Your product is as strong as your engineering team. And it’s up to a senior software engineer to help lead the charge in designing, developing, and making updates to your software.
If you’re searching for a senior software engineer who can help your engineering team achieve success, you’re in the right place. Finding the right candidate who’s up to the challenge begins with equipping yourself with the best interview questions.
In this article, you’ll find 46 interview questions to help you hire a senior software engineer. Along with general questions for a senior software engineer, you’ll also find questions for related competencies, including decision-making, collaboration, and communication skills.
Read on to uncover all of the interview questions to ask a senior software engineer.
General Interview Questions for a Senior Software Engineer
- What languages and architectures have you generally worked in?
- What’s your process for helping clients onboard with new technology?
- Describe your ideal work environment.
- Can you share a time when a mentor or peer gave you valuable feedback that you incorporated into your work or changed how you do things?
- What are you passionate about from an engineering perspective (e.g., what domains, kinds of problems, etc.)?
- Tell me about your last role. Who was on your team, and what were you responsible for?
- Where do you find the most interest in coding? Do you see yourself as more of a frontend, backend, or infrastructure/DevOps person?
- Have you ever built a full application from backend to front, personally or professionally? What was it?
- Describe a recent feature or project you worked on. What was the problem, how was your team structured, and what was your specific role? What was the outcome?
- What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment so far? What was your specific role, and why do you believe it’s your biggest accomplishment?
- How would you want to go about learning our product if you started tomorrow?
- Share an example of a product feature, idea, or issue you identified by talking to customers and brought back to your product or engineering team.
- Share an example of a time when you identified a problem or inefficiency in your product or software development process and worked with your team and leaders to improve it.
- Tell me about a time when there were issues delivering a feature or product. What happened? How did you handle it, and what did you learn?
- Tell me about a time when you contributed to the culture of a business you were at. Is there anywhere you generally find yourself spending time that isn’t in your core job description? (e.g., started a club, guild, or group; contributed to blog posts; mentored; planned social events)
Decision-Making Interview Questions
From problem-solving when a bug arises to deciding what priorities to focus on, senior software engineers face many important decisions each day. A great senior software engineer is skilled at decision-making and can weigh the options to determine the best outcome.
The below questions can help you find candidates who are skilled at decision-making.
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a tough decision. Why was it difficult? What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time when you misjudged a situation and made the wrong decision. What happened, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a big decision on short notice. Walk me through your decision-making process and the outcome.
- If you could go back and change a major decision you made at work, would you? If yes, what would you change and why would you change it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to weigh the risks and rewards of a decision carefully. What was your thought process, and what did you decide?
- Let’s say you were asked to make a major decision at work and could only consult one person. Who would you consult and why?
- When you have to make a big, difficult decision, what’s your typical approach? For example, do you ask for advice or go with your gut?
- Tell me about a time when you fully trusted your own decision-making abilities. What made you feel confident about your decision?
Collaboration Interview Questions
A successful senior software engineer can collaborate with customers, go-to-market teams, and leadership to develop and evolve a product.
The below questions can help you find candidates who are excellent at collaborating with others.
- Tell me about a time when it was critical for you to establish an effective working relationship with someone outside of your department to complete an important assignment or project.
- What is the toughest group that you have had to collaborate with? Describe how you handled it. What was the outcome?
- Describe a time when you had to work effectively with another team that you had never worked with before.
- Describe a time when you set aside your own priorities to help a team member. What did you do, and what was the result?
- Tell me about a time when you wouldn’t have successfully completed a project without teamwork.
- Have you ever been a member of a group or team where two people did not work well together? How did you resolve the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you helped others compromise for the good of the team.
- Give me an example of a time when you were willing to compromise on something relatively important to you so that your team could proceed with a project.
- Tell me about the most memorable contribution you’ve made as part of a task group or special project team.
Communication Skills Interview Questions
Senior software engineers must be skilled at communicating complex ideas with ease. A great senior software engineer is skilled at writing and speaking in a clear, succinct way.
The below questions can help you find candidates who have top-notch communication skills.
- Tell me about a complex idea you had to explain to a colleague. How did you go about explaining it?
- Describe a time when you should have documented something important but failed to do so. What happened, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Tell me about a sensitive situation (that you’re comfortable sharing, of course) that required you to communicate with intention and care.
- Tell me about a situation where you had to voice your opinion in a meeting or during a project.
- Describe a time when you successfully communicated with someone even though you weren’t sure if they value your perspective.
- Describe a time when you didn’t communicate critical information to your manager or colleague. What was the outcome, and what did you learn from the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you leveraged your written communication skills to make your point of view clear.
- Give me an example of a time when you provided a direct report with information that helped them make a good decision.
- Describe a time when your communication skills helped you successfully accomplish a project or task.
- Tell me about a time when you had a misunderstanding with a colleague. What steps did you take to overcome your communication barriers?
- Give me an example of a time when you were slow to share information with your direct reports or team members, and it had a negative impact.