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50 Popular Software Engineer Interview Questions

Posted by Donna Recchione on Aug 10, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In Candidate, IT, ICS insights, Interview Tips

Below we are going to discuss some of the most popular software engineer interview questions that you need to know. Preparing for these questions can be the difference between landing your dream job and having to continue your search for a position through a different employer. 

Here they are:

Which categories of software tend to be the most important?

  • Web applications
  • System software
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) software
  • Application software
  • Scientific software
  • Embedded software

How does computer software differ from a computer program?

The primary difference between computer software and a computer program is that the latter is simply a piece of programming code. The code itself performs a certain task. Software, however, consists of the code, documentation, and a manual, which is often referred to as a user guide. 

What is software re-engineering?

When processes are carried out to improve software system maintainability, this is known as software re-engineering.

How does the software development process work?

The process is a life cycle, and it includes the eight stages:

  1. Analysis of requirement(s)
  2. Pinpointing of specifications
  3. Build/create software architecture
  4. Implementation
  5. Testing of the software
  6. Creation of documentation
  7. Creation of training and support
  8. Outline of required/suggested maintenance

What are some of the names of SDLC models available?

  • Iterative Model
  • Waterfall Model
  • V-Model
  • Big-bag Model
  • Spiral Model

What is the difference between verification and validation?

When software is verified, a set of activities are carried out to make sure the software itself is performing a specific function. When software is validated, a set of activities are carried out to make sure the software has been developed so that it can meet the specific needs of the client in which it was created for originally. 

What is debugging in relation to the process of software development?

When an error is removed from software, this is known as debugging. As part of the testing of software, debugging is one of the most crucial activities. 

Are there ways to ensure code is safe and fast?

Yes, and it starts with development security. This helps to pinpoint any issues as to why a program may be running slow, and it allows issues to be fixed so that the program can operate both safely and in a timely manner. 

Name two specific tools that can be used to keep track of software requirements.

There are numerous ways to keep track of requirements; however, two specific ways include:

  • Outlining all requirements on a requirements specification document
  • Creating an excel sheet that outlines all requirements according to their types, dependencies, and priorities

Is there a primary difference between a stub and a mock?

The easiest way to understand the difference between a stub and a mock is to look at their definitions:

  • A stub will usually return hardcoded data after its interface has been minimally implemented.
  • A mock simply verifies outputs against anticipations/expectations that have been set during the test.

In which language do you prefer to write programming algorithms?

Programming languages are large in number, and every developer tends to have his or her own preference. Still, every coder should have a preference for high-level languages, such as C and C++ languages.

What is your definition of computer software?

Computer software is composed of several aspects, including:

  • Software program
  • Documentation
  • User guide

Which SDLC model do you think is best?

Since SDLC Models are adopted on an as-needed basis, there is no way to rank them. From one software to another, the needed SDLC Model will vary. 

What does a software project manager do?

Just as the title implies, a software project manager is responsible for managing a software project. This person will usually plan for the project, monitor the progress of the project, and communicate any needs. It is also vital for a software project manager to manage the risks of the project as well as to source all necessary components involved in making sure the project is carried out effectively and efficiently, especially in relation to meeting deadlines.

What does software scope mean to you?

The scope of software includes a well-defined boundary. The boundary itself is comprised of all activities that are carried out to make sure the software is developed effectively. The scope will also outline all functionalities that are to be delivered by the software, and it also details what the software will do. Many times, the scope will cover specific activities and functionalities that are not to be a part of the software. In addition, the scope will give a project estimation relating to cost and time. A project scope is vital to the overall development process because it gives estimates regarding various aspects of the product to be created. Much of the time, consulting experts will be contacted to develop the scope. 

How can you find the size of software?

There are two methods that can be used to calculate the size of software:

  • Count the lines of delivered code
  • Count the delivered function points

What is your definition of function points?

The features that are provided by software are known as function points. In regard to software size, function points are very important when measuring. 

What kinds of software project estimation techniques do you like to use?

I tend to like the most widely-used techniques, which are:

  • Empirical technique
  • Decomposition technique

What does software configuration management mean to you? 

When software changes are tracked and controlled, this is known as software configuration management. Change control, however, is a process/function that makes sure all of the changes made to a software system are not only consistent by also developed according to organizational rules and regulations. 

How do you go about measuring project execution?

There are three vital parts to measuring project execution:

  • Activity Monitoring
  • Status Reports
  • Milestone checklists

Can you tell me a little bit of project management tools that you like working with?

There are a variety of project management tools that are helpful when carrying out a software project. Some of the ones I like the best include:

  • Status Reports
  • Gantt Chart
  • Pert Chart
  • Resource Histogram

Tell me about software requirements? What are they? What is their function?

When a software system is being developed, the requirements provide a functional description of the system itself. In a sense, and according to most software developers, the requirements describe what the system is intended to do, the functions it can perform, and any special features that it consists of at the time. 

Can you provide a detailed explanation of a feasibility study?

A feasibility study is conducted to determine how beneficial a software product will be to a company. In addition, it assesses the practicality of the software development process. A software analyzer is used to generate results relating to three areas of project feasibility: operational, economic, and technical. 

  • Technical: This evaluates whether or not it is even possible to develop the system. 
  • Operational: This evaluates what changes will need to be made by the organization to ensure the new software is implemented in a smooth and seamless manner. 
  • Economic: This takes a look at how much it will cost to train employees to use the software as well as how much the development process will cost. 

Once a feasibility study has been conducted, a report will be generated to showcase the results. 

What is the difference between functional and non-functional requirements?

The functional requirements are those that are expected by the end user. If it can easily be stated that the end user would expect the feature, this is a functional requirement. A non-functional requirement is a function that is related to the security or performance of the software. A user is not generally concerned with this.

Can you explain a software metric?

Software metrics take into account various measurements for different aspects of the software process, and they are divided into:

  • Requirement metrics
  • Product metrics

Please give a definition of modularization.

Modularization, to me, is a method or technique that is used to divide a software system according to different discreet modules according to the processes they are expected to perform independently. 

What is cohesion?

It is a specific measurement that defines a software's intra-dependability in relation to the other elements of a module. 

Can you give me a list of software design and analysis tools?

As mentioned before, there are numerous tools that can be used to analyze and design software. Some of my favorites include:

  • Data Dictionary
  • Data Flow Diagrams
  • Structured English
  • Entity Relationship Diagrams
  • Decision Tables
  • Hierarchical Input Process and Output Diagrams
  • Structured Charts

What is a level-0 data flow diagram?

The highest abstraction level in regard to software development is generally called Level 0 of DFD. Some people also refer to it as content level DFD. Regardless, though, it showcases all of a system's information in a single diagram. 

Can you tell me a primary difference between Pseudo Code and English Code?

Structured English means a program is written in native English language. It will be used to create the structure of a program module. Within the programming are language keywords. When a program is written is Pseudo Code, it means there is no specific language used. 

Can you tell me what a structured design is?

When a conceptualization of a problem is formed, this is known as a structured design. It is often referred to as a solution design, which is based on the strategy known as 'divide and conquer.'

What is involved in functional programming?

Functional programming is a method that is used to program software. It uses mathematical function concepts to provide results regardless of program state. 

Can you tell me the difference between quality control and quality assurance?

When quality assurance is performed, this means a check is made to make sure the proper process is being followed to develop the software product being made. When quality control is carried out, this means certain activities are performed to make sure the quality of the software product being developed is high.

Can you tell me what CASE tools are?

CASE is an abbreviation for Computer Aided Software Engineering. CASE tools are the tools used by software engineers to create software products. The tools themselves are automated software application programs. 

What is the process model called that makes sure defects are removed from a software program?

Clean room software engineering. 

Can you solve this problem and how quickly can you solve it?

If you have twenty different gloves (10 pairs) in your toolbox and you have to reach into the toolbox without knowing which glove you are pulling out, what is the minimum number of gloves that you will need to pull out to make sure you end up with a matching pair?

If I pick up three gloves, I may end up with a pair even though the odds are 50%. Still yet, to ensure I have a matching pair, I will need to pull out at least 11 separate gloves.

Is there a way to make sure the code you write can handle different kinds of error situations?

Yes, and I can do this by writing tests that define the error situations that I am expecting. 

What is the difference between a process and a thread?

A computer program has a single process, whereas, on the other hand, it can have multiple threads. 

Can you tell me what is different between a DLL and an EXE?

  • EXE: an executable program
  • DLL: a file that has the potential to be loaded and executed by different programs dynamically. 

Both EXE and DLL are different programs, but DLLs can be reused, and this helps to minimize required storage space for a software program. 

Can you tell me the difference between strong-typing and weak-typing? Also, which type is preferred and why?

  • Strong-typing: evaluates the various types of variables during compile time.
  • Weak-typing: evaluates the types of the system during run-time.

Because strong-typing minimizes bugs and errors, it is always preferred.

Please tell me the differences between Aspect-oriented programming, Interface-oriented programming, and Object-oriented programming.

  • Interface programming: Contract based
  • Object-oriented programming: Method for writing granular objects that have a single function/purpose
  • Aspect-oriented programming: Segregates the code in a way that certain objects will be able to perform the main tasks and that any subsidiary tasks can be performed by independent objects. 

Please explain why it is not a good idea to use catch (exception)?

  • There is no variable defined
  • You cannot read the exception
  • Only good to use an exception when there are known exception types

Is there a certain type of data that is passed through HTTP Headers?

Yes, there are two types -- script and metadata. 

Is there a certain a way you go about prioritizing requirements?

It is important to design a system based on the results you get from evaluating the data structure. After this, you can move on to evaluating the code structure that will be needed to support it. 

Can you please tell me what is different between a component-based design and an object-oriented design? 

When working with an object-oriented design, it's pertinent to understand it can be embedded in part within a component-based design. 

When is it a good idea to use polymorphism?

When inheriting class, if there is a need for an override functionality, then it is a good idea to use polymorphism, which in itself is about shared contracts and shared classes. 

Can you please tell me the difference between queue and stack?

  • Queue: First In, First Out
  • Stack: Last In, First Out

When testing the quality of the code, what do you consider to be of the utmost importance?

I believe the unit testing framework is one of the most pertinent parts when testing the quality of the code

Is the maintenance of software expensive? Can it be expensive?

To me, maintenance of software is not expensive, but it can be if we are not using the proper processes. As long as we use proper development processes when carrying out software maintenance, it should be inexpensive. 

Tell me the differences that there are between tags and branches.

  • Tags: Temporary holding places that are designed to perform various functions during a versioning release.
  • Branches: When those changes are merged into a trunk, branches are deleted.

Now, Go Apply

With this preparation, you should be acing every interview you go on in the future. The first step to getting those interviews though is applying. Click below to see our open positions where you can apply to jobs and start moving forward in your job search. After you've had all your interviews, the hardest part will be choosing which job offer to take.  

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