Recruiting
7 min read|3 weeks ago

10 General Software Engineer Interview Questions

Mariana Krasteva
Mariana KrastevaMarketing Expert at TeamEx

Software engineers can be indispensable to businesses by supporting the management of data, improving customer experiences, enhancing productivity, and optimizing vital systems. 

When interviewing candidates for open software engineering roles, businesses must carefully assess their technical proficiency, experience, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, adaptability, and ability to collaborate with team members. Insight into these areas can be achieved with well-crafted, specific, and technical interview questions.

Explore these ten general software engineer interview questions to improve your recruiting process and help identify the best software engineering candidates from the talent pool. 

1. Which Programming Languages Are You Familiar With?

Asking which programming languages the candidate uses or is familiar with provides insight into their basic skill set, allowing recruiters to assess their suitability for the available role. The most popular coding languages include Python, Java, JavaScript, C#, and C++, and each language possesses specific benefits, suiting different use cases within business operations. 

Answer Evaluation 

The candidate will list programming languages they are familiar with or proficient in so recruiters can determine if they have the specific experience the company requires and whether they can effectively contribute to the team. Candidates who are familiar with several different languages demonstrate their commitment to improving their skills and willingness to learn, which can be a positive indicator regarding their potential employment. 

2. How Do You Ensure the Security of Your Code? 

Coding security questions assesses the candidates awareness of security risks and the importance of integrating security practices during the software development process. It shows whether the candidate takes a proactive approach to prevent security vulnerabilities, or if they solely rely on post-development testing. 

Answer Evaluation 

The candidates’ answer will highlight their knowledge of security principles and practices, such as least privilege, input validation, open design, and defense in depth. An optimal candidate will provide an answer that reflects a blend of conceptual understanding and real-world application while showing their ability and dedication to staying informed on evolving security threats.

3. Why Are Unit Testing and Test-Driven Development (TDD) Important?

Unit testing and Test-Driven Development (TDD) are processes that help software engineers to improve their code’s quality, increase their productivity, ensure early bug detection, and reduce project costs. This question assesses the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of vital methodology and practices that will directly benefit each project’s final outcome. 

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates should confidently explain that unit testing involves testing each unit or component of a software application in isolation, with units being the smallest part of an application that can be tested. Examples of units include individual functions, methods, and modules. Candidates can then describe how this process ensures that every unit is working as intended before they are integrated into a larger system. 

Similarly, Test-Driven Development is the process of writing tests before the code itself. Candidates should briefly highlight the process of TDD, which includes writing a test for a specific functionality, running the test, and writing the minimum code necessary for the test to pass before running the test again. From this stage, the code should be improved by refactoring while ensuring that the test still passes. 

Throughout their answer, candidates must show they have a thorough grasp of unit testing and TDD and can clearly explain the benefits and individual stages of each practice. Candidates may also be encouraged to provide practical examples of how they have effectively implemented these practices in their previous work.

4. What Is Your Approach to Code Reviews?

Code reviews should be informative, constructive, efficient to ensure they make a positive impact while encouraging collaboration between teammates. This question analyzes the candidate’s understanding of the code review process, their ability to offer valuable feedback, and their potential to derive value from criticism. 

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates should be prompted to answer how they approach code reviews as both a reviewer and a reviewee. As a reviewer, the candidate should outline their process and show how they can objectively assess the code of team members against standards to provide valuable, concise, and actionable feedback. 

As a reviewee, the candidate should demonstrate their openness to feedback and willingness to make improvements. This will also provide insights into the candidate’s ability to work as a team and clearly communicate with others while taking accountability for their own work. 

Candidates who view code reviews as a positive and helpful experience are generally more open to personal growth and the development of their skills. This mindset will contribute positively to projects by encouraging a team-oriented approach and knowledge sharing, rather than causing tension and unnecessary competition between team-members. 

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5. How Do You Approach Debugging? 

Bugs are inevitable during the software development process, but a software engineer’s approach to bugs can have a significant impact on the overall quality, security, and maintainability of the final product. Recruiters should gain an understanding of how candidates approach debugging, what strategies they use, and how they can utilize this process to improve their skills. 

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates will be encouraged to outline their step-by-step debugging process to showcase their use of debugging tools (such as GDB and LLDB), communication skills, and resilience in ensuring high-quality code. This process will typically include a variation of the following stages:

  1. Investigating the problem

  2. Reproducing the issue

  3. Gathering additional information

  4. Formulating a hypothesis

  5. Testing the hypothesis

  6. Verifying and deploying the fix

  7. Documenting key information 

By describing the purpose of each stage, along with clearly articulating their thought process, desirable candidates can demonstrate their systematic approach to issues, resourcefulness, and problem-solving abilities. Alternately, inexperienced candidates will be more likely to resort to a trial-and-error approach to debugging, which can be less effective and more time-consuming. 

6. What Are RESTful APIs, and How Would You Use Them in Your Projects?

RESTful APIs are interfaces that enable communication between various computer systems, allowing information to be securely exchanged. Knowledge of these interfaces allows software engineers to integrate their software with other systems, platforms, and services. This supports the development of scalable and flexible architectures while optimizing client-server interactions. 

Answer Evaluation 

Skilled software engineers will understand what RESTful APIs are and how they can be used in development projects. This includes explaining what REST stands for (Representational State Transfer), its key principles, and the use of standard HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE). 

Candidates should describe the utilization of RESTful APIs in past projects, giving insight into the impregnation process and explaining their thought process to show their practical understanding of its use cases and benefits. 

7. How Would You Approach the Task of Designing Scalable Applications?

Scalable applications can handle increased workload and growth overtime, which is critical for maximizing resource allocation, creating a consistent user experience, and ensuring long-term viability of a project. Asking how candidates will ensure scalability in their application helps to evaluate their knowledge of different scaling strategies and ability to identify and propose solutions to potential bottlenecks. 

Answer Evaluation 

Ensuring scalability in applications begins with creating modular architecture that can be easily modified or expanded without the core functionality being affected. Candidates may begin answering this question by demonstrating their knowledge of scalable frameworks, such as Flutter and Django

Optimal candidates will highlight how writing optimized and efficient code is vital, and completing other stages, such as caching, will help reduce server load and resource consumption. Candidates may also refer to a previous project where scalability was a priority and explain the tools and techniques they used to achieve the desired results. 

8. How Do You Stay Updated With Programming Developments and Technologies?

Software engineers should remain updated with the latest programming developments and technologies, as this can help them to constantly improve the quality, security, and efficiency of their projects. This may include researching new coding practices or design patterns, investigating emerging industry standards, and participating in relevant communities.  

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates may outline their efforts to remain up-to-date with developments and technologies by reading research papers, completing online courses, engaging in online forums (such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Reddit), or completing personal projects. Examples such as these emphasize the candidate’s commitment to staying informed and cultivating a learning mindset, even when not actively working on a project. 

9. What Experience Do You Have With Object-Oriented Programming? 

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a computer programming model that is based on the concept of objects rather than functions or logic. Popular object-oriented languages include Java, C++, C#, Ruby, Python, and PHP. This question gives candidates the opportunity to explain the core principles and purpose of OOP, allowing recruiters to assess their understanding of foundational programming concepts and how to apply them to solve real-world problems. 

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates should demonstrate that they understand the four core principles of OOP - Encapsulation, Inheritance, Polymorphism, and abstraction, and how the practical application of these principles contributes to productivity, code-reusability, and software maintenance. Recruiters should also analyze the candidate’s ability to clearly explain concepts and justify their decisions of choosing specific principles over others and how these choices can positively contribute to their code. 

10. What Are Design Patterns, and How Have You Used Them in Your Work?

Design patterns are general solutions to common software design problems. As reusable templates, design patterns can be used in numerous scenarios to improve code quality and readability. Providing a detailed explanation of design patterns, along with some clear examples, can indicate a software engineer’s ability to solve complex problems with maximum efficiency. 

Answer Evaluation 

Candidates should state what design patterns are and give examples of their variations and individual use cases. While some patterns are designed to increase the functionality of classes, others are used for class instantiation. Making a distinction between the different types of design classes further highlights the candidate’s comprehension of the topic. 

A specific example, or examples, of using design patterns, along with the subsequent outcomes and benefits, also outlines the candidate’s proficiency and shows they possess a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. 

Hire Software Engineers and Other Tech Talent With Ease at TeamEx

Refine your operations by hiring a skilled and dedicated software engineer. At TeamEx, we leverage advanced AI software to connect you with optimal software engineering candidates looking for long-term roles. 

Through a rigorous screening process, we make sure that every candidate is professional and possesses the necessary technical skills to make a meaningful contribution to your organization. We’ll also provide continuous support during the interview and onboarding process to ensure the smooth integration and cultural fit of all new hires. 

Join our platform today to begin connecting with the top software engineers across Latin America and Europe to fill your long-term software engineering roles. 

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About Author

Mariana Krasteva
Mariana KrastevaMarketing Expert at TeamEx
Mariana is a marketing expert and technical writer specializing in recruitment platforms, HR management, CRM, and business management solutions. She brings together specialized knowledge, solid experience, and best writing practices into clear and effective marketing strategies and content.