How to interview software engineers?

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Let us help guide you on how to interview software engineers to recruit & hire the best talent for your tech company. The interview process & questions can make a huge difference in the type of tech talent you hire.

Man and women discussing how to interview software engineers for their tech company

If you are the owner of a tech company here is a guide on how to interview software engineers. We will provide you with a detailed rundown of what you need to prepare before the interview process. Also, what stages are included in a hiring process? Lastly, we will provide you with a list of questions to ask along with how to approach the technical interview. Let’s dive into the software engineering interview process.

How to prepare to interview software engineers?

Before you can even think of interviewing software engineers, you need to take some time to prepare. There are a few steps to help you prepare for the interview process. Firstly, you need to keep in mind that the ideal time for an interview process is 60 to 90 minutes. There should be more questions about technical or hard skills, than soft skills. Some other important things to prepare before software engineering interviews include:

Know your project needs & scope

First of all, you need to understand your project needs & scope. This is key information that you will need to later on pass on to newly hired software engineers. You need to know what tech stacks you need, the duration of the project, etc. Furthermore, you need to understand what the target of this software development project is. Additionally, you should have a software development process to ensure that each aspect is created at the right time.

These software engineers are the ones who understand your demands. It is imperative that whoever makes the software knows what they need. You can review your project documents to find important parts.

Know what hiring budget you are working with

Tech companies should also know what budget they have when it comes to hiring new staff. This way you are aware of how much money you can spend on the recruitment process. Also what salary range you can offer when hiring a new software developer? You want to be careful to not exceed that budget. Or worse yet go into the process blindly.

Know your deadlines

Your deadline should be realistic and an application developer will offer an estimate of the project based on the needs. Usually, developers are not very good when under stress. Using time estimates to identify a potential candidate helps.

Businessman sitting with a laptop talking to potential software developer candidates

Plan software engineering interview questions

Plan your interview questions ahead of time. Make a standardized list of questions you want to ask each candidate. This will help you eliminate basis & confusion when analyzing candidates and trying to make a decision. Also, when testing technical knowledge, make sure that the skills test is also standard and similar. This will help you analyze software coding abilities.

Stages of interviewing developers

There are essentially three stages of the interviewing process when trying to hire software developers. Let’s go through them and discuss what should be in each stage of the hiring funnel.

Initial screening

The initial screening part of the interview process when hiring software engineers typically involves assessing candidates based on their resumes, cover letters, and sometimes additional application materials. The goal is to filter out applicants who do not meet the minimum qualifications or requirements for the position. Here’s an overview of what typically takes place during the initial screening:

Young woman working at home reviewing CVs

Resume Review:

Recruiters or hiring managers go through the candidates’ resumes to evaluate their qualifications, skills, and experience. They look for relevant educational background, technical expertise, programming languages are known, previous work experience, and any notable projects or achievements.

Application Materials Review:

In some cases, candidates may be asked to submit additional materials such as a portfolio, code samples, or a GitHub profile. These materials provide a deeper understanding of the candidate’s technical abilities and can be assessed during the initial screening.

Minimum Qualifications Check:

The initial screening also involves verifying whether candidates meet the minimum qualifications for the software engineering role. This may include factors like educational requirements, years of experience, specific technical skills, or certifications. Candidates who do not meet these requirements may be excluded from further consideration.

Communication and Writing Skills:

The initial screening may also assess candidates’ communication and writing skills, as these are important for software engineers who need to collaborate with teams and document their work effectively. This assessment can be done through the cover letter, resume, and any written responses provided by the candidates.

Cultural Fit Assessment:

While less common in the initial screening stage, some companies may also evaluate candidates for their potential cultural fit within the organization. This assessment aims to ensure that candidates align with the company’s values, work ethic, and team dynamics.

Based on the evaluation of these factors, the initial screening stage narrows down the candidate pool to those who are most qualified and aligned with the requirements of the software engineering position. The selected candidates typically proceed to the next stage, which usually involves technical assessments or interviews to further evaluate their skills and suitability for the role.

Hiring manager testing candidates programming language knowledge

Skill assessment time

When trying to evaluate a potential candidate’s skills you need to run some tests. In the case of hiring software engineers, you can try live coding or take-home assignments. You may even consider paying a third-party company to create custom coding challenges that you can send as a link to potential candidates.

Final Interview & potential negotiations

Once all this has been carried out you can carry out final interviews. During the final interviews, you can provide potential software engineering candidates with feedback. If you choose to hire one or more of these coders, you can make your job offer.

Top questions to ask when interviewing software engineers

Check out our list of top questions to consider asking when interviewing software developers to join your team.

Why Did You Decide to Become a Software Engineer?

A nice way to get to know your potential software engineers is by asking them how they decided to become what they are. Whether they decided to do this right out of high school or college, or perhaps they switched careers. Maybe they were inspired by someone or mentored by someone to become a software engineer.

Coding man working with a tech stack that he is comfortable with

What tech stacks do you prefer? What is your favorite? Which ones do you feel most & least comfortable with?

Another thing to double check & ask is what tech stack the developer is comfortable with. You want to make sure that the tech stacks the developers like, align with your project. Also, you don’t want a situation where you hire someone and they may be completely confident in a tech stack that is used on your project.

Moreover, when a developer is comfortable in more than one type of tech stack, it may be useful for you when your project changes. Also, if you need to move them to another project, once one is complete. You will have more wiggle room with a programmer who has more skills and is confident in their abilities.

Discuss one of your previous projects and explain how you completed it successfully

One way to gain a grasp of if their previous projects align with your current project is to ask about past projects. Also, pry into how the project was completed successfully. This is also a great way to see if the technical skills they mentioned in their CV will match up with the types of projects they completed.

Moreover, you will gain an understanding of how the developer interacted with previous teams, project managers, etc. Also, you will see if they have good time management skills, can communicate effectively and so much more. This will give you an idea if they fit your business needs.

Business people discussing software development team

Why should we pick you?

This is another great question to ask, to see if the candidate’s knowledge about your company and his or her skills line up. You can see if what they have to offer will line up with what you need in your company.

Also, you may see what their motivation is behind applying for this role, and why they think they would be a good fit for you. Finally, you will be able to see what they can bring to the table and how they can help your company achieve business goals.

Talk about a mistake you made, and how you learned from it.

Problem-solving skills are a huge asset when looking for software engineers. This question will you gauge how the developer will solve a problem or mistake they made. It will show you whether they learn from mistakes and whether will they be able to prevent them from happening in the future.

Also, this gives you a glimpse into their work ethic and their willingness to admit that they made a mistake. Moreover, if they are constantly improving their skills to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

How do you come up with cost estimates for your software development tasks? Do you have a method?

If you are looking for a software engineer who can help you make time & price estimates for a software project, you should see if it lines up. You want to gain a good understanding of how they approach estimating costs for a project. This may even give you a new idea or a better way of doing cost estimates for your project.

Business man looking and analyzing projects on his laptop computer and tablet

What are your career goals? What projects would align with your career goals?

One of the popular software engineer interview questions includes asking about their career path. It’s always a nice feeling when your project, aligns with their career path. It’s more enjoyable for both sides when everything lines up.

Where were you 3 years ago in your career, where are you now and where would you like to be in 3 years?

This is one of our personal favorite questions to ask potential candidates. It gives you a broader look at the potential candidate’s career path and what stepping stones he or she took to get to where they are. Moreover, what they may want to do in order to get to their vision in three years. Additionally, it helps you see if their vision, your project, and your company all align together. This way everyone is happy with the cooperation.

Would you ever want to become a CEO?

This is a great question to ask because you gain a better idea of how this candidate sees him or herself. If a candidate says yes, then perhaps they poses the necessary skills to be a tech leader. They can be in charge of more than just coding.

But if they say no, this isn’t a bad thing either. It just means that they may not necessarily feel comfortable in a role that requires managing other people. Perhaps they are more creative and feel more comfortable carrying out tasks.

Regardless of the answer, you can make the answer work to your advantage & place the candidate in the right position. Also, it can give you an idea of which direction to choose to help him or her grow.

Do you have any questions for us?

During the interview process, it’s not enough to just ask questions. You need to give the software engineer the opportunity to ask questions. Chances are if the software developer doesn’t ask many questions, they may be interested strictly due to financial gains.

A software engineer makes ask questions about the company culture, project management tools, and work-life balance. Furthermore, they may ask how you go about planning your projects. For example, you may use an agile software development process or you may depend on the SCRUM method. Some developers are more familiar with one or the other. Moreover, they may be more comfortable with a certain project management system.

Also, they may ask about existing project managers, programmers, and QA testers. They want to know if they will be a good fit for your team. Furthermore, they want to gain a slight idea of who they will be working with on the project if they are hired.

Woman working on laptop on a skills test assignment

How can I test technical skills during the software engineer hiring process?

There are many different approaches that you can take when running technical interviews. The most common approach to testing skills is live coding. You can have a software developer sit down with one of your technical specialists and run through a code test. This can be creating a new feature, or fixing an existing feature. Moreover, this can be fixing a broken repository. It really depends on the technical skills you are looking for and what your project requires.

Another solution is a take-home assignment. You can send the developer a link to a code test they need to complete in a certain time frame. This assignment is typically interactive and will guide them through what exactly they need to do, in order to complete it.

Lastly, another option is to look to a third-party company that prepares skills tests for developers. They will email you links that you can pass on to potential candidates. Software developer candidates can complete them & you can check out the results.

How to speed up the interview process?

If you are looking to speed up the interview process you should consider hiring temporary developers using IT staff augmentation. IT staff augmentation enables you to 👉 streamline your hiring process 👈 & make it more efficient. Here are some ways this hiring model can do that:

  • Gives you access to a larger talent pool
  • Provides you with pre-vetted developers, making the interview process strictly a formality
  • This form of hiring is much faster, you can have someone join your team in less than one week
  • You have a 14-day free trial period that will help test out the developer
  • You don’t need to scale your human resource department as much

So, if you are tired of the stress & hassle of traditional in-house recruitment, consider giving IT staff augmentation a try. You may get better results in terms of the types of tech talent you hire.

Businesswomen working with laptop at desk

How does Swyply tackle the recruitment process?

Here at Swyply, we can have our own 👉 recruitment process 👈. The first thing we do once we receive CVs is sent out a form to candidates we are interested in. In these forms, we gain additional information about the software developer. Information such as what salary they are looking for. Also what technical skills they possess and how much experience they possess in a given tech stack. Moreover, we learn a little bit more about the developer’s profile in general. Additionally, we learn what type of development process & management process they like working with. Furthermore, we learn what form of payment & contract they are looking for, etc. Lastly, we even learn what types of benefits they want or need. This helps us understand whether setting up an interview with this candidate makes sense. We don’t want to waste someone’s time or ours.

We also send potential candidates short videos about our company, how we work, and other useful information that will help them gain a better understanding of who they could be working for and with. These videos are great because they were previously recorded and do not take up much time for either side. Our HR department doesn’t have to re-record them each time and they aren’t very long but provide potential candidates with much-needed insight. The potential software engineer knows quite a bit of information before heading into our interview process.

Before the interview process, the software engineer knows how our company works, the terms of our cooperation and so much more. They also receive an outline of how the interview process will run so they know that there is an initial meet and greet. Then there is a skills test and then there is a final interview. During this final interview, we provide feedback & finalize how our cooperation will look like.

Business people shaking hands at an interview process

TL;DR: Summing up how to interview software engineers

When it comes to hiring software engineers, conducting effective interviews is crucial to finding the right candidates for your team. The process of interviewing software engineers involves several stages that allow you to assess their technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit within your organization.

We have provided a comprehensive summary of how to interview software engineers successfully. From preparing for the interview to asking the right questions and evaluating candidates. Some key questions you can ask during the interview process include:

  • Why Did You Decide to Become a Software Engineer?
  • Where were you 3 years ago in your career, where are you now and where would you like to be in 3 years?
  • Would you ever want to become a CEO?
  • What tech stacks do you prefer?

Moreover, we have guided you through each step of the process. By following our guidelines, you can ensure that your interviews are thorough and insightful. They will ultimately lead to hiring top-notch software developers who will contribute to the success of your projects.

Want to learn more about how to hire software engineers? Or perhaps you have some tips & tricks that we missed. 👉 Drop us a line 👈 and let’s chat. Let’s have a free no-obligation chat about the best way you can interview & hire software developers.

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