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Applications Developer Interview Questions

Position Summary

Applications developer work involves designing and writing source code for computer and mobile applications. They also work to debug code and make patches for existing software. 

Applications developers make updates for existing applications and compile technical handbooks to assist other developers. Their core duty is to create and test applications to make sure they work as needed.


An applications developer’s responsibilities include:

  • Writing source code to form a framework for new applications
  • Diagnosing problems with existing source code
  • Designing patches and updates for applications 
  • Developing technical manuals for use by other developers
  • Troubleshooting existing applications


An applications developer’s skills include:

  • Working in groups as well as working individually
  • The ability to communicate with other developers as well as clients
  • Advanced IT skills
  • Computer coding skills in multiple coding languages
  • Advanced problem-solving skills to debug issues as they come up


To qualify to be an applications developer, an applicant must be fluent in several computer coding languages as well as have experience in the field. While education in computer science is not always required if an applicant has sufficient experience, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related information-technology field will make the jobseeker more competitive. 


Salaries for applications developers range between $74K and $113K with the median being $93K.

Factors impacting the salary you receive as an applications developer include:

  • Degrees (associate's, technical certificate, bachelor's, master's)
  • Location
  • Size and Type of the Organization
  • Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager or supervisor you report to)
  • Level of Performance - exceeding expectations, etc.

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Applications Developer Interview Questions

Question: Tell me how would you explain object-oriented programming to a person who didn’t have a technical background?

Explanation: This is a general question that the interviewer will use to start a conversation, collect some information about you, and gain a better understanding of your background. General or opening questions provide you with the opportunity to steer the interview in a direction that you would like it to take. Your answer can prompt the interviewer to ask additional questions which you should be able to answer easily.

Example: "I find the best way to communicate with anybody, regardless of their background, is by using clear and easy-to-understand language. When explaining technical ideas to somebody without a scientific background, I go out of my way to break the topic down into easily understandable concepts without using acronyms or industry-specific terms. I would explain object-oriented programming as a technique that saves time and simplifies programming by utilizing common functions. For example, a program to fill in a form can borrow code from a program that creates general documents."

Question: What APIs do you have experience with that will apply to the programming you will do in this role?

Explanation: This is an example of an operational question. Operational questions help the interviewer understand how you go about doing your job and the techniques you use to accomplish projects you are assigned. Operational questions are best responded to directly and briefly, allowing the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if they are interested in this particular topic.

Example: “APIs are a critical element of any application. They help the applications integrate themselves into other well-known programs so users can exchange data between the various applications. Some of the APIs I have worked with and have experience using are from Twitter, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, and many other popular programs. I also create APIs for the applications that I program and make them available to other developers.”

Question: What are the resources you use when researching a solution to a complex programming issue?

Explanation: This is another operational question. As an application developer, you can anticipate that the majority of questions you will be asked during an interview will be either operational or technical. Both of these types of questions should be answered directly and succinctly. You should also anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer if they are interested in the topic you are discussing.

Example: "Whenever I encounter a complex programming issue, I take time to research it before proceeding with the coding. This helps me to get the coding done correctly the first time and also contributes to my knowledge base for future use. Resources I use to obtain this information include online articles, podcasts, developer forms, and software coding manuals. I also present the issue to my peers to get their input, which is usually the best way to resolve the issue.”

Question: Can you discuss the agile methodology of software development and talk about its advantages and disadvantages?

Explanation: As an applications developer, you should be familiar with several different models as frameworks for applications development. These include agile, scrum, waterfall, and several others. When an interviewer asks a specific question like this, it indicates that this is the methodology their organization uses. It would help if you spent some extra time discussing it to demonstrate your qualifications in this area.

Example: “Summarized, the agile methodology for software development involves frequent review by the project stakeholders after each stage of development. This enables the development team to identify errors or misdirection early in the process and address them. This methodology is more efficient than developing the entire application and then debugging it after all the code has been written. The one drawback to this methodology is that it takes additional time during the development process and is not efficient when using it on applications with a minimal amount of code or which use code which has already been developed and tested for other uses.”

Question: How do you address security risks when developing an application for internal company use?

Explanation: Second only to functionality is the security features of an application. Applications developers need to be intimately familiar with how to secure an application so the information it uses cannot be compromised or leaked to unauthorized entities. This is especially true for internal applications that may contain proprietary company information.

Example: “Throughout the application development process, I pay close attention to the security of the app. I make sure that the code is written securely, that I use strong encryption, and that my team nor I create back doors that hackers can use to penetrate the security measures. Before releasing the app, I run it through a series of security tests to make sure that the steps we’ve taken have been effective.”

Question: What steps do you take to prevent an application from crashing?

Explanation: One of the common features of early application development has been crashes or the application not working correctly.  Programmers used to release the application and let the users test it in production, identifying errors or bugs which could then be addressed. This was inefficient and unproductive. Contemporary code is developed, tested, and verified before it is released. Applications developers may provide updates, but these generally address user requirements, performance improvements, or any known bugs.

Example: “Once an application has been developed and released, it rarely crashes. This is due to the application development tools, testing software, and other methodologies contemporary applications developers use. Once I write a block of code, I review it and run it through several stress tests to make sure the code is strong and unlikely to crash. I use several different tools to discover relationships and dependencies between different blocks of code. I also employ methodologies like waterfall or agile during the development process to identify any errors early so they can be addressed.”

Question: Can you discuss how you balance addressing client demands with developing complex application software?

Explanation: Application development does not occur in a vacuum. Every single application has users and project stakeholders, and their needs must be addressed. As an applications developer, you should be able to discuss how you address the user needs and requirements while still maintaining the quality of the piece of code you are developing. Maintaining equilibrium between these two objectives is critical for any successful application development project.

Example: “Every application development project begins with a needs assessment and input from the users and project stakeholders regarding the desired outcome of the development process. I utilize these early conversations to review the user requirements and set realistic expectations for the project’s outcome. During the software application development process, I frequently update the project stakeholders, assessing them of the progress and, when possible, demonstrating the application’s functionality to them. Using methodologies such as agile facilitates this process and helps the development team stay aligned with the user needs.”

Question: How do you go about migrating an application from one hardware platform to another one with a different OS?

Explanation: Applications must be developed to run on a variety of different platforms and operating systems. This broadens the audience for any application and increases its functionality. Migrating across platforms and between operating systems requires the user interface to be consistent and the functionality to be the same, regardless of the device or platform the user employs to run the application.

Example: “Application portability across devices and operating systems is one of the key design and programming elements of the projects I work on. There are many tools available to help achieve this objective. Programming in languages such as C++ and Java and then compiling the application for the specific platform is one way to achieve this. Creating adaptable user interfaces also helps the application to look the same regardless of the device it is running on. I also monitor operating system upgrades so that the application can be updated to take advantage of the new features or requirements within the updated operating system.”

Question: Can you explain the critical differences between a web application and one designed for mobile devices?

Explanation: This is a follow-up question to the previous one. Whenever you provide an answer to an interviewer’s question, you should anticipate follow-up questions. This indicates the interviewer is interested in this topic and would like to explore it in more detail. It also indicates that this topic is of critical importance to the organization, so your answer should demonstrate your qualifications in this area.

Example: "There are several critical differences between web applications and ones designed for mobile devices. Web applications are written for specific browsers and used across a variety of different hardware platforms and operating systems. Mobile applications are device and OS-specific, so they must be written for a specific environment. Web applications are also more generous in the amount of code you are allowed to use, whereas mobile applications must be very detailed and efficient.  Another key difference is the user interfaces with elements such as resolution and screen size needing to be addressed.”

Question: If given the opportunity to work on a side project involving developing an application, what type of application would you choose to create, and why?

Explanation: This is a general question which the interviewer will ask to learn a little bit more about you, your preferences, and the type of programming you enjoy. Your answer to this question should not only reflect your personal preferences, but it should also align with the type of work the organization does. Every answer you give during an interview should demonstrate your qualifications for the position for which you are interviewing. This is a great opportunity to do this. You can determine the correct answer to this question by doing extensive pre-interview research on the organization, the applications it develops, the personnel who work there, and some of the projects they’ve already completed.

Example: “When not working on projects for my employer, I enjoy coding software targeted toward improving applications used in distance-learning environments. I have witnessed people trying to use applications for this purpose struggling due to the complexity of the interface, the limitations of the application, and other critical issues. These are areas I am familiar with and know that I can improve. I have developed an application which is currently being beta tested by one of the schools in the local area. I intend to make this available as freeware for any educational institution that would like to incorporate it into their curriculum.”

Additional Applications Developer Interview Questions

  • What projects have you worked on independently? What projects have you undertaken as part of a team?

  • What coding languages do you use? How do you keep up to date with current technologies and practices in your field?

  • What is your experience in presenting your work to clients?

  • How do you ensure an application will be user-friendly?

  • Are there any particular types of applications that are your specialty?

  • What is an application you use that you would have liked to have worked in the development process for?

  • What is your least favorite application? Why? How would you go about fixing it?

  • What previous work are you the proudest of? Explain why.

  • Describe a time when you had to work with a difficult team member. How did you work through disputes?

  • If you were to lead a team of developers, how would you motivate them?

A word of warning when using question lists.

Question lists offer a convenient way to start practicing for your interview. Unfortunately, they do little to recreate actual interview pressure. In a real interview you’ll never know what’s coming, and that’s what makes interviews so stressful.

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