Junior Software Developer Interview Tips

Software Engineering
Exponent TeamExponent TeamLast updated
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It's no secret that the job market is challenging now, and breaking into tech as a junior developer can be especially difficult. Whether you're going after a full time engineering role or are looking for your first internship, becoming a developer comes with hurdles!

For one, there are a lot of other candidates with similar skill sets competing for the same roles. Many junior developers are fresh out of bootcamps or just completed an undergraduate computer science program.

And because there are so many people with the same skills competing for these high paying tech jobs, employers often have their pick of the bunch and can be very picky about who they hire for junior developer positions.

Many companies now expect junior developers to have a few years of experience under their belts before they even apply.

Stand out in a sea of applicants with more experience

The answer isn't just practicing more junior developer interview questions or getting ready for your technical interview.

Read More: Software Engineer Interview Cheat Sheet: Tips, Tricks and Advice

If you're currently on the job hunt and feeling discouraged, don't be! With a bit of preparation, you can ace your next junior software developer interview.

Here are a few tips to increase your chances of landing the job you want.

Be Coachable

When you've been working as a senior software engineer for years or even decades, you build up a resume that shows everything you've achieved.

Everything from the community developer meetups you've hosted, talks you've given, and startups you've helped grow.

However, when you're just starting as a junior developer, you don't have that same wealth of experience to draw from. It may even be your first ever technical interview.

This can be a blessing in disguise.

Although some employers may not consider you because of your lack of experience, others will see it as an opportunity.

They'll be looking for someone in the job interview process who is coachable and willing to learn new technical skills. This is where your eagerness to learn comes in handy!

The fact is, there's always room for improvement—no matter how experienced you are.

Not everyone is willing to learn new things or take direction from more senior developers. Some are set in their ways and resistant to change.

In the software development industry that is constantly rapidly evolving, an unwillingness to learn new things can be a death sentence to your career, not just your technical interviews. Your preferred programming language may not be the hot new thing in a few years.

And in an interview, it can be a dealbreaker that makes the difference between getting a job offer or not.

Here are some ways that you can highlight your coachability as a junior developer in an interview:

Have a clear idea of what your learning plan is for the next few years.

Show that you are proactive in your learning by discussing the resources you use to brush up on your skills (books, online courses, etc.) and the topics you're excited to learn more about next. Junior developer interviews are a great place to showcase your goals and hopes for the future.

Be prepared to discuss how you would approach a problem that you've never encountered before.

This shows that you're not afraid of new challenges and are willing to think on your feet. Being able to write code is one thing, but knowing how to approach new problems is even more valuable.

Be able to talk about a time when you had to rapidly learn a new skill or concept.

This shows that you're adaptable and can roll with the punches, even when things are moving quickly.

Talk about a time when you received feedback and how you used it to improve your work.

When facing an interview, candidates often want to come across as experts who know all the answers. They feel this will position them as reliable and competent. What they forget is that employers also look for someone who can take feedback and use it to improve their work.

If you show a willingness and eagerness to learn during your interview and are always looking for ways to grow and better yourself, it will put you head and shoulders above other candidates who lack that same motivation.

Hiring junior developers for companies is tough because they're trying to find someone with enough skills to do the job but not so many that they're stuck in their ways.

Show Passion for your Work

In any job, being passionate about what you do is important.

When you're passionate about your work, it shows in the quality of your output and in your attitude.

Passionate developers  are usually more engaged, more excited to come to work each day, and more likely to go the extra mile when required.

They're also more likely to stay on the software engineer career path than jump ship to product or another field in tech.

Plus, employers want to see candidates who are just as invested in the company as they are. As they're conducting junior developer interviews, they'll likely ask you cultural questions to see where your passions lie.

Of course, not everyone is born with a profound vocation and calling to work as a developer. You might not have a natural passion for software development.

However, that doesn't mean you can't cultivate it.

If you're not passionate about software development yet, here are some things that you can do to change that:

Think about what made you go into software development in the first place.

Was it because you're excited about the technology or building things? Do you like being able to solve complex problems? Find a way to connect with your work on a personal level.

Not every small push to production you do will be fascinating and feel like a gamechanger.

That's why it's essential to keep the big picture in mind of how you're contributing to a better world or improving someone's life through your work.

Some developers even prefer to make the move to product manager from a developer career because they want to continue learning about users' wants and desires.

Never stop learning.

Research new technologies and trends, read articles and books on the topic, and try to find a way to apply what you're learning in your work.

You've been wanting to learn React for a side project all year. Just do it already!

The more knowledge you have, the more passionate you'll become about your job.

Passion is often infectious.

Build a network of like-minded individuals in your field that love what they do, and surround yourself with them.

Your love for software development will only grow. Likewise, if you show excitement and energy in your work, it will be noticed by those around you.

Identify the things that you're good at and try to spend more time on those.

When you're able to do the things you're naturally skilled at, it's usually more enjoyable and rewarding. Not only will this make you happier, but it will also make you better at your job.

Show Hunger

Show your interviewer that you have the desire and motivation it takes to do the job. And not just any old job—that specific role in that particular company.

You can do this by researching the company beforehand and tailoring your application to them.

Are you applying to an IT services firm? Show how well you manage projects and deadlines in your front end developer resume.

Are you trying to join a fast growing payment services startup? Highlight your past fintech experience or projects.

Never show up for an interview without knowing anything about the company and its people.

At the very least, you should know their mission statement and what they're trying to achieve.

For a company like Meta, their mission is "to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

This simple gesture shows that you genuinely want to work for them and care about the company's goals.

It also gives you a chance to connect with the company on a personal level and to find out if they're a good fit for you.

Remember that interviews work both ways; you're not just trying to impress them but also trying to decide if this is somewhere you want to work.

Contribute to Open Source Projects

This is a fantastic way to improve your skills and to show that you're someone who likes to give back to the community. It also shows that you're passionate about software development and willing to put in the extra work outside of your day job.

If you can show that you're passionate about your work and the company you'll be working for, it will go a long way in making the right first impression as a junior developer.

CodeTriage is a great place to find open source projects to contribute your skills to.

Have Good People Skills as a Developer

This can be a tricky one because not everyone is a born people person.

And that's okay. You don't have to be the life of the party or the most outgoing person in the room to do well in technical interviews.

However, if you get the job, it will be crucial to be able to communicate effectively with others and work as a team. And to show that you genuinely care for them.

It all starts with having emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

When a deployment doesn't go as planned, you need to be able to empathize with your team and work to find a solution.

Emotional intelligence is about being able to regulate your emotions, respond effectively to emotions in others, and create positive relationships.

And although some people will be naturally gifted in this field, like with any other aspect of intelligence, it can still be cultivated.

Showing emotional intelligence and developing good people skills will make a world of difference in how you interact with others, making you a better leader and problem-solver.

We all want to work with people we like and trust, so it's good business sense to focus on developing these skills.

Just remember that, like with anything else, it takes practice. The more you work on it, the easier it will become.

Early Career Software Engineering at Google

Thinking about getting a job at Google as a junior or early career developer?

The Google interview process is notoriously long and ever-changing. From online assessments, technical screens, and onsite interviews, Google is one of the toughest interview processes to get through.

Be sure to check out our complete Google software engineer interview guide for the full scoop on what to expect and how to prepare.

Even if you don't get the first job you apply for, take every interview as a chance to practice and to leave a good impression.

This is how you start building networks and stay at the top of mind with interviewers for future opportunities.

You never know when another door is going to open that's just the perfect fit.

Learn everything you need to ace your software engineering interviews.

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