Most of us are pretty nervous during job interviews, and then the recruiters come up with questions like “Why are you interested in a career as a software developer?”
You know it’s make-or-break and if you blank out or give a weak answer, you probably won’t get the job.
And that’s when it hits you. No matter how well you know that being a software developer is what you want to do, right here, right now is the time to articulate that.
If you aren’t prepared, you aren’t going to give this your best answer. You’re reading this because you do want to be prepared, so you’re already over the first hurdle.
Here are some ideas on how to field this question plus a few thoughts for you to mull over.
Do You – in All Honesty – Want a Career as a Software Developer?
No, this is not a dumb question. Maybe you have a degree in computer science. Maybe you’ve even got some experience, but is this what you really want?
Sure, we sometimes apply for jobs because we know we can do them and will get paid for them and for no other reason, but that’s not something one should base a career on.
Of course, now that you’re in the interview, you aren’t suddenly going to say “Actually, I don’t really want a career as a software developer. Thanks for asking.
Your question has made me see the light!” Admittedly, that would be rather funny and memorable, but presumably you want the job even if you don’t want the career.
However, if that’s the case, maybe you should be moving on to plan B instead of flogging the metaphorical dead horse.
So, what if it isn’t really what you want to do? Figure out what you really want! What if you’re not really sure?
Check out our reasons for wanting to be a software developer. If you fit some or all of them, it’s honestly worth a try – and they’ll help you get past this job interview question.
Top Reasons For Wanting To Be A Software Developer
1. You Love Solving Problems
Software is there to solve problems. Whether it’s at home, at work, or just a way of finding entertainment, nobody buys software unless they have a problem it can solve to begin with.
During the process of developing software, plenty of little problems and puzzles are going to crop up. Instead of getting frustrated, you’re pleased! It’s a new challenge!
2. You Want Work That Continually Provides New Challenges
The 9 to 5 doing the same routine things day in and day out for the rest of your working life is not for you! You like using your skills to tackle new projects and to find ways to improve things that work, but could be better.
Software development offers you the variation and daily challenges you need to keep your mind constantly involved and interested.
3. You’re Excited About Learning New Things Throughout Your Career
Technology moves fast and it’s driven by software. It’s a field that doesn’t stand still. There are constant advances to keep up with and you like to be right up there with the latest developments – and if possible, ahead of the curve!
Instead of regretting that what you know today will be outdated before long, you’re enthused.
4. You Like Working With Different Kinds of People as Part of a Team
Quite apart from the fact that software developers work in teams, the new trend is to create multidisciplinary teams so that software development doesn’t occur in a silo all on its own.
In DevOps, for example, developers and operations work together and interaction and communication are incredibly important. Forget about the “computer nerd alone in a basement” stereotype. Software developers have to be people-oriented.
5. You See Beauty in Order and Logic
If you’ve always been a bit of a neat-freak who likes to see everything in its proper place, you’re likely to enjoy a career in software development.
You’re one of those people who immediately spots anything that’s extraneous or out-of-place, and few things give you greater satisfaction than tidying them up. As to how you go about doing things, there’s a reason for everything, and it makes absolute sense!
6. You Love Finding Simple Solutions to Complex Problems
This one matches the point just above it rather well. You don’t like unnecessary complexity. The simpler the solution, the more elegant it seems to you.
If there’s an easy way, you won’t do it the hard way – unless you’re very sure that the hard way gives better results. And if that problem is complex, you’re a master at boiling it down to its simplest points and tackling them one by one.
7. You Enjoyed Puzzles and Mental Challenges
Ever since you were a kid, anything that presented some kind of puzzle that needed solving gave you pleasure.
To this day, anything that makes you do a few mental gymnastics to get to the bottom of it gets you feeling motivated – and absolutely determined to beat the challenge.
8. You’ve Done Programming for Work and for Fun and You Love It!
If this is you, what more is there to say? You love the nuts and bolts work. You may have started it as a hobby and discovered it to be the career you know you’ll enjoy.
Maybe you’ve tackled a few software development tasks in your professional life already, or you’ve developed software that’s currently in use. That makes you feel awesome.
9. You’re Creative
Most people think of the arts when they speak of creativity. But you know that being a software developer requires plenty of creativity too.
You check things out from different perspectives; you think out of the box. And if there’s a new idea, you love being part of turning it into a reality.
How to Answer That Question
So far, you’re likely to have spotted a few points that make you think: “This is me!” But having an inner conviction and expressing it are two different things.
Let’s begin with how not to answer that question about why you want a career in software development.
Trotting out glib answers that consist of the things you think other people want to hear isn’t only dishonest, it’s also going to show. Whatever you say, be sure that you really mean it.
Begin with being honest with yourself. Why are you interested in a career as a software developer? Why will you find this work rewarding and energizing?
In short, what makes you tick, what rings your bells, and why do you want to spend your working life doing this?
Things like wanting a steady job, good pay, and an in-demand profession are all very well, but lots of other types of work could fit that description and these practicalities don’t translate into passion.
Your answer depends on so many things that it’s nearly impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. Develop your own, truly sincere answer using a structured approach.
- What are the personal qualities and preferences that make you suitable for work as a software developer?
- How do they find expression in the way you work?
- What makes you feel pleased and satisfied with the results of your work?
- From the straightforward to the complex, what software developer activities do you see yourself enjoying?
- How have you put all of this to work so far?
- How do you see your future career development?
As we’ve already said, your answer will be unique when using this approach, but just to help you to see what an example might look like, let’s put one together using the numbers you’ll see above to demonstrate the structure..
- I love problem-solving and working with a team to achieve a worthwhile goal.
- When I tackle a new project, it’s exciting finding the most efficient way to achieve the best possible solutions.
- I love it when all the creativity, brainstorming, and solid hard work result in a product that satisfies users and solves the problem they had at the outset.
- From choosing the right tools to handle routine tasks to crafting a particularly elegant piece of code from scratch, software development is a career that offers me daily challenges, stimulating work, and satisfying results.
- In my previous role, I helped my company’s production team to reduce defects by developing a simple yet efficient system, and I’m looking forward to taking the next step in my journey as a software developer.
- In the years to come, I look forward to following, and possibly even taking the lead, in new developments that will make technology even smarter and better than it is today.
What if They Ask Why You Want to Work for Their Company?
Quite often, recruiters will follow up the question of why you chose your career with a question that’s designed to cover your potential for job satisfaction if they were to appoint you.
In a way, it’s a very closely related question because it seeks to uncover whether you’re likely to fit in and stick around.
While it may be tempting to lay on the flattery, talking about what a fantastic company you think it is, sincerity is still the best course. Instead, it’s your inner motivations that matter.
Of course, if you’ve been following that company’s progress for some time and are enthused about what they do, now’s your chance to show it, but it’s not a must.
At the very least, you should have some basic knowledge about the company and what it does, but remember that they don’t want to know how great you think the company is. Instead, they want to know if you’re a good fit.
You can prepare for this question best by studying the specifications of the job and by giving some serious thought to how it will sharpen your skills or help you to gain valuable experience.
You can link that back to why you chose your career but remember to be realistic about your future prospects. If they’re interviewing you as a software developer, they don’t want to hear about your ambitions to be their next CEO!
Don’t Ever “Fake it Till You Make it”
At one point in my career, I was very involved in recruiting, so you can take it from me: companies want smart, genuine people.
Anything that jars, that seems “off” or insincere isn’t going to win you any points. On the contrary, it may lose you the opportunity. Yes, you should prepare for job interviews, but don’t script.
If you’re a poor fit for the job – or the career – landing that post won’t just hurt the company, it will hurt you. Why? The answer is simple. You won’t last.
And in the time you’re there, you won’t be giving the job your best effort. When you move on, there will be no achievements to be proud of, and since you’ll move on pretty soon, you run the risk of looking like a job-hopper.
Let’s use an analogy. You’re dating. You’re constantly putting your best foot forward, and you’re frankly working to create a good impression regardless of whether you’re sincere about the things you do and say or not.
Supposing the relationship progresses and you marry that person – how’s that going to work out? Will you be happy?
Now let’s look at the flipside. You’ve always been honest with the person you’re dating. They’re able to get to know the “real” you. If it all works out, they know what they’re getting and they’re satisfied with that.
While it’s not quite such a big step as getting married, getting through job interviews is a lot like dating.
Didn’t land the job? Well, perhaps it wasn’t right for you after all – it’s way better finding out before you end up being a square peg in a round hole or totally out of your depth.
So, take a deep breath or three, know yourself, and forget about making your answers to job interviews sound pretty. Just be honest.
And if your honesty isn’t likely to land you any work as a software developer, well, you’ve just found something out: maybe it’s not the career direction for you after all!