Software developers are common in both the electronics and embedded systems engineering industries. It’s a role that can involve a wide range of different responsibilities, and one that many candidates in this sector will interview for at some point in their careers.
Being prepared for a job interview is one of the best ways that you can ensure you are as successful as possible, which can include researching common interview questions and preparing answers so that you feel more confident and at ease. In this article, we give a brief overview of the role of a software developer, and then list 11 of the most common software development interview questions and share advice on how best to answer them.
What is a Software Developer?
A software developer uses programming skills to build and develop applications and computer programs for a wide range of different purposes. They might focus on creating software solutions that solve consumer problems, or their work may revolve around developing operating systems software.
Electronics software developers tend to create software that helps electronic devices function, whilst embedded systems software developers build programs for embedded devices that allow them to connect to a wider system and share data.
A software developer is someone who develops software solutions through building a variety of applications and computer, mobile or web-based programs. In the electronics and embedded systems industry, software developers can work on anything from programs for smart devices to medical machinery and defence or security systems.
What Does a Software Developer Do?
Software development involves a broad range of tasks, so someone in this role will do lots of different things. There are more specialised positions within the job title, and these may involve more specific tasks such as debugging or compliance tests.
The bulk of a software developer’s job will be taken up by writing the code for new applications or programs and then testing and refining this code through debugging and finding solutions to errors. Those in a more senior position might plan out what needs to be written for a new piece of software and then create coding instructions for other programmers to follow when writing the new code.
Software developers may also spend their time reviewing existing programs or systems and suggesting potential improvements. Based on this, developers may also create software updates for existing applications and devise ways to deliver these updates.
Software Developer Interview Questions
If you’re a software developer preparing for a job interview then it’s a really good idea to read over and prepare answers to common interview questions for a software developer. Not only will this ensure that you’re ready to share the kind of information that employers tend to be looking for, and won’t waste time trying to think of what to say, but it will also help you to feel more relaxed which generally leads to a better interview process overall.
In the sections below, we’ve shared some of the most frequently asked software developer interview questions, explained what employers are looking for in candidates’ answers, and then shared our advice on how to prepare for each of them.
What kind of software development projects are you currently working on?
This kind of question usually comes up near the start of a software development job interview, as it gives the interviewer a good idea of the kinds of tasks you have experience with. They are also often looking for candidates who can explain the business reasoning behind their current project, which illustrates a wider understanding of their work’s purpose.
It’s a good idea to mention the specific tasks you’re doing at the moment and the kinds of systems or processes you’re working with, but also to talk about what work has led you to this point and what tasks will come afterwards. And, as we’ve just said, be sure to demonstrate that you know how your work is going to influence wider projects and successes.
Which programming languages are you familiar with? Which is your favourite?
Programming languages are an essential skill for software developers, so you will likely be asked about which you are familiar with in an interview. In practical interviews, you’ll also often be asked to complete a task in certain languages, but at the very least you’ll likely be asked about which you’re competent in.
Talking about your favourite programming language is also good as it gives the interviewer more of an insight into the kind of developer you are and also gives you the chance to talk about any specific coding skills.
What is your testing and debugging process?
Testing and debugging is an essential part of software development, and every candidate is going to have their own process for doing this. What a potential employer is looking for is someone who has this process baked into their approach to development and has several surefire approaches for finding errors in their code and figuring out how to remove them.
It can be useful to give a specific example of a time you have tested and debugged code on a project to illustrate your description.
What development methodology do you have experience with?
There is a range of different software development methodologies, from agile project management to waterfall project management and the DevOps deployment method. Whilst aspects of the agile methodology are particularly common in most software development businesses, employers will often want to know which you have experience with and whether this will align with the methodology they use in their organisation.
Having no experience with a potential employer’s methodology doesn’t mean that you won’t get the job, but it can be a good idea to try and research this before your interview, so even if you don’t have personal experience, you can still talk about your basic understanding of it.
What project management tools do you have experience with?
Similar to the last common software developer interview question, a lot of interviews will also ask candidates about the project management tools they are familiar with. There is a wide variety of tools used to organise and track project development in the software industry, and you should be able to explain how you’ve used these, what they’ve helped you with and where you feel most comfortable.
Again, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience with the tools used by your potential employer, as being able to demonstrate efficient use of any project management tool is most important. But familiarity with their internal tools can be beneficial if this question comes up, so prior research in this area is also recommended.
Talk about a time when you had to fix a problem
This is a very common software developer interview question that presents you with the opportunity to talk about how you overcome challenges. Employers are always looking for candidates that can proactively tackle problems and find solutions to them, and as problem-solving is such an integral part of software development, this is a question that you really want to answer well.
Start by clearly explaining the context that the problem cropped up and why it was stopping you from being able to progress. Then, talk through your thought process in finding a solution and explain how you implemented this, sharing how successful this was.
It’s also good to talk about what you learned from fixing a problem, as this shows that you’re the kind of person that takes positive actions from their mistakes and won’t allow them to happen again.
Talk about a time when you made mistakes. What did you learn?
As well as being able to talk about fixing problems, a good software developer also needs to be able to own up to times when they made mistakes in their work. This demonstrates self-awareness and humility, which employers will be looking for from a candidate that is aware of their strengths and weaknesses and knows how to overcome them.
Be honest about a time when you made a mistake, but frame your answer to this software developer interview question about what you were able to learn from what happened. It’s also a good idea to share what you did to ensure that the same mistake didn’t happen again, as this demonstrates that you’re someone who is keen to grow and improve and knows how to overcome past setbacks.
What has been your most successful software development project?
On the flip side of talking about challenges and mistakes, another of the most common interview questions for a software developer is to ask about a successful project. This is your opportunity to talk about a time when you performed really well, and should be something you have several examples prepared for.
Aim not to come across as arrogant, but instead demonstrate that you reflected on your work and can identify where you did a good job. Also try to talk about the wider impact that this success had, which will strengthen the impression you give of being good at software development as well as backing up your claim that you were successful.
Talk about a time when you improved a system or made a decision that changed the course of a project
This can be quite a tricky question, as you are being asked to reflect on a previous project where your actions specifically made a difference to the progress of the work. The interview is looking for your self-reflection skills but also for candidates that can indicate that they are independent and creative thinkers who can make decisions that help take projects in new directions.
If you have an example, make sure you talk about the thought that went into suggesting this improvement or decision, what you hoped would happen, and then what actually happened. Make sure to mention how you proposed it to your team and also how you risk- assessed for any potential setbacks and managed these risks to ensure that your decision didn’t have any negative outcomes later on.
How do you keep your development skills up to date?
What makes a good software developer is someone that is constantly learning and improving outside of the work they do as part of their role. If you want to be viewed as a valuable candidate then you need to demonstrate that you have a passion for software development in more than just your role, which includes the ways that you keep your skills up to date.
You might do this through development projects in your free time, you might be part of online programming communities, or you might just regularly read up on industry news and trends. What matters is that you can demonstrate a passion for staying up to date, which shows your interviewer that you’re committed to learning and improving.
Are you working on any software development projects outside of work?
In a similar vein to the last point, this software engineering interview question indicates whether a candidate pursues software development projects outside of work. It’s not a necessity for many jobs, but it does show an aptitude for the skill and suggests that programming is something you really enjoy, which usually works in your favour in a job interview setting.
Use this question as an opportunity to talk about the aspects of software development that you’re really passionate about, which will demonstrate where your talents lie and allow you to talk about topics you know a lot about, painting you in a talented light.
Different organisations will have different approaches to job interviews, and it’s possible that none of the above questions will come up when you apply for a software developer role. It’s still useful to prepare examples of times you’ve done well or overcome challenges at work however, as these often come up no matter what you’re asked in an interview and can be one of the best ways to demonstrate that you are right for a position.
If you’re a software engineering candidate looking for a role in software development, KO2 is a specialist recruiter in the electronics and embedded systems industry sector that can help to find you your perfect job opportunity. Browse our available positions here or get in touch and find out more about how we can help.