Talent Acquisition

How to interview and evaluate Junior Developers

Junior developer interview

In this blog post, we will delve into key areas that you should focus on during junior software developer interviews.

Selecting an awesome candidate to fill a junior developer role can be challenging. As technology continues to evolve like wildfire, identifying and evaluating essential skills is crucial for startups looking to stay ahead of the curve. Here we'll discuss essential technical skills, pre-employment assessments like coding challenges and project-based tasks that simulate real-world scenarios. We'll share some critical interview questions tailored specifically for junior developers designed to gauge their knowledge of advanced concepts and problem-solving abilities. 

This is an overview of what can be a deep and broad pursuit, but it’ll help as a decent starting point for founders and hiring managers. 

Table of Contents:

  • How much should a junior know about their preferred programming language?
  • Essential Junior Developer Skills
  • Pre-Employment Assessments for Developers
  • Critical Interview Questions for Junior Developers
  • Evaluating Coding Abilities During Interviews
  • Assessing Soft Skills for Junior Developers
  • Evaluating Collaboration Experience
  • Conflict Resolution and Collaboration Skills
  • FAQs in Relation to Junior Developer Interview
  • Conclusion

How much should a junior know about their preferred programming language?

Technical skills are important but for someone starting out in their career, their approach to learning, their passion for the industry and other less “hard’ capabilities come much more to the fore. 

Assessing Attitude Towards Learning

You could as them questions such as;

  • Tell us about any recent technology trends that interest you?
  • What publications, newsletters, books are you reading on development. 
  • Can you share something interesting you read?

Candidates who are proactive learners tend not only to be better at solving problems but also bring more value by staying updated with industry developments.

Showcasing Passion For Software Development

Passion plays an integral role in determining if they'll enjoy working long-term as developers within your growing org.

For instance, you can ask them:

  • Tell us about a project that you worked on that made you feel proud of your work?
  • What was the most challenging aspect of working on this project? How did you overcome it?

Candidates who show excitement when discussing past projects are more likely to be committed to their work and have an easier time adapting to new technologies.

Having covered the more holistic stuff, let's delve into the technical aspects.

Essential Junior Developer Skills

When hiring a junior developer, assess their foundational skills and knowledge to ensure they can adapt quickly and contribute effectively. Here are a few we consider fundamental; 

  • Programming Languages: Candidates should have experience with popular languages like JavaScript and Python.
  • Web Development Frameworks: Understanding modern frameworks such as React and Angular will enable them to hit the ground running.
  • Databases and SQL: Knowledge of database management systems like MySQL and PostgreSQL is vital for data-driven applications.
  • Source Control Systems: Familiarity with version control tools like Git ensures efficient collaboration and code integrity.

Evaluating these core competencies during interviews identifies promising junior developers with technical aptitude and potential for growth.

Pre-Employment Assessments for Developers

When hiring junior developers, it's crucial to evaluate their technical skills accurately, and pre-employment assessments can help.

  • Programming skills tests: Deploying a platform to test coding abilities and narrow down candidates helps with standardization, removing gut feel and therefore making your process more inclusive and the results more valid.
  • Project-based tasks: Assign tasks that simulate real-world scenarios to showcase practical skills.

By incorporating these assessments into your hiring process, you can ensure that the developers joining your team have the necessary foundational skills for success within your organization. For our top picks on coding testing tools, check out our article here.

Critical Interview Questions for Junior Developers

Asking the right interview questions, but crucially knowing the difference between a strong versus a weak answer is key to finding top-notch junior developers.

  1. How do you stay updated with new technologies?
    Look for candidates who mention credible sources like Stack Overflow, industry blogs, or online courses.
  2. Can you explain how version control works?
    Test their knowledge on Git and their ability to communicate complex concepts clearly.
  3. Describe the Model View Controller architecture pattern.
    Assess their familiarity with React and Angular and their understanding of software architecture principles.
  4. What are some best practices when writing code?
    Let candidates showcase their coding philosophy to reveal insights into their attention to detail, organization skills, and overall approach to programming.
  5. How would you handle conflicting priorities or tight deadlines?
    Gauge their ability to manage stress effectively while maintaining productivity under pressure. 

Incorporating these critical questions into your junior developer interviews will help ensure that your hires possess not only strong technical aptitude but also valuable soft skills needed for success in a collaborative development environment. 

Evaluating Coding Abilities During Interviews

Assessing a candidate's practical coding abilities during interviews is crucial to ensure they have the skills needed for your team.

One effective way to do this is by incorporating live-coding exercises, where applicants demonstrate their approach to solving problems in real-time while explaining their thought process.

Pair-programming sessions with existing team members are also popular, allowing both parties to assess how well they collaborate and communicate under pressure.

  • Code review exercises: Present candidates with sample projects that contain errors or areas for improvement, asking them to identify issues and suggest optimizations.

These evaluations help you better understand a junior developer's true capabilities beyond what's listed on their CV, ensuring informed hiring decisions.

Assessing Soft Skills for Junior Developers

Technical aptitude is important, but don't forget about soft skills like teamwork and communication when evaluating candidates.

Evaluating Collaboration Experience

Ask candidates about their experiences working on group projects at uni or in their coding academy and how they handled challenges:

  • How did you ensure effective communication while collaborating with another developer or team member?
  • Describe a situation where there was disagreement among team members. 

Conflict Resolution and Collaboration Skills

As anyone working in a team, developers are no different. They  must be able to settle disputes and work together. Ask candidates how they approach these situations:

  1. If two colleagues have opposing ideas on how to implement a feature, how would you find common ground?
  2. How do you manage tasks efficiently when multiple priorities compete for your attention?

Remember, evaluating soft skills during the interview process can help you identify candidates who will excel in your organization.


Finding a technically proficient junior developer with strong soft skills can be a challenge, but pre-employment assessments like coding challenges and project-based tasks can help evaluate their abilities.

But like any recruiting campaign, it's super important to note that they are also assessing you!! Keep candidate experience top of mind, leave ample time for them to ask you questions and please please please be empathetic and don’t turn your interview into the Spanish inquisition. 


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FAQs in Relation to Junior Developer Interview

How to Prepare for a Junior Software Developer Interview

Understand programming languages, web development frameworks, databases and SQL, and version control systems; practice coding challenges online and review past projects; research the company's tech stack and culture to tailor your answers during the interview.

Difficulty of Junior Developer Interviews

The difficulty of Junior Developer interviews varies depending on the company's expectations, assessing both technical aptitude and soft skills; prepare by practicing problem-solving exercises and reviewing essential concepts in software development.

What to Expect at an Interview

Expect questions about programming languages like JavaScript or Python, familiarity with frameworks such as React or Angular, understanding of databases/SQL, knowledge of source control systems like Git, coding exercises/challenges, and discussions about teamwork/collaboration experiences.

How to Ace a Junior software Developer Interview

Demonstrate strong technical skills in relevant programming languages/frameworks/databases/version control systems while showcasing excellent communication/teamwork abilities; be prepared with examples from previous projects/experiences that highlight these qualities; research the company beforehand to align yourself with their values/tech stack.

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