If you’re on the hunt for software engineering jobs, one thing’s for certain: there’s no shortage of great opportunities for top talent at all skill levels. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that software engineering jobs will grow at a rate of 17 percent over the next seven years, far outpacing job growth as a whole in the U.S. And there’s already more open developer jobs than there are people to fill them.
However, the interviews are notoriously some of the most challenging in the tech industry. In addition to several regular interviews, most engineers go through some coding exercises in one or more technical interviews that can range from slightly painful to borderline torturous.
To help you prep, we’ve pulled together 33 common software engineering interview questions broken down by the steps in the process you’ll often encounter with top tech companies.
Initial Phone Screen Questions
Software engineers infamously receive countless requests from recruiters for conversations about new opportunities. When speaking with a recruiter for the first time, your primary focus needs to be demonstrating to them that you’re worthy of speaking to the actual engineers.
Get used to answering the following common questions in short, simple responses:
1. Why are you interested in working at “XYZ Company”?
- Show you’ve done your homework and that you have researched the company. Express your sincere desire to work at said company – but keep it balanced and don’t be sycophantic or overly enthusiastic and saccharine.
2. Do you have experience with a certain coding language/technology we use here at XYZ Company?
- Be honest. If you don’t have much experience in that particular language, tell them so – it’s not like you can wing it if you make it through to the technical interview. But point out what languages you are familiar with and express that you’re more than capable of learning. Remember, the desire and ability to learn is a hugely positive attribute and skill in itself.
3. What projects have you been focused on at your current job?
- Be concise. Don’t ramble on and bore the recruiter. Be direct and succinctly describe the most notable/relevant projects you’ve been involved with at your current gig. If it’s your first job, again, be honest and instead describe some of your portfolio projects.
4. Do you have any leadership experience?
- Don’t be fooled into thinking this question relates solely to leadership in tech. If you’ve lead a team of remote freelance designers, took a leadership role on a volunteering experience, or even during school, say so and make it clear that those skills you gained elsewhere are absolutely transferable. Don’t forget to mention that even in a leadership role, you still function as a part of your team, because collaboration and team work are vital.
5. If so, how big was your team and what projects did you work on?
- Here’s your chance to expand on the answer above. Make those transferrable skills shine and relate them back to the role you’re applying for. Leading a team on a survival weekend to build a raft and cross a river uses the same leadership skills as leading a team of engineers to build something exciting and useful out of code that solves a problem.
6. What are you looking for in an opportunity that would lure you away from your current employer?
- Be frank, but don’t just make it all about the money and the benefits. Obviously, these are important elements, and any recruiter knows that those two are key components in your decision-making process. But talk about workplace culture, creative fulfillment, the satisfaction of solving real-world problems etc.
Notice how all the questions don’t require you to dive deep into your resume or get tangled up in complicated language. That’s because recruiters – even those with a designated technical focus – don’t need to get into the weeds with you about the ins and outs of your technical experience.