Software developer interview questions: The soft part

28 Jul

Episode 28

            Soft is not a short from software here. In the previous article we went through technical aspects of Java developer job interview. This time we are going to explore the non-technical part or soft part or HR part or however you want to call it (it’s not just Java developer now, of course, but software developer in general). Sometimes you will talk with your potential team leader, project manager, line manager, other kind of manager, someone from human resources department or just a guy from dev team (hey, they can talk too!). They will try to find out if you will fit the organization, project or, in general, if you are the guy they would like to work with. I feel that developers tend to trivialize this part and think that if they are technically strong, nothing can stop them. However soft skills and personality plays a decent role in the recruitment process. After all, no one wants to work with an asshole, even if it’s technically brilliant asshole.

Up to the point

            So, I’m going to try to recollect these types of questions I’ve been asked on my recent interviews. As before, I’m not going to answer them, partly because I’m lazy and partly because sometimes there is no right or wrong answer.

  • Why are you changing job?
  • Name your three greatest advantages and disadvantages.
  • How would you describe your perfect workplace?
  • What do you expect from your future employer?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Describe a conflict situation you were in and how was it resolved?
  • What was your greatest fuckup in work and how did you handle it? (the choice of words may differ of course…)
  • How would you organize a newly formed team as a senior developer?
  • How would you react if your teammate is late with his tasks all the time and does private stuff or just nothing during work hours?
  • How would you convince me in one sentence that you are the right guy / gal for the job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Do you like to work in SCRUM? Why yes / no?
  • Imagine that at the end of the sprint a manager (or better: high manager) storms into devs room and demands some last minute feature to be included in the release. You know it’s too risky to do that, how would you react?
  • What software development book have you read recently and you can recommend?
  • How do you keep up with latest technologies, trends and stuff in the industry? What’s your main source of information?
  • Do you have some private software projects or contributions to open source? Tell me about it.


Some people in this part like to give you abstract questions, brainteasers or puzzles to solve or just to see how you would approach solution, how creative you are and if you can think outside the box. Some examples:

  • What can you do with a drinking glass? You got one minute.
  • How many golf balls would fit in a bus / this room?
  • How many gas stations are in this town?
  • How would you measure the height of [tall building name]?
  • Burning Rope Problem (how original…)


If you are not native English speaker, you will usually be tested for your language skills. Typically they will ask you to describe your work experience, talk about your hobbies, or perhaps answer some of the previous questions in English. You might want to review that too.

Is there more?

Again, internet is full of questions and answers.

Books I’ve mentioned in previous article are mostly focused on technical side, but some of them contain a “soft” section too.

Besides I’d like to point out one particular book relevant to the subject. The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers by Uncle Bob, not to be confused with Clean Code (worth reading too).

The Clean Coder tackles software craftsmanship from different angle than Clean Code. It cover ethics, attitude, prioritizing things (not only backlog items), dealing with pressure, corporate bullshit, different types of difficult people and other stuff. Go for it.

At least one more!

I have at least one more recruitment topic I’d like to cover. We talked about questions you might be asked as developer, we should talk about question you should probably ask your potential future employer. They want to check you, you want to check them. Symmetry.

See you next time :)

interview soft part


Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Misc, Recruitment


Tags: ,

2 responses to “Software developer interview questions: The soft part

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: