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Best Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Remote Software Engineer

Woman being interviewed virtually

You are in the middle of the recruiting and hiring process for a remote software engineer. You have tons of upcoming interviews, and you want to make sure your next hire is a success. But how to know if a candidate is the one

At DistantJob, we are experts at recruiting the best tech talent all over the world. We know everything about making the perfect match between companies and candidates. And we want every company to have the best team with the right people. So, we created a list with the best 10 interview questions for hiring remote software engineers. These questions will help you separate the good from the great, and the great from the excellent. 

Note: We chose these 10 questions as a general guide that can help you select candidates carefully. Yet, we strongly recommend never asking the same questions to all candidates.  Questions should be based on the type of culture your company has, and the exact job position you are trying to fill.

1. What is the biggest project you’ve worked on, and what was your involvement?

This question is useful for understanding the scope of the developer’s skills and how he/she has applied them to a demanding/complex project. It will allow you to go beyond the resume and focus on the individual contributions and abilities they have. 

2. How do you manage a big project or task? – Can you think of an example

There can be a lot of answers to this question. What you are trying to find out is if a candidate knows how to manage projects and time efficiently. Keep in mind that the right answer depends on what type of project a developer is managing. Or if they follow a specific methodology. For example, software engineers who follow the Agile Methodology might tell you that they manage a project by having daily standups and defining tasks into smaller pieces.

3. With What Methodology Have you Worked With?

This depends if your company follows a determined project methodology. Many modern companies choose the Agile Methodology.  Mainly because of its efficiency in managing workloads, due dates, design steps, debugging process, among other phases of a project.  If your company works with the Scrum methodology, on interviews, you should make sure candidates know what Scrum or Agile is. 

4. When was the Last Time That you Implemented X language/tool?

Let’s say that you need to hire a DevOps engineer because your company needs to improve its software. The most common languages DevOps developers use are Python, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, C/C++, Go, and Java. These languages, although they were created years ago, keep receiving updates. For example, Python’s latest update is Python 3.8, which was released in October 2019. Because of these continual updates, it’s useful to know how recent a candidate’s experience is. And how they keep learning about the use and knowledge of their chosen programming languages and different tools.

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5. Are you comfortable working in a fast-paced, changing environment?

This question helps to identify if the candidate has worked in environments that evolve dynamically. And if they accommodate and enjoy that experience. Many software engineers are used to a predictable environment that is typical of big companies. And they rely heavily on having a team where the responsibilities are limited for each member. This question is ideal when you need a tech lead or when hiring for a small/ medium/ startup company. 

6. What do you do when you get stuck with a task?

In other words, are they problem solvers? Look for someone who answers this question quickly, and whose answer contains some of the following themes: asking team members for input, having a specific tool that helps, referencing a community of developers, or a book. Someone who answers like this is someone who has solutions ready for any problem. It’s impossible to hire the perfect developer that always does things right; after all, we are all humans. But a candidate who goes beyond their own knowledge and seeks help when problems arise is someone who:

 A) Has good problem-solving skills 

 B) Is also a team player

7. Can you explain how [process name] works? 

This question tests communication abilities. Being a remote worker is all about having communication skills. When asking a software engineer to explain a technical process or concept, you will see if they can communicate efficiently and explain the process in a clear (not memorized) way. This will help in the future whenever, for example, you need to decide the best method to speed up your website.  If you don’t have any tech background, having a developer explaining the problem in human words will ease the decision process. 

8. Have you been on a remote team before? What did you like the most? What did you didn’t like at all? 

Despite all the benefits that come with remote working, not everyone is remote ready. If you hire a software engineer who hates video calls or hates working on his own, probably he would do a terrible job. Save money and time by making sure candidates enjoy working remotely and have the skills to do it.  See if this candidate is open to regular check-ins, feedback, tools, instant messaging, screen-sharing, etc. 

9. How do you feel about code reviews? 

In the software development process, code reviews are extremely important. This type of question lets you get a hint on how a developer might take feedback and how he is willing to help other team members. Also, to know more about the candidate’s knowledge and experience. And if they use testing methodologies, frameworks, or tools. 

10. How do you maintain work/life balance?

This question might be a small trick to see how a candidate prioritizes. You are not trying to find out how they handle their work and life daily. What you want to know is what’s important for them and how they act upon that. A candidate that finishes tasks on time and overall works hard but also makes time for themselves, their hobbies, family, and friends is someone who understands the importance of work/life balance and how to take advantage of time. 

Is the Hiring Process Too Much Work?

Recruitment is a long and boring process – if you do it wrong. Making a great hire is mainly about asking the right questions. And of being sure that a candidate is: 

  • A good culture fit
  • Someone you loved to have on your team
  • Does what they preach (technically speaking) 

At DistantJob, we are experts in the art of remote recruitment. Our goal is that all companies have the best tech talent that matches their culture and professional requirements. Let us help you have the best software engineer in just two weeks!

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