Example interview questions to assess developers’ soft skills

interview questions to assess soft skills

In a recent blog post, we asked our resident TechSpotters what soft skills software developers literally can’t survive without.

But how can you know whether or not your candidates have them?

Soft skills are notoriously hard to assess during the application process, but they can be the difference between a happy hire and a massive regret! It is just as important your candidates are innovative, meticulous and humble as they are A+ coders, so make sure some of these questions find their way into your interview arsenal!

To assess our candidates’ soft skills, we ask questions like the ones we’ve included below. They change depending on the company, product and role, but hopefully they serve as a useful starting point 🙂

Are your candidates innovative?

Our resident TechSpotters marked innovation as the most important soft skill for e-commerce developers. They need to be bursting at the seams with new ideas and eager to test them out.

Interview questions

  • “What have you done to positively contribute to a company or product?”
  • “Can you share an example of an idea you believed in and had to push hard to convince others to support/adopt? Why did you propose this? Why did others resist/push back? How did you convince them?”
  • “What do you do outside of work hours to make yourself a better developer?”

Are your candidates collaborative?

Second on our list was collaboration. In successful e-commerce companies, developers don’t work in silos – they work with others in their team and across teams to scale products, implement updates, make users happy and grow the business.

Interview questions:

  • “Tell me about a time you had to deal with a team member who constantly opposed your ideas.”
  • “What do you think makes a good team? How much interaction would you need with coworkers in order to work successfully?”
  • “How would you mediate between two colleagues who had very different ideas for how to approach a new project?”

Are your candidates clear communicators?

You’d be forgiven for thinking communication wouldn’t be this important for developers. But in our unofficial (but very important) poll of the office, communication came in third. Your candidates need to able to explain technical concepts to colleagues, clients and senior management patiently, concisely and simply

Interview questions:

  • “Imagine I know nothing about programming. Explain DevOps to me in less than 1 minute.”
  • “Tell me about a technical problem you’ve had to deal with at your previous company, and how you resolved it.”
  • “Have you ever had to explain an error or delay in a project to a senior manager or client? How did you go about it?”

Are your candidates flexible?

Can they deal with change, growth and circumstances that are out of their control? Rapidly scaling companies can be stressful places, and not everyone is cut out for it. You need to know your developers can cope with growth.

Interview questions:

  • “You have one hour until the project deadline and code that’s not working. What do you do?”
  • “How has company growth affected the way you code?”
  • “Would you feel comfortable telling your project lead or CTO if you felt you’d taken on more than you could handle?”

Are your candidates humble?

Can they give constructive feedback – and take it? Are they prepared to take responsibility (and learn from) their mistakes?

Interview questions:

  • “You’re asked by a CTO to change your code, but you don’t agree with their decision. How do you react?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to take responsibility for an action so the project could move forward.”
  • “How would you react if someone in your team suggested a new way of working you don’t agree with or don’t think will be successful?”

Are your candidates meticulous and thorough?

When one small error can set a release back weeks, developers need to have great attention to detail. E-commerce developers should check their work as a matter of routine, and must be able to spot even the smallest errors blindfolded.

Interview questions:

  • “How do you find errors that aren’t immediately obvious? (Do you use any tools to check your work?)”
  • “What’s more important to you, getting the work finished on time or making sure it’s of a high standard? Why?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you discovered an error made by someone more senior than you. How did you discover it and what did you do?”

And there you have it 🙂 a bunch of interview questions to determine whether your developer candidates are worth hiring.

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