Knowing the best junior developer interview questions to ask candidates will be a big help when it comes to interviews.
You need to have the right topics ready to really begin to assess a junior software developer’s experience, technical training, and problem-solving skills. This article will offer some helpful insight into getting your technical assessment and technical interview process right when it comes to juniors.
Even with the most probing technical questions, however, it can be difficult to work out, from technical interviews alone, exactly who will be the right choice for your company.
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What does a junior developer do?
A junior software developer is an entry-level role. Their job is to assist the tech team with all manner of coding and software development, including writing code and code management. The work of a junior software developer can be divided into back-end and front end development.
The role continues to be one of the most sought-after hires in the tech world. This is because, although juniors require more training than more experienced tech employees, juniors can easily learn the new skills needed to make them the perfect role fit for your company. As the DevSkiller IT skills report 2022 put it:
“The potential that relatively inexperienced developers offer is highly desirable for companies because they can be groomed within a particular company structure and culture…junior developers were again the most highly sought after in 2021.”
Junior software developer- main responsibilities:
- Writing basic code
- App enhancements
- Bug fixes
- Code reviews
- Quality assurance
- Assisting senior members of the team
- Code maintenance
- System integration
Junior software developer requirements:
- Basic ability to write code
- Knowledge of databases, data structures, and operating systems
- Good working knowledge of email systems and web pages
- Ability to learn new software and technologies quickly
- Unit tests
How to assess junior software developers
To narrow down your candidates, as a hiring manager, you will need some kind of screening process. After all, you will want the whole interview process to be as quick as possible to avoid the best candidates dropping out of the pipeline. What is more, you don’t want to interview candidates who aren’t fit for the role in question or don’t have the right mindset.
Screening based on a job interview alone can be tricky for hiring managers. If you can’t rely on experience from a previous job, you will need to assess a junior candidate’s skills in other ways. As well as their passion for the subject and their skill at solving problems.
Coding questions and automated technical assessments can be specifically tailored to assess junior developers. This allows them to demonstrate their skills in a fair and objective manner, using realistic programming questions, while also saving your hiring managers a tonne of time.
It’s important when thinking about your hiring process, to take into account the amount it costs to pay hiring managers to screen candidates manually and interview unqualified candidates. Much of this time can be saved on every hire you make, by implementing an automated technical assessment solution like DevSkiller TalentScore that will screen your candidates automatically across all seniority levels.
It is likely that fewer candidates will progress to the interview stage because the technical assessment will be more difficult, but your interview-to-hire ratio will likely increase significantly, saving your company money overall on every hire you make. The reality is, that pre-selecting candidates before the interview round, will make for a more efficient process on the whole.
You can then still interview the best candidates to assess their knowledge and personality in the next round.
Take our free Tech screening readiness assessment to see if your company could benefit from an automated developer screening tool
Junior developer technical assessments for software development
The experience of juniors taking coding tests is usually different to that of mid-level and certainly, senior developers. The higher up the chain of command you go, the harder it usually is to get a developer to take a technical assessment. This is because seniors often feel they have nothing to prove. However, the attitude towards coding tests is very different at a junior level. Juniors are often very keen to show off their skills, and a realistic technical assessment is a great way of doing that.
According to the DevSkiller IT skills report 2022, 40% of the coding tests taken on the TalentScore platform in the previous year, were by junior developers. Moreover, junior are also more likely to be happy taking longer tests.
Juniors are also much more likely to want feedback on their work. Many juniors are very open to suggestions on ways to better themselves. The great thing about automated coding tests is that they can show the candidate exactly the areas where they need to improve. Meaning, that as a hiring manager, you can offer junior candidates precise feedback. Even if you don’t hire them this time, you can improve your chances that they’ll brush up on their skills and apply again in the future.
Hackathons and hiring events
Not only do juniors often respond well to coding assessments, but many companies and organizations use them as a way for juniors to pit themselves against others. Hackathons and hiring events see juniors take part in coding challenges, where they are encouraged to go head-to-head to test their skills. The prizes can either be financial awards or in many cases, a job offer.
The interview process with junior software developers
A resume with some professional projects will be useful but bear in mind when it comes to interview questions, that for many juniors, this will be an entry-level job and experience can’t be viewed as essential.
For senior or mid-level software developers you can look to past web development projects for evidence of their skill, but this wouldn’t be fair to a junior who hasn’t had the opportunity to gain professional experience.
No junior, and no developer in general for that matter, will have all the answers. For juniors in software development, hiring managers need to rely on the candidate’s university degree, or whatever kind of education they had, to see any knowledge they might have about software development.
You can divide your questions into two main categories:
1 – Do they have a passion for programming?
2 – Do they have an understanding of the pros and cons of their chosen technologies?
1 – A passion for programming
Other than looking at their university degree, you can also look into a junior developer’s GitHub profile, as well as probe to see if they have worked on any recent software development projects. Perhaps they have worked on an app or a web page. A detailed discussion with juniors about personal projects they’ve been involved with might tell you they have the right transferable, problem-solving skills for the role.
More than anything else, a junior developer should be passionate about the technologies they are most familiar with.
2 – An understanding of the pros and cons of some technologies
If a candidate’s answer mentions their favorite programming language, then you can use that as your base to drill down a little further. Find out how much they really know about that technology. They should be able to tell you what it can’t do, as well as what it can.
However, the ideal candidate is one who will be excited talking about working with that technology, and why they prefer using that one technology over others they might be also familiar with. You should ask them to talk about how they would use that language or framework in solving real problems. The more passionate their answer, the more you’ll be able to tell how well they know the technology.
What you should focus on as well, is someone who is:
- Detail-orientated with an aptitude to learn.
- Able to accept feedback and take orders
- Be happy to work as part of a wider tech team
- They should also show initiative to try to solve problems on their own
Furthermore, it is okay if they have no knowledge of a particular part of a framework or language. However, keep probing until you can find some area in which they do have some more detailed knowledge. If you cannot find a single thing that the candidate has studied deeper than on a superficial basis, then that can act as a red flag.
You will also want to hire a junior who will look to progress and develop within your company. After all, high employee turnover can be bad for any business. Ask them about their career goals, and what they hope to achieve within the company.
Preparing junior developer interview questions
To find the ideal candidate, a hiring manager will need to prepare a list of interview questions to ask. The interview experience should be as comfortable as possible for the candidate, but don’t be afraid to challenge them. A technical assessment might tell you about their competency and their skills, but the interview process is a chance to learn about your software developer’s character and mettle when compared with other developers. You can divide your interview process into two—a technical interview and a behavioral interview.
Technical interviews give recruiters a chance to hone in on the specific technical knowledge of the candidate.
As a general rule, junior developers will usually have less experience with advanced concepts, so for junior developer interviews, the questions can be a little more general and basic than if interviewing a senior software engineer.
Nonetheless, hiring managers still need to find out all they can about the candidate from their answers during the interview process, using only a few interview questions. So it’s best to pick them wisely. Be sure to prepare by looking properly at the candidate’s resume, and tailor your questions towards the specific technologies and frameworks in which they claim to be most proficient.
Junior developer interview questions (examples):
DevSkiller Junior developer interview question examples
These are just some of the common interview questions that you could ask a junior software developer. You should aim to dig a little deeper into the areas in which they claim to be most proficient.
How much should a junior know about their preferred programming language?
The programming languages a junior software developer is familiar with, will of course be helpful, depending on the languages your business uses. However, their attitude toward learning a new skill set will tell you more about their capabilities going forward.
Also, the outcome of any complete projects a junior developer might have taken part in is not as important as the method they used when working on them. As well as the skills they picked up, and the overall passion they show when discussing these projects.
Your questions should be designed to find someone who is a problem-solver. Someone keen to fix problems and be proactive—rather than someone who necessarily gets it right every time. They need to show passion for what they do if they are to do it for the foreseeable future and not get disillusioned.
Check out this DevSkiller video on ‘How to spot promising juniors during the interview’
Salary expectations for junior developers
The benefit of hiring junior developers over seniors, is you don’t have to worry too much about salary expectations. In an entry-level role, it would take a confident candidate to start making salary demands. However, make sure your salary level is equivalent to what other companies are offering for the same role, to be sure not to let a good candidate pass by.
These junior software developer interview questions will go a long way to making sure you are prepared when entering the interview room. Remember, look at how they answer a question rather than the answer itself. Be sure to press the candidate a little further when it comes to the areas in which they claim to have the most knowledge. Look at technical ability but also attitude, an eagerness to learn new skills, and to develop on the job.
A developer screening platform like DevSkiller TalentScore can help when it comes to assessing coding skills.
Learn more about DevSkiller TalentScore