Technical Hiring Managers Ask These 15 Questions during Interviews6 min read
Are you nervous about an upcoming technical interview? If so, this post can make things a little easier for you. Here are 15 interview questions that technical hiring managers from different companies love asking their candidates and their rationale behind each of their questions:
Could you tell us about a time you failed?
Starting with this question might come as a surprise for many. But, according to Megan Gray, team operations manager at Marxrent, this helps the interviewer analyze how the person overcame their past failures. He says: “Employees who hide behind failures waste time and cause confusion.” A true professional will admit to their mistakes, and more importantly, learn from them and move ahead.
How does the Internet work?
“While this may sound like a straightforward question, the answer can tell you a lot about the candidate,” says Robert Gibbons, the CTO of Datto. For example, some candidates may choose to explain it as: “It’s like a post office. You send a letter and get a response back. Others will start with intrinsic details, like defining IP addresses, DNS servers, and so on. And thus, the answer gives the interviewer an insight into the candidate’s areas of focus.“
What qualities do you want in your manager or leader?
According to Margaret Freel, a recruiter at Tech Smith, this unorthodox question helps interviewers understand what management or leadership style is ideal for a particular candidate. This question also helps to identify if the candidate is self-aware and engaged in the job. Moreover, the interviewer can assess whether the company’s leadership aligns with the candidate’s expectations. After all, it’s the leadership that motivates employees to do their jobs effectively.
What are the recent exciting challenges you’ve overcome?
Tim Julien, VP of Engineering at Bonobos, says that this question can help calm down an otherwise nervous candidate. As the interviewer asks about the candidate’s problem, the latter controls what they say and reveal, making them more comfortable. Julien adds that the interviewer should dig deeper and learn more about the challenge faced by the candidate and not just the gist of it.
How would your last coworkers describe you?
A question like this one forces the candidates to analyze themselves according to how their coworkers view them. Michael Boufford, VP of Engineering at Greenhouse, says that the answers vary from dependable to opinionated. This way, the interviewer delves deeper into why the candidate’s coworkers thought so about them. In addition, knowing about the candidate from a different perspective can help the interviewer analyze the latter’s compatibility with the peers.
Why do you get up every morning?
This question gives insight into how the candidate’s passion aligns with their career goals. According to Miguel Quiroga, Head of Digital at Verizon Fios, startups have rapidly growing teams. And thus, this question explains whether the candidate will be a good fit for the fast-paced work culture.
What, according to you, makes an ideal coworker?
This question helps Nate Smith, co-founder, and CTO of Lever, analyze what the candidate thinks about the people they want to work with and whether they can differentiate between the strengths different coworkers bring to the team. A great candidate will answer this question with many details, while a good candidate will only offer skimmed information. Therefore, the interviewer can analyze if the candidate will be an exceptional or challenging coworker.
What is the first thing you do if you are not able to solve a problem?
Annette Stone, Senior Manager of Recruiting at Wayfair Engineering, says that this helps analyze whether the candidates can manage a problem by themselves. For example, will they try to search for the answer independently or directly bring it to their managers? This question aims to help the interviewer determine if the candidate is good at solving problems.
What is your dream job?
If a candidate is not excited to talk about their dream job, how can they be keen to work on the job they are interviewing for? This question has no correct answer; it’s more about how honest the candidate is while answering it. It tells you a lot about the candidate [than their resume], says Sara Hetyonk, Talent Acquisition Manager at Ontraport. It also reveals the candidate’s long-term plans and goals.
Have you been working on a side project?
Brain Pugh, VP of Engineering at Lucid Software, states that if a candidate is working on a side project, it is a good indicator of their passion for coding. And as the code is often public, the interviewer can check the quality of the code written by the candidate.
When you start a new project, what is your process for doing it successfully?
Matt Doucette, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Monster, has six P’s that he looks for in a candidate through this question, Purpose, Plan, Process, Persistence, Persuasive communication, and Pride. He wants to know why the candidate chose what they do, how they plan to do it and involve others, how they will deal with success and failure, etc.
When did you start programming, and what was the first thing you built?
This question is not to check the candidate’s skill level but to gauge how excited they are to describe a significant moment in their career. Harj Taggar, co-founder and CEO of Triplebyte, says that he checks the candidate for fundamental communication skills through this question. He also adds that this question allows the candidate to shine in the best way possible.
Have you gone through our website? What can be improved?
Kenn Peters, Director of People at Vettery, says that the above question is crucial as it shows how much the candidate is interested in the company. It also highlights whether the candidate can think about the product from a builder’s perspective and not just the user’s perspective. Frequently, candidates fail to look at the website. Failure to look at the company website should be a red flag for the interviewer.
What has motivated you to take out time to talk to me?
Tech jobs are always in demand. Hence, the top-tier tech professionals have the option of choosing their pick of employers. Thus, it is essential to know what the candidate is looking for in the organization. Emoke Starr, Head of HR at Prezi, says that asking the candidate about their motivation helps them match the company’s offering to the candidate’s needs.
What have we missed about you that you want us to know?
Through this question, Courtney Graham, Senior Director of HR, ReadyTalk, tries to understand why candidates want the job and not just their qualifications. According to Graham, everyone—even the most technical people—should possess selling skills as they are critical in real life. So, candidates who are passionate about the job can always answer this question up to the interviewer’s expectations.
The above questions help hiring managers to analyze candidates on a level deeper than their technical skills. By preparing for them, you can help boost your confidence and get rid of some uncertainty before the interview. Remember, as these questions analyze your life skills and ability to adapt to the work environment, it’s a good idea to be honest with your answers.
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