It’s a tech world and we just live, er, hire in it. When it comes to hiring software developers, tech companies will know exactly what they’re looking for. But for those who aren’t primarily tech companies but still host software development in-house may need a little more guidance when it comes to finding the right software developer for their team. Below, find the list of the best 8 questions you can ask a software developer candidate. 

8 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Software Developer for Your Team

When it’s time to add a software developer to your roster, do you know what you’re looking for? Can you tell the difference in experience level between candidates? How can you tell a passionate developer from one who just sees it as a 9-5?

In addition to asking background and behavioral questions, try adding these to your software developer interviewing repertoire.

1. Ask an easy, medium and difficult question about their programming language.

Starting off, this isn’t really a question, but how you can plan your questions. A developer may be good at talking up their skills, but the best way to find out what level they’re at is to ask them different levels of questions about the programming language in which they’re most proficient. Starting with the easy questions can make them feel comfortable and at ease, but as you work up to the harder questions, you’ll get a more accurate gauge of their skillset.

2. What side projects are you working on?

This question gives you a chance to see what it is that your potential future programmer is all about. What they enjoy working on most is what they’re most interested in and it will give you clues as to where their strengths lie and if those match up with your business needs or could be a potential opportunity for business growth.

3. How is your home network set up?

While this doesn’t directly address programming, it can be a way to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to a hobby versus a lifelong passion. Is your developer a plug-it-in-and-leave-it type of person or do they need to have a hand in everything? You’re more likely to be happy with a tinkerer than someone who only focuses on technology when they’re at work.

4. What career project have you worked on that you’re most proud of?

This question was suggested by John Chapin of Capital Technology Services because it can bring out more details through follow-up questions than simply asking which framework the candidate favors.

“It leads to so many other questions in terms of finding out more about someone’s role on a successful team, their skills, what motivates them and where they might fight on my team,” says John. “I hate interviews that are distillations of books and language documentation, they tell me nothing about the person I’m hiring and how good of an engineer they’ll become.”

John also prefers to ask about the complexity of the development lifecycle a developer has worked on, “If they purport to be a senior resource and their last job didn’t have a continuous integration and development strategy that makes me wonder why they didn’t call for one.”

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5. What’s has been the most challenging bug you’ve encountered and how did you resolve it?

“In our organization, we set up a template set of questions for technical
hires that focus on ensuring that they are a fit with our organization and
application infrastructure,” says Jordan Hudgens, Founder and CTO of CronDose.com.

In the template, Jordan will include topics on design patterns, test-driven development, service-based architecture and an analyzation of the projects they’ve previously worked on.

He likes the challenging bug question because “This question can quickly illustrate the applicant’s experience level and give a perspective on how they solve problems.”

6. What’s Your StackOverflow Rating?

Another suggestion we had from Steve Silberberg, owner and founder of Fitpacking, is to check out the programmer’s StackOverflow rating, “A really high score generally means the developer is talented.”

Does a high StackOverflow rating mean that a developer will fit seamlessly into your team? There’s a pretty heated (and meta) debate about it over on StackOverflow, actually. Some SE users say that it’s about skills, intelligence and knowledge, not online presence, but others found that the highest ranked users also appeared to have pretty great jobs.

So, while there isn’t direct causation, a high StackOverflow rating does reflect well in the areas of passion, dedication and willingness to help others.

7. It’s 12 p.m. 1 year from now. What are you doing?

Angela Bortolussi’s favorite question has given her a wide range of answers in her years as a Technical Recruiting Manager for Recruiting Social.

“It’s amazing on the level of answers I receive from candidates,
but what I’m looking for is someone to answer confidently,” says Angela, “Especially in roles that requires developers/engineers to have confidence in their decision making, this provides insight if they have the ability to think quick on their feet.”

8. Who would win in a fight between Gandalf and Dumbledore and why?

If all else fails, get creative, advises Martin Brown of FM Outsorce, who has interviewed over 250 software developers in his career. When it comes to the Gandalf vs Dumbledore* question, Martin says, “The important item here is how they articulate the why. My favorite answer was when a candidate asked me, did I mean Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White. I hired them the same day.”

Another question Martin suggested requires critical thinking of the literary and organizational variety, “If this were an IT version of Lord of the Flies, how would you rank jobs in IT, who would be the ruler and why?”

Hire the Right Software Developers

Getting the right software developer for your team can be one of the most important decisions you make all year. By doing your due diligence and thinking outside the box when it comes to questions, you can make sure that you hire a candidate that will help your company achieve its goals.

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*We all know that Dumbledore would win, because he can become immortal through the acquiring of all the Deathly Hallows.

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About Jennifer Yeadon

I am the Content Marketer at SmartFile, which means I get to learn everything and write about it -- my two favorite things. I firmly believe that oatmeal cookies should contain chocolate chips, not raisins.

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