How To Get Hired as a Software Engineer (With Interview Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 6, 2022 | Published November 9, 2021

Updated July 6, 2022

Published November 9, 2021

Related: A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer

Sarah, a software engineer, shows you a day in the life of a remote software engineer including work hours, work environment and job duties.

A software engineer is a position that can fulfill a company's technology needs. Hiring managers often interview software engineers multiple times to ensure they have the skill to maintain and update crucial company software. If you're looking for a job as a software engineer, it might help to gain insight into the potential hiring process. In this article, we detail the benefits of being a software engineer, ways to prepare for a company's interview process and steps to negotiate a job offer.

Read more: What Is Software Engineering?

What are the benefits of working as a software engineer?

Here are reasons you might choose software engineering as a career path:

  • Salary: The national average salary of software engineers is $114,336 per year. Some software engineers may receive part of their salary in the form of referral bonuses and stock options.

  • Job demand: Since companies often want to create their own digital spaces, they value the expertise of software engineers. Employers may also need software engineers to update the code of these applications and websites.

  • Transferable skills: Any company that uses software may benefit from the skills of a software developer. This can enable you to pursue positions you find interesting and find roles most suited to your area of study.

  • Learning opportunities: Companies often encourage software engineers to develop their knowledge and skills alongside developing technology. Learning about new coding languages and operating systems can help you generate ideas for helpful, innovative software.

  • Project-based workflow: Software engineers organize their work into multiple, separate projects that they complete before a deadline. This means you often get to complete a project before moving on to a new one, and each new project might present a different set of challenges for you to solve.

Related: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

How to get hired as a software engineer

To help you get a software engineering position, here are some strategies for each step of the hiring process:

1. Participate in a phone interview

Before meeting you for an in-person interview and skills test, companies might want to talk to you on the phone. They often begin with general topics, such as "Tell me about your most recent software engineering position." They might then ask specific questions about your work experience, which may include the question, "What is the largest project you've worked on, and what challenges did you experience?" To prepare for your phone interview, consider doing the following:

  • Research the company. It might help to research the core values and goals of the company interviewing you. You can word your responses in a way that demonstrates how your values align with those of the company.

  • Practice answering interview questions. Consider writing down the questions you expect the interviewer to ask and saying your responses out loud. Focus on speaking at a slower pace and enunciating each sentence so the interviewer can hear you clearly through the phone.

  • Focus on your introduction. Interviews often start with the question, "Tell me about yourself," so try honing your response to this question. Talk about your education and work experience, any major projects you've worked on and your goals at this stage of your professional journey.

  • Prepare end-of-interview questions. Many interviewers ask if you have any questions for them, so consider preparing some before the interview. You can ask questions that show your desire to succeed in your role, such as "What have past software engineers done to excel in this position?"

Read more: Software Engineering Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

2. Undergo a technical phone interview

Technical interviews often start on the phone, sometimes right after a general phone interview. It's a way for interviewers to confirm your technical skills before meeting you in person for a more comprehensive technical interview. To prepare for your technical phone interview, consider doing the following:

  • Learn about the interviewer. If you ask about your interviewer's software engineering background, you can frame your answers to match their level of knowledge. A fellow software engineer might value answers that demonstrate your technical skill, and a recruiter might value answers that show your soft skills.

  • Show enthusiasm. Recruiters might be more likely to remember you if you show enthusiasm for the company and for your work. Try to use this as an opportunity to communicate what kind of work you value and what types of projects you enjoy completing.

  • Tell stories. Your answers might be more memorable if you tell a story to emphasize your points. Try establishing a setting, mentioning a challenge you resolved with your own actions and using humor.

3. Complete coding tests

During or after your technical phone interview, a company representative might ask you to complete a remote coding test. Some companies allow you to complete the test by yourself, while others have a software engineer monitor your coding process. Here are some ways to prepare for your remote coding tests:

  • Take your time.Interviewers usually set aside a lot of time to monitor coding tests, so take your time to think out each answer. If you struggle to answer one of the prompts, your interviewer might even give you hints.

  • Communicate your thoughts. An interviewer might be willing to help you solve problems, or even collaborate with you during the coding test process. During each prompt, communicate your thought process and explain your reasoning for your decisions.

  • Plan your code. If a company wants you to complete your coding test in private, plan your code before you enter it into the answer field. At the beginning and end of the test, check your work to ensure your code matches the guidelines listed in the instructions.

Read more: Understanding the 10 Career Levels for Software Engineers

4. Attend an in-person technical interview

The in-person technical interview presents a big opportunity to show your problem-solving and code-writing abilities. Hiring managers might conduct several hours of tests, which may include asking you to solve coding problems using different coding languages. Consider approaching your in-person technical interviews in the following ways:

  • Be honest. If you struggle to find a solution, admit it and focus on the areas where you're confident. Hiring managers may focus on understanding what candidates think while they code, instead of getting a definite answer to every question.

  • Ask questions. If a hiring manager presents you with a challenge, it's okay to ask for more details. This might show that you think carefully before you write the code.

  • Think about speaking pace. Since the in-person technical interview takes several hours, take your time while communicating during your code-writing process. Ensure you speak clearly, pause to explain even basic concepts and use specific vocabulary.

5. Negotiate the job offer

Here are some actions you can take while negotiating the terms of your job offer:

  • Document the offer. Keep copies of any contracts the company sends you and read them multiple times. Write down any questions you have or any details you want to change about the offer.

  • Add changes. If you want to add sections to your contract, you can write them in and send the document back to the company. You can negotiate bonuses, benefits, job responsibilities and start dates.

  • Research salary information. Consider searching for the average salary of software engineers and compare it with the company's job offer. Save any salary discussions for the end of negotiations, and consider asking for more than the minimum average salary in your area.

  • Schedule a meeting. Meet with company representatives to discuss any questions you have about the contract and to propose any changes you want to make. If you make counteroffers, try to maintain a polite tone and be understanding if you receive less than you expected.

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