Programmer interview questions can be particularly challenging to answer because they require a great deal of background technical knowledge or experience. A coding job interview will often include a combination of technical, general, and behavioral questions. This guide including common programming interview questions and answers will help you put your best foot forward and land your dream tech job.
What Is a Programmer?
Answers to the Most Common Programmer Interview Questions
Although preparing is never the same as the actual interview, it’s best to go over some typical technical, general, and behavioral interview questions to increase your chances of landing a programmer job. Below you will find some examples of common questions and answers in each of these categories.
Top Five Technical Programmer Interview Questions and Answers
Technical interview questions gauge whether you can think quickly on your feet and solve coding challenges using practical solutions. While soft skills are important, a hiring manager will be keen to measure your level of your technical expertise and coding method. Practice your skills to prepare for these common coding questions below, as well as any follow-up questions.
When does a logical error occur?
A logical error occurs when a program uses the wrong logic. Unfortunately, the code compiler or translator doesn’t report a problem for these errors. Hiring managers ask this question to evaluate your troubleshooting skills and your analytical abilities. As a logical error is the most difficult error to locate and solve, answering this question proves you comprehensively understand how to test and debug code.
What do I mean by “Reserved Words”?
The term “reserved words” refers to a set of words used for programming that have predefined meanings and uses. Some examples of these words include THEN, ELSE and IF. Knowing this answer confirms that you are familiar with programming languages and can identify the differences between reserved words, variables and functions, and labels.
What is a compiler for code?
This is a popular question in programming interviews, as it allows hiring managers to determine how well you understand coding tools. A compiler processes statements written in a programming language and translates them into a machine learning language. A compiler is also often called a translator.
How do you reverse a string?
Having the coding skills to answer string questions demonstrates your ability to problem-solve and work with algorithms. To reverse a string in programming, you need to initiate, declare the string you intend to reverse, find the string’s length, begin a loop and swap the positions of the array elements, then print the string.
How do you determine the number of constants and vowels in a string?
String-based questions show how well you can apply analytical thinking to efficiently implement code. To calculate the number of vowels and constants in a string, run a loop, starting from zero until the length of the string then take a single character at a time and verify if each is a vowel. In increments, increase the number of constants or increase the count of vowels.
Top Five Behavioral Programmer Interview Questions and Answers
Behavioral interview questions for programmers often seek to determine if you can be a team player, take on a leadership role, manage your time efficiently, problem-solve, and how well you handle responsibility. Hiring managers will also be looking to determine if you’ll fit in with the company’s culture.
What is your first point of action if you lead a project?
This typical interview question reveals your project management and communication skills, as well aso your leadership abilities. Mention that you would start by creating a strategy and timeline to complete the project, then state the project’s requirements and necessary resources. Finally, identify the risks or potential shortfalls and communicate your strategy to the team.
What do you do when everything seems to go wrong in a project?
Employers want to know if you can effectively troubleshoot in a fast-paced programming environment and overcome a major obstacle. In your response, include team collaboration, organization, and problem-solving.
You might mention that you would identify the source of the issue and allocate the resources and teams to solve the problem. It is important to then bring up how you would prevent this problem from occurring in future projects.
How have you helped a previous team succeed on a stressful project?
This is one of the popular coding questions hiring managers ask to assess your collaboration, communication, and interpersonal skills. An ideal answer might mention that you motivated your team of programmers to succeed with the challenging project by communicating clearly to ease pressure points and helping team members wherever possible.
If you have a long list of tasks, how do you handle them?
This is a classic behavioral question hiring managers ask to gauge how you handle multitasking. You want to provide an answer showing that you prioritize tasks and create a timeline for each one. Then you assign resources such as software, tools, and team members and create an efficient and practical strategy to complete the project on time.
What is your response if you’ve made a mistake?
Employers know that mistakes are inevitable. The hiring manager will want to determine how well you take responsibility and avoid making the same mistake in the future. In your answer, you can bring up mistakes you have made in previous programming jobs, what you learned from them, and how you have prevented them from happening again.
Top 5 General Programmer Interview Questions and Answers
Besides technical and behavioral interview questions, employers will also ask more general programming questions to evaluate how well you understand the fundamentals of programming and other essential coding skills.
Which programming languages are you familiar with?
This typical programming interview question determines which programming languages you feel comfortable working with and allows you to discuss past projects. Knowing how to articulate your coding knowledge lets you reflect a wide range of experiences to your interviewer.
You can include your favorite programming language in your answer, then be sure to mention any others that you are comfortable working with. Then, you can elaborate on how you utilized those languages for various projects.
Explain your understanding of loops?
Loops are an integral part of coding when you’re working on any computer program. Hiring managers want to ensure you understand essential programming features so you can successfully execute coding projects. Therefore, your answer should comprise the definition of loops and make mention of different types of loops.
You should mention that loops are structures in coding that repeat a set amount of statements for a specific number of times, or until a specific condition is fulfilled. In programming, there are three types of loops which are a Nested Loop, a FOR…Next Loop and a WHILE…END Loop.
What kind of errors occur in computer programming?
Programming interview questions like this determine how well you know programming in general and whether you know the most common issues to keep an eye out for. A strong answer to this question can show that you are a good problem-solver as well as have a strong base of coding knowledge.
A good answer might include that there are three types of programming errors, a logical error, a syntax error, and a runtime error. A logical error is when a computer program uses the wrong logic. A syntax error is when grammatical rules of programming aren’t followed, and a runtime error happens when programmers use an illegal operation.
What are operators?
Like loops, operators are a crucial element in programming. You will want to give a detailed answer describing what operators are, how programmers use them, and the types of operators. You might say that operators perform specific operations on data structures in a program. There are symbols to represent operators. For coding, there are four operators. These operators are logical, rational, arithmetic, and assignment.
Logical operators make simple conditions more complex. Rational operators test or define the relationship between two entities. Arithmetic operators implement mathematical operations and assignment operators store computational results and values in variables and strings.
How would you define machine code?
This is another popular coding question for programmer interviews that indicates how well you know the types of programming languages. You’re bound to work with many coding languages for separate functions. Hiring managers need to know you have the required knowledge and skills.
You should explain that machine code is defined as a low-level programming language. Machine code comprises machine language instructions that control a computer’s central processing unit (CPU). In contrast to a high-level programming language, machine code requires little transformation.
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Tips to Prepare for a Programmer Interview
1. Master Your Technical Skills
To ace a programming job interview, you will need more than mastery of a programming language. Learn what an assembly language is, what an artificial language is, and how to work with specific coding programs and code libraries. It’s just as vital to know loops, variables, terms, constants, and how to work with data structures.
Often, theoretical knowledge of programming isn’t enough. Practice your skills using tutorials, quizzes, and coding challenges. If you are just starting out, online resources like Python projects for beginners can help you hone and master your skills. Most programmer interviews will include a technical assessment, so it is crucial that you keep your skills sharp.
2. Focus on Your Soft Skills
Programming may require technical expertise, but your soft skills are just as necessary. Employers want professionals with leadership, communication, organization, time management, and multitasking skills. You’ll often work on projects with limited time in a high-pressure situation. Achieving successful program implementation will rely on your soft skills.
3. Know Data Structures and Algorithms
Although they fall under hard skills, essential data structures and algorithms are critical enough to discuss separately. You’ll need to identify various algorithms and common data structures then implement them correctly on a day-to-day basis. For example, you should know what a linear data structure is and how to work with a recursive data structure.
What Skills Should I Put on my Programmer Resume?
An impressive resume is one of the most important elements of applying for a programmer job. You should make sure your resume features vital programming skills like profiancy with programming languages, data structures, and algorithms, as well as reflects your problem-solving and analytical thinking abilities.
Knowing programming languages is the first step to winning a programmer job interview. Employers want to see if you know modeling languages and if you’ve worked with at least one low-level programming language and one high-level programming language.
Problem-Solving and Analytical Thinking
In this job role, you’ll often have to solve errors regarding relational operators, non-matching characters, and similar elements of a program. Because of this, companies need a programmer who can create and implement a simple solution to a complex problem. You have to be an excellent problem solver and analytical thinker to do this.
These skills are often built as you gain experience in the industry. If you are just starting out, you can hone your problem-solving and analytical skills using online resources like coding challenges and quizzes.
Writing, Testing, and Debugging Code
It’s no surprise that writing, testing, and debugging code must be an element in your programmer resume. You need to know how to write efficient code without errors, implement reusable code, and test your code for errors and debug errors. These skills prove you can efficiently develop an error-free, smooth-performing program.
How to Find Programmer Jobs
If you are looking for a programmer job, it may help to take advantage of online communities that advertise jobs for your specific skills or demographic. These communities have resources that will help you perfect your coding skills and create industry connections. You can find programmer jobs on online communities like Women Who Code, Stack Overflow, and GitHub.
If you’re a woman breaking into tech, Women Who Code is a great resource for you. You can network with women in the tech industry, share advice, and receive guidance on starting a programmer career. Women Who Code also has a job board available with countless opportunities from full stack development to mobile development with reputable tech companies.
Whether you want to specialize in becoming a Java programmer or consider a software development job, Stack Overflow is the top one-stop shop. You can find programming jobs and work for companies worldwide, and you can raise questions to the Stack Overflow community. Although all the bells and whistles may be intimidating at first, this community is a great resource.
GitHub is like LinkedIn but specifically for programmers. The massive development community shares programming projects and coding advice, and can help you find fellow programmers to collaborate with. It’s best to create a GitHub profile, add your portfolio, and regularly upload your work to land a programmer job on GitHub.
Programmer Interview Questions FAQ
To prepare for a programmer interview, you need to create an impressive resume comprising skills like writing, testing, and debugging code. You should also prepare for the behavioral, technical, and general questions asked in a programmer interview, then practice your skills to ace the technical assessment.
Interviews for programmers typically start with a one-on-one discussion to gauge your personality traits, abilities, and ambitions. More often than not, you will also have to complete a technical assessment to prove you have the relevant coding skills.
Some basic coding questions you might come across will ask you to define terms like “reserved words” or “compilers.” Some basic behavioral questions may be asked to gouge how well you respond to mistakes and how you respond to a stressful situation.
If you want to pass a programming interview, focus on mastering your hard skills, developing relevant soft skills, and perfecting your ability to work with data structures and algorithm knowledge. Doing this will help you pass the technical assessment. To pass the behavioral interview, prepare for technical, behavioral, and general programming interview questions.
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