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Java interview questions

10 November 2023, by Josh Nel

When scaling your team, finding the right Java developer can be challenging, especially if you’re looking for experienced team members. A poor hiring decision can lead to setbacks, low-quality code, and wasted time. Here, we look at Java developer interview questions you can use to find the perfect technical and cultural fit for your team.


Questions to ask when interviewing a Java developer

Before diving into the technical details, it can be helpful to start with a few questions to assess a candidate’s approach to technical problems, their knowledge of the latest ecosystem developments, and how they might collaborate with your team. Here are a few questions you can use in your next interview:

  • How do you handle and communicate technical issues or roadblocks with team members?
  • Describe your experience working in an Agile or Scrum development environment.
  • How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the Java ecosystem and programming in general?
  • Can you share any personal projects or open-source contributions related to Java?
  • Walk us through your approach to solving complex programming challenges.
  • Can you provide an example of a time you had to make architectural decisions when designing a Java application?
  • Can you provide examples of projects or applications you’ve developed using Java?
  • Have you worked with any Java frameworks such as Spring or Hibernate? If so, can you explain your experience with them?
  • What is the significance of the “final” keyword in Java, and when would you use it in code?

Java technical interview questions

Now that you’ve covered a few behavioural questions, you can move on to assessing a candidate’s technical ability. Here, we’ll look at some general interview questions, plus a few specific questions for Java developers at different levels of seniority.

  • What are the main principles of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), and how do they apply to Java?
  • Explain the differences between the “final,” “finally,” and “finalise” keywords in Java.
  • How is memory managed in Java, and what is the purpose of the garbage collector?
  • Describe the differences between the String, StringBuffer, and StringBuilder classes in Java.
  • What is the purpose of the transient and volatile keywords in Java?
  • Compare and contrast primitive data types and reference data types in Java. Provide examples.
  • What is autoboxing and unboxing in Java, and when does it occur?
  • What is the purpose of the break and continue statements in Java?
  • How do you create and throw a custom exception in Java? When would you use this feature?
  • What is the difference between File, FileInputStream, and FileOutputStream classes in Java for file manipulation?
  • How do you read and write data to and from a file in Java using character streams?
  • Explain the Observer design pattern and provide an example of its use in Java.

If you’re interviewing for junior or intermediate Java developers, consider including a few of these questions:

  • Explain the concept of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) and how Java supports it.
  • What is a class and an object in Java? Provide an example.
  • Differentiate between a class and an interface in Java.
  • Describe the purpose and use of the main method in Java.
  • Name and explain some of the primitive data types in Java.
  • What is the difference between int and Integer in Java?
  • What is version control, and why is it essential for collaborative software development?
  • Have you used a version control system like Git? If so, explain basic Git commands like “commit,” “push,” and “pull.”

For more senior Java developers, more advanced questions might be appropriate:

  • Describe the differences between the Java Collections Framework and the Collections API. Provide examples of commonly used collections and their use cases.
  • How does the Java memory model impact the performance of collections, and what are the best practices for optimising collection usage?
  • Explain the purpose of the java.util.concurrent package and its key components, such as ‘ConcurrentHashMap’ and ‘ThreadPoolExecutor’.
  • Describe the Java EE architecture and its key components, such as EJBs, JPA, and servlets.
  • Explain the role of servlets and JSPs (JavaServer Pages) in web development, and provide examples of their use.
  • Discuss the use of RESTful web services and how they can be implemented in Java using JAX-RS.
  • Discuss techniques for optimising the performance of a Java application, including profiling, code analysis, and JVM tuning.
  • What are the best practices for optimising Java code for memory usage and CPU efficiency?
  • How do you address security concerns in Java applications? Explain common security vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them.
  • Discuss code quality and best practices for clean code in Java development.

Further reading

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