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How to Become a Software Engineer

Software Engineer Interview Questions

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When hiring a new Software Engineer, there are certain things almost all employers will want to know. Even though every Software Engineer interview will be different, most will follow a similar format and include many of the same interview questions.

Here are some of the most common Software Engineer interview questions and what we think are the best answers to give to ace your job search.

Software Engineering Interview Questions: Technical

Question: What programming languages do you use? Which do you prefer to use?
Emphasize your technical skills by going over all the different languages you can code in. Interviewers will expect a Software Engineering job candidate at any stage in their career to be able to program in an arsenal of different languages. Be sure to refer to the job description before the interview so you can make mention of any languages specifically demanded by the job. As far as your favorite programming language, just be honest on the languages you prefer to use to write code.

What is the software development life cycle?
The software development life cycle is a process to produce the best possible software, with stages that include planning, design, building, testing, and deployment. Different models for the software development life cycle include the spiral model, waterfall model, and Agile model.

What is object-oriented programming (OOP)?
OOP is a computer programming model that focuses on an object that Software Developers want to manipulate as opposed to the logic required to manipulate them. Any Software Engineer should also be able to list some popular object-oriented programming languages (including Java, JavaScript, Python, C++, and Ruby) and explain the principles of OOP: encapsulation, abstraction, inheritance, and polymorphism.

What is Agile software development? What is your opinion on it?
Agile software development is a popular and widely adopted software development process centred on iterative development principles. As widespread as Agile development practices are, they're not universally loved. Still, any Software Developer will eventually work within this framework at some point in their career, and therefore you should be able to list some of Agile's positive points in an interview. The biggest benefit is that a team can be more adaptable to change.

How do you approach testing and searching for bugs?
First, emphasize that you consider software testing to be one of the most important pillars of software development, one you believe should be carried out at every stage of the software development life cycle. Good Software Engineers are defined by their commitment to testing. Different Software Engineers approach testing differently, ranging from manual application tests to unit testing to writing test suites for individual code modules. You should be able to articulate your approach and explain why you think it works.

What are the two main categories of software testing?
Those would be black box testing – where the internal structure/design/implementation of an item is not known to the tester – or white box testing, where it is known.

What is the difference between functional and non-functional requirements?
The difference is functional requirements describe what a system should do, while non functional requirements describe how the system works.

Software Engineering Interview Questions: On the Job

Tell us about the last project you worked on. What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?
Use the STAR method – situation, task, action, and result – to explain how you navigated bumps along the road on a previous software development project before ultimately arriving at a positive result. This question gives you an opportunity to showcase your problem solving skills. You should also explain how you plan to apply this knowledge to future web development projects.

How do you communicate highly technical issues to stakeholders with a non-technical background?
Many software engineering jobs will require you to work as a part of large, multi-disciplinary teams. This question is all about proving that you have the soft skills – communication, specifically – to explain complex, highly technical software development issues to company leadership in a clear, concise way. In your answer, give a specific example of a time when you dealt persuasively with a non-technical stakeholder. At the same time, this will underline that you've worked directly with top company leadership.

How do you judge the success of a software development project?
Although every Software Engineer wants to create high-quality software, it might be even more important to an employer to prove that you understand how to make software that meets user needs and produces strong business results. This is especially true if the Software Engineer interview is being conducted by someone in a less technical role. If you can show how you lay out success metrics and identify KPIs, it will demonstrate that you can think beyond code.

What project management tools have you used?
Even if you're early in your software engineering career, you should be familiar with tools such as Jira and Asana. It's also worth talking about the relative benefits and flaws of each, as well as sharing any achievements you might have had managing projects.

Software Engineering Interview Questions: Fit

Why are you interested in joining our company or team?
With the high demand for Software Engineers, retention is a major priority (and sometimes, a challenge) at most competitive companies. If you can show a genuine interest as you talk about a company's history and principles, it could show that you're committed to the job and won't immediately be looking to jump ship to a new software engineering role. Your passion for a specific company or project could set you apart from a broad field of software engineering candidates.

What questions do you have for us?
We've mentioned that Software Engineers are in high demand – especially good ones. A Software Engineer whose work is in high demand would be thorough and thoughtful in asking questions about company culture, work-life balance, and current software development projects. This is also another way of showing that you're committed to a company and not planning to leave at the first opportunity.

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