Best Practices for Interviewing Junior Developers

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● September 29, 2022

Before beginning the hiring process, companies must assess their needs and what skills the ideal candidate will possess. Once they understand what they are looking for, they should then determine a course of action. What will the job description entail? What qualities and qualifications will the ideal candidate have? What hiring practices will you use when interviewing candidates? The company and candidates alike should have a clear understanding of the role and its expectations before reaching the interview phase. Once you begin conducting interviews, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. 

We’ve outlined our recommendations for interviewing junior developers below:

Best Practices

First and foremost, set clear expectations up-front. Provide the candidate with a verbal and written outline of the interview process, including the time frame and location, required documents and references, and appropriate attire. If the interview will be conducted virtually, make sure you provide the necessary information to the candidate on how to access the platform or link.

Next, allow space for preparation. When hiring juniors, it is essential to set time aside between the first conversation and the technical evaluation (1-2 business days). Whether you will be using a timed assessment or a code review, leave some time to get to know the candidate’s personality, too, during the interview process. However, despite setting time aside for this, you should still move fast in the hiring process. The market remains extremely competitive at the associate level, so consider the candidate's time and communicate frequently. And above all, be personal and equitable throughout the entire process. The best way to win over a candidate is with personalized communication and through relationship building.

Examples of Great Interview Questions

When interviewing junior developers, you should first ask about their experience. Asking about a candidate's past experience is an opportunity for the candidate to highlight both their soft and hard skills. For example, you may want to say the following, “Tell us about one of your first coding projects, and if you could rebuild it now, what would you do differently?” How a candidate answers this question will show their experience in coding, what they’ve learned since this initial project, and their ability to assess any errors they may have made early on. 

Next, test their curiosity. An ideal candidate will have a hunger for learning, so ask how they keep their skills relevant and how they plan to continue to do so. In this industry, the best candidates will be open to learning new concepts, software, and languages. Not only will they want to learn new things, but they should be willing to stick their neck out to do so.

After you gain an understanding of their curiosity and eagerness to learn, assess their opinions. You may ask, “What do you think makes a great software engineer?” or  “What makes great code?” Do you agree with their answer? Comparing their response to their own skillset as well can tell a lot about how the candidate views themselves and their capabilities. 

Finally, ask process-based questions, like “explain git flow” or “if you were to replicate Twitter, how would you go about building it?” This puts candidates on the spot and gives them the opportunity to display their problem-solving approach. It’s not so much about the “right” answer as much as it is an opportunity to see how the candidate thinks and approaches problem-solving. 

Additional Considerations

While incorporating the best practices mentioned above, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind. Don’t miss the opportunity to build and grow a diverse workforce at the beginning stages of your pipeline. Think beyond “early talent,” and include equal representation at every step of the process. After all, career changes are an excellent way to bring more diverse thought and experience into your organization.

Be intentional about who is conducting the interviews on your team, and ensure there is input on the process from team members at the same level and with different backgrounds. And above all, be transparent about opportunities for internal growth. Promotion starts from within, so provide the candidate with that vision for opportunities. To learn more about perfecting your interview process, contact Momentum today.