Unlock the Secrets: How to Interview a Software Engineer

August 16, 2023

Are you looking for a software engineer to join your team? If so, you are not alone. Software engineering is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the world today. According to Statista, there are around 26.9 million software engineers worldwide in 2021, and the number is expected to grow to 28.7 million in 2024.1 However, finding the right software engineer for your company can be challenging. You need someone who has the skills, experience, and personality that match your vision and culture. That’s why we have created this resource to help you learn how to interview a software engineer effectively. In this article, you will find tips and tricks on how to prepare, conduct, and evaluate a software engineering interview. Don't worry, we've got you covered with this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the interview process and find the perfect software engineer for your company.

8 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Software Engineer Interview

Step 1: Understand Your Hiring Needs and Requirements

When embarking on the journey to find the perfect software engineer, the first step is gaining a crystal-clear understanding of your team's specific needs.  Are you looking to develop a groundbreaking mobile app that will disrupt the market, or do you seek to enhance your backend infrastructure to bolster scalability? Determining the technical skills, programming languages, and experience required for the role will enable you to tailor your search and identify candidates who are the best fit for your project.

Step 2: Craft an Engaging Job Description

Your job description is not just a mere list of qualifications and responsibilities; it is a powerful tool to attract top technical talent. Go beyond the conventional bullet points and infuse your job description with the essence of your company's mission, culture, and the exciting projects that await the successful candidate. Showcase what makes your company an extraordinary place to work, and paint a compelling picture of the opportunities that lie ahead. An engaging job description can serve as a magnet for talented software engineers, drawing them to explore the incredible possibilities your company has to offer.

Step 3: Source and Attract Top Tech Talent

In the fiercely competitive tech talent market, it's essential to employ a multi-faceted approach to source and attract top-notch candidates. Leverage your professional networks, online job boards, and social media platforms to reach a broad pool of potential candidates. Additionally, consider implementing employee referral programs to tap into the network of your current tech team. Employees who genuinely enjoy working at your company are likely to refer like-minded individuals who share your company's values and ethos, contributing to a positive and cohesive team culture.

Step 4: Screen Resumes Effectively

As you receive an influx of resumes, it's crucial to have an efficient screening process to identify candidates who exhibit the desired qualities and potential. Look beyond the essential qualifications and credentials to focus on relevant experience, previous technology projects, and notable achievements. Keep an eye out for candidates who have demonstrated a genuine passion for technology through personal projects, contributions to open-source repositories, or active participation in tech communities. These indicators can be a glimpse into a candidate's dedication, love for coding, and drive to excel in their craft.

Step 5: Prepare for the Interview: Setting the Right Environment

The interview environment plays a pivotal role in unlocking the true potential of candidates. Whether conducting interviews in-person or virtually, ensure that the setting is comfortable and conducive to open discussions. A quiet and distraction-free space allows both interviewers and candidates to focus on the conversation at hand. Allocate sufficient time for each interview to ensure a comprehensive discussion that covers technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit.

Find out more in our article about the 12 best interview questions.

Step 6: Familiarize Yourself with the Candidate's Background

Before meeting the candidates, take some time to delve into their online presence. Review their portfolios, GitHub repositories, and social media profiles to gain a deeper understanding of their background, technical expertise, and previous projects. Familiarizing yourself with their work history allows you to tailor the interview questions to their unique skills and experiences, making the conversation more relevant and insightful.

Step 7: Create a Structured Interview Plan

A well-structured interview plan ensures that each candidate is evaluated consistently and thoroughly. Design the interview process to encompass various aspects, including technical skills, problem-solving capabilities, teamwork, and cultural fit. Incorporate a mix of technical questions and behavioral inquiries to gain insights into how candidates approach challenges, collaborate with teammates, and navigate real-world scenarios. Having a structured plan fosters a fair and holistic evaluation of each candidate's potential, contributing to well-informed hiring decisions.

Step 8: Train Interviewers for Consistent Evaluation

Interviewers play a critical role in the hiring process, and it's essential to equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to conduct interviews effectively. Ensure all interviewers are aligned on the interview process, the types of questions to be asked, and the evaluation criteria. Consistency in the evaluation process empowers your team to make well-founded hiring decisions that are objective and fair. Encourage interviewers to collaborate and share feedback, providing a well-rounded assessment of each candidate that enhances the overall hiring process.

By following these eight essential steps, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your journey of interviewing software engineer candidates globally. Each step is carefully crafted to help you identify the most suitable candidates who not only possess the technical skills but also align with your company's culture, values, and vision. Embrace this comprehensive guide as your compass in the quest for extraordinary tech talent, and set your company on a path toward continued growth and success.

If you're ready to bolster your team with top-tier software engineering talent, we're here to help. At JB Hired, we understand the critical importance of finding the right fit for your company. Whether you're a startup seeking fresh coding prowess or an established firm in need of specialized expertise, our team of recruitment experts is ready to guide you through the process. Book a free consultation today, and let's build your dream engineering team together.

Essential Interview Questions to Ask Software Engineers

Interviewing software engineers goes beyond assessing technical skills. You want to uncover a candidate's problem-solving abilities, collaboration style, and cultural fit within your team. Here are some essential interview questions that delve deeper into these aspects:

Technical Skills Questions

  • Can you share a coding challenge you recently tackled and how you approached it? We love to hear about problem-solving in action!
    This question allows candidates to showcase their problem-solving skills in real-world scenarios. It gives insights into their coding thought process and how they tackle challenges, which is essential in a fast-paced tech environment. Look for candidates who explain their approach logically and can articulate the steps taken to solve the problem.

  • How do you keep yourself updated with the latest tech trends and best coding practices? We're all about continuous learning!
    The tech world evolves rapidly, and a great software engineer stays current with the latest trends and best practices. This question helps you identify candidates who are passionate about their craft and actively invest in self-improvement. Seek individuals who engage in online courses, attend tech conferences, or participate in coding communities.

Experience and Past Projects Questions

  • Brag time! Tell us about a project you worked on that you're most proud of. What role did you play, and what was the result? We're excited to hear your success stories!
    This question offers candidates an opportunity to highlight their achievements and demonstrate their contributions to a successful project. Look for candidates who can confidently articulate their role in the project and share specific outcomes or metrics that showcase their impact.

Communication and Collaboration Questions

  • Communication is vital in tech teams. How do you ensure effective communication between team members, especially when tackling complex projects?
    Software development often involves cross-functional teams, and clear communication is crucial for smooth collaboration. Look for candidates who emphasize active listening, clear explanations, and a proactive approach to resolving communication challenges. Effective communicators contribute to stronger teamwork and project delivery.

  • Collaboration makes the dream work! Can you share an experience where you successfully collaborated with cross-functional teams to deliver a project on time?
    Collaboration is the backbone of successful tech projects. This question reveals a candidate's ability to work harmoniously with colleagues from different disciplines, fostering creativity and efficiency. Look for candidates who can describe their collaborative efforts, problem-solving skills, and adaptability in team settings.

Problem-Solving Questions

  • We love a good challenge! How do you approach troubleshooting when encountering a tricky bug in your code? Show us your debugging skills!
    Software engineers encounter bugs and technical challenges regularly. This question assesses a candidate's problem-solving approach, tenacity, and analytical mindset. Look for candidates who explain their debugging methodology and demonstrate a systematic approach to issue resolution.

Cultural Fit Questions

  • Our team is all about innovation and creativity. How do you stay motivated and bring new ideas to the table?
    Cultural fit is crucial to ensure candidates align with your team's values and contribute positively to the company culture. This question assesses a candidate's creativity, passion for innovation, and proactive attitude in suggesting improvements. According to a report by Kinsta, New challenges and pushing boundaries with endless learning are software developers’ motivations.2 Seek candidates who show enthusiasm for contributing new ideas to the team.

  • In times of tight deadlines, how do you handle stress and keep a positive attitude? We value a healthy work-life balance!
    The tech industry can be fast-paced and demanding. This question gauges a candidate's ability to manage stress, maintain a positive outlook, and promote work-life balance. Look for candidates who emphasize self-care practices and coping mechanisms to maintain productivity during challenging times.

Why These Questions are Important

  • Technical Skills Questions: Technical prowess is essential in a software engineer, and these questions help us gauge a candidate's coding abilities and problem-solving skills. Strong technical skills ensure a candidate can deliver high-quality work. Generally, software engineers are required to know programming languages as well such as JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, Python, or Java, as those are the most used worldwide according to classicinformatics.3
  • Experience and Past Projects Questions: Past projects reveal a candidate's track record and give us insights into their ability to tackle real-world challenges. Successful past projects indicate a candidate's potential for future success.
  • Communication and Collaboration Questions: Tech teams work collaboratively, and effective communication is key to success. These questions assess how well a candidate can work in a team environment and communicate complex technical concepts.
  • Problem-Solving Questions: In the fast-paced tech world, problem-solving skills are crucial. These questions help us understand a candidate's approach to complex challenges and their ability to think critically.
  • Cultural Fit Questions: A strong cultural fit ensures that a candidate aligns with your company values and team dynamics, contributing positively to the overall team morale and productivity. Cultural fit is essential for a harmonious and productive work environment.


As you embark on the journey to find the perfect software engineer, remember that it's not just about finding someone with technical skills. Look for a candidate who shares your company's values, has a passion for technology, and can collaborate effectively within your team. By asking these essential interview questions, you'll gain a deeper understanding of each candidate's and company’s capabilities, work approach, and cultural fit. Armed with this valuable information, you'll be well-prepared to hire the tech talent your company needs to thrive in today's competitive landscape.

If you are looking for software engineers, JB Hired has access to a global talent pool and our consultants have lots of experience in helping companies of all sizes to find the right people. So don’t hesitate to contact us through the form below for a free consultation. Happy interviewing!