When you’re interviewing candidates for a job in web programming, important questions to ask include ones about both technical and soft skills.
Of course, it’s only logical that you want to be fully informed about the exact programming languages a candidate knows and in what way he or she has put that knowledge to use in a professional setting. In most cases, you’ll find that candidates are comfortable discussing their technical skills, past projects, and other related experience.
But why do you need to ask questions about soft skills?
The reason for this is that the stereotype of a coder as a “loner geek” who’s a genius at programming but lacks people skills no longer describes the ideal candidate.
Due to the influence of Millennials in the workplace, increased globalization and connectivity, and the rise of the gig economy, soft skills pertaining to collaboration and communication have become more and more important.
Moreover, technology is becoming integrated into nearly every area of our lives, from health and home life to transport and entertainment. That means that programmers often have to work with non-technical talent in order to get the information and feedback they need to create an effective product.
At the same time, depending on the exact role you’re interviewing for, problem solving skills and leadership skills can also be highly desirable.
Fortunately, while there are undoubtedly still programmers who are more comfortable concentrating purely on code, an increasing number are aware of the value of soft skills and possess the ability to speak clearly yet concisely about theirs in an interview setting.
In addition, you should also ask about culture fit, and if you’re hiring for a full-time position, incorporate some questions about career objectives.
Web programming: important questions about technical skills and experience
It can be useful to split the interview into four sections, with the first part focusing on technical skills and experience. Include the following questions:
- What programming languages do you know?
Clearly, this is critical technical information, since the candidate will need to know the specific language or languages he or she will be using in the role.
- What is your proficiency level in each?
Again, this is vital information. You don’t want to hire an expert for an entry-level job, nor vice versa.
- Tell me about a project in which you used one or more of these languages.
This will provide you with insights into a candidate’s abilities in regards to the objective and scope of projects, as well as explain the choice to use specific programming languages.
- What previous project do you consider to be your greatest success?
Find out why this project was successful, what key role the candidate played, and how he or she added value for the employer.
- Tell me about a difficult coding challenge you overcame.
Allow the candidate to elaborate on the question by asking what solution he or she devised.
- Are you willing to take an aptitude test?
This is the best way to test technical skills.
Interview questions about soft skills
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, soft skills are increasingly important for programmers. The following questions will help you gain an understanding of a candidate’s soft skills:
- Do you enjoy working with other people—even if they aren’t developers?
This is important, since a positive attitude to collaboration is conducive to effecting good outcomes. You want a candidate who expresses interest in others and excitement about the opportunity to learn from people who have a different specialty.
- Are you a good communicator?
From writing emails to presenting a project to a client, your candidate may need good listening, speaking, and writing skills. Especially because technical terms are hard for non-developers to follow, you need someone who can express him or herself in non-technical terms, as well as understand what someone else means if they don’t know all the right jargon.
- How do you settle disagreements over projects?
Collaboration can mean multiple cooks in the kitchen, and this can result in conflicting opinions. However, when approached constructively, these types of situations can trigger innovation. That’s why you want your candidate to have an open mind and be able to see things from his or her colleagues’ point of view.
Interview questions about culture fit
A poor culture fit is the number one reason for failed hires—and a failed hire is costly both in terms of time and resources. That’s why you need to determine ahead of time whether a candidate will fit into the company culture. The following questions can help:
- Do you prefer a formal or an informal work setting?
This is pretty straightforward. Some people are fine in an office where formal or business casual is required—for example in a financial or legal setting. However, others feel uncomfortable and prefer an environment where they can wear jeans and sneakers.
- Describe your work ethic.
While you shouldn’t expect a developer to live and breathe his or her job, you definitely want someone who will go the extra mile. However, you don’t want a candidate who works late every night if the rest of the team leaves between five and six pm.
- Do you enjoy working in a diverse team?
This question depends on the makeup of your workforce. If you have a diverse team that consists of different genders, orientations, and ethnicities, your candidate has to feel comfortable in that setting. At the same time, if your workforce isn’t very diverse, that could be an obstacle for a candidate, too.
Interview questions about career objectives
If you’re hiring for a short-term assignment, you won’t need to ask these questions. However, if you’re looking for a fulltime employee, you need to know what his or her career objectives are. Ask the following questions:
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
If your candidate launches into an enthusiastic story about starting his or her own company or working for your competitor, then it’s a pretty good indication that anything you invest in this person will ultimately be to another company’s benefit. If, on the other hand, the candidate speaks intelligently about your company’s operations and explains how he or she wants to be a part of them, then it’s a good indication he or she is looking for a long-term commitment.
- What do you find important in an employer?
There can be so many answers to this question. Some candidates are attracted by perks such as on-site gyms and daycare, while others want an employer who will invest in career advancement.
- What kind of opportunities are you looking for?
Many developers want to work on cutting edge projects and with knowledgeable colleagues. Others want to work overseas for a few years, while others are looking for a career path that will fast track them to upper management. If the candidate’s answers correspond with what you can offer, then it’s a good match.
Finding the right developer can be difficult, especially with the ongoing shortage of IT talent. But by asking these questions and encouraging your candidates to answer them frankly and completely, you stand a good chance of finding the professional your company needs.