Software Engineer Consultant Interview Questions

Clearly, you are looking for software engineer consultant interview questions since you want to hire capable software engineers. When a source as authoritative as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the soaring demand for software engineers, it’s obvious that many organizations including yours need them. 

Hiring competent software engineers can be hard though. The body of software development process knowledge is vast, requiring organizations as specialized as IEEE to compile a comprehensive Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK). You certainly need time and focus to find software developers with the required technical knowledge in this area.

Top-notch software engineers must also consistently upgrade their expertise since the field is highly dynamic and evolving. Even a cursory glance at the vast landscape of articles in the International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering (IJSEKE) will make it clear to you.

Your hiring managers must be prepared for numerous and highly involved interviews. The right set of interview questions is non-negotiable, and that’s what we offer here.

Interview Questions to Evaluate the Technical Knowledge of Junior Software Engineer Consultants

Use the following interview questions to interview junior software engineers:

1. Which programming languages are suitable for an IoT development project?

Software developers can use one of the following programming languages on an IoT development project:

2. State a few important metrics used for agile software development.

The following are a few important metrics in the agile software development methodology:

  • Sprint burndown;
  • Agile velocity;
  • Lead time;
  • Cycle time;
  • Code coverage;
  • Release net promoter score;
  • Cumulative flow;
  • Failed deployments;
  • Escaped defects.

3. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of test-driven development.

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Test-driven development offers the following advantages:

  • Software engineers follow a very disciplined software development process, which is good for software quality.
  • Since you write tests before you code, you get a clear idea of how the code should work. 
  • You have a set of tests ready for every functionality you develop, therefore, the test coverage rate is high.
  • The practice of writing tests and maintaining them systematically keeps you ready for future enhancements. After all, you have tests already written for unit testing, system testing, regression testing, etc. 
  • You will likely find defects faster due to the comprehensive set of tests written and kept up to date.
  • Test-driven development emphasizes good documentation. Since you document tests well, developers taking up a job in the same team can easily understand the application.

There are a few disadvantages of test-driven development, which are as follows:

  • Writing tests for a functionality or specific task with high complexity can take time. That can delay the development.
  • Test-driven development takes time, therefore, it can be challenging to manage projects using this practice.
  • Developers need knowledge of test automation, furthermore, they must stay up to date in this area. They might find test-driven development hard otherwise.
  • A rigid practice like test-driven development can sometimes limit creativity in solving a technical problem.

4. What is the most basic difference between black box testing and white box testing?

The most basic difference between black box and white box testing lies in the purpose. 

You perform black box testing to check whether a software application delivers the functionality expected of it. Testers don’t perform this kind of testing to solve specific problems of code such as performance issues. You might not even know much about the code and the architecture of the application.

On the other hand, you perform white box testing to take care of low-level testing requirements such as unit testing or integration testing. Testers need insights into the code and system architecture. They need a degree of programming knowledge to understand how the application has implemented a functionality.

Intermediate Software Engineer Consultant Interview Questions

 Evaluate mid-level software engineer consultants using the following questions:

     1. My project will require creating reusable components. Should I use object-oriented programming or functional programming?

You should use the object-oriented programming (OOP) paradigm. Since you need to create many reusable components, software engineers will need to group certain behaviors and data together. Objects help with such requirements since the performance is better.

2. Are there any disadvantages of software development using application programming interfaces (APIs)?

While APIs offer many advantages, they might have a few disadvantages too. The following are a few examples:

  • Cybercriminals might target application programming interfaces. Communications using APIs happen over the Internet. As with every communication over the Internet, APIs aren’t immune to information security risks. Hackers could target APIs using common methods of attacks like SQL injection and cross-site scripting. API developers need sound application security skills.
  • Complexities in API design can make it hard to consume, which increases software development and maintenance efforts.
  • Sometimes a company might face compatibility issues involving different versions of software applications when using APIs.
  • Using too many 3rd party APIs introduces too many dependencies into your application programs. More dependencies only make an application more complex.

Managing APIs requires sound governance, which involves a degree of management overhead. We don’t consider this a disadvantage for an organization’s own APIs. Any organization needs to implement governance for the information technology products it develops. However, lack of governance on the part of a 3rd party organization can be a disadvantage when using 3rd party APIs.

3. Can a NoSQL database offer data integrity similar to a SQL database? Explain your answers.

Between SQL and NoSQL databases, SQL databases always offer a higher degree of data integrity than NoSQL databases. That’s because SQL database solutions, or Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMSs) as we call them, are “ACID” compliant. 

“ACID” is a collection of the following properties:

  • Atomicity: A transaction in an RDBMS must either completely succeed or completely fail. Such database management solutions don’t have partially successful transactions.
  • Consistency: RDBMSs follow rules like entity integrity and referential integrity. Entity integrity requires that every primary key must have a non-null and unique value. Referential integrity means that every foreign key must be present as a primary key in another database table. SQL databases enforce these rules, which keeps data consistent.
  • Isolation: Concurrent transactions on an RDBMS table can’t affect each other.
  • Durability: A successful SQL transaction is final and irreversible.

NoSQL databases aren’t ACID compliant, therefore, they can’t offer the same level of data integrity.   

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4. What should I look for when selecting a software configuration management tool?

You should consider the following aspects before you select a software configuration management (SCM) tool:

  • Think about whether you have a small or a large project. A simple SCM tool can work well for a small project, however, a large project needs an SCM tool that can scale well.
  • Take a close look at your IT infrastructure. When you have a large and complex IT infrastructure, you need an SCM tool that is compatible with a wide range of hardware and software platforms.
  • Different SCM tools have different and unique strengths. Think of the priority of your project and check which SCM tool has strengths that cater to your priorities. You should review the SCM tools in question thoroughly.
  • Do you have an expert IT infrastructure management team? You can then opt for a complex SCM offering highly advanced functionalities. Choose a simple SCM tool if you have a relatively inexperienced IT infrastructure management team.
  • While you might feel tempted to use a free SCM tool, this could be a short-sighted decision. Your requirements come first and before costs. You should get the right value for money from an SCM tool.

5. Explain the guidelines for writing non-functional requirements.

You should keep the following guidelines in mind when writing non-functional requirements (NFRSs):

  • Ask the software architect, technical team leader, or project managers to write NFRs since users can’t provide NFRs.
  • Use industry-standard terminology for writing NFRs so that all stakeholders can understand them.
  • Whenever you can, quantify an NFR, e.g.: “The webpage should load within 1.5 seconds.”
  • Keep the following standard list of NFRs in mind: security, capability, compatibility, reliability, availability, maintainability, testability, manageability, recoverability, serviceability, scalability, performance, usability, regulatory requirements, and environmental requirements. There could be slight variations. For example, you might include recoverability and serviceability within manageability. However, this standard list should serve as the starting point when you document NFRs.
  • As you would do with functional requirements, you should use simple language to write NFRs.

6. Briefly explain the different types of software maintenance.

The different types of software maintenance are as follows:

  • Corrective maintenance: The software maintenance team resolves defects in this case.
  • Patching: It’s an emergency maintenance activity required due to the detection of high-severity defects like security vulnerabilities.
  • Adaptive maintenance: A software maintenance team undertakes this type of maintenance so that the software application can execute on upgraded software and hardware environments. Changes to business rules and government policies can also lead to adaptive maintenance.
  • Perfective maintenance: Requirements for improved functionality or better non-functional requirements lead to perfective maintenance.
  • Preventive maintenance: Software maintenance teams carry out such maintenance to prevent problems in the future such as performance bottlenecks or malfunctioning backup-recovery. 

Senior Software Engineer Consultant Interview Questions

The following software engineer consultant interview questions are suitable for senior software engineers:

1. Briefly explain the different primitives supporting concurrency and state which programming languages support all of them.

The different primitives supporting concurrency are as follows:

  • Locks: These are also called “Mutex”, and these allow the execution of only one thread in the selected part of the code.
  • Monitors: While they function like locks, a key difference is that you need to explicitly unlock them.
  • Semaphores: These abstractions are useful since they enable many scenarios where coordination is necessary.
  • “Wait-and-notify”: Though it’s similar to semaphores, there’s an added task for software engineers with this primitive. Developers need to explicitly manage “missed-notify” triggers that are required before the “wait”.
  • Conditional variables: These variables can put a thread to sleep and reactivate it based on predefined conditions.
  • Buffers and channels with a mechanism for conditional waiting: These primitives listen to messages and collect them they have no threads to receive.
  • Non-blocking data structures: These specialized data structures enable access from different threads while imposing minimal or no locks. 

C# and Java are the two programming languages that support all of the above primitives for concurrency.

2. When, in the course of a software development project, should I use a system context diagram?

When designed well and created diligently, your system context diagram can help you throughout the entire software development lifecycle. You should particularly use it during the following activities:

  • Use a system context diagram when you create a high-level and initial system design. You don’t really have requirements and technical solutions at this time. However, you have a rough idea of what the system will do. Using a system context diagram at this stage helps your entire team to understand the boundaries of the system, furthermore, you can also understand the applications it should interact with.
  • Utilize a system context diagram when you collect requirements. The diagram reminds you of all the high-level interaction points so that you can gather requirements for those interactions. 
  • Software engineers can understand the impacts and dependencies from a system context diagram when you plan a system upgrade.
  • You might need to integrate other software components with your application later. Using a system context diagram at that time helps you understand the integration points.

3. Which best practices should I consider when carrying out software reverse engineering?

You should keep the following best practices in mind when undertaking a software reverse engineering project:

  • Verify that you have the complete intellectual property rights for reverse engineering a software system.
  • Prepare detailed documents for every step of the reverse engineering process so that all stakeholders can benefit from your experience.
  • Suitable tools like debugging software are important for a software reverse engineering project, and you should invest in them.
  • Software engineers should completely isolate the target system before reverse engineering critical software systems like cyber-security applications. Do this to prevent untoward incidents like large security incidents.
  • Find experts from all the relevant fields to understand all aspects of the reverse engineering project.
  • Scan the technology landscape and use the most up-to-date technology relevant to the project.
  • Budget for a long haul since reverse engineering projects can take time, effort, and multiple iterations.
  • Plan for extensive testing to verify the success of the reverse engineering project.

4. Explain the important conditions to create a high-quality data flow diagram.

You should meet the following conditions when creating a good DFD (data flow diagram):

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  • You can not have any data flow between two entities. However, a DFD can have a data flow between a process and an entity or vice versa.
  • While you can show a data flow from a process to a data store, from a data store to a process, or from a data store to multiple processes, you can’t have data flowing from one data store to another.
  • A process must handle data before it flows from an entity to a data store. Similarly, a process must handle data before data flows from a data store to an entity.
  • You need to depict at least one input data flow into a process and one output data flow from a process. Also, you need to meet this condition for every data store.
  • You can’t draw a DFD where 2 data flows intersect each other.
  • You must connect every process in a DFD to either a data store or another process.

5. What are the pros and cons of mutation testing?

Mutation testing offers the following advantages:

  • You can deliver a software application that’s reliable and stable due to extensive testing.
  • Mutation testing can detect defects that are hard to find by other means.
  • You get a high coverage of the source code during this form of testing.
  • You can expect to get a better code quality.
  • Mutation testing helps you identify inadequacies in test data.

There are a few disadvantages of mutation testing, which are as follows:

  • Mutation testing can be complex. Especially, decision mutations and statements mutation can have plenty of complexities.
  • Since the practice of mutation testing can be hard to implement, it takes more time and effort, making it expensive.
  • Software testers must need a good deal of coding knowledge, therefore, you might find it hard to hire suitable testers.
  • Due to the time-consuming nature of mutation testing, your organization must invest in robust test automation software.

The need to assess the educational background, experience, and soft skills of candidates

While the above questions help you assess the technical expertise of software engineers, you also need to focus on educational background, relevant experience, and soft skills. 

Software engineers should possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related discipline. They should show a verifiable portfolio of medium-to-complex projects completed successfully for diverse clients.

Your company needs team members with the required interpersonal skills for success, therefore, ask enough soft skills interview questions. Behavioral questions should help you assess the following soft skills:

  • Communication skills, especially how software engineers talk to non-technical stakeholders;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • The ability to take up challenges;
  • Focus on delivering tangible value to clients;
  • The willingness to solve challenges faced by the larger team by using problem-solving abilities.

For senior software engineer consultants, you should also assess their leadership styles. Since there are no sample answers to evaluate soft skill sets, you need the services of sufficiently senior interviewers. Consider asking case study-based questions to assess the leadership qualities of senior software engineer consultants.

Hiring Software Engineers With Deep Software Development Process Expertise?   

The above software engineering consultant interview questions will go a long way in your efforts to judge a candidate’s knowledge. However, how will it be if you can hire highly competent software engineers with experience in some of the most challenging projects, and you don’t even need to take long interviews? At DevTeam.Space, we have exactly such software engineers. 

Our software engineers have excellent software development process skills. Not just relevant expertise but they also have the experience of working on some of the most challenging projects. Our world-class development processes help them to demonstrate success consistently, and you get supportable and maintainable code. Our AI-powered agile processes keep you well-informed about the project. We also provide project management support in the form of complementary support from a dedicated tech account manager.

Contact DevTeam.Space to quickly hire dedicated candidates or teams with the right software engineering knowledge, experience, and professionalism. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about Software Engineer Consultant Questions and Answers. Can’t find the answer you’re looking for?

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1. Which agile software development frameworks should the experienced software engineers or agile teams know?  

Experienced software engineers or agile teams should know one or more of the following important agile software development frameworks:

Extreme Programming (XP);
Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM);
Feature-driven Development (FDD);

Experienced software engineers should certainly be able to review the code of a peer team member. Competent software engineers must know and be able to explain technical concepts of code review. For example, they must know the best code review strategies, which are as follows:

Setting standards and goals for code reviews;
Setting clear expectations from code reviews and communicating them;
Developing and implementing a code review process which is practical in the context of the project;
Finding and using an up-to-date code review checklist;
Verifying that the prerequisites are satisfied before starting the review;
Systematic scheduling of the review sessions to ensure effective participation and sufficient time availability;
Using automated code review tools where applicable;
Building the right environment for constructive code review sessions;
Monitoring and closing the issues identified during code reviews.

Software engineer consultants and IT consultants should have a clear understanding of web application architecture since web application development projects are very common. They should be able to clearly describe the following web application architecture patterns:

Monolithic architecture;
Microservices architecture;
Serverless architecture.

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