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Article

6 min read

15 Must-Ask Back End Developer Interview Questions for Recruiters

Global hiring

Author

Shannon Hodgen

Published

October 26, 2023

Last Update

June 28, 2024

Table of Contents

1. Tell us about your experience in back end development.

2. Can you explain your familiarity with web servers and their role in backend development?

3. How do you approach technical challenges? Can you share an example of how you’ve overcome a technical challenge in a previous project?

4. Tell us about your experience with database management and optimization.

5. What is your experience with version control systems and collaborative coding practices?

6. How do you ensure cybersecurity within your projects?

7. How do you use caching mechanisms, libraries, or tools in your work?

8. How do you approach application deployment in a cloud environment?

9. Can you share your experience with different types of APIs?

10. How do you improve scalability in your work?

11. What’s your approach to identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks in web applications?

12. Describe your experience with continuous integration tools and how you’ve used them in past projects.

13. What is your experience working with cross-functional teams and stakeholders to achieve set goals?

14. How do you stay on top of industry trends and advancements in your field?

15. How do you prioritize tasks in a project?

Next steps

Skilled back end software developers are in high demand as the need for their expertise continues to grow. These developers play a crucial role in creating and maintaining the server side of web applications, ensuring that they function seamlessly and efficiently. In their role, they typically collaborate closely with front end developers and database administrators to deliver a flawless user experience.

Key facts and data
  • Average salary: The median salary for a mid-level back end developer in the US is $67,320 (USD) per year, according to anonymous salary data provided to Deel. This can vary depending on location and experience level.
  • Industry growth: The demand for back end developers is expected to grow by 17% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for other occupations.
  • Typical entry-level education: A bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field is typically required for entry-level positions in back end development.
  • Employment change (2022-32): It is estimated that there will be 16,700 new job openings for back end developers each year, on average, from 2022 to 2032.
  • Growth trends: With the continued advancement of web technologies and the exponential growth of online platforms, the need for back end developers will only continue to increase.

Before you start the hiring process, review these interview questions for back end developers to make sure you cover all the required information. If you’re on the candidate side, use these questions and example answers to prepare for your next interview.

1. Tell us about your experience in back end development.

Aim: To assess the candidate's knowledge of back end development principles and best practices.

Key skills assessed: Understanding of server-side programming, knowledge of databases, and familiarity with backend frameworks.

What to look for

This is typically one of the first web development interview questions recruiters will ask. Look for answers that showcase the candidate's ability to write clean and efficient code, as well as their understanding of server-side architecture.

Example answer

"In my previous role, I worked extensively with backend frameworks such as Django and Node.js to build scalable and robust web applications. I also utilized SQL databases to store and retrieve data efficiently. By following best practices, such as modular code design and security measures, I was able to optimize the performance of the applications I worked on."

2. Can you explain your familiarity with web servers and their role in backend development?

Aim: To assess the candidate's familiarity with web technologies.

Key skills assessed: Knowledge of web servers, HTTP protocols, and RESTful APIs.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain the role of web servers in serving web content, understand the HTTP protocol, and have experience working with and building RESTful APIs.

Example answer

"As a back end developer, I have a strong understanding of web servers and how they deliver web content to users. I am proficient in working with the HTTP protocol and have experience designing and implementing RESTful APIs. In a previous project, I built a RESTful API using Python Flask, which allowed for seamless communication between the front end and back end of the application."

3. How do you approach technical challenges? Can you share an example of how you’ve overcome a technical challenge in a previous project?

Aim: To assess the candidate's problem-solving skills and ability to handle technical challenges.

Key skills assessed: Troubleshooting, debugging, and critical thinking.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain their approach to troubleshooting and debugging, as well as their ability to think critically and analyze complex problems.

Example answer

"When faced with a technical challenge, my first step is to identify the root cause of the issue through thorough debugging and testing. I utilize logging tools and run tests to narrow down the problem area. Once I've identified the issue, I work on finding the most efficient solution, keeping in mind the impact on performance and scalability. In a recent project, I encountered a issue with slow database queries, and after analyzing the code and making necessary optimizations, I was able to significantly improve the application's response time."

4. Tell us about your experience with database management and optimization.

Aim: To assess the candidate's understanding of database management and optimization.

Key skills assessed: Database design, query optimization, and data modeling.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can demonstrate their knowledge of database management systems, their understanding of efficient query design, and their ability to create scalable database structures.

Example answer

"In my previous role, I worked extensively with MySQL and MongoDB databases. I have experience designing database schemas, optimizing queries for better performance, and implementing indexing strategies. I also have knowledge of data modeling techniques, such as ER diagrams, which help in ensuring efficient data storage and retrieval."

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5. What is your experience with version control systems and collaborative coding practices?

Aim: To assess the candidate's knowledge of version control systems and their understanding of collaborative coding practices.

Key skills assessed: Experience with Git or other version control systems, familiarity with collaborative coding workflows.

What to look for

Look for candidates who are comfortable using version control systems like Git, and who understand the importance of collaborative coding practices, such as code reviews and branching strategies.

Example answer

"I have been using Git for version control throughout my career. I am familiar with common Git commands and workflows, such as creating branches, merging changes, and resolving conflicts. I have also actively participated in code reviews, providing constructive feedback and ensuring code quality and consistency across the team."

6. How do you ensure cybersecurity within your projects?

Aim: To assess the candidate's knowledge of cybersecurity measures and best practices.

Key skills assessed: Familiarity with web security vulnerabilities, understanding of encryption algorithms and secure coding practices.

What to look for

Cybersecurity is an important topic to cover in your backend engineer interview questions. Look for candidates who have a solid understanding of common web security vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting, and who can explain the importance of secure coding practices, such as input validation and data sanitization.

Example answer

"In my previous role, I worked on implementing various security measures, such as input validation and output encoding, to protect against common web security vulnerabilities. I am familiar with OWASP guidelines and always prioritize secure coding practices. Additionally, I am experienced in using encryption algorithms, such as AES, to protect sensitive data in transit and at rest."

7. How do you use caching mechanisms, libraries, or tools in your work?

Aim: To assess the candidate's knowledge of caching mechanisms and their ability to optimize application performance.

Key skills assessed: Understanding of caching techniques, familiarity with caching libraries and tools.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain the benefits of caching and their experience using caching libraries or tools, such as Redis or Memcached, to improve application performance.

Example answer

"In a previous project, I implemented caching mechanisms using Redis to optimize the performance of the application. By caching frequently accessed data and reducing database queries, we were able to significantly improve response times and reduce server load. I have also used other caching libraries, such as Memcached, to improve application scalability."

8. How do you approach application deployment in a cloud environment?

Aim: To assess the candidate's familiarity with cloud platforms and their ability to deploy applications in a cloud environment.

Key skills assessed: Experience with cloud platforms, knowledge of deployment strategies.

What to look for

Look for candidates who have experience deploying applications in cloud platforms like AWS or Azure, and who can explain the benefits and challenges of using cloud services.

Example answer

"I have worked extensively with AWS, deploying applications using services like EC2 and S3. I am comfortable setting up load balancers, autoscaling groups, and configuring cloud storage. I understand the benefits of using cloud platforms, such as scalability and high availability, and I am familiar with deployment strategies, like continuous integration and delivery, to streamline the deployment process."

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9. Can you share your experience with different types of APIs?

Aim: To assess the candidate's knowledge of API integration and their experience working with third-party APIs.

Key skills assessed: Understanding of API concepts, familiarity with REST and SOAP APIs.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain the process of integrating APIs into web applications, their experience working with different types of APIs, and their ability to handle authentication and data retrieval using APIs.

Example answer

"I have integrated various third-party APIs into web applications, including payment gateways, social media APIs, and geolocation APIs. I am familiar with RESTful and SOAP APIs and understand the importance of properly handling authentication and data retrieval. In a recent project, I successfully integrated a payment gateway API, allowing users to make secure transactions within the application."

10. How do you improve scalability in your work?

Aim: To assess the candidate's understanding of scalable architecture and their ability to design and implement scalable solutions.

Key skills assessed: Knowledge of scalable architecture patterns, experience with horizontal and vertical scaling.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain scalable architecture patterns, such as microservices or serverless architecture, and who have experience with horizontal and vertical scaling to meet the demands of growing applications.

Example answer

"I have implemented scalable solutions using microservices architecture, breaking down complex applications into modular and independently deployable services. I have also used containerization technologies, like Docker, to improve scalability and deployment flexibility. Additionally, I have experience with horizontal and vertical scaling to ensure high availability and optimal performance as the application grows."

11. What’s your approach to identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks in web applications?

Aim: To assess the candidate's understanding of performance optimization techniques and their ability to identify and resolve bottlenecks.

Key skills assessed: Proficiency in code profiling and optimization, familiarity with performance monitoring tools.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can explain their approach to performance optimization, their experience using code profiling tools, and their ability to identify and resolve performance bottlenecks.

Example answer

"I prioritize performance optimization in my development process, using code profiling tools to identify performance bottlenecks. Once identified, I work on optimizing database queries, minimizing network calls, and implementing caching mechanisms to improve response times. In a recent project, I reduced the application's overall response time by 50% by optimizing the database schema and implementing caching strategies."

12. Describe your experience with continuous integration tools and how you’ve used them in past projects.

Aim: To assess the candidate's understanding of continuous integration and their experience with build and deployment automation tools.

Key skills assessed: Familiarity with continuous integration and delivery concepts, experience with tools like Jenkins or CircleCI.

What to look for

Look for candidates who understand the benefits of continuous integration and delivery, and who have experience setting up build and deployment pipelines using tools like Jenkins or CircleCI.

Example answer

"I have implemented continuous integration and delivery workflows using tools like Jenkins and GitLab CI/CD. I understand the benefits of automating the build and deployment process, including ensuring code quality through automated tests, and seamless delivery of new features. In a previous project, I set up a CI/CD pipeline that automatically triggered builds and deployments whenever changes were pushed to the repository, reducing the release cycle from days to minutes."

13. What is your experience working with cross-functional teams and stakeholders to achieve set goals?

Aim: To assess the candidate's ability to work in a team and collaborate effectively with other developers and stakeholders.

Key skills assessed: Communication skills, teamwork, and adaptability.

What to look for

In your list of interview questions for web developers, include a few that touch on how they work with others. Look for candidates who can demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively, their communication skills, and their adaptability in a team environment.

Example answer

"In my previous roles, I have worked in cross-functional teams, collaborating closely with front end developers, designers, and project managers. I believe effective communication is key to successful teamwork, and I strive to maintain open and transparent communication channels. I am adaptable and comfortable with taking on different roles and responsibilities to help the team achieve its goals."

Aim: To assess the candidate's ability to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies.

Key skills assessed: Passion for learning, familiarity with industry publications and resources.

What to look for

Look for candidates who can demonstrate their passion for learning, their active participation in industry communities, and their familiarity with industry publications and resources.

Example answer

"I am passionate about staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies. I regularly attend developer conferences and participate in online communities, such as Stack Overflow and GitHub, to learn from others and share my knowledge. I also stay informed through industry publications and blogs, such as Smashing Magazine and CSS-Tricks."

15. How do you prioritize tasks in a project?

Aim: To assess the candidate's ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks effectively.

Key skills assessed: Time management, organizational skills, and ability to prioritize.

What to look for

When asking web dev interview questions about time management, look for candidates who can explain their approach to managing multiple tasks, their ability to prioritize effectively, and their organizational skills.

Example answer

"I am a highly organized individual, and I use tools like Trello or Jira to manage my tasks and prioritize them based on their importance and deadlines. I also break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable subtasks to ensure progress is made consistently. In a previous project, I successfully managed a tight deadline by effectively prioritizing tasks and coordinating with other team members."

Next steps

By incorporating these 15 common web development interview questions and answers into your hiring process, you can thoroughly gauge candidates' skills and expertise and enhance your ability to identify top-tier talent throughout the interview process.

Additional resources
  • Job Description Templates: Promote open roles quickly and easily—just customize and post.
  • Get Hired Hub: Where global employers and talent can connect and begin working together.
  • Global Hiring Toolkit: See the latest salary data, calculate employee costs, determine competitive benefits packages, and more.

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