With the universe of mobile apps still growing at an astounding rate, Android developer skills are in high demand, but navigating a successful job interview for an Android developer role means more than just being able to tick off your list of apps built and skills learned.
When you’re an independent developer, you have the privilege and challenge of working only with yourself. But most companies with an Android development roadmap have development teams. As a team member, you’ll not only solve problems creatively, but you’ll also need to advocate for your development choices. Ultimately, you’ll need to spend your Android developer job interview demonstrating that you not only have the “hard” development skills necessary for the role, but also the “soft skills” that will allow you to collaborate with others.
Madhu Venkatesh, director of platform engineering for online learning platform Udemy, explained that the “standard” interview questions facing Android developers don’t actually differ that much from what other kinds of developers face. “Candidates should be able to explain their experience in detail, as well as specific problems they have solved in the past,” she said. “They should also expect to get a lot of questions on how they work cross-functionally.”
You should anticipate these “general” questions, especially ones that relate to teamwork. The company has an interest, as we mentioned, in determining how you’ll ultimately perform as part of a group. For example:
- What size teams are you most used to?
- What is your experience collaborating with remote teams?
If you’ve listed past projects on your application materials (and you most definitely should), be prepared to talk not only about your role in those projects and why they succeeded, but how those successes hinged on both “hard” and “soft” skills.
Android Developer: Approaching the Problem
During most interviews, potential hires end up tested on their creative approach to solving design problems. That means a test of some sort, often on a whiteboard (although a piece of paper or a PC are other potential venues). This problem is often complex enough to stump people who actually don’t know anything about the Android platform, but won’t give those with the right level of experience much trouble.
“We are interested to see their approach to scaling, multi-threading, and API use,” Venkatesh said. “We like to see not only individual resourcefulness but also a collective mindset. It’s also important for candidates to show us how they work in an iterative environment, their approach to solving engineering problems and hear them ask smart questions.”
Other companies feel the same way. During or after the test, the hiring manager will likely follow up with questions designed to reveal how you thought through the test, and why you made particular decisions. For example:
- Why did you choose to implement this design strategy?
- What new skills have you been learning?
- Looking at this wireframe or sketch design, what problems or gaps can you anticipate in this design?
While it’s always a good idea to Google the top Android and Java interview questions, Venkatesh cautions that Udemy has moved away from putting an emphasis on straightforward facts and figures.
“We really want to see a candidate’s approach to solving engineering problems and the architecture of software systems,” she said. “A candidate should also be able to show how they keep up with rapid changes in technology. Demonstrating a pattern of lifelong learning is a vital attribute to today’s job seeker.”
If Udemy is moving in that direction, it’s certain that other companies are, as well. You must demonstrate that you can solve problems, and that your skills are up-to-date. Be prepared to talk about:
Your relative experience with Java and Kotlin: Ever since Google designated Kotlin a “first-class” language for Android development, developers have been encouraged to embrace it—but as a recent Dice survey shows, many devs are sticking with Java. Be prepared to talk about both languages.
Android ecosystem fragmentation: Despite Google’s attempts to fix Android fragmentation, it remains a pervasive problem. If you’re building Android apps for a company, they’re going to want to know your approach to this disjointed ecosystem. If you’re still relatively new to Android, and aiming for an entry-level or “junior” Android developer job, get very familiar with terms such as “Project Treble” and “Project Mainline.”
Android’s weird naming scheme: Seriously, if you want to lighten up the mood in the room, make a joke or two about Google’s decisions over what to call previous Android versions.
Android 64-bit support: Google let everyone know for over a year that all apps must have 64-bit support by August 2019. But not every company has managed to (yet) update legacy code on all their apps. If a big part of the job is maintaining legacy code, get familiar with everything Google has published about 64-bit architectures.
Android Developer: Interviewing with a Startup
Adam Steele, chief technology officer of Outfield App, always starts interviews with questions that attempt to uncover a person’s passion for what they do, and what led them to a startup.
“We’re a startup, and we have a lot of entrepreneurially-minded people on the team wearing a lot of hats—in those early stages of a company, it’s a different culture than 1,000 people working in an organization,” Steele suggested. “We want to see if they’ll thrive in that kind of scenario—do they go out of their way to take on projects and build things?
Here are some questions that often pop up when Android developers interview at startups:
- Why are you interested in working for a startup as opposed to a larger corporation?
- Have you worked in a startup environment before?
- In what kind of environment are you most productive: office versus mix of home and office, burning the midnight oil, coffee shops?
- What interests you in software development in general, as opposed to engineering?
When it comes to overall knowledge, Steele believes it’s important to establish a candidate’s technical knowledge of Android and experience with the platform, as well as the previous projects they’ve built in Android.
“In development, sometimes projects can go pretty deep. Building one type of app may or may not be helpful to what we are doing, so we try to find out what types of apps they have built, and then we will ask have they had experience with tests driven development,” he said.
Examples of such technical questions include:
- Do you have experience with automated tests or integration testing?
- What have you built in your projects that is above and beyond?
- Have you made sacrifices to build special apps in your free time?
“You have to demonstrate that you have that passion. Show us the examples, make it blatantly obvious—show us you’re a hustler,” Steele said. “People that hustle at the end of the day will be more productive than someone with a natural talent who skates by on their abilities.”