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40 Interview Questions for a Software Architect (With Example Answers)

June 3, 2021

If you're getting ready to interview for a job in software architecture, your transferable skills can be just as important as your technical knowledge and expertise. Employers look for both your ability to lead development teams and your ability to take on complex software engineering projects. Therefore, preparing in advance can help you anticipate questions about your technical aptitude along with your soft skills. In this article, we cover 40 interview questions for a software architect with several example responses to help you prepare your answers in advance so you can have the best chances of succeeding during your interview.

General questions

At the beginning of an interview, expect questions that help employers get to know you and how your personality and talents can fit with office culture and organization. The following examples include general questions to expect during your interview:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • What are your interests?
  • Do you get involved with tech projects outside of work?
  • How did you hear about our company?
  • What qualifies you for this role?
  • What are your strongest technical skills?
  • How do you approach professional development?
  • What is one of your weaker skills? What steps do you take to improve?
  • What are your goals in software engineering?
  • What do you hope to accomplish for our company within your first 90 days?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Related: 13 Common Technical Interview Questions (With Tips and Example Answers)

Questions about background and experience

As you discuss your skills and unique traits that qualify you for the job, you can also expect to answer questions about your education, credentials, work experience and past job performance. The following examples can help you get a better idea of what the interviewer may ask regarding your experience and background:

  • How long have you been working as a software architect?
  • What certifications do you possess?
  • Where did you receive your education and training?
  • What frameworks do you favor to work within and why?
  • How do you apply architectural principles to software and framework design?
  • What approaches have you taken in the past when onboarding new projects?
  • How would past employers describe you?
  • What is one challenge you faced when implementing software specifications? How did you solve it?
  • What is the largest software development team you have managed?
  • How do you communicate with clients to gather essential components and specifications for projects?
  • Have you ever given presentations to executives or key shareholders about the projects you completed?

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In-depth questions

In-depth questions that provide insight into your technical abilities and accomplishments can help employers get an idea of how you can contribute to their organization in your role as a software architect. Use the following examples to anticipate technical questions interviewers may ask you:

  • How would you implement a framework using Java programming?
  • What's your approach to organizing and delegating large projects?
  • How do you implement solutions to programming errors?
  • What is one software development tool you have used that had considerable limitations? How did you work around them?
  • How do you stay updated on the latest trends and innovations in software engineering?
  • How do you identify and reduce errors in your work?
  • How do you choose and define databases for storing information?
  • How do you identify task owners who make changes within a software program?
  • Which tools do you favor for testing software code?
  • What algorithms do you apply for locating and identifying class-specific items in linked lists?
  • How would you use object-oriented design to improve the functionality and speed of an application?

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Example interview questions for software architects

Prepare with the example interview questions and answers below to practice your responses so you're ready to make a great impression:

How do you decide between web applications and locally installed applications?

This question can help interviewers evaluate your ability to make important decisions based on client needs. Explain your methods for applying client specifications and deciding on the solutions that best meet the client's needs to highlight your communication and analytical skills.

Example: "Ultimately, my decision to use either structure depends on what the client wants to achieve with the application. In my last role, I first collaborated with clients to understand what objectives they needed their software to achieve. One client was a large-chain retailer that required a large-scale web application to support online shopping. My team and I consulted with the client to establish the main specifications for the application, and I used these parameters to decide on a web application to better support the client's business success."

How do you apply the SOLID principles to functional programming and deep-level system architecture?

The SOLID principles encompass important methodologies for designing software applications, and your ability to apply these concepts can help employers understand your level of expertise in software engineering and architecture. Use examples of past projects that incorporated the principles of the SOLID acronym.

Example: "When implementing design structures that require dependency injection, such as high-level application modules, I focus on each aspect of these principles regarding client needs, functionality, independence and dependence of program specifications. Using the interface segregation principle for all projects requires collaboration with the client to understand which programs and methods they use primarily.

I then incorporate the single-responsibility principle to ensure each class I design within the application follows only one function to better support usability. High-level modules within several applications I completed also required the dependency inversion principle, allowing me to create system parameters dependent on abstractions. These approaches to following the SOLID principles have helped me complete many long-term development projects within strict timelines and with reductions to project budgets."

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In which scenarios would you or have you used dependency injection?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your understanding and application of the SOLID principles of software architecture. Use your answer to highlight additional instances when you relied on your knowledge of real-world applications of the SOLID principles to incorporate this method of coding to reduce continuous updates.

Example: "Dependency injection allows me to implement the SOLID principles much more effectively by decoupling object usage and creation from each other. This action allows me to reduce the frequency at which I update program classes when dependencies change, giving me better control over the coding in programs I did not develop. Additionally, I've completed several projects recently that required dependency injection as an approach for resolving high-frequency updates that caused system lag. By adhering to the dependency inversion principle, dependency injection allowed me to reprogram system classes to update manually."

When would you use a component-based design?

This question tests your ability to discern when to use certain approaches for designing software architecture. Give examples of development projects you've worked on that required component-based architecture for increasing the reusability of various features and application properties to better support successful outcomes.

Example: "In my last role, I implemented a component-based architecture to achieve a reusable application for a large client contract. By breaking down the entire program design into both logical and functional components, I was able to define communication interfaces for improved usability by decomposing components by property, event and method of class. These approaches to component architecture helped me reduce the total cost to the client for the software product and allowed me to reduce the costs of routine maintenance my teams performed to keep the client's program operational."

Related: 6 Common System Design Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

What are some benefits you have gained from integrating SN architecture?

Employers may want to know the accomplishments you've made using various software development structures. Showcase your problem-solving skills and attention to detail in your answer by explaining why you implemented a shared nothing architecture and the success you achieved.

Example: "The shared-nothing architecture is beneficial for distributing a computational approach, where I can establish independent nodes that are self-sufficient and require no single points of contention within the system. SN is highly scalable, which has allowed me to achieve multiple results for past organizations.

One client I worked with required a large-scale e-commerce website where I used SN architecture to prevent single bottlenecking between sales pages and funnels, increase linear scalability and establish independent memory and file storage. On the client's e-commerce website, the independent nodes meant that failure within one node, such as a product page load, didn't affect any other nodes, resulting in continuous functionality**."

How would you group large development teams and allocate tasks for long-term or continuous software builds?

The interviewer may ask a question like this to evaluate your leadership capabilities, your delegation skills and your ability to motivate and influence development teams. Describe any methods you use for initiating long-term projects and how you approach making decisions about team roles and responsibilities.

Example: "The most successful methodology and framework I have applied in directing development teams are the Agile frameworks with Scrum implementations. Following the methodology of Scrum and executing continuous sprints has helped my teams and I achieve greater success, both in product deliverables and in the efficiency with which teams complete projects.

Using the Scrum method for larger teams, I can create groups of three to five individuals to form cohorts. Each cohort is then responsible for completing specific tasks within a development project, and I use Scrum meetings to ensure all teams are completing their objectives on time. I also favor this approach because it allows me to evaluate both team and individual performance and review the strengths of our strategies and execution of client projects."

If our company wanted to build an online catalog, what steps would you take to design it?

Interviewers also want to know that you can identify their organizations' specific needs and plan strategies to boost successful outcomes. Use your answer to showcase what you already know about the company you applied to and how this information can help you determine the best implementations for creating the organization's online catalog.

Example: "From my understanding of the organization, the online catalog would require a single master list of departments to provide product listings for each category. For instance, for the "engine parts and components" department, I would create a sub-catalog with product pages for each item in the related inventory. Within each product page, I would then create sub-units, depending on the specifications of each item, like colors and sizes. Depending on the pricing structure and lead-in for online payment processing, I would then implement standard encryption code to establish secure payment architecture within the catalog payment portal."

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