Hiring Top Java Engineers for Your Project:
A Closer Look at Our Technical Interviews

Anyone who knows a thing or two about technical hiring realizes how much time and money it costs companies to onboard top developer talent. According to one estimate, the costs of posting jobs, reviewing applicants, prescreening them, interviewing, and wrap ups can run from $1080-1840 – and that’s a conservative figure. At the same time, the cost of a bad hire is much more expensive. 

In order to avoid the embarrassment of a bad hire, it’s important to think of the technical interview as a two-way street. As the hiring company, you should think about an interview as putting your best foot forward so your interviewee can do the same. At Integrant, our philosophy about interviewing is to find developers who are a good fit and aligned with our culture and values. This is often easier said than done. 

Let’s use the field of Java development as our test case to unpack this topic in more detail. Java was ranked the most popular programming language in 2019 and has been the number 1 or 2 most popular language basically since its creation in the mid-90s. What’s more, there are an estimated 7.6 million Java developers worldwide, and Java development has the lowest career switch rate of any profession. One of the major reasons for its popularity is that all Android applications are built on Java’s framework, and nearly 90% of smartphones worldwide run on the Android platform. To quote one article, "If you know Java, chances are you won't be desperate for work!" 

If you don’t want to get stuck with a “bad hire,” especially in an industry with low churn, then it’s critical to adopt a strategic approach to hiring. In this article, we’ll explore some of the characteristics we look for in a great Java developer. We’ll then dig into the actual anatomy of a technical interview to showcase best practice, questions, and techniques that we use to hire top Java talent. 

How to Spot a Great Java Developer When You See One

At Integrant, we look for software engineers who embody our pursuit of excellence. In other words, they are customer-focused, collaborative, and not afraid to roll up their sleeves and find creative solutions to common problems. We need someone who embraces a one-team mindset rather than a “lone ranger” approach to programming.  

Evidence shows that a good deal of patience, autonomy/resourcefulness, persistence, and attention to detail are major requirements of a good programmer. Being a great googler also goes a long way. However, we’ve found some of our greatest successes came from resourceful solutions that our engineers provided. We expect our Java engineers to have a baseline of technical knowledge. The following three attributes describe the essentials of what we look for in a Java engineer: 

  • Cares about their project, team, and the customer
  • Are solution-oriented and resourceful
  • Are willing to learn/grow/teach 

These characteristics and more are what we believe embody a rockstar developer, rather than solely relying on technical talent. With these qualities, the sky's the limit of what we can build together! 

Anatomy of the Tech Interview: An Overview

In this section, we’ll breakdown the five steps to our technical interview process, covering everything from the overview, the setup, the questions, the answers, the results, and everything in between. We consider these steps to be our best practices for how to hire a rockstar Java developer. 

We divide our technical interview into two parts:  


Online assessment


 Interview with a technical lead

Like the majority of interviewers, we ask our Java developer candidates to perform an initial tech assessment where they are required to code. However, we typically only use this as a data point and not a deal breaker. Interestingly enough, Stackoverflow's stats on interview practices show that less than 40% of their respondents were asked to write any code during their interviews.   

Once the candidate has taken our online assessment, we move to the technical interview. The goal of the technical interview is to assess the candidate’s technical ability. If they pass, they will proceed to a managerial interview. During this phase, the manager is looking for a number of factors: 

Soft skills 

What level of people skills, communications, and emotional intelligence does the candidate display? 

Culture fit

Spend significantly less time hiring and training 


Is the candidate open to feedback and constructive criticism, and do they use that information to improve workplace performance. 

During this phase, a lot of soft skill cues emerge, which can be quite insightful. On one occasion, a candidate answered some of the Java developer technical interview questions with a negative attitude; this drew a red flag and showed us that this individual would not be a good fit. In the final assessment between them and another applicant, the candidate in question was not chosen even though they had better technical skills. 

The manager interview is critical for assessing the candidate’s overall chemistry and cultural fit. Ask yourself: will he/she be a team player or a liability? This is very important to find out before extending an offer of employment. 

We help our clients create impact across many industries. See how on our case studies page!

Anatomy of the Tech Interview: The Setup

An easily overlooked but important component of the technical interview is “the setup” of the environment. We believe that the configuration of the room where the interview is being held should provide a comfortable ambience for the candidates and interviewers alike.

For example, at Integrant, two engineers are involved in every interview. One engineer sits on the same side of the interviewee and the other sits across from the two. This arrangement puts the candidate at ease and makes them feel like they have an ally. The interviewer sitting across from them is also working in the candidate’s best interest.

Our goal here is to ensure the interview is more conversational rather than be perceived as some type of competition. We’ve seen many cases where candidates visibly relax at the beginning of the interview. We also believe this helps to establish a sense of trust and confidence from the outset.    

By having two interviewers, we get two independent perspectives in the interview. In our opinion, this provides us with a fairer way to assess the candidate. Also, research shows that between 70 and 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal.  

We try to set the right tone and mood for a successful interview by not setting up a barrier such as a table between the interviewer and interviewee. Also, we extend this to our own body language; we try to keep an open demeanor with the candidates by not crossing arms/legs and by smiling and keeping things fairly non-formal.  

We want to present Integrant as doing serious and high-quality work but also as a fun place to work.  

Anatomy of the Tech Interview: Our Questions

Unlike the traditional approach to interviews that often ask complex questions and pitch unreasonable scenarios, our aim is to boost the candidate’s confidence. We start by reviewing the candidate’s body of work, and we ask some baseline questions to get them warmed-up and feeling comfortable and confident. 

We’ll then transition to more scenario-based Java developer interview questions geared toward troubleshooting, problem solving, and decision-making. These may not be exclusively technical questions. For example, we might describe a situation when there’s a production issue or when a client raises a particular challenge with an application. We’ll ask how the candidate would respond. 

We steer clear of specific problem-solving challenges such as algorithms because we don’t think this is fair for the candidate. We recognize that most candidates are already nervous in the interview scenario and don’t have their PC or laptop in front of them to search for information. Therefore, it’s unrealistic to expect them to program under those awkward circumstances. 

Of course, we go deeper with our senior Java developer interview questions, since senior and higher positions require a thorough knowledge of our customers and how to earn their trust in our capabilities.  

During every interview, our questions are always about job-related skills. We don’t try to ask tricky or overly complex questions for the sake of trying to stump someone or prove that we’re better than them.  

In fact, if the candidate seems hesitant, nervous, or stuck, the interviewer will tell them, “Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that either, we’re just discussing” – even if he knows the answer. This tactic helps set the candidate at ease and allows them to regroup and give their best version of an answer.  

We also may try to provide hints of an answer because that’s what happens in real life. We work as a team and with Google at our fingertips, so there’s no reason why an interview should be some type of artificial environment. Our goal ultimately is to give the candidate a feel for what it would be like to work with us.


If you’re curious about additional services, check out what we can offer you!

Anatomy of the Tech Interview: The Answers

When we talk about hiring a “rockstar” developer, what answers do we look for from our core Java developer technical interview questions?   
Here’s a breakdown of sample topics we like to address, based on the following categories: 
Confidence boosting questions
  • How do you treat others? (Their demeanor)
  • How do you loosen up or operate under pressure?  
  • What’s your level of confidence with Java development?
  • How do you speak about your previous roles?
Troubleshooting/problem-solving and decision-making
  • What’s your order of problem solving?
  • How do you think about problems?
  • How do you communicate your ideas?
  • How do you understand the problem/situation?
  • What’s your experience facing different challenges?
  • What’s your level of creativity/innovation in problem-solving? 
  • Can you work on different projects with different layers? (Their flexibility and ability to adapt)
  • What’s your logical thinking ability?
  • What’s your baseline technical knowledge (especially if the candidate is being considered for a particular project)?  
  • What’s your depth of technical knowledge?  

Those nuances can tell us a lot of information about an engineer and give us more insight into how they will fit in with our team to complement our existing skills and knowledge, and fit in with our company culture overall. We pride ourselves in caring about our customers and sharing a one-team mindset. We want to know these candidates do as well.  

We recognize that candidates can change and learn new skills over time once they join our company, so our aim is to collect as much information as possible to make the best decisions to expand our team. We want all of our new team members to succeed with us and ultimately on our project teams for our customers.  

Anatomy of the Tech Interview: The Result

Just as we stated in our introduction, at Integrant, we use two Java engineers in our tech interviews. With two perspectives, we have a baseline to analyze differences in opinion or viewpoints about a particular candidate. This dual perspective also mirrors the real-life scenarios of how different customers/stakeholders might react to an onsite Java developer. 

This wholistic approach to Java hiring allowed us to double our Java workforce in few short months and we have yet to lose a member of our Java team in the last two years. On top of various projects, they are currently working on a Java project that will be rolled out as an available service to our customers. You can read more about it here. 

Java engineers that have your back.


As we mentioned, hiring a top-notch developer takes companies a considerable amount of time and money. Some estimates are that onsite interviews may require about 4-5 hours of developers time, or $200-400 – and this is probably a conservative number. So, the point is this: Gaining a great hire is well . . . great! But a bad hire costs far more in the long run. Making a top hire is critical to saving companies time and money (and headaches). 

Today, this means more and more organizations are interested in setting themselves up for hiring success from the beginning. For instance, Google wanted to cut down its time to hire, so the company did an experiment with past interview data to determine if excessive interviews have diminishing returns. What Google found was that four interviews were enough to make a reliable hiring decision – a process they ultimately called the “Rule of Four.”

At Integrant, we’ve instituted what we believe to be a fair, equitable, and compassionate approach to hiring. Our aim is not to stump or trick the candidate but to set them up for success from the start. Our entire approach – from the number of interviewers, the room configuration, the questions we ask, and the answers we look for – are all designed to find the best fit candidates for our company.

With high turnover rates in the tech sector in general, we try to ensure that the resources we spend on hiring new team members is worthwhile – both for the candidate and for us. At the end of the day, we think of our hiring process as a win-win. While we seek the best industry talent, we also like to think we provide a second-to-none environment that’s exciting and fun to work for!  

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