Interview questions for Software Engineer I

We analyzed 699 interview reviews for Software Engineer I from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Software Engineer I:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about yourself
Why did you choose your major?
Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?
Describe the most exciting project or team you ever worked on
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Working in a team, or by yourself - what is your preference?
Why were you successful in your last role? Give a supporting example
Why and how did you choose your career?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Software Engineer I role ask soft skills interview questions 46% less frequently than for other roles.

Software Engineer I interview question statistics

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?top question

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

2. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

3. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

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I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. Why did you choose your major?

How to answer

Everyone has his/her reasons to pick a major.

There are hundreds and hundreds of careers to choose from and most people pick a major that will give them a background in the career they want to pursue.

When you come to a job interview you will be definitely asked this question.

The interviewers are seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career.

It is also a good question for them to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. It is a window into your personality and interests.

  1. About Yourself

    This is your chance to highlight your strengths and how your major prepared you for your future plans.

    Your answer to this question should reflect your passion and interest in the field you chose. Be genuine.

    There’s every reason to display your passions and interest in your major. They will give interviewers a sense of who you really are.

    Think about who or what influenced your career choice and include the positive influences, not the negative ones.

    • How does this tie into your major?
    • How will you bring your passion and unique knowledge to the new company?

    Emphasize your strong people skills and excellent communication skills, allowing you to connect with others.

    Think of the skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from your studies, internships and previous jobs. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects.

  2. About The Company

    Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies.

    Then, look at the job listing itself.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace.

    Point to a good culture fit.

    Be positive, showing your enthusiasm. Let them know you're excited to be where you are.

    Discuss what you enjoy about the industry you’re considering and why you could see yourself working in it. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two.

    This is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for.

    For example, perhaps you were a biology major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

Pro Tip

Let your past decisions and accomplishments shine through. Once you nail your interview, you'll be on your way to a successful career path.

5. Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?

How to answer

If you are asked this question, the interviewers really want to know not about your superiors or colleagues, they are asking about you.

This question helps them to get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project: leader, mediator or follower.

It will also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment. So, you should answer this question by talking about yourself, not complaining about a former boss or employees.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you ever had problems working with someone?
    • How did you deal with unexpected obstacles?
    • Were you able to find solutions by yourself?
    • Did you take the initiative?
    • Can you look at problems at different angles?
    • Can you find a common language with people?
    • What were the key lessons you learned from the situation?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company and its culture.

    • How do the employees value each other?
    • How do they deal with conflict situations?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?

    Carefully review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for the position and the company.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to show your people-skills, communication and problem-solving skills.

    If you can, give an example of a time you had a problem with another team member at a previous job. Remember that everything in this story should be told in a positive way.

    For example: "I had disagreements with my coworker at my first job, but I took advantage of the good advice given to me by my manager and talked to him. It turned out that we simply misunderstood each other. This case made me realize that communication is the basis of any relationship and that it is possible to reach an agreement with almost anyone."

    In this example, you did not say anything bad about your coworker or about yourself. On the contrary, you have shown that you can find solutions to any problem.

Pro Tip

The main thing is to answer in a positive way, and not badmouth your former team members.

Show your abilities to stay calm and collected. Reaching compromises and actively listening can be your additional advantage.

Ensure that your answer highlights the manner in which you made good use of your conflict management skills. Use the STAR method to make your story logical.

6. Describe the most exciting project or team you ever worked on

How to answer

When hiring managers ask you about your past projects that you were excited about, or about the most exciting team you ever worked with, they want to know specifics about your personality, interests, dedication to work and approaches to reaching goals.

With this question, the interviewer gauges what you value at work and whether you have the right mindset for a project-oriented work style and, in the case of teamwork, how you work with others, so they can envision how you’ll work within their team.

Pay particular attention that THIS question is not about how important it was for the company, it is about how interesting and exciting it was for YOU!

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when you worked with special pleasure as a team player and helped to achieve a team goal.

    • What did you do? What made it interesting for you?
    • What emotions did you have working on it?
    • How did it help you on a personal level?
    • Who did you participate with? Were you satisfied with your team?
    • What did you learn from the experience?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what kinds of projects can you expect here?

    • What do you know about the goals they are trying to achieve?
    • What do you know about their current challenges?
    • What do they value in their employees?

    Review the job description as it may give you clues to whether the job focuses on teams, independence or both.

  3. About The Fit

    If possible, choose a project that will be relevant to the job you are applying for.

    Show your Key Selling Points to the interviewer – the best qualities which help you to stay positive and passionate about what you like doing, prove that the process of thinking, researching, communication and creativity at work satisfies you.

    Here is an example of an answer to the question from an Indian engineer, which combines both an exciting team and an exciting project:

    It was a research project which involved people from different backgrounds. The long-term aim of it was to evaluate and then test some completely new types of aircraft structures and concepts. I think it helped me develop on a professional level more than on a personal level, although I did get a lot of opportunities to interact with people from other countries and practice my English a lot. The team was great! It was particularly challenging and remarkably interesting for me. It is the first international research project I have been involved in, so it was quite exciting as well. Overall, I think I learned a lot more about collaboration, as well as gaining some useful experience in negotiating and discussing in English.”

Pro Tip

Be specific and enthusiastic telling your story.

It is your own positive experience that encouraged you to become what you are. Use it for your advantage to gain the interviewer’s interest in you.

7. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

8. Working in a team, or by yourself - what is your preference?

How to answer

When the interviewers ask this question, they want an insight into your personality, how well you work independently and how well you work with others.

Generally, there's no right or wrong answer to this question, unless the company specifically prefers that you work only in a team or only by yourself.

Luckily, Mr. Simon is here to provide you guidance.

  1. About Yourself

    To prepare for this question, try to think of your previous experiences. Which type of work suited you best and why?

    For instance, someone who prefers working by themselves may be able to focus better on the problem, and a person who prefers a team approach may like having others to help figure out problems.

    If you're a fresh graduate or someone that does not have much work experience, you can think of schoolwork or the times that you worked with others in an organization.

  2. About The Company

    What has your research found out about the company and its culture?
    What have you learned about how the employees work?

    Review the job description as it may give you clues to whether the job focuses on teams, independence or both.

    Try to expand your search into social media posts at Glassdoor or others where employees/former employees may have posted about working conditions you would be working under.

    Remember: knowledge is the key! The more you know about the company, the better prepared you will be to answer questions like this.

  3. About The Fit

    Based on your research, what did you find is the company's preference?

    • What type of workplace does the company appear to have?
    • What kind of challenges could you help the company/department resolve by working as a part of a team?
    • What about the challenges that can be resolved by working independently?

    Emphasize both independent successes as well as group successes (be sure to mention actions you took to help the team).

Pro Tip

Talk about the benefits of each working style and add to your story by telling them in terms of your STARs.

  1. What was the Situation/Task you needed to address?
  2. What Actions/Approach did you take?
  3. What were the Results? What did you do differently that made you successful?

9. Why were you successful in your last role? Give a supporting example

How to answer

Questions about your successes allow an employer to learn more about your work ethic and your previous accomplishments.

It helps the interviewer to determine whether you will be driven to achieve such results in the future.

This question also allows to understand how you define success, and what milestones in your career you consider important.

It’s the numbers and the facts that most accurately describe you as a good candidate.

Examples of your successes will be summarized in your resume and you should be ready to elaborate on them in the interview.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the question as an invitation to discuss the professional characteristics that you're proud of or a particular achievement in your last job.

    • What steps did you take to become successful?
    • What personal and professional qualities did you use to reach your goals at work?
    • How did your actions help your team and the company to succeed?
    • What challenges did you overcome to become successful?
    • What are your lessons learned?
  2. About The Company

    Research the requirements of the company you applying to and review the job listing. Make a list of job qualifications and skills that match the preferred qualifications of the ideal candidate.

  3. About The Fit

    Explain your most important achievements at work, using the STAR method to provide specific examples of how your past work and achievements show how you will be an asset to the organization you're interviewing with.

    It’s your chance to tell about your Key Selling Points – skills that make you a successful employee.

    Emphasize the 3-5 strongest of them that helped you to achieve results at work to answer the question.

    It's important to provide the interviewer with evidence of how you achieved success in the workplace.

    For example, if you are in publishing, tell your story about how you ensured the timely release of 20 issues of the magazine, despite any problems you faced.

    The role of such an achievement for the company was particularly important and demonstrates how your work contributed to the business. Difficulties and ways to overcome them, new ideas, daily work, and its results will help the interviewer to assess your experience correctly.

Pro Tip

Do not be afraid of blowing your trumpet and making yourself look good.

If you are a good employee, then make sure you tell them so.

Try to show a high level of ambition.

Your goal is to demonstrate your determination and willingness to take on challenges and achieve results.

10. Why and how did you choose your career?

How to answer

By asking this question, the interviewer tries to understand what led you to choose your career path and hopefully to find out how enthusiastic you are about the work you do and how well you will fit into the job that you are applying for.

The answer will show whether your desire to work “here” and if it is a determined part of your overall career plan or it is just a stop along the way to other things.

  1. About Yourself

    • What characteristics and skills do you have?
    • What makes you good at what you do?
    • What attracted you to your career path?
    • What strengths do you possess that make you the best candidate for the job?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research and learn as much as possible about the organization and the career path you might forge there.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Don’t just explain how you originally found this career.

    Show you’re still glad to be doing it, that will put the hiring manager’s mind at ease that you’re motivated to do the work, and that you’ll be a big success if they hire you.

    Your answers should provide the basis for a discussion about your passion for the work you do, your qualifications, and your skill set.

    Make a list of factors that led you to this choice.

    At the interview, tell only about those that characterize you and the situation in a positive light.

    It may have been a successful internship with a similar function, which confirmed your desire to work in this field.

    It could be a successful example of your parents, relatives or friends, which is indicative to you. You might have been motivated by your own academic success in this field which led you to enter it.

Pro Tip

Say that your chosen career best reflects your interests and you see it as continuing to be the most promising one for you.

Here’s a simple formula for answering this question:

First, address the origin of your motivation by tying it to your personal history. Then, explain what keeps you energized about the work on a daily basis that led you to where you are today. Finally connect your story and motivation to this job, the one you are interviewing for.

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This page has been updated on September 9, 2022.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions for Software Engineer I by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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