In this race of technological advancement, every company is looking and competing against each other to hire the best software developers who can provide the company with a massive boost! One of the crucial roles that every company is looking for is that of a senior software engineer. Senior software engineers are extremely important as they handle critical responsibilities and processes in the working of a company. Therefore, to hire the best senior software engineers, it is imperative that you need to be prepared to interview them properly.
This article will provide a list of crucial senior engineer interview questions to ask potential engineering and dev team leads. We'll also discuss why you should ask these questions and how you can build on them to discover the perfect senior software engineer for your role.
Allow the candidate to know the format of the interview ahead of time. For example, it might be highly shocking for a candidate to be presented with a panel of interviewers when they were expecting a one-on-one interview, which can affect how that applicant performs.
Inform the candidate who will be interviewing them, or at the very least, their job titles. It is especially crucial for a startup or a medium-sized organization, as the CEO or other executives may still conduct interviews (or evaluate applicant interviews) at the senior software engineer level.
This should go without saying, but make sure you plan the senior software engineer interview questions you'll ask the candidate. Consider what talents or skills you are assessing and testing for each question. Consider how each question relates to a workplace problem or project being worked on by your team or firm. Consider the kind of responses that are anticipated from applicants. For example, level 3 (excellent) applicants will respond in one way, whereas level 1 (sufficient) candidates will respond in another. Above all, practice asking questions.
Take notes on the candidate's résumé to prepare for the interview and highlight projects or particular achievements you may ask questions about. It will give you a better understanding of a candidate's skill set and might serve as a solid transition into the subsequent list of senior software engineer interview questions.
Take notes during the interview on how the candidate replies to the questions. What impression did you get of the candidate during the interview?
After the interview, inform the applicant that they will be called for more rounds or the next steps in your company's recruiting process. Also, while the interview is still fresh in your mind, reviewing and comparing notes with the other interviewers or hiring managers is a good idea.
Let us now move on to the crucial senior software engineer interview questions.
This senior software engineer interview question is asked during pre-screening because it demonstrates an understanding of the two primary paradigms in software engineering and can assist you in determining which style the candidate likes.
They may be more at ease with programming languages such as Clojure, Haskell, or Common Lisp if they come from a functional background. Java, C#, and C++ will be more familiar to object-oriented developers.
Some of the essential distinctions between functional and object-oriented programming are:
If your team has a certain development approach, it is critical that the applicant knows it and has prior experience with it. For example, if your team uses the Agile approach, which focuses on iterative development, having a candidate who has worked with it and is familiar with all of the ideas would make the onboarding process and overall experience go more smoothly.
Bug testing is a crucial aspect of a senior software engineer’s job. Unfortunately, nothing is flawless, and flaws do occur when designing software. Finding bugs entails building tests that are run during different phases of development. As a result, when the final product is completed, it will be error-free.
It's a red signal if a developer admits that detecting and testing problems aren't his strong suit. They should be able to describe their approach and why testing and issue detection are crucial. Keep in mind that each developer has their unique process. Many options are excellent responses, which is why, while interviewing, you must ensure that you understand software development and what they are discussing.
The Software Development Life Cycle is a technique used by programming teams to create high-quality software in a short amount of time. It provides precise procedures for effectively developing, launching, and maintaining software.
The SDLC typically consists of seven phases: planning, requirements, design, software development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. The phases, however, are determined by the approach used by the team. The steps, for example, differ depending on whether the methodology is Waterfall or Agile.
programming is the most efficient way to screen out candidates who don't have programming experience or knowledge.
To observe the candidate code a solution to the issue statement during the pre-screen, you can utilize a web code editor such as Etherpad or Google Docs. This process will help you understand whether a candidate can code or not.
If they get stuck or develop a solution with problems that don't function, they aren't ready to be senior software engineers. If they swiftly develop a solution to the issue statement and it works, they have cleared this pre-screen question.
If you are still concerned about a candidate's coding talents for a senior software engineer position, you may give them a more complex coding problem that they can accomplish at home in an hour or less.
You can get into more technical specifics with this question. Sharding is a critical component of bigger web services. Inquiring about how the applicant would create a SQL database for sharding using time series and geographical data might provide insight into the prospect's analytical abilities and problem-solving style.
In the last five years, the default database for small-scale projects and startups has been a NoSQL solution like MongoDB or Couchbase. After a few years of use, the industry is considerably more aware of the benefits and drawbacks of NoSQL solutions.
This question determines if the senior software engineer applicant knows the benefits and downsides. It can tell you exactly how much the applicant understands about when to choose a specific database architecture and which database to choose for a specific situation. It also allows you to examine how they communicate their ideas and consider the risks and assertiveness of the solution.
This is a great senior software engineer question as it tackles two of the most important concepts in database management and design. Make sure that the differences they talk about are in-depth, and ask sub-questions from each point to know how well they know this concept.
It is a great senior software engineer interview question since it covers a broad topic. From here, anticipate the applicant to inquire about the things maintained in the inventory system, if orders are entered into the system to add or remove inventory, and how orders will be recorded. This allows the candidate to create at least a few data tables with various data field types.
For example, a library management system might have a database table for each book as well as a record for batches of a book that contain publication information. You'll also have a table of library signups, orders for the book, and orders for reissues.
As this example shows, there are several data tables involved. You may see how a senior software engineer candidate tackles system design at each stage of the process. You may also see how they collect requirements.
Senior software engineers must be able to gather requirements and ask questions to do so. They are supposed to be more capable of defining their work than junior or mid-level software developers.
This interview question is very important, as it asks the candidate to tell what they understand about the concept, which they should be thoroughly familiar with. Through this question, you can figure out easily if the candidate is actually well versed with the concepts or not. Make sure while providing the example, you reserve some of the questions for the example at the end.
You ask a candidate to restructure a class into smaller ones for this question. The goal is to examine how they break down the class into separate responsibilities and method groups.
The great thing about this question is it is similar to many in-production projects where an early architectural decision to consolidate a lot of functionalities into one class works as a barrier to developing additional features. Being able to divide a huge class into smaller, more manageable classes is crucial for reducing the technical load that a team will have to deal with in the future.
The next question, reworking the class for parallel and concurrent processing, demonstrates if the senior software engineer applicant understands non-deterministic programming and how to use threads, sub-processes, or background processes (through Resque for Ruby, Celery for Python, or some other message queue).
Background processing activities are always necessary for larger projects, and a candidate will be required to develop asynchronous processes and manage the side effects of that.
Senior software engineers must understand how their code will function and which graphs to watch for overall system health. Good applicants will see the necessity for graphs or the addition of performance and debugging instrumentation to the code. However, not-so-good candidates will put it off or ignore it entirely. Strong applicants will instantly inquire about the existing system monitoring and instrumentation technologies in use.
More particularly, you can inquire about which graphs might be good to observe whether background jobs are out of control and the system is slow to respond. Proficient senior software engineer candidates will want graphs that illustrate how many background task servers are active and how healthy they are (in terms of disc space, CPU load, and RAM/memory consumption).
By asking this question, you may learn how a candidate examines problems and how proactive they would be in monitoring and detecting problems before they develop.
Garbage collection guarantees that a Java system runs properly and saves the programmer from having to perform it manually. A GC improves memory efficiency in systems. The purpose of garbage collection is to make a system appear to have an infinite quantity of memory. When a system becomes sluggish, a garbage collector enters and gathers what is no longer in use.
As a hiring manager, you need to pay attention to this answer, as through this, you will figure out whether the candidate is able to design the ins and outs of the system and have an efficiency moderation check in place, which was the deliverable that the client required.
It is a more advanced question in which you ask the applicant how they would design and scale the system. Should the system be a single, unified service or a collection of microservices? What is the number of databases, cache layers, or message queues required?
You might inquire about whether they would utilize Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure, as well as the trade-offs and how this would affect the system. How would the applicant handle scaling a unified web service like a Django or Ruby on Rails application? Would they deal with caching layers at all?
This wide topic opens up a slew of debates and questions and gives a lot of information on how senior software engineer thinks and how effectively they can build a system.
Even if your organization is not only focused on scaling, it might be instructive to observe how a candidate would scale or rework the present architecture. If scaling is not the aim, you might modify the question to include additional requirements, such as legal compliance or reliability.
You are testing the candidate's communication and persuasive skills with this inquiry. This scenario regularly arises in software development, whether the choice is between Angular and React or PHP and Ruby on Rails.
Another possibility is that one algorithm, architecture, or system design is preferred over another.
You may assess how successfully a candidate provides a business case for using a certain technology, as well as what risks and values they weigh when making a choice. It is also an excellent issue for cultural fit since you may want to employ a senior software engineer who works in a specific style to address gaps on your team.
This inquiry might assist you in screening for both communication and collaboration abilities. Would they find the appropriate project personnel and meet with them privately to discuss their idea? Would they be bitter if they didn't get recognition, or would they be content to assist their teammates in succeeding? You may extend this topic by asking what they would do if their concept was rejected.
This software engineer interview question is particularly pertinent to senior-level roles. If you want someone with enough competence on your team, be sure they have previously taken care of projects and how they came out. You're looking for someone who can explain why the decision they made was crucial and how they handled it, whether they sought aid from their team or preferred to accomplish everything on their own.
This question allows you to learn more about the candidate's personality qualities and how they interact with people who hold diverse ideas. Candidates should be detailed while drafting their response, outlining why the problem occurred and their tactics to analyze and resolve the disagreement.
With these behavioral interview questions, you can determine whether the candidate was a team player who worked well with others. You'll also learn how they prioritize tasks and describe what they would do differently. This collection of questions also elicits a candidate's feelings about the project and if they display any enthusiasm or excitement about it.
Apart from the questions mentioned above, there are many other questions that you should try to incorporate into your interview to look for the best senior software engineer for your team!
In this article, we have tackled all the important questions you should ask during your next senior software engineer interview. We have covered everything from system architecture, software design, and database management to behavioral and soft skills-based questions.
However, questions are not the end; you should use these questions as a starting point and build on the questions and concepts we have covered to hire the perfect senior software engineer for your company!
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Pranav Surendran is a final-year IT engineering student who has an undying passion for writing and exploring concepts, be it technical or non-technical. Pranav loves to talk about things that fascinate him, be it books, movies, animes, and anything in between.
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