Never Ask These Questions When Interviewing Software Engineers

Dr Stuart Woolley
Published in
11 min readMar 18, 2022


If you find yourself asking any of these, shame on you!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I’ve been to a lot of interviews over the years, both as a prospective contractor and permanent employee, and as a result have been interviewed by what I like to term an ‘interesting’ range of people.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get actually technical people conducting the interview, but most of the time it seems like you get whoever was available at the time sitting in front of you. This could be anyone ranging from a project manager, who most likely wondered in by mistake when looking for the canteen, to someone who came in to deliver some photocopier paper and asked to use the office toilet.

Whoever you get, the first warning sign is that they’ll have a list of prepared questions. The second warning sign is that it’s (un-)clearly been photocopied to within an inch of its long, long life.

It goes without saying that you’re going to bit hit with a range of banal run of the mill questions that either the company has always used or have been downloaded at some point during 2011 from site result #1 on a dated Google¹ search “top 10 great interview questions!”

It’s so physically painful to have made the effort of negotiating the tedious mind melting drudgery of the recruitment industry only to find yourself sat down², having made a vague effort to look presentable (in my case a shirt) and hear the same old questions paraded out over and over again.

Interviewing takes effort and, at least in my experience, the effort you put in preparing to give an interview and conducting an interview is directly proportional to the quality of hire you’re going to get.

That is, of course, bearing in mind that you’ve managed to get at least vaguely suitable candidates into an interview — and not the usual recruitment agency scattergun practice of sending you everyone and everything them having just thrown your carefully prepared job specification out of the window on immediately on receipt.

Let’s take a look at a few of the classics, ridicule how hilariously inappropriate they are in the modern world, and at least gesture toward giving some vaguely useful advice other than ‘just leave’.



Dr Stuart Woolley
Editor for

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, Twitter, and Overwatch fan.

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