Stop Guessing, Start Assessing: Technical Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

by AEG on June 10, 2024 in Hiring

Did you know a single bad tech hire is estimated to cost 30% of a candidate’s first-year salary? There’s also a litany of collateral damages that, while difficult to put into hard numbers, are just as negatively impactful to your organization:



The competition for top talent is fierce, and traditional interviewing methods often fail to identify the true potential (or lack thereof) of jobseekers.


That’s where AEG comes in. For over 30 years, we’ve been a trusted partner for businesses navigating the complex world of IT and engineering recruitment. We’ve seen firsthand the critical role effective interviewing plays in building a high-performing tech workforce.


In this blog, we’ll equip you with powerful questions to ask candidates, along with insightful techniques to assess their true skill sets. By the end, you’ll be well on your way to attracting top performers and forming your dream team.


Crafting an Effective Interview Strategy

Identifying your ideal candidate requires going beyond a generic interview script. You need a tailored strategy that assesses both the technical skills and the soft skills that make them a great fit for your team.


Tailoring Questions to the Role

It all starts with understanding the specific technical needs and responsibilities of the open position.  A junior developer, for example, may need to demonstrate strong coding fundamentals and a willingness to learn, while a senior architect will need to showcase in-depth technical expertise and strategic vision.


Here’s what tailoring questions looks like in action:


Junior Developer:

  • “Walk me through your thought process for debugging a common coding error.”
  • “Describe a recent project where you had to learn a new programming language.”

Senior Architect:

  • “How would you design a scalable and secure architecture for this specific application?”
  • “Explain your approach to leading and motivating a team of developers.”

Partnering with a staffing firm like AEG provides a valuable advantage, too. Our IT and engineering recruiters have a deep understanding of industry trends and in-demand skills. We can collaborate with you to define targeted interview questions that both assess technical proficiency and align with your workplace culture.


Beyond Technical Skills: Assessing Soft Skills

Technical expertise is crucial, but a successful team player also needs strong soft skills. Here’s where behavioral interview questions come into play.


Consider these questions to assess a candidate’s personality:

  • Problem-Solving: “Describe a complex technical issue you faced in a previous role. How did you approach it, and what was the outcome?”
  • Communication: “Tell me about a time you had to explain a technical concept to someone with no technical background.”
  • Teamwork: “Give an example of a project where you had to collaborate effectively with a team to achieve a common goal.”

By incorporating both technical and soft skills assessments, you’ll gain a well-rounded picture of each candidate and make informed hiring decisions that contribute to your long-term success.



Common Interviewing Pitfalls to Avoid

Even the most seasoned interviewers can fall into some common traps. Here are a few pitfalls to be aware of, along with tips to navigate them successfully.


Pitfall #1: Asking Generic Questions

Questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Why do you want this job?” are overused and reveal little about a candidate’s specific skills or fit for the role.


Tailor questions to the specific technical skills and experience outlined in the job description. For example, instead of “Tell me about yourself,” ask “Describe a project where you used XYZ technology to solve a specific problem.”


Pitfall #2: Focusing on Trivia

Questions testing basic technical definitions or obscure syntax may not uncover a candidate’s true understanding or problem-solving abilities.


Shift towards scenario-based questions that require critical thinking and application of knowledge. “Explain how you would approach debugging a complex error within this specific codebase” is a more valuable question than “What does the keyword ‘static’ mean in Java?”.


Pitfall #3: Leading Questions

Questions phrased in a way that suggests a preferred answer can limit the candidate’s ability to showcase their unique perspective and thought process.


Instead, frame questions in a neutral and open-ended way. As opposed to “Do you prefer coding in Java or Python?”, try “Walk me through your experience with different programming languages and how you choose the most suitable one for a specific project.”


Pitfall #4: Focusing Solely on Technical Skills

While technical expertise is crucial, neglecting soft skills can lead to hiring someone who may be technically proficient but struggles to collaborate or communicate effectively.


Integrate behavioral interview questions alongside technical ones. “Describe a time you had to explain a complex technical concept to a non-technical team member” assesses both technical knowledge and communication skills.


Partnering for Success with AEG

Building a dream tech team takes time, effort, and expertise—it’s a process you don’t have to go through alone. AEG acts as a trusted partner, providing the guidance and resources you need to attract and retain the highly skilled professionals you need to drive your business forward.


Don't settle for a “good enough” tech team. Build a great one with AEG. Reach out to us today and discover the difference a strategic recruitment partner can make.