Going through an interview as a part of the hiring process is a standard procedure for any professional field. It does not matter if you are a programmer, a teacher, a nanny or an engineer. The experience can be somewhat intimidating. However, in a software developer interview, you gain an understanding of what the company offers, in addition to what they want in return.
From my experience working in a java development company, finding the right fit for your team is a vital decision. As much as software developers are in demand, onboarding someone who does not meet the proper requirements can be counter-productive too. Working for a project that you are not passionate about, or for a company with values that are also different from your own is equally so.
What You Should Look For in a Software Development Company
While it is common for people to think that an interview is intended for the company to learn about you, it works similarly in reverse as well.
Developers seek out to find if this company is the right fit for them. While at the same time looking for one that offers them the best working conditions. Or at least what they subjectively consider to be the best. You can take advantage of a software developer interview to discover relevant information on the firm and to make an informed decision on whether it is a good fit for you.
Start by asking the right questions. Here are a few of them:
What project would you be working on?
With the high-speed race in software development to beat the competition, a lot of the project’s details are often kept confidential. As someone who is not directly working on the project, you might have to sign a contract not to disclose the information provided to you. However, you should attempt to gain at least a general understanding of what project you would be developing.
Working on a project, you are passionate about makes all the difference when it comes to your overall working experience. So this can quickly turn into one of the make-or-break factors in your decision to take the job or not.
What are the team values?
Like-minded people tend to get together. Asking questions regarding the team is a great way to get an understanding of what culture you would be integrated into. Asking specific questions like:
- How often do people work overtime?
- What is the demanded warning period to take days off?
- Can tasks be covered by other employees when you would be going on any leave?
- How often are the deadlines tight?
- What are their criteria for work evaluation?
- How often employees receive feedback on their work?
- Our costs for further education and learning, directly linked to the work, funded by the company?
You can add any question that seems relevant to you to this list and take the software developer interview as an opportunity to clear it all up for you.
What are the working conditions and benefits?
Benefits and conditions are often somewhat similar in different companies. What you need to do beforehand is research regarding what typical salary and benefits package is for the position you are attempting to fill. Make sure to make the search local as it may vary from city to city.
You can make the informed decision whether the offer they made you is reasonable.
- Are they offering a lower salary but better benefits?
- Are they offering other forms of monetary value such as learning opportunities or a system for salary raise over time, based on results?
- Does it seem that they want to pay less for what you would earn doing similar work for other companies?
The choice you make is based on what you consider to be the most valuable and what your overall impression of the company is.
What are the employers’ expectations?
You need to ask questions that help you narrow down what is expected of you if you start working for them:
- How many hours are you supposed to put in?
- Is the work requiring to develop new and unusual solutions?
Anything could be a factor that sets them apart from companies, so navigate the situation and follow up on the information you are receiving. Ask any questions to clear up anything that seems vague or essential.
Options for growth within the company -going from Junior to Medium to Senior Developer, etc.
- What is the level of the position you are applying for? Junior? Senior?
- Do the requirements they have for you match the level you are qualified and applying for?
- Do you have the option to rank up as you gain more experience over time?
- Does your salary and benefits package rank up along with your professional growth?
- Is there a “training period” that allows you to get up to speed with the project’s processes and match the technical requirements?
Obtain an answer to those questions, and evaluate whether you can see yourself grow in this environment, along with the company?
What are your working hours and the amount of availability required outside of them (if any)?
- How many hours will you put in, what is the working hours?
- Will you be working overtime hours occasionally, often, or not at all?
- Is overtime paid and voluntary?
- What is the overtime pay rate?
- What is the level of flexibility to leave work in case of medical appointments or emergencies?
- Is working from home a supported option?
- Will you be taking work trips?
- To what extent are business trips funded?
What is something personally important to you that you believe is relevant to whether you would work there?
We all have different criteria that we consider, whenever looking for a job. This is where you ask anything is important to you. Anything can tip the scales of whether this is a company you want to work for or not. Ask yourself, what makes this company different than any other company that can offer you similar conditions of employment?
Once you determine that, you need to decide if those factors are a benefit or a setback for you.
Have you decided that the company is, in fact, one that you want to work for? The next step is to make a great impression in the software developer interview and show them why you are a good fit for them.
How to Make a Good Impression
You need to understand what the employers could be looking for and attempt to prepare in a way that showcases your great qualities.
It is easy to assume that employers have specific criteria that they look for in a candidate. While they may often vary from company to company, some are more general and seem to be particularly common:
Technical competence and examples of your previous projects.
When discussing a job in software development, the most crucial factor is how strong your technical knowledge and experience is. A key indicator of whether or not you would be capable of performing the job’s assignments. Having a strong start is a perk, despite the learning curve.
Showcasing projects you worked on previously shows seriousness towards the choice of work. You can display either on your work or from your previous working experience. By seeing the work you have finished successfully before, the employer can gain an idea of what you have chosen to specialize in using the specific programming language.
Samples of code to see if you have good coding practices.
- Are you able to apply this knowledge in the form of code? Does it fit well into the bigger picture of the project?
- Are your coding practices riddled with bad habits?
- Are there any weak spots that can easily succumb to bugs?
- Have you optimized the code?
- Did you apply the algorithm correctly?
Your code can provide a lot of insight into your practices. You can use the source code of the project example and provide it as a sample.
Being able to answer questions that are relevant to the project’s focus and used technology.
Many interviews have a test section as a part of the process to pinpoint your level of knowledge. Whether you qualify to be an intern, a junior, and so on can be influenced. The accuracy of your answers provides a measurable entity of your knowledge level. Depending on how you answered the different levels of difficulty, you may score a different position. From Junior to Senior Developer. This may as well be a deciding factor of what sub-team you become a part of. Whether it is Research and Development or QA or any other.
So you should expect that this may be a part of the typical software developer interview process and should approach it calmly.
Personal qualities when related to professional behavior.
When building a team, employers are looking for certain personal qualities. And this is where you can see what kind of company it is.
You may be able to get an idea of what they are looking for by their questions. It could be anything. From honesty to loyalty. Dedication to flexibility. Sociability to proactivity. Some are even looking for a passion for sports and other discipline-inducing activities. This is a good practice in the interview process for two reasons.
One – most employers look to onboard someone like-minded with the developers already working there. Perhaps, they are hoping for a more symbiotic team that is less likely to get into conflicts.
Two – you get an idea of the type of team they are trying to build and whether it fits what you are looking for.
Some companies have a stronger separation between work and personal life. Others seek to build a family-type team that intertwines the professional and personal activities.
What type of company do you want to work with?
Being open to improving and learning with the team.
On the other hand, a common requirement for software development companies is to be flexible. Are you willing to build up your knowledge and remain a part of the dynamic IT Industry? Considering the constant turnover of the technology used in production, this skill is an absolute must!
Getting ready for a software developer interview should not include cramming to say the right thing. It needs to be approached calmly and steadily. You need to understand that if you make the most of it, an interview can be the best thing for you to find a good job for yourself.