Questions to ask in a tech interview

Job interview
Written By


Published On

August 12, 2022


When you are hiring in the tech industry, you must consider more than a candidate's technical qualifications. Soft skills like initiative, collaboration, and time management are just as important as technical skills when considering a new member for your team. You are able to gain insight into a candidate's additional skills through their answers to the questions asked in the interview.

The following article will give you some ideas of questions to ask to help you find the ideal candidate for your team.


What the interviewer wants to know

In order to find the best candidate for the job, you need to have a set of thoughtful interview questions to ask your top candidates. Having a set of interview questions to ask that you have previously used or practiced will help you get a full picture of the candidate you are interviewing. Paying close attention to the candidate's answers will help you make the best hiring decision.

You might wonder why predictable questions, such as "Where do you see yourself in the next two years?" or simple yes or no questions, won't give you the information you want from an interview. These simple and predictable questions have simple and predictable answers that won't help you get a feel for whether or not someone has the skills and personality to fit the role you're looking to fill.

Instead of asking simple or predictable questions, you need to ask a mix of situational and technical questions. While the candidate answers, you need to listen closely to what they are saying and how they are saying it.

The following are tech interview questions that might be good for a hiring manager to ask during the interview process.


What would you hope to achieve in the first six months after being hired?

Depending on the role of the job being interviewed, the answers might differ. Different roles expect different answers. A software developer might hope to have developed or made progress towards a new software during their first six months.

How a candidate answers this question will give you or a hiring manager insight into what the candidate knows about the position, what their work ethic might look like, and whether or not they have the skill set to effectively do their job. You will know if this is the right role for them if their goals align with the job description.


What is the first thing you do when you don't know the answer to something?

A candidate's answer will tell you if they are able to self-manage, and if they are a fundamental problem solver. You want to hear if the candidate does their own research into the problem and if they attempt to answer questions on their own. It's important to have people who don't need constant assistance performing their daily job responsibilities.

Based on how a candidate answers this question, you should be able to get an idea on whether or not they are capable of problem-solving on their own before presenting an issue, with no possible solution, to their superior.

Why do you want to work for this company?

Candidates who did their research on the company will be able to talk about your company's values, products, services, and technology used. On the flip side of that, if a candidate cannot give a few reasons why they would be a good fit for your company, then they have not adequately prepared for the interview.

You want a candidate that shows excitement and passion for joining your company. Having quality candidates will create a successful team and a positive company culture.


What would your dream job look like if you could design it?

This type of question pushes a candidate to get creative and expose their priorities. You are usually able to recognize if someone is just saying something that they think you want to hear.

When this question is asked during a job interview you are able to see a candidate's creativity, along with their long-term goals. This question can also give you an idea of if the candidate is excited about the job they are interviewing for.

If they can't get excited about their dream job, then they probably won't be excited about their potential job.

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What online resources do you use to help you do your job?

A lot of tech workers will turn to a website when they are stuck or need help with something. They might have a list of websites, social media platforms, online communities, and other resources related to their interests and work environment.

The answer to this question can give you insight into how engaged the candidate is in the broader tech world and industry as a whole.


Can you tell me about a time that you failed?

This question tells you about how the candidate overcame a failure without hiding mistakes that were made. A lot of the work done in tech companies is new and requires trial and error.

Employees who hide their mistakes and failures end up creating more work and confusion for themselves and the rest of the team. A candidate that can talk about their mistakes and how they fixed them will be an employee that can learn from mistakes and help the team move forward.


What are the qualities of a successful leader?

Hiring managers are always looking out for leaders--even if the position is not a leadership or management position.

The tech industry is a place where individuals often need to take responsibility for managing projects and meeting deadlines. Leadership skills are required, such as organization, problem-solving, delegation, and communication.

This question may also indicate how well the candidate would work with current leaders in your company.


Can you describe a coworker's working style?

You can tell a lot about a candidate by how they describe the people they've worked closely with.

Does this candidate think about others in more of a positive or negative way?

Are they aware of others on the team and their contributions to projects?

You can also see if the candidate can look for strengths and weaknesses between coworkers and how they will work with a team.

How do you keep your technology skills current?

Tech interview questions typically include a question about keeping up with current technology. Professionals in tech need to work to keep their knowledge base current. They can do this by reading blogs, forums, online courses, and doing perusal projects.

This type of question can help a hiring manager gauge the candidate's passion for their profession and if they prioritize professional development.


Can you tell me about a side project you've worked on in the past year?

It is not required to have a side project but doing so can demonstrate a candidate's passion for coding or writing software. If they have a side project, it can be one more thing to take into consideration when looking to hire the best candidate. 


How do you handle tight deadlines?

Deadlines are important in the tech industry, so you'll want to find out how a candidate manages their time. Tech professionals are often faced with time constraints for meeting project deadlines and delivering projects.

Observing a candidate during a job interview alone will expose how they work under pressure. Asking a question like this can give you a sense of how a potential employee deals with stress and how they keep up with the pace of projects.

A follow-up question you can ask is if they have ever missed a deadline, and, if they did, why it happened and how they dealt with it. 


How do your managers get the best results and value from you and why? 

This type of question gives you information about a candidate in a variety of ways. You are able to recognize their level of engagement and self-direction. This is not a typical interview question, and the purpose of it is to get a candidate to think about the type of leadership they respect and admire.

Their answer will also tell you what motivates them and pushes them to want to achieve more. You can determine if their preferred leadership style matches the leadership you already have in your company culture. If they match up better than other candidates then that can affect the interview process. 


How do you manage your work-life balance?

As a company, you want dedicated team members, but you should also look for employees who can take care of themselves. Burnout is a problem in many careers and industries, and the tech industry is no exception. It is important for employees to have good strategies in place to prevent burnout.

Once they answer how they manage work-life balance, you can follow up with how your company supports a healthy work-life balance. 


If I were to ask your previous coworkers to describe you, what do you think they'd say?

This question requires the candidate to reflect and think through the lens of those they've worked with. Their answer can provide insight into the candidate's own working style and how they might perceive themselves.

It is also a question that provides an opening to ask follow-up questions about why they think their coworkers would have that opinion of them. 


What makes someone an effective remote worker?

The working world has changed greatly over the past few years. Remote work requires someone to be a self-starter who works with little to no supervision. An employee who works remotely needs to have great communication skills, self-discipline, and time-management skills.

If you are hiring a remote employee, you need to make sure your new hire will be productive while working off-site. Remote work is not a desire for every employee and some find it difficult to work outside an office. 


What is your process of getting work done? 

Every person has a specific way they work and a reason for doing so. Hearing how someone works helps a hiring manager know if a candidate fits with the culture and flow of the team. Their answers might also show whether or not they are flexible.


How would you explain a specific technology to someone with limited tech skills?

Technology is always growing and changing. It is important to be able to communicate with those who understand the projects you are working on and those who don't understand them as easily.

There will also be non-tech employees at a company, and your potential employee needs to also communicate well with them. You can gauge a candidate’s communication skills with this question.

Are they able to avoid uncommon acronyms and technical jargon?

Are they able to simplify a complicated process and relate it to something that is more common knowledge?

With this question, you are also able to gain insight into a candidate's own knowledge of important concepts. 


What’s the one thing you want to make sure we know about you? 

This is an interview question that allows the candidate to tell those interviewing why they want the job and what they believe sets them apart. It can give the candidate the opportunity to show their passion, excitement, and commitment to the company and job.

You can gain insight from those that are just wanting a job and those that would be a passionate addition to your team. 


How do you think technology advances will impact your job?

With new technology advancements, the roles in the tech industry will continue to change.

How aware is the candidate of new technology?

Are they able to talk about emerging technology?

This question allows a way to start a conversation about trends and advancements. You can also see how the candidate views their role long-term. 


What strengths do you think are most important in a developer or other related positions?

This type of question can show you what a candidate feels like they can bring to the team or position. A candidate might focus on their technical skills and certifications, and others might talk more about their soft skills.

A candidate that gives a balanced answer between the two would be someone to make note of.


Allowing Candidates to Ask Questions

It is important to remember to allow time for the candidate to ask you questions at the end of the interview. This is beneficial to candidates but it also gives you an idea of what matters to them.

If a candidate is overly concerned about vacation time and salary in a first interview, it might make you reconsider your interest in them.

You might also find yourself impressed if someone asks questions that show their business awareness and deep understanding of your company. 



The answers they provide to your questions and questions they ask can give you an idea of whether they would be a good fit for your team or not. You can see if they are able to effectively communicate their desires and interests in joining the company. 

When looking for a new member for your team, you might be tempted to just ask questions related to the potential job. It is important to keep in mind that during the job interview you are able to gain more insight about a candidate from the answers they provide. You are able to gain an overall picture of a candidate and how they would fit into your team if you prepare the right interview questions ahead of time.