Software Engineering Internship Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 23, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021

Updated July 23, 2021

Published January 5, 2021

Related: How to Find an Internship: Determine Your Interests

In this video, Jenn explains how to find an internship, the top 5 ways to land the job, AND some great advice on what NOT to do.

When looking for ways to advance your knowledge and professional development in software engineering, an internship is a great way to gain experience and make industry connections. By researching typical software engineering internship interview questions, you can better prepare yourself to answer questions and present yourself as a qualified candidate to an employer.

In this article, we review general interview questions, questions about experience and background and in-depth interview questions that hiring managers may ask candidates during an interview for a software engineering internship. We also provide additional questions with sample answers and list a few common types of internship interviews to help you prepare.

Related: What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering internship general interview questions

General software engineering internship questions span a variety of fundamental topics relating to software engineering. Review these 10 potential interview questions an interviewer might ask you about your software engineering knowledge:

  • What interpersonal skills do you possess that could complement your job duties as a software engineer?

  • What would you say are your greatest strengths in software engineering?

  • What's one area of software engineering in which you'd like to improve?

  • What are your career aspirations as a software engineer?

  • How do you stay up to date on different coding practices?

  • What made you want to pursue a software engineering internship with our company?

  • What would you like to learn through a software engineering internship with us?

  • Can you define the software development life cycle and what occurs at each stage?

  • In your own words, how does software engineering differ from software development?

  • Can you explain the difference between an array and a stack?

Related: 100 Common Job Interview Questions

Software engineering internship questions about experience and background

Software engineering professionals often have previous education, job experiences or industry certifications that qualify them for their roles. As an intern, you may be in the process of earning a degree or looking to expand your professional experiences after earning your degree. Therefore, hiring managers understand that you have limited professional work experience and typically focus on your education and other related topics in the questioning. Here are 10 examples:

  • What made you want to pursue a career in software engineering?

  • Can you tell me more about your college major? what types of courses have you taken that relate to software engineering?

  • Have you completed software engineering internships in the past?

  • What software engineering project are you most proud of? Can you tell me more about the creation process?

  • What examples can you provide from your previous experiences that demonstrate your ability to test and debug software?

  • Have you ever had to complete a group programming project? What was the experience, like and how did you work as a team?

  • What programming languages have you used to create a website, versus a mobile application?

  • Do you have experience referencing coding libraries to complete updates on software systems? If so, what is your process like?

  • Have you ever needed to organize CSS files? If so, what's one or more methods you've used to do this?

  • What examples can you provide that demonstrate your ability to overcome programming challenges?

Related: What To Expect During an Internship Interview

In-depth software engineering internship interview questions

Interviewers ask a range of in-depth, technical questions relating to specific software engineering principles to gauge the depth of your knowledge and skill sets. Here are 10 in-depth software engineering internship questions an employer could ask:

  • You discover an error on a file, what is your process for diagnosing the issue and resolving it?

  • Can you tell me the difference between responsive design, fixed design and fluid design?

  • A client says that the drop-down menu on their new website isn't working, but it is on your browser. What do you do?

  • How would you create a single-page application with five sections?

  • A website continues to load slowly. What actions can you take to improve its speed and efficiency?

  • Are you familiar with cloud computing? How would you describe it to someone with no software engineering experience?

  • How do you find the intersection between two lists?

  • When shouldn't you use a hash table and why?

  • What would your process look like for turning a hex string into an integer?

  • How do you configure databases using schema? What is schema?

Related: Software Engineer Skills: Definition and Examples

Software engineering internship interview questions with sample answers

Review these additional software engineering internship questions and sample answers to learn how to respond in a professional manner:

An entry-level software engineer claims to have found an error in your code, but you can't identify it. What do you do as an intern?

An interviewer asks this question to see whether you would feel comfortable asking questions to employees about your work. Ultimately, they want to know how you'll interact with their employees and how you'll demonstrate respect while advocating for clarity on feedback. Your answer should demonstrate your professional attitude and desire to learn from experienced professionals.

Example: "The first thing I would do is go over the code one more time to make sure I couldn't find anything. If I still don't find it, I would go to them and ask if they could assist me when they haved a free moment. Because I have a short professional history in software engineering, I want to learn all I can from the experienced software engineers around me."

Can you tell me the difference between a two-tier system and a three-tier system? What types of software would you use for each?

During your internship, you might have the opportunity to create a variety of software systems and applications. By asking this question, an interviewer wants to learn more about your knowledge of software systems, how they differ from one another and what types of applications you'd use them for. Your answer should clearly define and differentiate two-tier systems from three-tier systems, but it should also highlight examples of each.

Example: "The difference between a two-tier system and a three-tier system is that a two-tier system is comprised of a client tier and a database tier. In contrast, a three-tier system is comprised of a client tier, business tier and data tier. You would use a two-tier system for software like contact management software. In contrast, you would use a three-tier system for software like database management systems."

You receive one assignment that requires black box testing and another assignment that requires white box testing. What does this mean?

Interviewers use this question to find out more about your technical knowledge and whether you'd be able to understand software engineering terms to complete daily work tasks. Your response should include a definition of each type of software testing and how they'd translate into your job duties.

Example: "If asked to complete an assignment that requires black box testing, this means that I am testing a system that I didn't design myself. In contrasted if asked to complete an assignment that requires white box testing, this means that I am testing a system that I did design myself."

I ask you to create a microservice app. Can you tell me what this would mean?

As a software engineering intern, you'll likely encounter a variety of projects that vary in difficulty. When asking this question, interviewers want to determine your range of experience creating software applications and your knowledge of terms. Your answer should define a microservice app clearly and concisely.

Example: "To create a microservice app would mean to create an application that's comprised of multiple services (businesses). These services aren't connected to each other, but provide users the option of purchasing goods, scheduling appointments or placing delivery orders. Further, software engineers use microservice apps to ensure high performance and speed for app users."

Related: How To Become a Software Engineer

Types of internship interviews

Here are the types of internship interviews you might encounter when meeting with employers for a software engineer intern interview:

  • Phone interview: Employers typically use phone interviews as a part of the screening process to provide internship candidates with information about the position and to gauge their personality. A good phone interview could determine whether an employer asks to meet a candidate in-person.

  • Previous experience interview: This type of interview focuses specifically on a candidate's prior professional experiences, coursework or software engineering projects.

  • Video interview: Video interviews or virtual interviews are those that take place using video chat software. Employers may use a video interview format if a candidate currently lives outside of a reasonable traveling distance or if they offer a remote internship experience.

  • In-person interview: If an employer wants to learn more about an intern candidate after a pre-screening, they contact them to schedule a one-on-one interview with them at their office location.

  • Programming knowledge interview: Interviewers may dedicate entire interviews to asking candidates about their knowledge of data algorithms, coding libraries and other programming concepts they need to be able to use during a software engineering internship.

  • Panel interview: A panel interview is usually an in-person style interview where multiple company employees interview one candidate by taking turns asking questions.

  • Group interview: When an employer looks to hire multiple interns, they might use a group interview format to survey candidates in a timely manner. group interviews consist of a panel-style discussion where one or more interviewers ask each candidate the same question. Depending on the employer's preferences, they can also conduct individual interviews during this time.

  • Coding language skill-based interview: When interviewing for a software engineering internship, an interviewer might ask to meet with you to learn more about the coding languages you understand. During these interviews, you might have to complete a coding test or complete a small project to demonstrate your skill level.

Jobs for software engineering

Software engineering is a diverse field with multiple specializations and applications. Here are 10 different careers for aspiring software engineers to pursue:

1. [Computer programmer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Computer-Programmer-jobs.html)

2. [Video game designer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Video-Game-Designer-jobs.html)

3. [Software tester](https://www.indeed.com/q-Software-Tester-jobs.html)

4. [Front-end developer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Front-End-Developer-jobs.html)

5. [Back-end developer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Back-End-Developer-jobs.html)

6. [DevOps engineer](https://www.indeed.com/q-DevOps-Engineer-jobs.html)

7. [Application engineer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Application-Engineer-jobs.html)

8. [IT solutions consultant](https://www.indeed.com/q-IT-Solutions-Consultant-jobs.html)

9. [Cloud engineer](https://www.indeed.com/q-Cloud-Engineer-jobs.html)

10. [UI engineer](https://www.indeed.com/q-UI-Engineer-jobs.html)

Related: How to Find an Internship: Identify Opportunities

In this video, Jenn explains how to find an internship, the top 5 ways to land the job and some great advice on what NOT to do.


Explore more articles