Dos and Don’ts When Going to a Software Developer Interview

Talented software developers sometimes experience difficulty with job interviews because they’re more focused on improving their technical skills than their soft skills. However, so-called “soft skills” are becoming more important for these positions, since developers are increasingly likely to engage with multiple stakeholders both internally and externally. Preparation and practice before an interview go a long way towards helping you make the best possible impression on an interviewer. Knowing what to do and what not to do is essential for ensuring you present yourself accurately and effectively during an interview.

What to do during a software developer interview

  • Listen carefully to interviewers when they discuss the details of the position, and try to incorporate this information in your answers to the upcoming questions.

  • It can be difficult to decide how much information to provide when you’ve spoken to many interviewers who expect different amounts of detail in your responses. It’s OK to ask if you’re not clear about the level of detail your interviewer is looking for on each question. You don't want to bore the interviewer with irrelevant details.

  • Give answers that match the interviewer’s questions in terms of length and detail. Open questions generally require more detailed responses than closed questions, but watch for exceptions. For example, an interviewer who asks about your experience with a particular technology may just want to know how long you’ve worked with it, not a detailed description of everything you’ve ever done with that technology.

  • Keep in mind that the interviewer may have different priorities than you. Things that you consider very important may not be of much interest to the interviewer, and vice versa. Continue with your answer if the interviewer seems interested; likewise, conclude your response if the interviewer appears to tune out.

  • Be prepared to talk about the projects you've had the most participation in. Discuss the most important problems you have faced, and how you addressed them. You should be able to discuss these issues at some length if you’re a strong candidate for the position, even if you’re understandably nervous.

  • Demonstrate your interest in learning new things. The tools and technologies a software developer needs constantly change, so learning is part of the job. Mobile and web technologies are particularly important at this time.

  • Listen to the interviewer with particular care in the beginning. You should be able to get an idea of the interview’s structure if you pay attention. In general, you should do little talking until the interviewer asks you questions.

  • Remain objective when the interviewer gives you a stressful scenario like, “What would you do if you were given a code base that's crashing the day before a sprint demo?” It's OK to take a minute or two to think about your answer.

  • Ensure you’re demonstrating your thought process when you answer questions. Be objective when arguing about technical problems and scenarios.

  • Ask interviewers about the details of their daily work. The tools and technologies they use are particularly important, as is the number of people they interact with in a typical day. This information will give you a better idea about what it’s like to work for the company, which is crucial for determining if it’s a good match for you.

What not to do during a software developer interview

  • Don’t expect questions that demand very specific answers unless it's a hard requirement for the job. For example, a question like, “What method or class would you use to put a pin on a MapView in Android?” is very specific. You should only expect a question like this if the position requires you to have worked with a MapView in Android recently. Avoid getting caught off guard by studying the job description in detail, so you understand which tools are essential for the job.

  • Don’t allow the tone of the conversation to let you become more nervous than you already are. This is counterproductive as it prevents you from showing your best self. Simply know that the right job for you is the one that interests you most and matches your qualifications.

  • Don’t answer a question with a question when you don’t know the answer; the interviewer might find this annoying and it’s unlikely to fool them. Don’t argue about the relevance or validity of a question; simply answer the question or say you don’t know.

  • Don’t stress out about minor errors in your answers. For example, your interviewer is unlikely to give too much weight to you forgetting or mixing the names of tools.


Knowing what to say in a job interview is often as important as knowing what not to say. Demonstrating technical expertise is important, but so are non-technical skills. Today’s employers are often looking for a software developer with a highly diverse set of skills, especially for senior positions. Finding a job in this field often requires many interviews, so it’s important to be persistent and maintain a positive attitude.