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What kind of experience should a software engineer have?

Hello there! Thank you for stopping by with such an interesting question. The topic of software engineer experience is an important one, especially for startup founders who are looking forward to building their technical teams.

Understanding the kind of experience a software engineer should have is a significant step toward finding the right people for your team.

In a nutshell, a software engineer should have a combination of formal education in computer science or related fields, extensive programming skills, experience with different software development methods, and a record of collaboration and problem-solving.

Yet, there’s a lot more to explore behind these elements, so let’s dig in!

Education, Practical Skills, and Exposure to Real-World Problems

A solid education in computer science or another related field is an excellent starting point for any software engineer. Engaging with abstract topics and principles at university helps develop problem-solving skills and numerical competency.

But the classroom is not the only place to learn. Extensive coding experience, ideally in multiple languages, is another vital part of a software engineer’s toolbox. The ability to build, test, and debug software in a practical context is essential.

Familiarity with Different Development Methods

Understanding of various software development methodologies, from Waterfall to Agile, is another valuable asset. This experience maximizes adaptability to different work environments or project requirements.

Know-how about the best methodologies to employ for specific situations or project requirements is crucial.

Collaboration and Problem-Solving Record

Software engineering often involves working as part of a team. Therefore, proven experience in collaborating within teams and communicating clearly, both to other engineers and non-technical team members, is necessary.

Successfully solving real-world problems is also a good indicator of a capable software engineer. This can be demonstrated through a portfolio of completed projects or professional experience.

Interface Design and User Experience Planning

While it’s often overlooked, experience in understanding user requirements and mapping out user interfaces can be an asset for a software engineer.

This experience reflects the ability to bridge the gap between the technical and practical aspects of software development. It also shows an understanding of the end-users needs, which is critical to any software’s success.

Pro Tips for the Hiring Process

Identifying these qualities in potential hires can be a challenge. Asking the right questions during interviews, having the applicants walk you through their past projects, and even involving your existing tech team in the hiring process can be helpful.

I have discussed this in more detail in a previous post, How to Hire Software Engineers for Your Startup. Feel free to check it out!


A well-rounded software engineer should have a blend of formal education, various practical skills, a deep understanding of different software development methods, and a proven record of problem-solving and team collaboration.

Additionally, understanding user requirements and planning for the user experience is a beneficial skill for a software engineer to have. However, spotting these qualities and skills can be tricky, so consider checking out our hiring guide for more tips!


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