How to prepare for an interview as a software developer – part I

A list of interview questions that software developers should be prepared for.

In the previous articles in this series, I shared my tips on networking, writing a CV and writing a cover letter as a software developer.

In this article, I would like to share some interview questions that I have collected from various companies including successful start-ups and world-renown tech companies. To make the questions easier to follow I have named the company Forty2 (which is not the company’s real name!)

1. Why did you decide to change careers?/ Why did you choose to become a software developer? This should be an easy question to answer and naturally comes towards the beginning of the interview. In my very first blog article, I share my reasons for changing from structural to software engineering if you are looking for some confirming opinions.

2. What is your understanding of what we do at Forty2? This is an opportunity for Forty2 to get to know what impression they have made outside of the company and it also allows them to fill any gaps in your knowledge. Don’t forget to research the company beforehand!

3. Describe your career path up until now. This question is very open and gives you an opportunity to show off what you have achieved up to this point in your career. Most of the questions Forty2 will ask you will be about your cover letter and your CV. So make sure you know your own application well before coming to the interview.

4. What piece of code are you most proud of? To answer this question I would recommend thinking of a challenging task that you implemented recently and describing what you did to overcome the challenge. Or, you could describe a task where you applied something that you had recently learnt.

5. Has there ever been a time where you have had to compromise quality to release software on time? This is an opportunity for Forty2 to get an impression of how you prioritise tasks. One of the most important skills I have learned and am still learning is how to prioritise tasks effectively as a software developer. I’ve seen many developers (including myself) invest too much time in something that never makes it into production.

6. What book has had a positive impact on you? I have a list of recommended learning material that I have used to help me change careers if you are looking for some inspiration on how to prepare for this question.

7. What are your strengths and weaknesses? I am not really convinced that this question is worth asking but I have encountered “and when/how does your [weakness] express itself?” as a follow-up question. This is difficult to answer if you haven’t prepared for it! My advice would be to think of three strengths that you have and three weaknesses (that aren’t going to destroy your job chances) and then move on.

8. What is your expected salary / What are you getting paid now? These questions are slightly different from one another but they both involve negotiating your salary so I have counted it as one question. I would recommend thinking about how (and when) you would like to answer this question. Sometimes this question even get’s asked before the interview. I would also recommend reading “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss, which helped improve my negotiation skills.

Are there any questions that I may have forgotten? Maybe you have experienced similar situations yourselves? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

In part two I share my favourite questions to ask, which gives interviewers the opportunity to impress you.

Before you go… If you enjoyed this article and would like to be notified when the next article is ready, be sure to click the blue “follow” button on the right (or at the bottom) and enter your email. You can also follow me on:

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