Top 10 recruitment questions to ask a Software Developer

Feb 11, 2021

As a recruitment agency operating in an age of remote work and fast-growing technology, we are seeing the need for technical positions to be filled quickly now more than ever. There also seems to be a huge focus on Software Development positions this is not surprising however, as they came top in the most in demand jobs of 2020.

With this high demand comes competition, as skilled Developers are becoming few and far between so you have to act quick and know where to look for TALENTED candidates with the right passion, drive, skills and experience…

But how do you determine a talented Developer from the next? How do you know whether they are the right fit for you and your business’s needs? Of course, a challenge must be set to determine their skills, however, critical assessments can be made in the first interview, you just need to ask the right questions...


Assessing numerous candidates day in, day out has given us some great experience in HOW to identify the right fit and WHAT to ask. We have put together a list of our top 10 questions to ask Developers in your recruitment stage in order to identify whether they are a good fit and find out if they really know what they are talking about…

1. What is your favourite language, and why?

This is a nice warm up question to ease your candidate into the interview before hitting them with slightly more technical questions. Their answer will (hopefully) be related to the position you are looking to fill (frontend/backend/full-stack etc). For example, for a full stack developer, you are looking for them to answer with a variety of languages rather than just having a single favourite language. It is also great to hear that they are playing around with new languages which can demonstrate that they are engaged with the industry and have a curious mind.

2. What projects are you working on at home?

The best Developers will be excited and passionate about what it is that they do. This means that they will usually have side projects that they are working on in their spare time. Whether they are big or small, you are looking for PASSION. The underlying question here is "how much do you code?” If a developer does not have any side projects, it is important to find out why. Again, this would be a good way to determine a candidate’s engagement with the industry and motivation for the job at hand.

3. Provide an example of a project you have taken on, what technologies were used to build it and what problem you trying to solve?

Perhaps your Developer hasn’t worked on anything in their spare time? Then ask them this. The developer you are considering MUST be able to describe in some detail the projects they have worked on and answer why. This question also identifies problem solving capabilities. You may want someone with a lot of experience in numerous types of development in lots of different projects. On the other hand, you may be happy with someone who specialises in one type of project. Whatever your requirements, listen closely for projects that resemble your request as it will give you confidence that they can do the same for you.

4. How do you stay aware of new technologies?

This question is asked to find out how involved or uninvolved a candidate is in the technology community. A more specific question you could also use is “What beta toys are you currently playing with?" Technology is constantly evolving, and new products and versions are being released left right and centre. It is important to ask them this question to see whether your candidate is likely to be left behind in the modern day. If your developer is waiting to learn a technology only once it becomes mainstream, they are waiting for too long. For example, iOS 6 was released this September but a Developer preview was made available from June. The ideal iOS Developer candidate should have grabbed hold of the preview and been playing around with iOS 6 to learn its new features before it was put out on the market. This would allow them to see just how it could affect their work. Again, this allows you to monitor their engagement within the technology sector and passion for the role.

5. What source control do you use?

Source control is software that manages code whilst it is being built. It logs the changes which are being made to that code and tracks exactly who made those changes. What is more, it saves previous versions so if one of your Developers breaks something badly, you can roll back to a stable version. Source control is not essential to get your project finished, but if you have different people working in a team who are jumping in and out of one another’s code, everyone will benefit from using source control. By having good use of source control it shows the ability to work as a member of a team efficiently, and demonstrates that your candidate has an organised approach to coding.

On a side note, you may also want to monitor your current team’s approach to source control. A quick and easy test we found was the Joel test… you can thank us later.

6. Provide an example of when you found an inefficiency in someone else’s code, and how you addressed it?

Leading on from question 5, this one is good to ask potential Senior Developer candidates. The aim of this question is to find out how good a candidate's quality assurance checking is. This is important if you are looking for a candidate who will be partly responsible for other developers and their coding. What is more, it can also identify how comfortable your candidate is with pointing out flaws or bugs to other members of the team.

7. What type of storage technologies do you use?

What ways do your developers have experience in storing information? Do they have specific experience using a particular type of database technology? This would be useful for you to know in case your company uses a standard, company-issued type of database technology like SQL Server or MySQL to get things done. This would identify that your potential developer has experience using these to help ensure that nothing is lost along the way.

8. Do you have experience working in an Agile team?

What type of development style does the company team subscribe to and does your potential developer fit into this? An agile team, in this sense would be a cross-functional team specifically formed to carry out all the necessary technical capabilities related to the assigned project. Are you an Agile team or a Waterfall team and how closely do you follow the methodology? Asking this question will determine whether your candidate will fit into the desired methodologies you use and see how they will work in your team.

9. What technologies, programming languages, and frameworks would you use if you had to develop a project from scratch in only one month?

You are almost at the end of your interview so time to blast your candidate with an exciting and thought provoking question to see how good they are at thinking on the spot. The objective of this question is to challenge the candidate to answer a complex question in a short amount of time. This way you can distinguish the best developers, because those who can answer this question in a clear and simple way will be the most appropriate and those who have a difficult time to transmit their thoughts will be the least.

10. What is the link to Your GitHub profile? Your final question to round off the interview but still get more to do further research post interview. In our latest blog, we mentioned Github being a great platform to source potential tech candidates. Developers use Github for version control, to share project and to save up codes they want to share with their team or with clients. Ask your developer to share a link to their Github profile. Here you will be able to see several of the apps they’ve developed and the ones they’re currently working on.

So there it is… our top 10 questions for identifying TALENT to help you in your recruitment journey when looking for great Developers.

ARE YOU having difficulty in your recruitment and need an extra pair of hands?

With our specialist team of recruiters we can take the difficulty out of your recruitment stage and help you find the right people. We also have a specialist database of candidates, a lot of which are 'passive' and not actively marketing themselves out or available to other agencies. So why not come to us and see how we can help you in your recruitment by booking your first free 15-minute consultation to find out exactly how we can help.


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