Best Technical Interview Questions to Ask

The interview process can be taxing, not just for the interviewee but for the interviewer and hiring manager as well. An interview is a short opportunity to learn enough about a candidate to determine if they’re a good fit for the company and if they have the required skills to successfully do the job. One of the best ways to acquire the information you need in a succinct interview session is by asking technical interview questions specific to the job requirements.

 

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Where to source tech candidates

Most hiring managers are familiar with the traditional methods of recruiting for new positions. This might include posting on social media platforms for professionals or reaching out to tech professionals directly. However, with only 15% of tech developers actively looking for a job, many will be unreceptive to cold calls and emails. You might be surprised to learn that the following platforms are a fantastic resource for sourcing candidates in the tech industry.

 

Slack

Many professionals, especially those working remotely, are on Slack these days. It’s a handy tool that allows you to have real-time conversations with your teammates, regardless of where you are in the world. With Slack’s free version, you can use public channels to connect with tech workers. Try Slofile, which is a public Slack community database where you can find Slack groups to join and reach out to software engineers.

 

Quora

Most people have found themselves on Quora at some point when searching a question on the internet. But did you know that this Q&A platform can help you find professionals in the tech industry? By building a profile and gaining credibility on the site, you can connect with knowledgeable industry professionals. Simply follow relevant topics, like IT specialists or software that’s critical to the role you’re hiring for, and browse those forums regularly. You may be able to spot a good candidate for the job when you notice someone accurately answering questions on the topic.

 

Conducting a successful tech interview

Even small businesses that aren’t tech-centric need to hire technology experts to keep up with modern demand. As everything moves to digital, having an IT specialist on any workforce team is critical to the company’s success. As a business that isn’t in the tech industry but needs to hire a reputable individual for a technical role, consider how you can make your company attractive to these experts. There are many perks to working for a small or medium-sized business that you can highlight in a job description or correspondence with someone interested in the position. Emphasize a value on work-life balance and flexibility to work remotely on occasion, and demonstrate that you understand the value of a tech role.

 

Also ensure that if you’re hiring a tech professional, you have the appropriate technology or software for the individual to do their job well. If you’re hiring a tech expert because you’re out of your depth and attempting to adapt your business to the modern age, make it clear that you’re willing to shell out for software upgrades as necessary.

 

Once you get in contact with the right individual for the job, it’s critical to conduct an effective interview, and that starts with your etiquette. Besides the all-important interview questions, also consider where you’ll host the interview, because location matters. Ensure you’re interviewing in a quiet, private space where you can speak easily one-on-one so the candidate can feel comfortable. If you’ve emphasized a fun company culture in the job posting, it’s critical that the interview space reflects that. Offer refreshments or water to the individual on arrival, and consider taking them on a tour of your facility so they can get a sense of where they’d be working. A positive impression at the interview can help secure their interest in the role if they interview well and you decide to hire them.

 

It’s important that your interview style be conversational so the candidate feels comfortable opening up to you. While some employers might feel like they need to “set the tone” of being the boss in an interview, this can come off as confrontational and be a turnoff to a potential new employee. It’s especially important if you’re a non-tech small business hiring a crucial tech role that you treat the interview as two-way communication. Ideally, you want to hire someone with enough expertise for you to learn from in the technology department, and learning requires you to listen.

 

The best technical interview questions to ask

Perhaps the most important aspect of any job interview is what questions you ask the candidate. You can hold an hour-long interview and learn nothing useful if you’re not looking for the right information. Tech roles make up nearly 10% of all jobs in the U.S. economy, so when interviewing for technical roles, your questions must reflect the nature of the position and require you to have some knowledge of what the position entails. Depending on the position you’re hiring for, your questions will vary to ensure you’re getting the details you need about someone’s suitability for the job. Here are some of the best technical questions to ask:

 

Technology questions for software engineers

1. What programming languages are you familiar with?

Ask the applicant about the programming languages they’re fluent in and specifically what their top three are. This question helps you gauge the applicant’s programming proficiency and knowledge, and it allows you to find out if their skills are a good fit for your company.

 

2. Are you familiar with object-oriented programming (OOP)?

OOP is a standard convention for software developers and engineers, and there are several terms that a good candidate should be able to define or explain. These include:

  • Static or class initializer

  • Destructor/finalizer

  • Constructor

  • Method

  • The virtual method, pure virtual method

  • Class, object (what’s the difference?)

  • Class or static method

  • Superclass or base class

  • Subclass or derived class

3. Do you feel comfortable bringing your knowledge to a start-up environment?

As a small or medium-sized business, your work environment is different from a large, established corporation, and you must ensure your candidate is a good fit for this workplace. Asking this question helps you determine if they’re prepared for the necessary workload and if they’d be a good fit for the company.

 

4. What is your opinion on unit testing?

Ask the applicant if they consider unit testing to be essential or a waste of time. A knowledgeable software engineer will be familiar with unit testing, and this question can help you ascertain their attitude toward the process and where it stacks up on their list of priorities.

 

5. How familiar are you with coding?

Being a software engineer requires a thorough knowledge of coding, so this question is important to ask in the interview process. Even if you’re not familiar with coding yourself, a good software engineer should be comfortable coding on a daily basis. Ask them how frequently they’re currently writing code.

 

6. Can you explain APIs to me as if I’m a nontechnical stakeholder?

You very well may be nontechnical, and it’s critical that the applicant can thoroughly explain what an API (Application Programming Interface) is to someone who doesn’t have huge technical knowledge. You’re looking for an answer that says, in basic terms, that an API is a term that applies to many operating systems (Windows, Mac) and programming contexts (mobile apps, desktop software, and websites). Not only should a good candidate be able to explain APIs in clear, nontechnical terms, but their answer needs to be correct.

 

7. What do you look for when reviewing code?

Test the candidate’s knowledge by asking them how they go about checking code written by others. You’re looking for attention to detail and problem-solving ability in their answer.

 

Tech questions for interviewing IT specialists

IT specialists cater to the technical needs of your business, ensuring the correct implementation of software and troubleshooting issues as they crop up. Here are the technical interview questions to ask an IT specialist:

 

1. Which online resources do you regularly refer to?

An IT specialist might not know the answer to every software issue that occurs at your business, but they must be able to use their problem-solving skills to fix the issue regardless. Knowing that your applicant understands the resources available to them and can identify a trustworthy resource is important to the success of your small business.

 

2. What network administration software are you familiar with?

A good IT specialist should have experience with network administration. You’ll want to know if they’re familiar with the software used at your company and what their opinions are on different software options.

 

3. What do you do to keep your technology skills up to date?

Technology is ever-changing, so a good IT specialist should always be furthering their education. This question can help you weed out complacent applicants and hone in on people who are truly passionate about the IT field. The ideal candidate will be partaking in professional conferences or some form of continuing education, and they may have some personal projects underway.

 

4. What process do you use to determine the best business tools for management?

Your IT specialist might be the go-to person for your small business software decisions and implementation, so it’s essential you hire someone who’s a sound decision-maker. Not only should they understand the business aspect of IT, but they also need to demonstrate that they understand the core needs of your company.

 

5. Do you prefer cloud-based or local IT solutions?

Many organizations are migrating their local data to cloud-based storage solutions to save money on local storage and allow employees to access data remotely. The ideal candidate should have experience working with local and cloud-based systems; this is critical if you’re seeking someone to help your small business migrate to cloud-based storage solutions. The applicant should be able to explain their preference to you clearly and describe the benefits of both system types.

 

6. How would you integrate cloud storage solutions?

Jumping off of the previous question, as a small business looking to migrate to the cloud, you should ask the applicant how they would go about doing this for your business.

 

Interviewing IT managers

When hiring an IT manager for your company, you’re looking for someone who has extensive experience overseeing and implementing software systems. They should also be familiar with cybersecurity. Technology questions to ask potential IT managers include:

 

1. How do you track technical performance in the IT department?

As the manager of an IT department, the applicant must demonstrate they know how to measure the performance of the IT staff with technical metrics. This can include using tools, such as CRM software for tracking incidents or generating SQL reports, that gauge this data.

 

2. How do you allocate a budget during a project’s planning phase?

The IT manager is responsible for ensuring your company’s software and security needs are met while staying within the budget allocated to the department. During the interview stage, you’ll want to ensure a candidate has past experience managing and allocating a budget or working within the constraints of one.

 

3. What are some of the technical projects you’ve supervised?

If you’re hiring someone to manage your IT department, you need to get a clear picture of their previous managerial experience. Asking them about past technical projects can give you an idea of the kind of work they’ve spearheaded and how many people they have experience managing.

 

4. How would you implement new software for the company?

The candidate for an IT manager role should be willing to constantly review the effectiveness of the company’s software and look for solutions that address areas where there are gaps. They should demonstrate past experience evaluating software programs and understanding the needs of a company.

 

5. How did you create IT policies that comply with industry standards in your previous role?

A good IT manager should have experience in creating and implementing IT policies, but they must also know how to ensure those policies comply with national standards. You’re looking for an answer that reflects diligence in staying up to date on changing laws and regulations.

 

Technical interview questions for other technical support roles

When hiring for other technical support roles, such as a software architect or technical support personnel, remember to ask questions that require the applicant to draw on past experience and apply that experience to a new role at your company.

 

It takes time to prepare for a technical interview when you curate a list of questions that are specific to the nuances of a tech role, but it’s worth the effort. By asking relevant questions, you’ll get a better sense of which candidate is the right fit for your company so it’s smooth sailing once they start the job.

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