Top 10 Programming/Coding Interview Questions
Updated February 3, 2023
A software developer interview gauges your ability to understand the programming languages required for the job and tests your general coding knowledge. Knowing which questions you'll likely be asked during your interview can help you prepare.
In this article, we review 10 basic coding interview questions with sample answers, and we provide tips for preparing for your next interview.
Read more: Learn About Being a Software Developer
Basic coding interview questions
The following are 10 coding interview questions with example answers that should help you describe your work experience and prepare for your programming interview:
What programming languages do you know?
Which programming language do you prefer?
What’s your process for a crashing program?
How do you keep your technical industry knowledge current?
How would you handle working on a team with people from other departments?
What process happens after you type in a website’s URL?
How would you find the maximum chain length of a pair?
Can you describe a coding project you’ve worked on?
How do you begin a new project?
How do you handle deadlines?
1. What programming languages do you know?
Use your response to this question to show that you prepared for the interview and researched what language the company uses. Consider including more than one example of your experiences with different languages in your response, and show your portfolio that includes the languages you’ve used. You can also explain languages currently popular in the industry if you feel it’ll set you apart from other candidates.
You can use the STAR method to formulate an effective response:
Situation: Share relevant details about your experience’s setting.
Task: Describe your responsibility.
Action: Explain how you handled the situation.
Result: Describe the outcome.
Example 2: ”When I was at Local Bakery, I was working as a developer using a CMS editor to update the company’s website. I used CSS code to customize and code the site for greater efficiency and additional features.”
2. Which programming language do you prefer?
In your response, you may discuss a language you’d prefer for responding to technical questions. Pick one you can explain to someone who may not know it as well as you. If you’re familiar with multiple languages, choose a more dynamic language than an older one like HTML.
Example: “Although different languages work best with certain projects, I like Python for solving algorithmic problems. I find that it’s simple to use and offers attractive features. After my experience with it at Global Company, I wanted to develop my Python understanding further, so I designed and developed a software application for a mobile game to practice speaking elements while learning a new language. I feel that I have a strong understanding of Python based on my professional and personal experience.”
Related: How To Become a Python Developer
3. What’s your process for a crashing program?
For an effective response to this question, you’ll need to use both hard skills and soft skills. Carefully explain your process to your interviewer in a conversational and logical way to show you thoroughly understand the process. Describe how you would search for the bug and the steps toward a solution.
Example: “I worked at a startup called Innotech after grad school. I enjoyed the projects I worked on there, but we frequently had problems with crashing programs. After I run a debugger, I look for patterns. For example, maybe the program crashes while running certain commands or in specific conditions. If the program only crashes every fifth time the page loads, I would look into that further. Once I have identified patterns, I would then consider ideas for problem areas that might include elements of those patterns and use a code to search those possible elements. I am usually successful with this method.”
Read more: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples
4. How do you keep your technical industry knowledge current?
The programming field is constantly evolving, and you can highlight that you enjoy learning new elements and languages to grow.
Example: “I enjoy keeping my programming knowledge current and the challenge of learning new languages. I regularly listen to programming podcasts and participate in online communities with other programmers. I also find that online courses are helpful to learn new skills. While I was learning Python, I used podcasts and online courses to study the language while working on a project. I feel these methods work well for me.”
5. How would you handle working on a team with people from other departments?
During a programming interview, you’ll take technical tests or complete technical interviews. You can use these opportunities to showcase your soft skills as well, such as providing examples of your interpersonal and communication skills.
Example “I work well on teams, including ones with non-tech members. I find that these groups can produce products and solutions that a team of like-minded people may not consider. I also enjoy meeting new people and considering other angles to the projects we work on together. I have worked on teams with only programmers and mixed teams in the past, and feel the mixed groups were often more innovative. I would welcome an opportunity to work on this type of team.”
6. What process happens after you type in a website’s URL?
This question allows you to show how thoroughly you understand the process.
Example: “The first step is to type your URL into the browser. The browser will then check the DNS record and cache to find the corresponding IP address. Then, the browser may have to check the operating system cache, the router cache and the ISP cache. The ISP’s DNS server then initiates a DNS query to find the IP address of the server that hosts the site and the browser initiates a TCP connection with the server. Last, the browser sends an HTTP request to the web server, the server sends a response and the browser displays the HTML content.”
7. How would you find the maximum chain length of a pair?
You may find that preparing for the hard skills portion of your programming interview is fairly straightforward. You can find practice tests in books and online that offer you a chance to simulate the technical elements of your programming interview. You can focus your studies on understanding and being able to explain the processes you may use.
Be thorough in your response and use the correct terminology for elements and systems you reference. After you explain your method, write out the code for your solution.
Example: “I would use a sorting mechanism to sort within the given parameters for the pair. Then, I would use a LIS process to compare the elements. There are other methods, but I would try this one first. Would you like me to write the code out?”
8. Can you describe a coding project you’ve worked on?
With this response, you can demonstrate a project you worked on that gained commercial attention or one your company implemented. Focus on results and show your success to produce programs people can use.
Example: “The language learning app I created, SpeakR, became fairly successful. Within three months on the market, more than 20,000 users downloaded the app. Because I initially planned the project for extra practice with Python, it was exciting to see the app gain attention.”
9. How do you begin a new project?
When you respond to this question, emphasize your planning process and show that you can stay organized aside from your technical abilities. Use this opportunity to practice the STAR method again.
Example: “When I begin a project, I like to choose the technical aspects first like the language and library I’ll use. Then I plan the features and use visuals to fully develop these plans. After that, I will consider how to best implement them. Last, I like to plan a timeline and schedule for completing the project. I have used this system at work to stay ahead of schedule.
One project I planned from start to finish was the addition of a user wiki. I first decided to implement the Scrum method and chose Python to code the wiki. Python is a fast language that would be highly accessible for my team. I considered the team members needed to implement and did requirements gathering. Finally, I planned and completed a sprint. Using this practical method of thinking through projects allowed my team to complete the wiki quickly and efficiently.”
Related: What Is Scrum Project Management?
10. How do you handle deadlines?
As a programmer, you’ll work toward project deadlines regularly. You can use your response to this question to emphasize that you work well with deadlines and discuss planning methods you use to manage your time and projects.
Example: “I enjoy project deadlines and find that I like to plan my own smaller goals for tasks I need to complete to reach my work deadlines. I use my desktop calendar to assign regular goals throughout my work weeks. I developed this method to stay organized. In past roles, I created department calendars that enabled my department to stay on schedule.”
Tips for preparing for a coding interview
Consider following these tips as you prepare for your coding interview:
Take practice tests. To prepare for technical interviews, take practice tests and practice responding to interview questions out loud. You can find a friend or colleague if you feel you need a listener. Repeat the process until you feel confident in your ability to explain your answers.
Answer questions thoughtfully. If you need time to develop a response, summarize the interviewer’s question back to them to make sure you understand it completely. If you need another moment to think, take a deep breath, take a sip of water or say something like, “That’s a great question, let me take a moment to think about that.”
Engage your interviewer. It might be tempting to start working to solve a problem right away after your interviewer presents it. You will most likely be more successful if you ask questions about the question’s topic and talk about strategies. Take the time to build a connection with the interviewer.
Ask thoughtful questions in return. You should come to an interview prepared with a few questions that show the interviewer you’ve been listening and have researched and prepared for your interview. Research may include methodologies, culture or basic facts on the company or position.
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