Interviews for more technical roles, such as software engineers or web developers, will test candidate's industry knowledge and skills. It's best to prepare answers to potential questions prospective employers may ask to make you more confident during the interview. In this article, we'll look at some common technical interview questions and example answers to help you prepare.
Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview
What are technical interview questions?
Technical interview questions test your practical knowledge and skills. Employers use them, in combination with behavioural and situational questions, to ensure you're the best candidate for the job. They may not even be traditional interview questions, but rather a test or assignment you can complete on the spot or take home to work on. While you won't know every technical interview question, the employer may ask, it's good to research potential ones to think of an answer beforehand.
Related: Informational Interview Questions
Common technical interview questions and example answers
Here are some of the most common technical interview questions employers may ask and example answers to help you prepare your own:
1. How did your education prepare you for this role?
Most technical roles require a college diploma, bachelor's degree, or master's degree. If you have the necessary credentials, use this opportunity to highlight them. Talk about your degree or diploma and what you learned and enjoyed about your education. Mention specific examples of skills or knowledge you have that set you apart from other candidates.
Example: "I attended the number one university in Canada, the University of Toronto. There, I completed my master's degree in computer science. I learned different coding languages, such as Python and C++, with a focus on software development. I knew I wanted to be a frontend developer, and this program allowed me to gain the necessary knowledge and skill set."
2. What is your favourite coding language and why?
If you work with code, employers want to gauge your experience with different languages. This helps them determine if you have a preference for the same coding languages they do. It also allows them to determine if you would need further training. Be honest with your answer and express your willingness to learn or adapt to different programming languages.
Example: "My favourite coding language is Python. It's easy to read, learn, and write as its syntax is similar to English. You also need less code in Python compared to other languages, so using Python is more efficient. Debugging is also easy on Python as it executes code line by line, reporting any errors immediately."
Related: Top Python Interview Questions
3. How do you limit errors in your work?
Many technical roles require candidates to be precise and produce error-free work. If you make any mistakes or errors and don't catch them before submitting your project, a safety or functionality issue could arise. Employers ask this question to ensure you have a process for minimizing and eliminating errors in your work.
Example: "I test my code constantly when writing it. Whenever I complete a stage, I run the code to ensure it works. If it doesn't, I look for the error and fix it immediately. When I get to the end, the code should have no errors and run smoothly. If this isn't the case, I check every line again."
4. What software do you have experience working with?
Depending on your role, you need to have experience using different type of software. For example, engineers know how to use design software and web developers know how to use website development software. Mention any software you have experience with and highlight tools you're most confident using. Express your willingness to learn how to use any other software the employer prefers to show that you're adaptable.
Example: "In my previous role as a field engineer, I used Autodesk, Solid Edge, and MechDesigner. These programs helped me create and edit 3D designs to plan repairs and improvements to apartment buildings. If there's any software you prefer to use, I'**d be happy to learn it as I am a quick learner."
5. How do you explain technical information to people without the same background as you?
Even if you work in a technical role, not all of your colleagues or clients will have the same knowledge. So, employers ask this question to assess your communication skills and your ability to be patient when explaining technical information. You should be able to simplify complicated information so anyone can understand your work.
Example: "When explaining technical information to non-technical people, I don't use any industry terms. Instead, I explain my process or ideas thoroughly, answering questions as I go. I ensure people feel comfortable to tell me when they don't understand, so I can adjust what I'm explaining. If I can, I use visuals to explain a process or idea. For example, I show clients and management my mechanical designs and explain each aspect to ensure they can follow along."
6. How have you improved your technical knowledge in the last year?
Technical roles are always changing as the industry advances, so employers want to know what you do to keep up with these changes. In the last year, think of any course you've taken or new skills you've learned at work.
Example: "In my previous role, my employer wanted to switch our software from DraftSight to AutoCAD. They offered basic AutoCAD training, but I wanted more extensive knowledge, so I took an online AutoCAD course. I learned about the software's features and how to use them. So, whenever someone had a problem with AutoCAD at work, they could ask me for help."
7. Would you recommend HTTP 2.0 or HTTP 1.1
If you work in web development, you may receive this question. Employers want to see that you understand HTTP 2.0 and HTTP 1.1 and know the pros and cons of each. As HTTP 2.0 is the updated version of HTTP 1.1, employers likely expect you to choose HTTP 2.0. Just ensure you can name specific reasons you would recommend HTTP 2.0.
Example: "I always recommend HTTP 2.0 over HTTP 1.1. HTTP 2.0 is simpler and faster, so it improves web application performance. It has a higher loading speed, less broadband consumption, allows websites to rank higher in relevant searches, and improves communication between browsers."
8. When creating an application, are functional or non-functional requirements more important?
Software engineers must work with functional and non-functional requirements from their client or manager. A good software engineer will know that both types of requirements are important as they serve different purposes.
Example: "Functional and non-functional requirements go hand-in-hand. They are both important in creating a safe and functional program. Functional requirements determine how the software operates, while non-functional requirements relate to user experience, performance, and security. So, you can't have a safe, functioning app without meeting both types of requirements."
9. Can you find the error in this code and fix it?
For roles that require you to code, employers will want to test your skills. They may give you existing code with an error in it and ask you to fix it. They may ask you to code something on the spot or give you a small assignment to take home. Whatever the question is, the employer just wants to see that you're confident in your ability and can catch mistakes or create error-free work.
Example: "There are actually two errors in this code that are preventing it from working properly. One is a syntax error in the first line as there is a bracket after 'hello' missing. After I fixed that and ran the code, I noticed a runtime error as the coding for step three came before step two. Once I fixed both errors, the code worked."
10. Can you explain the difference between a frontend and backend developer?
If you are applying for either of these positions, employers will expect you to understand both roles. So, this question is a test of your industry knowledge and ability to differentiate between frontend and backend developers.
Example: "Frontend developers focus on a website or application's visual aspects, such as the graphics or text. Backend developers focus on the server side of a website or application to ensure it is running smoothly. Backend and frontend developers work closely together to create user-friendly, interactive websites."
11. How are mobile and desktop websites different?
Anyone that works in web development should be able to name the differences between mobile and desktop websites. Some differences you mention can include user interaction, website orientation, and the size of text and graphics.
Example: "Mobile and desktop websites are different in several ways. The size and orientation of mobile phones differs from desktop monitors. Phones are vertical and small, so mobile websites must include less or smaller text and pictures and look good vertically. Web developers have more freedom in this sense with desktop websites as they have much more space to work with. Another big difference is the way users interact with each type of website. Mobile website will have minimal links and drop-down menus users can tap and easily navigate on a small screen. Desktop websites will have more hypertext linking to other pages and sites."
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