You have completed your studies and you are now a qualified software engineer! It is now time to look for employment and start the procedure of sending out your resume and attending interviews in the hope of securing your dream job.
Software engineer interviews are carried out differently within various corporations, but many of them stick to a similar pattern in their Interviewing process. It is always beneficial for a person looking for employment to be guided through the interview process in order to gain some knowledge on how to handle an interview. This is not just any job interview; this is an interview for a software engineer which is one of the most sought-after positions in our technology driven economy. A prospective employer does not want you to be perfect, they just want to see that you can think though a problem with ease as well as having the ability to navigate and be proficient in a variety of software programs. While technical skills are very important it is also important for you to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities.
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The Interview Process
More often than not this is a multi-stage process for an employer and involves the following steps:
- Writing a job description.
- Posting the job.
- Arranging interviews
- Conducting pre-liminary interviews.
- Conducting person to person interviews.
- The follow up interview.
- Hiring the right candidate.
An interview is normally started off with introduction and a little bit of small talk. Information gathering is then done by the employer and they will delve into your qualifications, history and problem-solving abilities and ask some questions that you are required to answer. You will then be invited to ask questions of your own before the interview is concluded.
On arrival sit comfortably and professionally. Ask about the job requirements and the team you will be working with as well as the company processes so that you can get a good sense of the job that you are applying for. Before the interview write down questions of your own to ask the person conducting the interview.
Interview Questions and Answers for the Software Engineer
You will be asked what programming languages you have used in the past and which languages you are most proficient in.
The company is looking to see how many languages you have studied and if you are familiar with the language that they use more often within their company. They are looking for your programming knowledge in order to see if you are the right fit for their company. They also want to know the level of proficiency that you have achieved in that specific program. If they ask you about a program that you are not very proficient in then you should tell them that you have a passing knowledge but a keen willingness to learn more about the program that they are enquiring about.
You will be asked about your coding abilities and how much you code daily as well as what you typically do besides coding.
Coding is one of the largest areas of knowledge when it comes to being a software engineer so the company interviewing you will want to know how much time you spend on coding. If the candidate does not spend much time on coding it could raise a red flag pointing to a problem with the skills of the candidate and their coding abilities. You will be asked about your commitment to coding, your coding ability and your role in any previous jobs (if any).
If the company is a start-up company, you will be asked how comfortable you are in a start-up environment or if you would prefer in a more established company?
This is a relevant question as start-up companies are normally very different to more established companies. A start-up company normally requires the candidate to be able to deal with a higher workload. The employer will be looking for a good fit for their company as well as the ability for the candidate to work in a start-up environment and be aware of the workload that could come with it. If you are happy to work in a start-up company it would be a good move to say that you are happy to work the extra hours if need be and that you would be honoured to help build the company from scratch and watch its achievements.
You will be asked why you feel that you are a good software engineer and what qualities you have in order to substantiate this.
A prospective employer like to know what their candidate feels would make an excellent software engineer as well as how confident they are in their own engineering skills. They want to get an understanding on what your idea of greatness is and how you feel about your own skills. It is in your best interests to let them know that you are confident in your abilities but that you are also open to healthy criticism until your code has been tested to make sure that it is a fit for the project that is being worked on. Make them aware that you know you have the qualities of an excellent programmer but that you are willing to work on your knowledge and that you realise that coding is an ongoing battle.
The prospective employer will ask you what to look for if you were reviewing someone else’s code.
They are looking for your overall focus on projects as well as your attention to detail, debugging skills and problem-solving abilities. You would do well to answer that reviewing code would mean you would have to look at is functionality and how readable it is and that you would also look at the security of the program while paying attention to any obvious flaws that would cause a security breach and make the code easy to hack. It would also be wise to tell them that you would look to see if the code was simple or whether you would remove or rewrite unnecessary lines of code and that you would also make sure that the code meets the regulatory requirements that have been set for that specific project. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The interviewer is looking to see how much knowledge you have on coding.
You will be asked what your idea of good software engineering principals are.
This question is designed to help the employer to see if the candidate’s philosophy on engineering is a good fit to their companies’ culture. They want to know your thoughts on software engineering and what your coding philosophy is. They are looking for people with critical thinking skills as well as problem-solving skills and want to understand what your approach is to design. They may also ask you to walk them through the processes that you would normally use. Let them know that you like to try and keep coding as simple as possible especially if you are dealing with complex algorithms and designs. Tell them how you would go about designing scalable applications and how code should be simple and east to read.
How many stages are there in the interview process?
When it comes to job interviews the prospective employer would probably have hand picked about 6-10 people that they feel would be good to interview. Most candidates will go through about 2-3 rounds of interviews before receiving an offer.
How to dress for a software engineering interview
A junior developer should arrive at their interview clean shaven and presentable. Ladies must make sure that their hair is neat and tidy. A dress shirt is suitable coupled with black pants or dark washed jeans and clean shoes. You do not have to dress like you are going to a wedding or a funeral, just make sure that you are presentable and well kept.
When you get the job
What to check for when you receive a job offer
- The role that you will be taking up in the business
- The financial health of the company you intend to work for
- The brand value of the company
- Salary and benefits
- Work culture and environment
- The company’s growth rate
- The balance between work and family time
- The person you will be working under
What qualities to look for in a job
When accepting a job offer you are making a long-term commitment, so it is important to assess whether the job is going to be stimulating and challenging enough for you. Find out if the position is going to offer you the ability to learn and develop new skills in order to achieve measurable results. Do you feel that you are going to be valued and serve as a core part of the team that you are going to work with and does the environment that you are going to work in offer a positive morale and appreciation for the work that you will be doing. Also ask yourself if you feel that there is opportunity for you to grow within the company so that you do not remain stagnant in one position for years to come.
If you are confident and sure of your abilities as a software engineer, the interview process is going to be a breeze. Don’t get despondent if you do not get the position that you have applied for. In todays times software engineers are in high demand and there will be plenty of other software engineer positions to choose from aside from the one that you have applied for. Just do your best and that will be good enough.