Two people working in an office environment and talking.
Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

 

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

 

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

 

Why this matters:

Application developers play a hands-on role in all phases of the software development lifecycle, from inception to testing and beyond. How candidates answer this question can offer great insight into the breadth and nature of their experience, while also telling you if they have a proven track record of successfully and meticulously completing projects. 

What to listen for:

  • A great answer will demonstrate how the candidate has used their skills to create software solutions from start to finish, while also highlighting their troubleshooting abilities
  • Strong candidates may demonstrate experience leading a team throughout the development process

 

Why this matters:

Application developers use various programming languages to create software. Having a good grasp of these languages is crucial to their success, so it’s imperative to assess your candidate’s knowledge of and experience using different languages. If they haven’t used your company’s go-to language before, a willingness to learn is also important.

What to listen for:

  • Proficiency in at least one major programming language—ideally the one your organization uses most frequently
  • Top answers will include details about the type of projects the candidate has successfully worked on using each language

Why this matters:

As your team develops software solutions, they need to take proactive steps to minimize any potential security risks that could expose your organization’s sensitive data—or the data of those using the finished application. An experienced application developer will be aware of the steps and quality control required to tighten security from the start.

What to listen for:

  • A keen awareness of the importance of security checks and controls, as well as how to lead a team through the process
  • Examples of situations where the candidate’s actions prevented a security breach or leak

Why this matters:

In addition to troubleshooting software in the development phase, application developers must constantly monitor for any bugs or glitches in the system. Your candidate should be accustomed to looking for the root cause of a problem and taking the necessary steps to solve it and prevent similar issues in the future.

What to listen for:

  • Experience troubleshooting before, during, and after development
  • An ideal answer will attest to the candidate’s patience and dedication, showing they don’t easily give up if the cause of the issue isn’t immediately apparent

 

Why this matters:

Application developers often face tight deadlines on work that’s critical for customers and their organization. When high-pressure situations like this crop up, you want to know that your new hire has the time management and collaboration skills necessary to navigate the situation and ensure the project is completed without a hitch.

What to listen for:

  • Mentions of prioritizing, delegating, or other strategies that ensured the project was completed on time
  • Top answers will demonstrate that the candidate applies care and attention to their work, even in the face of a tight deadline

Why this matters:

Your new hire needs to be a skilled coder, but everybody makes mistakes or oversights from time to time. In these instances, you want to know that your candidate will accept feedback with grace and use it to grow. Top application developers don’t just take feedback in their stride—they use it to make future applications even stronger.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that the candidate values feedback and strives to improve their work based on constructive suggestions
  • A willingness to admit mistakes and take steps to avoid similar missteps moving forward

Why this matters:

This question will not only tell you how candidates perceive themselves, but will also provide insights into their views on teamwork. While your new hire may work independently some of the time, they’ll also need to collaborate across the department to get projects done. As such, the best application developers tend to be approachable, resourceful, and comfortable working as part of a team.

What to listen for:

  • A thoughtful answer that indicates the candidate values teamwork and tries to be a good teammate to others
  • Signs that they can work in a variety of settings, including alone, as part of a group, or when leading a team

Why this matters:

This question can tell you a lot about a candidate’s ability to distill knowledge. While application developers need a lot of hard skills to do their job effectively, they must also be skilled at communicating with people with varying degrees of technical know-how. After all, they may have to discuss project details with stakeholders from non-technical backgrounds, in addition to supporting junior team members.

What to listen for:

  • Concrete examples of projects the candidate has led and their training method
  • Ideal answers will show that the candidate is happy to share their knowledge with others and is patient when getting people up to speed

Why this matters:

Learning where a candidate’s passion lies can be a good indicator of the role they’ll play on their team, as well as the path they might take at your company. If they love leading projects, for example, they may aspire to a leadership role. If they’re passionate about the creative elements of the work or the fast-paced nature of the industry, they may seek to bring fresh ideas to the table. 

What to listen for:

  • Evidence of self-reflection and genuine passion for the application development field 
  • Top answers may frame the importance of application development within the larger societal context