employers will want to see that you have a strong knowledge of a handful of coding languages and, at the very least, the main language required for the job. Remember, it’s better to mention the coding languages you are comfortable talking about to ensure you are able to answer any follow up questions.

Check out our blog on the best coding languages to learn for more information.

3. Are You Familiar with any Development Methodologies? If so, which ones?

When hiring, employers are looking for someone who will fit in seamlessly with their existing teams and easily adapt to the current working environment and processes. If you have previous experience working in a specific development environment, this is an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and draw upon your experience.

Even if you do not have any experience working in a development environment, here is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of how different frameworks function, such as Agile, Scrum, Waterfall or hybrid models. Alternatively, you could explain how you will prepare for the organisation’s development methodology by enrolling on a short course or purchasing a book to learn more. A proactive approach is always appreciated by employers!

4. Are You Currently Working on Any Personal Projects?

Some employers like to see that candidates are taking their passion for coding outside of the workplace and getting involved in their own passion projects. For instance, if you are currently working on a project on Github or Bitbucket, you should definitely be prepared to talk about it. Here’s another example answer:

“I began learning JavaScript, creating simple web templates and online games, like noughts and crosses, using online resources to help me. Now that I have more experience and a deeper understanding of programming languages, such as Node and React, I like to test my skills by recreating online forum sites, similar to Reddit, and trading bots for cryptocurrency.”

5. What Are Your Career Goals? Or Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

It’s important to remember that your employers are not looking to catch you out. In most instances, they are curious to understand what your professional aspirations are, in order to help you achieve them. For instance, if you want to move into a managerial position in the near future, and this company does not have any scope for this, it could be the wrong company for you. Alternatively, if the company is looking for an entry-level employee to upskill and grow with the company, then it could be a perfect match.

6. What Challenges Have You Faced During a Software Development Project? And How Did You Overcome these Challenges?

Problem-solving is an important skill to have for any job, but Software Development in particular. You will face challenges on a daily basis, but it’s how you get around these problems that will help you stand out. Employers want to see that you will not crumble when faced with difficult challenges but, instead, create innovative solutions and keep pushing forward.

When asked this question during an interview, we recommend drawing upon past experiences and demonstrating how you overcame an obstacle using effective time management, task prioritisation and teamwork.  Most organisations want to make sure candidates will make a good fit with the existing team, and will be looking out for mentions of teamwork and collaborative skills during the interview.

7. How Would You Explain a Technical Concept to Someone Without Any Technical Knowledge?

When working as a Software Developer, you will more than likely work with external stakeholders or employees from other departments, who do not have a technical background. In these instances, you will be required to explain complicated technical concepts in a simplified manner, whilst still conveying all necessary information. Some examples of how to do this include giving others the opportunity to ask questions, creating mock-ups of a product for better visualisation and, most importantly, striking the right balance in how you talk to your non-technical coworkers, not to patronise nor confuse them. 

The interview may even ask you to explain a technical term to them on the spot, so come prepared. It could be anything from APIs to big-O notation!

8. What Would Be Your Key Areas of Focus When Reviewing a Colleague’s Work?

Reviewing other team members code is an essential part of being a Software Engineer. Inevitably, everyone will have a different way of working, however, this question is designed to test your attention to detail and troubleshooting skills. Some of the buzzwords employers are looking for include security flaws, regulatory requirements, functionality or unnecessary lines of code. It is best practice to have a checklist for code reviews so it is worth running through your checklist step-by-step. It’s useful to know about best practices in development, so here’s one way to demonstrate your understanding:

“When it comes to reviewing other people’s code, I like to follow a checklist to ensure I do not miss anything out and always follow best practices. My checklist includes looking out for security flaws and ensuring that the code follows regulatory guidelines for the project. Next, I will check to see if the code is bloated or contains unnecessary lines of code, and if this is the case, I will advise that the code is reviewed and rewritten. I understand that everyone has different coding styles so I will only recommend changes where necessary and convey all amendments in a professional, respectful manner. Reviewing each other’s work is important as it can be difficult to spot your own mistakes!”

9. How Do You Keep Up with the Latest Technology Trends?

In addition to finding out about any of your personal coding projects, employers may ask about your interest in the wider industry to gauge your specific areas of interest and passion for the industry, outside of your job. Employers are not expecting you to have read every journal or article, but it’s important to show that you stay up-to-date with industry trends and have a genuine interest in technology. Why not try this?…

“I love keeping up to date with all things technology, especially new developments in the Software Engineering world. I am subscribed to a number of email newsletters and magazines, such as WIRED and BBC Focus, and keep informed through Twitter updates. I have also taken part in a number of hackathons and attended online webinars and lectures in my spare time.”

Here is also a fantastic opportunity to run through a particular technology in more detail.

Of course, these are just some of the best Software Developer technical interview questions and your interviewer may have a few more up their sleeves. So, make sure to prepare for a broad range of questions beforehand!

How Do You Give the Best Response?

To provide the best response, we highly recommend the STAR method. The STAR method is a popular interview technique, used to provide more detail and context to your answers. STAR stands for:

Situation – explain the situation you were in.

Task – describe the task you had to complete.

Action – provide details about how you went about completing the task.

Results – showcase what you achieved by doing so.

This method will definitely help you answer the FDM Software Developer interview questions.

Questions to Ask at a Software Developer Interview

Remember that interviews are a two-way street. You should be answering and asking questions, too. Here are a few examples of questions you could ask at an interview for a Software Engineer role:

Read our blog to find out more about questions to ask after an interview.

Final Notes on How to Prepare for Your Software Engineering interview

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what questions could be asked during a Software Developer interview, you should be feeling much more at ease. However, in addition to practising these questions, we recommend taking a look at general interview questions and techniques, such as strength-based interviews. You may also want to consider brushing up on your specific programming language skills if needed.

If you’re looking to get started in Software Development, check out the FDM Software Development Programme, designed to help graduates kick start a career in tech with expert training and work placements with our prestigious clients.