Technical Interview Questions for aspiring Software Engineers

Technical interviews assess your knowledge and skill application. They are designed to assess your problem-solving abilities and evaluate how you would approach specific work situations. 

Preparing for the placement process can be daunting for newcomers who have just graduated or have limited industry exposure. This blog will discuss the most asked technical interview questions to help you in this journey!

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Table of Contents

Top Technical Interview Questions and Answers

The hiring process for technical jobs is well-structured, including a standard list of questions to test your subject knowledge and practical capabilities. Here are some Q&As for software engineers, developers, and other IT professionals looking to prepare in advance. 

1. What is computer software?

Computer software refers to a package containing a software program, its documentation, and a user guide. It is a set of instructions and data that tell the computer how to work. 

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2. What is the key difference between a computer program and software?

A computer program is a piece of code written in a particular programming language. It can be executed to perform a specific task. It is compiled every time the user needs an output—for example, web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.

On the other hand, software is a set of programs, libraries, and related data. Usually, they have an underlying data structure, specific algorithms (for calculations), and a user interface, like Microsoft Windows, Linux, MS Word, Excel, VLC Media, Adobe Photoshop, etc.

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3. What are the different types of software?

Software can be divided into system software and application software. While the former manages the system resources, the latter performs the specific functions for which the software is designed. System software is developed in low-level assembly languages, whereas application software uses C++, Java, .NET, etc. 

In the modern-day tech world, we can observe other software solutions like Embedded Software, Web Applications, and Artificial Intelligence Software. 

  • Embedded software, also known as firmware, controls machines, devices, or specialised hardware. For instance, the software that’s designed for the electronics of cars, digital watches, robots, and pacemakers. 
  • Web applications run on web browsers having an active network connection. Email, instant messaging services, and eCommerce platforms are some popular examples. 
  • Artificial Intelligence software mimics human behaviour of reasoning, learning from data patterns, analysing insights. Such solutions are equipped with features like Machine Learning, Voice Recognition, Image Processing, etc. Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa, IBM Watson, Salesforce Einstein, and Infosys Nia are prominent specimens.

4. Describe the software development process.

The software development process involves the following steps:

  • Planning: Defining the scope of the project, estimating costs, setting the schedules and requirements. 
  • Requirements: Gathering subject matter experts to list software requirements and documenting the specifications. 
  • Architecture: Organising the software elements, establishing relationships among them, and determining the properties and evolutions of the elements and relations. 
  • Implementation: Making use of the documented patterns and architecture to design components and produce code for a functional software (prototyping stage).
  • Testing: Assessing the code quality, functions, integration, performance, and security of the software.
  • Deployment: Releasing the software into the production environment. 
  • Documentation: Explaining how the software operates and how to use it.
  • Training: Supporting people in the organisation in understanding the software usage and how their role relates to it.
  • Maintenance: Modifying and updating the software in line with changing customer needs. 

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5. Can you list some SDLC models?

SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. Several SDLC models are available today, including the Waterfall, V-Shaped, Big-Bag, Spiral, Iterative, and Agile. 

6. What do you mean by verification and validation?

Both verification and validation include a set of activities that are performed for a specific purpose. Verification is about ensuring that the software implements certain functions. Validation encompasses confirming whether the software meets clients’ needs.

7. How do you ensure safety and speed in coding?

As a best practice, one should integrate security testing into the software development process, writing requirements, and performing architecture risk analysis during the design phase. If the software is slow, one should identify the reason for the time complexity. Continuous integration, automated testing, and agile methodologies are some ways to speed up the SDLC.

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8. What are software requirements? How can you prioritise and track them? 

Software requirements describe the functionalities and features of the proposed or target software system. 

To prioritise requirements, you first need to evaluate the data structure and then design the code structure to support it. The next step is to create a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) document. 

A standard Excel sheet with inputs on the requirements, types, dependencies, priority, etc., works best for tracking. 

9. Which language would you use for writing programming algorithms?

Software developers can choose a programming language depending on their skills and needs. However, one should prefer using high-level languages like C and C++ as they are dynamic in nature. 

10. What are the different types of programming?

Functional programming, interface programming, object-oriented programming, and aspect-oriented programming are among the well-established types.

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11. What is software scope?

Software scope designs all the activities that are required for developing and delivering a software product. It addresses the following concerns:

  • What will the software do?
  • What is not part of the project?
  • What are the estimated time and costs for finishing it appropriately?

12. What are CASE tools?

CASE is an abbreviated form of Computer Aided Software Engineering. It refers to using automated application programs to support and enhance SDLC activities.

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13. What does a software project manager do?

Software project managers are concerned with managing the software development process. They are responsible for the project planning, communication, and monitoring of the progress. They organise resources, check the costs and timelines, assess risks, and deliver quality software products in keeping with clients’ needs.

14. Can you mention some examples of project management tools?

The choice of the project management tools depends on the nature of the software project. Gantt Chart, Resource Histogram, Status Report, and Pert Chart are some of the widely-used options.

15. How do you measure project execution?

Software project managers use status reports, milestone checklists, and activity monitoring sheets to track progress and ensure that the development is on track. It also helps in identifying red flags early on and making adjustments as the implementation is underway. 

16. How can you find the size of software products?

Counting the lines of (i) delivered code and (ii) function points reveals the size of software products. 

17. List the most standard software estimation techniques available.

Software estimation comprises an approximation of the realistic amount of effort required to develop and maintain a software product. 

The decomposition technique follows a ‘divide and conquer’ approach by breaking down a project into its size, functions, activities, cost, etc. 

The empirical technique takes data from a previous project to guess estimates and make assumptions about the current software project. 

18. Which tools can you use for software analysis and design?

The software analysis and design phase translates the requirements specification into actual code. Here are some popular tools used in the process:

  • Data Flow Diagram
  • Structured Chart
  • Hierarchical Input Process Output Diagram
  • Data Dictionary
  • Entity Relationship Diagram
  • Decision Table

19. What does software configuration management entail?

Configuration management entails keeping a tab on the changes and controlling them. It brings consistency and reliability to the software system by ensuring that the product is created in congruence with organisational rules and regulations. 

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20. How can you find out the feasibility of a project?

A feasibility study about the economic, technical, and operational viability is essential for narrowing down alternatives and validating project ideas. 

  • Economic feasibility measures the costs of training, additional tools, etc., against the project benefits.
  • Technical feasibility covers the suitability of machines, operating systems, and software development tools available for the project.
  • Operational feasibility assesses whether the organisation will adjust to the changes demanded by the project within cost and other constraints.

21. What is the difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

Quality Assurance constitutes technical staff checking for the adoption of proper software development processes. Quality Control deals with the maintenance activities that sustain the quality of the software product.

22. Explain Modularisation and Cohesion.

Modularisation refers to dividing a software system into discrete modules that can carry out tasks independently. Cohesion is a measure of the functional relationships between the module elements. It is the integral glue that directs all elements towards a single task. 

23. Name the major points of difference between EXE and DLL.

EXE is short for an executable program, while DLL is a file that one can load and execute via programs. 

24. How are Stack and Queue different from each other?

Both Stack and Queue are data structures or containers of objects in software engineering. They differ primarily in terms of their insertion and removal principles. 

  • Stack is Last In, First Out. 
  • Queue is First In, First Out.

25. Solve this problem: There are twenty pairs of gloves of two types in a dark room. What is the minimum number of gloves you need to take to get a matching pair?

One could end up with a single type of gloves even upon picking up 50% of the total. By taking one more sock, one can be sure of getting at least one glove of the other type. So, it is best to grab a minimum of 11 gloves from the darkroom to get a matching pair. 

With this, we have covered 25 top technical interview questions and answers that will help you demonstrate your attention to detail and leave a powerful impression. 

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Which topics dominate technical interview questions?

Hiring managers use technical interviews as a way to test conceptual clarity and problem-solving skills. For positions like software engineer and full-stack developer, the interview rounds feature questions about the software development process, software requirements, design tools, CASE tools, SDLC models, project management fundamentals, among other topics.

What are the most required skillsets for software engineering jobs?

Software engineering jobs require professionals who are skilled in computer programming, coding, testing, and debugging. Apart from these hard skills, employers prefer candidates with superior problem-solving, communication, and multitasking abilities. So, as an aspirant, your profile should speak of your technical aptitude and showcase your critical thinking and creativity in developing effective solutions.

How do online courses help in preparing for technical interviews?

Online courses are excellent avenues for building relevant skills in a specialised area. They allow you to learn flexibly and in tune with industry requirements. For example, upGrad’s PG Certification in Software Engineering is a job-linked program that allows students to learn from experts, undertake projects, network with other practitioners, and receive career guidance for entering the modern-day job market.

How can I prepare myself for the technical interview round of the hiring process?

A technical interview tests you in several different ways at the same time, so it is easy to get overwhelmed. However, if you learn to approach it with the correct mindset, you can get through it without too much trouble. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview. Ask for a clearer explanation if you don’t fully understand a question. Enquire about their work ethic or values. Also, remember that you do not always need to be 100% accurate while solving problems. Even if you cannot implement a code snippet, you need to show that you understand the methodology to follow. Present yourself confidently and speak as clearly as possible.

What is the general format followed in such interviews?

Different employers use different methods in their technical interviews, but they can be broadly classified into three categories – whiteboarding, coding challenges, and take-home projects. Whiteboarding, as the name suggests, involves writing the code itself (or a pseudocode/algorithm) on a whiteboard. While this approach is gradually going out of fashion nowadays, it is still fairly common. Make sure to narrate your entire thought process in a logical flow while you write. When it comes to coding challenges, do not shy away from asking clarifying questions. Hardcode if you need to; it isn’t graceful but works, giving you an easy win and some confidence. If you feel it is going well, mention alternative approaches, or go into further detail.

What skills of the student are actually being tested in a technical interview?

As one might expect, coding aptitude, logical ability, and problem-solving skills are tested in a technical interview. However, there is much more at play. Through the technical interview, the company is also picking up on your personality traits and deciding whether you would be a good fit for their existing work ethic and team culture. Being sure of yourself, talking loudly and clearly, smiling often, and several non-verbal cues play an important role in determining how you come across.

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