You’re ready. You can handle any software engineer interview questions that are thrown your way — or so you think. If you focus solely on the technical aspects of the interview, even the best software engineers can be caught off guard by behavioral interview questions for a software engineer position.
In this article, we’ll dive into how to ace the parts of the software engineering job interview that have nothing to do with your technical skills. Keep reading to learn how to prepare for a software engineering interview.
How to Prepare for a Software Engineering Interview: the Basics
Here are some tips on how to prepare for a software engineering interview from App Academy’s Technical Career Coach Manager, Mark Rodriguez:
1. Consistency is Key
It’s better to take a day off to recharge than to constantly put off studying or working on a project. It can be helpful to make a plan about how you want to tackle your work and stick to it.
App Academy’s Coach Cory provides the following analogy to show how this can be useful:
“It’s a lot like sports: by the time game day comes, it’s too late to start lifting weights — whether or not you win the game is determined by the days, weeks, and months of practice you’ve put in or by the lack of practice you’ve put in leading up to that event. No amount of last-minute prep or worrying will make that much of a difference.”
2. You Aren’t Alone
When you’re in the middle of an interview, it can be easy to forget that the person interviewing you isn’t a robot. The person interviewing you has also probably been in your shoes.
They probably understand how nerve-wracking it can be to go through an interview process, and they’ve probably had some tough interviews themselves. Try to remember that the person interviewing you is a human being, just like you. It might help you keep your nerves in check.
3. Mindset Matters
The most important thing to remember when you’re in an interview is that you’re already a software engineer. You don’t need to convince anyone of this — you just need to work hard and show up as the person you already are.
When you feel like an imposter, or the software engineering interview questions start to feel more challenging to answer, remind yourself that you’re not trying to become an engineer, but rather look for a job as one. This can help you overcome your imposter syndrome and motivate you through the interview process with poise and confidence.
4. Crowdsource Your Interview Prep
Working with other people can reduce the time it will take to solve a problem. A friend may have a strategy you’ve never thought of before. They may also give you some ideas about questions you should be prepared for as well as some ideas for questions to ask the interviewer for a software engineer role.
Practicing for a job interview can help you feel more prepared and less nervous. It’s like when you practice a speech ahead of time, and by the time you’re on stage, it feels that much easier.
When practicing for an interview, think about the interview questions for a software engineer position that could come up, and prepare possible answers and examples to talk about. When you get these questions during the actual interview, you’ll already have thought about your responses, and they’ll come easily to you.
When you’re interviewing for a job, it can be hard to know what to expect. One of the best ways to prepare is by researching the company and role you’re applying for. This can help you feel more prepared and less nervous. You’ll also be able to show your enthusiasm for the position by mentioning specific things about the company or the position itself that make you excited to join the team.
7. Energy, Body Language, & Eye Contact
Aside from studying software engineering interview questions that might come up, how you present yourself is crucial to your success.
You want to think about your energy. You want to be full of life and excitement, but not push it over the top. You don’t want to come across as too eager or unprepared. Finding the appropriate energy balance and choosing your words carefully can make a big difference for your interview.
Body language can also have a big impact. Show you’re interested by leaning forward and nodding along while your interviewer is talking. Try to avoid crossing your arms, since it can show that you’re closed off, and that’s not necessarily the impression you want to give.
Eye contact is also important. Looking directly at your interviewer while they’re speaking can demonstrate that you’re engaged and interested in what they have to say.
How to Prepare for the Behavioral Interview
There are tons of resources for preparing for the technical aspect of a software engineering interview, but how do you prepare for the behavioral interview questions for a software engineer position? Your interviewer will want to get to know you, not just your technical skills. Here are some tips.
Learn the STAR Answer Format
This format of answering questions is especially useful for questions that ask you to recount past experiences. It can help you structure your response in a way that communicates all aspects of your past experience:
- Situation: Present a recent challenge or situation.
- Task: What were you required to achieve?
- Action: What did you do?
- Results: What was the outcome of your actions?
Prepare Your Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Preparedness is key when it comes to answering software engineer interview questions. Look up some commonly asked questions (or keep reading!) for the position you’re interviewing for, write down your answers, and study them. Bonus points if you incorporate the STAR answer format above!
Showcase How You Fit the Company’s Culture and Core Values
The best way to show that you fit the company’s culture and core values is by talking about any experiences you’ve had that can help prove it. Research the company’s values and mission statement, and prepare anecdotes or question answers based on your own experiences that show how what you value aligns with what this company values.
Try Out Mock Behavioral Interviews
Consider asking friends or family to participate in a mock interview with you. Ask them to pretend to be the interviewer, and provide them with questions to ask you. This might help you feel more secure in your answers once you’re in front of a real interviewer.
Use Structured Courses
You might be the sort of person that needs more structure to prepare for something like this. There are several interview prep classes available online that you can walk through to learn and master the best methods for preparing and acing an interview.
Popular Software Engineer Behavioral Interview Questions
Typically, behavioral interview questions break down into several types:
- Getting to know your career preferences, ambitions, and plans
- Discussing details of experiences or projects you’ve showcased on your resume
- “Tell me about a time when you…” questions that prompt you to describe how you demonstrated certain traits or responded to a situation
These questions may catch you off guard, but that’s where your preparation comes in. Here are a few common questions that might come up during your interview:
- Tell me about a time you had a conflict and needed to influence somebody else.
- What would you hope to achieve in the first six months after being hired?
- Have you ever disagreed with your boss or manager? What did you do?
- Give me an example of a project or initiative that you started independently.
- Describe a situation where you met a major obstacle in completing a project.
- Describe a situation where you worked effectively under pressure.
You may also be asked company-specific questions, so research the company before the interview.
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
When asked “Do you have any questions for me?” during a job interview, it’s a great opportunity to show initiative and show that you’re interested in the position by asking some questions in return. But what sorts of questions should you ask?
Here are some questions to ask your interviewer during a software engineering interview:
- What technology does your team use?
- How are projects planned and prioritized?
- What opportunities for professional development does your company offer?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current team?
- How do you measure and define success during employee reviews?
Make sure to focus on asking questions that matter to you. Remember, a job interview is a chance for you to determine if a company is a good fit for you, just as much as an interviewer might be trying to determine if you’re a good fit for the company.
Kickstart Your Career Today with App Academy
Preparing for an interview can be nerve-wracking, but if you know you’re stuff, you can ace it. We include career preparation in our programs that covers everything from thinking on your feet to preparing difficult technical questions and everything in between. With an App Academy bootcamp, you can change your life and land your ideal new job.