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Top 10 Questions for a Developer Interview

Head of IT Recruitment Department
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Professional IT recruiter for product tech companies with over 10 years of experience. Specializes in hiring senior engineers in Eastern Europe.
9 January 2023
12 mins

With software development being on the rise, hiring rare talent has become more arduous and time-consuming. According to IT reports, it takes up to 72 days to fill tech vacancies. Such a lengthy process can be explained by the rising demand, yet challenges of interview evaluation, especially on a remote basis, also take a toll on the hiring process. On top of that, it’s still unclear for many tech managers what questions to ask a developer in an interview to evaluate them properly.

 

At first, checking hard and soft skills sounds like a walk in the park. Yet on closer examination, you may realize that while interviewing developers, questions to ask never seem to end, so it is impossible to cover all of them even in several meetings. That means that you should tread carefully. In this article, I will share a holistic understanding of how to bring out the best in your candidates. So, read on to single out top-notch questions for your interviews! 

 

What Are Great Interview Questions to Ask Developers?

 

Developer interview questions should aim at highlighting their hard and soft skills. Hard skills, such as technical expertise and work experience, showcase whether a developer can provide value for your particular project, while soft skills — personality traits and communication abilities — help you see how a candidate may fit in the team. 

 

The well-known ‘Tell me about yourself’ is among the common interview questions for a developer. You can also phrase it this way: 

  • Tell me a little bit more about your background.

  • Tell me about your professional journey. 

  • Can you walk me through your resume? 

While it may seem unnecessary since you have already read their CV, a candidate’s self-introduction indicates their confidence. In addition, their answers help you decide where to steer the interview next and what exactly you would like to find out about this candidate. After all, preparing great interview questions to ask developers is not a magic pill. You should also know how to adjust them in order not to turn the hiring process into a too strictly set pattern.

 

To finish the interview, give your candidate an opportunity to ask questions in return. For example, you can use one of the following options:

  • Do you have any questions for me? 

  • Is there anything you’d like to know about our company?

This is one of the ways to check their interest and job motivation. Starting and final questions covered, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what comes in between. 

 

Questions To Measure Soft Skills

 

According to Statista, the most needed soft skills in 2022 include communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and attention to detail. But how do you spot them while interviewing developers? The following list of recruiter questions for developers can help you look beyond the obvious answers.

 

1. What do you like about working in software development? 

This question helps unfold a personal story behind a career choice. A junior specialist can share why they’ve chosen this particular job, whereas a senior specialist’s answer may reveal their particular project preferences. Key motivating factors include creating, learning something new, making things work, and overcoming challenges. Who knows, maybe a full-stack developer’s story of how they decided to combine front end and back end will give you an invaluable insight into their personality, as well as into their motivation.

 

2. What teams do you like working in?

This one is a gem! Not only does it show how a developer sees teamwork, but it can also indicate their expectations from the team and preferences regarding Scrum vs Kanban or completely remote work vs hybrid models. Enhance the value of this question by specifying how your candidate contributes to the team or using behavioral interview questions and asking them to describe a situation when they managed to achieve a goal collaborating with others and what they enjoyed in the process. 

 

3. What value can you bring to our company?

By asking about team preferences, you will discover the developer’s expectations from working in your company. This specific question about what they can bring to the table is used to see if their work mindset meets your requirements and whether your work requirements are acceptable for them. It is better to see how much they are willing to contribute and figure out what is best for both sides at the very beginning. Furthermore, the answer can show the depth of their research about your company. The more defined it is, the easier the decision of whether to hire the candidate. 

 

4. What are you planning to achieve in this position?

Good recruitment questions for a developer cover various ways to see whether a candidate has career-oriented thinking. It is essential for you as a hiring manager because if a developer has a clear goal, they won’t leave your company in a month or two. Instead, you can cooperate fruitfully and help each other reach your ultimate objectives. A win-win, isn’t it?

 

 

Interview Questions To Highlight Experience

 

Diving deeper, use the next interview questions for developers to get a better grasp of your candidate’s work experience.  

 

5. Describe your last challenging task. What was the problem and how did you solve it?

This type of question is indispensable to see how a developer thinks when approaching a task at hand, especially a tough one. Most candidates use a STAR method, so they will certainly tell you about the Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Still, I encourage you to probe them further by asking why they decided to apply a particular solution and how they interacted with the team in the process. Thus, you will be able to evaluate their creativity and proactivity. 

 

6. What professional achievement are you most proud of?

This one ranks high in the lists of recruiter questions to ask developers since it is applicable for junior, middle, and senior specialists. A go-to tip here is to enquire more about how they measure their contribution to the project. For instance, if you’re looking for a specialist in web development, an apt professional achievement is increasing website traffic by initiating debugging the website and improving its key features. 

 

7. Describe a situation when you made a mistake and how you handled it. 

Programming, unfortunately, is not about perfectly working apps designed from the first try. It involves hypotheses, tests, and iterations, thus making mistakes is a natural part of the process. That’s why being able to admit errors and deal with the consequences, if any, is of such value. This point should definitely end up on your list of questions to ask developers before hiring because it is an unconventional way to test your candidate for honesty and see how they handle criticism or failure.

 

8. What do you do best?

HR interview questions for developers tend to include candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. However, such an approach doesn’t give you any value in itself. Most likely, developers will think about their personality and give you standard replies recommended by tons of articles out there. But when you shift your focus to their daily actions, you can uncover what tasks they’re good at and see how this can contribute to your product. 

 

9. What skills would you like to acquire?

This one is a substitute for questions about weaknesses. Let’s face it, nobody ever answers them honestly. That’s why we recommend making them more specific. Be it technical skills, general problem-solving ability, or anything else, your candidates’ answers will show their tendency to reflect on their professional growth and take necessary action. 

 

10. How would you develop your skills now?

Acquiring new skills? Easier said than done. In order to make sure that your candidate is not just sugarcoating their future plans, look into their current actions. Do they read books, attend conferences, or solve untypical coding tasks? Their answers and key takeaways from any resources they read will prove that they are truly willing to learn. To make it more personal, take a brief look at their CV before going through your questions for a developer interview. Perhaps your candidate has recently obtained a certificate in some additional specialization, and you can ask them about their goals and results.

 

 

Relevant Technical Interview Questions

 

It would be unfair to stipulate that you can compile a versatile list of interview questions for a technical developer and thus test their programming skills. Why is that so? Because there are too many variables at play. Depending on the programming languages your candidates use, you will adapt questions to recruit Java developers or hire a Unity Cloud Build developer, for instance. More than that, a wide scope of tasks performed by a Python or Node.js specialist may be irrelevant to your product, so you should prepare for your technical interview with that in mind. To make it easier for you, I will give several recommendations to follow if you are willing to make the most of this interview stage. 

 

10 Interview Questions

 

Make Your Technical Interview Questions Practical

It is tempting to follow generic interview questions to test your candidate’s understanding of theory, but juggling with the definitions doesn’t mean knowing how to use the languages or frameworks. Candidates are not keen on the theoretical questions either. To gain more from your technical interview, ask them how to use a particular feature or approach a certain problem based on what you expect from their coding skills. 

 

Adapt Your Technical Interview to Your Product 

While aiming to be practical, don’t forget about your product. For example, if you’re thinking about how to hire a Vue.js developer, including possible future tasks will reveal their type of thinking. Consider the questions to ask developers as a chance to hear a solution from them. Apart from checking their ability to write clean source code during the coding task, encourage them to share their ideas on optimizing your web application to attract more users or their ideas to make the user experience flawless. It is your chance to be creative and efficient, but at the same time, strive to give the necessary details and be realistic while preparing your questions.  

 

Avoid Interrogating Your Candidate 

Interviews are stressful by nature. One of the most widespread mistakes is turning them into an exam. Sure, you should have the interviewer’s questions for a software developer ready. The goal of the interview is also to figure out the candidate as much as needed to decide if they are the tech talent you are looking for. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that you are, in fact, selling the vacancy as well, and that’s why your attitude matters a lot. Your technical interview questions, therefore, should help the candidate show their knowledge but not undermine their confidence. All in all, ensure they can feel at ease, and the discoveries about their skills will follow. 

 

Last but not least, interview questions to ask developers will surely differ depending on whether you’re planning to hire a junior, middle, or senior specialist. That’s why I advise brushing up on the key things to look for. 

 

Key Requirements for Junior Developers

 

The best thing about junior developers is that they need to have just basic programming experience and, preferably, a degree in computer science, although switchers can also make a great addition to your team. They are just setting out on their professional journey, so the main task is to check how detail-oriented and willing they are to learn. Soft skills and job motivation matter a lot, too. Nurturing a junior specialist in your team can prove to be a worthy long-term investment into your company as they can grow to middle and senior levels. To sum up, don’t be too harsh if their technical skills are not there yet, but do give a chance to those who have the potential and communication abilities that you’re seeking. 

 

Qualities to Look For in Senior Developers

 

Senior IT specialists are at the core of your team, as they can take on the whole development cycle. Having 5 to 8 years of experience is a must. Make sure to include more practical technical cases in your questions to check their technical knowledge and problem-solving skills. As for soft skills, ensure that their communication and leadership, along with risk management and decision-making, are up to the task. Such experienced professionals are responsible for evaluating feasibility, removing bottlenecks, making everything run smoothly, and mentoring middle and junior developers, so you need to feel that you can rely on them. 

 

Consider Alcor BPO Your Trusted IT Recruitment Provider

 

Given all the complications that arise during the recruitment process, it is worth turning to a recruitment provider if you want to hire top tech talent within a short amount of time. We at Alcor provide IT recruitment services in Eastern Europe and lose no time in finding the most suitable candidates for our clients. 

 

From our experience with BigCommerce, an e-commerce product company, it was feasible hiring a candidate with excellent soft skills but a few gaps in expertise, which ultimately paid off big time. For example, the company provided the candidate with all necessary training and they managed to acquire hands-on experience quite quickly. Our cooperation with BigCommerce was so successful that we hired more than 30 professional software engineers for them in 6 months, which resulted in their own development office. What is more, finding specialists with rare tech stacks, as we did for ThredUP, the world’s largest consignment store based in the US, is our strong suit as well. Having access to a tech pool of 600,000 software engineers and the knowledge of Eastern European market allows Alcor to offer outstanding recruitment solutions to IT companies. 

 

In conclusion, the IT recruitment process may be full of pitfalls, but our team is ready to come to your rescue whenever you face a pressing deadline or a lack of experts. 

 

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FAQ:

⚡️1. How can I best ask probing questions to developers to check their soft skills?

Soft skills are seen best in interaction with others and in describing one’s own personality. Make sure that your questions encourage the candidate to talk about their traits of character and career choices. Also, prepare questions to see their teamwork preferences and experience. Finally, feel free to dig deeper and…

🔍2. What are the best ways to test experience and technical background?

A well-balanced list of questions for a developer interview should include behavioral questions about professional challenges, achievements, and mistakes. Technical questions have to be practice-oriented and thought out according to your product. The goal is to help the candidate show their technical thinking.

📝3. What are the main requirements for junior and senior developers?

Junior developers are required to have a technical background and basic programming experience, as well as be eager to learn. Senior developers are expected to have a high level of technical expertise and the ability to oversee projects from scratch. Interview questions for developers at senior levels should also aim at probing such invaluable soft skills as communication, leadership, risk management, and decision-making.

Contact Us

Contact us to receive a free analysis of your positions!

It includes the salary ranges and availability of the requested developers in Poland, Romania, and other countries in EE (as well as time-to-hire metrics and other KPIs for your case).

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