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.NET technical interview questions: a senior .NET developer's personal experience

Together with Sergei, a Senior .NET Engineer who joined EPAM Anywhere over a year ago, we outlined key interview questions for .NET developers, and highlighted hints, lessons and tips that Sergei picked up during his interviewing process. The following information is provided in Sergei’s words, and he starts with a little background to introduce you to himself and his situation.

From Support Specialist to Senior .NET Developer at EPAM Anywhere

In the early 2000s, I worked as a Support Specialist at one of the local Internet providers in my hometown - Novosibirsk. Around 2011, I entered the software development domain, becoming a trainee in a healthcare project that rolled out an ERP system across multiple medical institutions.

Testing the waters of remote work

After many years working in an office, in October 2019, I decided to give remote work a try. My good friend and a former colleague, Alexander, got a job at EPAM Anywhere and encouraged me to apply for a Senior Software Developer position. A little while later, I found out that it would be a remote opportunity, and thought "why not?” I was hired for the position.

One of the best things that happened to me, thanks to the switch to remote, was getting rid of the time-consuming trip to the office. Previously, I spent about 2 hrs each day on the road! Remote work also opened up opportunities for traveling - I moved to the sunny city of Sochi with my family to spend the winter there.

Of course, remote work has its upsides and downsides. Recently, I became the father of a newborn, and I can tell you how challenging it can be to work from home with a baby on board. Yet, the upsides still outweigh the downsides, so I feel quite optimistic.

Building a project from scratch with the modern tech stack

So far, my team and I are working on an internal EPAM project - a digital platform for career and professional development that provides personalized career opportunities, explains how to reach them, and offers guidance on the way to achieving career goals. This project is entirely written from scratch, there is no legacy code, and I couldn't be happier about that.

More specifically, I work with:

  • .NET Core
  • C# 8.0
  • EF Core
  • PostgreSQL database
  • Kafka

Interestingly, my previous network administration experience also comes in handy. In my current project, one of my areas of responsibility involves numerous tech integrations, including integration with Kafka, which allows the team to scale the load and keep everything in one place.

.NET Technical Interview questions and the hiring process

I joined EPAM Anywhere through a referral system, and the application process was easy and smooth. Just over a week after I sent a CV, I was contacted by a recruiter and invited for a Technical Interview.

Typically, a Technical Interview for a .NET developer includes a:

  • background review, with .NET developer interview questions regarding candidate's past project experience
  • theoretical knowledge check
  • practical task to test hands-on technology expertise
  • soft skills check
  • Q&A session

What to keep on your radar regarding .NET Developer interview questions

    As per Aleksandr, Software Engineering Team Leader and Certified Technical Interviewer at EPAM Anywhere, experts who interview candidates engage in two types of Technical Interviews at EPAM Anywhere:

    1. A traditional interview for a specific project. In this case, there's a specific subject area and specific technology stack. Typically, there's also a key developer who is working on the project and is well aware of its context. The interview questions a .NET developer gets here is pretty narrow and aligned with the project requirements.

    2. An "entryway" interview with EPAM Anywhere. These interviews can be more complicated, since tech experts try to assess as many demanded skills as possible, so they ask a lot of .NET basic interview questions. Specifically, for Senior .NET roles, they check experience with:

    • .NET & .NET Core in particular, with a focus on web
    • JS: Angular, React, and other tools
    • Cloud technologies: Azure, AWS

    In terms of cloud technologies, at least basic DevOps experience is also critical. So, the experts may ask .NET interview questions about Docker, K8s, Kafka, etc. If the candidate can use at least a few products without vendor lock-in, that definitely helps them stand out from the crowd. Other than that, technical experts would like to know more about candidates' commercial experience since man doesn't live by ̶b̶r̶e̶a̶d̶ dockers and microservices alone.

    I went through the more challenging, comprehensive "entryway" interview, which took about two hours. Here's how the Technical Interview process worked for me and what kinds of .NET Technical Interview questions I got.

    Background review

    As a part of the .NET interview, the background review was held in a question and answer format. The tech expert asked me about my previous experience, projects, and cases or tasks I would highlight. At this stage, the interviewer seems to generally evaluate the candidate and form a general impression.

    Interview questions .NET developers get during the background review:

    • Describe your success with the projects listed in your CV
    • Share your experience with software or platforms from a .NET stack you were working on
    • Identify the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) methodologies you have worked with and how they were implemented in your previous projects
    • Suggest a few pros and cons of methodologies you've mentioned, and talk about what you do and don't like about them
    • Discuss your key responsibilities in each project, specific tasks you've been working on
    • Explain what architecture type was implemented at your previous project and how it correlated with the business perspective
    • Describe your ideal role

    Theoretical knowledge check

    In my experience, the theoretical knowledge check took the lion's share, about 70-80%, of the interview time. The .NET developer interview questions walked me through a comprehensive examination of the tech stack, from interfaces, inheritance, and delegates to the garbage collector.

    The theoretical knowledge check is quite extensive and covers both: (1) basic .NET interview questions, related to things like collections, streams, Language-Integrated Query (LINQ); and (2) knowledge of architectural principles like SOLID, understanding of DI and IoC, and ways to work with them.

    To make sure I was well prepared for this stage, I explored typical .NET developer interview questions and answers on Habr and other relevant resources and reviewed nearly every fundamental aspect of the .NET stack.

    Since the amount of information I needed to recap was huge, I followed the “one day, one topic” approach. This helped me focus, eliminate any confusion, and make sure that I understood the key concepts from a practical perspective.

    It's always interesting to have a general conversation and ask the candidates about expectations of the project. For some reason, most candidates want to work with technologies they don't really know but want to learn. The reality is that customers aren't willing to pay for that "want-to-learn" part.

    Aleksandr DanilovSoftware Engineering Team Leader

    Instead of mentioning skills that are too basic or those that you have yet to learn, tech experts recommend that candidates be prepared to describe and demonstrate their actual experience and knowledge.

    .NET basic interview questions during the theoretical knowledge check:

    • Explain the .NET framework and the principles of its work
    • What's the difference between Heap and Stack?
    • Describe the role of serialization and interface you need for it
    • Define the distinction between constants and read-only variables
    • Identify the principles behind mutually exclusive resource manager Mutex
    • Enumerate aspects that distinguish ODBC from ADO
    • Discuss the key differences and possible linkages between encrypting a password and applying hashing
    • Explain the purpose of Reflection
    • Describe the concept, principles, and use cases of design pattern
    • Talk about the role of the "using" statement
    • Discuss the distinction between anonymous method and a lambda expression
    • Explain the nature of JIT

    Practical tasks

    At the next stage, candidates may be asked to demonstrate some hands-on experience and describe cases in which they used a particular technology or framework. So, after the .NET architecture interview questions, the candidate is given a practical task that typically takes no longer than 10-20 minutes to complete. I received a few code samples that I was supposed to comment on, improve, or fix.

    Practical tasks for .NET developers during Technical Interview:

    • Provide your comments on the code snippet containing a specific class or method and share what you'd improve, or change, or if you find the code snippet well done.
    • Implement paging for the dataset from LINQ. Implement a 3rd-party API call.
    • Problem-solving and tests on logiс.

    Soft skills check

    Basically, there's no separate stage in which the interviewer asks soft skills questions. Instead, you may get questions at every stage - background review, theoretical, or practical tasks - that are focused on your soft skills, e.g., communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, stress resistance, teamwork, and others.

    Another essential part of this check is your English level: during the interview, the tech expert can suggest switching to English and having a brief conversation with you. Fluent English can significantly expand the list of projects available to you, and the salary opportunities.

    Soft skills come in all kinds. We do an English-level check through a few questions in English. To spot leadership and a proactive mindset, we suggest discussing real-life situations the candidate might have experienced. General adequacy is typically checked implicitly via the conversational tone. If the candidate fails to listen to the interviewer, doesn't follow the Q&A format, demonstrates persistent defiance or rudeness, it's a red flag for us. All in all, a soft skills check is primarily designed to understand whether a candidate is a good team player.

    Aleksandr DanilovSoftware Engineering Team Leader

    Q&A session

    Once the interviewer is done with questioning and challenging you with tasks, it's your turn to ask questions!

    I think it's nice to be prepared for this stage as well. Especially if your Technical Interview relates to a specific project. You can ask a few questions about technologies, project details, the team you are going to work with, and tasks awaiting you.

    You can also do your own "check" by asking about the processes established for this particular project, communication, if there are regular meetings, retrospectives, overtime, and so on.

    Asking questions is important because it demonstrates your strong soft skills and your interest in effective cooperation, so I recommend that you be proactive and take advantage of this opportunity.

    How to get ready for the Technical Interview

    Here are the key takeaways I'd like to share:

    1. Be prepared. Review the common .NET interview questions and answers, recap the fundamentals, and - the vital thing - make sure you clearly understand the principles, not just the right wording.

    2. Take it "bird by bird". To eliminate confusion and feeling overwhelmed during preparation, I suggest reviewing one topic each day.

    3. It's okay not to remember or know something. The critical point is to be honest about your actual knowledge and skill set, and be smart, focused, and ready to solve a task or suggest a solution on the go.

    4. Get ready for the English level check. In addition to refreshing your technical knowledge, it's equally important to brush up your English a bit before the interview. To do this, you can watch movies or TV series, read something in English, or rehearse the English presentation of your past project experience or skills.

    5. And the main advice: try to stay upbeat and calm. Feeling a little nervous is natural, but being too nervous may prevent you from demonstrating your knowledge, talents, and soft skills to their fullest. Besides, the atmosphere during the interview is open and friendly, so it's nice to arrive not only with hard core knowledge but also with a good mood!

    Anywhere lifestyle

    Besides working on an inspiring project and being a dad, I have a broad group of interests ranging from playing hockey and football to playing the guitar, reading fiction books, and studying investment fundamentals.

    In EPAM Anywhere, I found an excellent opportunity to maintain a work-life balance that leaves me time and energy for my favorite activities and interests.

    What's next? The opportunities to grow and develop at EPAM Anywhere are vast: you can upgrade your technical knowledge and seniority level or go for a manager position.

    A Lead role relates more to establishing processes and communication, while I prefer fewer calls and meetings, but more work with technologies. I enjoy programming so much and I'm not finished with it for sure.

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