Python is an interpreted, high-level programming language for general-purpose programming. In the last five years, Python has rapidly become one of the fastest-growing programming languages for a variety of reasons, including its versatile features and fewer required codes. This rise in popularity means that there’s an increased need for skilled Python developers, from small startups all the way to large global enterprises. Software engineers, software developers, data scientists are among the many job titles that utilize Python in their day to day operations. We’ve put together a list of the top Python interview questions, so you can be ready to rock your interview.
Table of Contents:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- How would people describe you?
- Would you say you work better independently or on a team?
- What’s your biggest weakness?
- Why are you the best candidate for this job?
- What are some advantages of using Python over other programming languages?
- How do you keep track of different versions of your code?
- What are your thoughts about Python and multi-threading? What are some ways to get Python to run in a parallel way?
- Explain the difference between compile-time and runtime, then discuss how Python uses them during code checking.
- What will be the output of the code below? Explain your answer.
This is one of the most common questions that interviewers like to start with, so it’s necessary that you have your answer prepared ahead of time. While it might seem like a straightforward question, they’re actually trying to see how much you reveal about yourself and how concisely you answer.
You might say something like:
“I recently graduated with a degree in computer science and spent a lot of time interning in large-scale engineering environments. I’ve had the opportunity to shadow quite a few senior engineers in those companies and have seen firsthand how vital back-end programming is to the entire infrastructure. I know that I can use this experience to be successful in this position.”
This is another common question that’s intended to see how you compare with other interviewees, as well as how you stand apart. You’ll want to display your strengths and positive attributes, relating them to the prospective company and how you can be beneficial to their mission:
“I think people would describe me as someone who’s a good communicator, not in the sense that I have a lot of experience with public speaking, but in the way that I’m able to clearly articulate what’s asked of me and can understand people’s needs. I pick up on things quickly, and most of my co-workers have stated that it’s almost like I can read their minds, knowing what they need before they even do.”
For this behavioral interview question, your prospective employer is trying to learn more about your personality along with how you work within an organization. Whether you identify more one way than the other, it’s necessary to point out both aspects as you’ll more than likely be working both independently and as part of a larger team at some point in time.
A solid answer might be:
“I’d say that I’m comfortable in both types of environments, depending on the project at hand. I’m able to hunker down and work by myself if I need to focus on quickly getting complex coding done, but I’m also able to consult with colleagues to discuss the bigger picture. I enjoy collaborating with others and sharing ideas, but then I like being able to go program independently.”
While this might not be your favorite question, it’s definitely a favorite for interviewers because your answer actually reveals a lot about you. Withholding information and saying that you have no weaknesses is not realistic, while sharing something completely irrelevant might make them question your abilities (e.g., saying you’re a horrible cook). A STAR method answer that’s honest yet makes sense to the position strikes an excellent balance:
“One of my biggest weaknesses is that I don’t have the same educational background as others in my industry. I didn’t obtain a computer science degree through my university, but rather I learned programming through both an accelerated immersive learning program and on my own through online code repositories. While I know this may differentiate me in a unique way, I feel it shows my overall passion for programming as well as my ambition and motivation.”
Here’s another standard interview question that you’ll need to have an answer prepared for ahead of time. This is typically your final chance to display all your qualifications and experiences while setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s important to be specific in your answers and apply them directly to the position while showing how you can help them meet their needs:
“I’m the best candidate for this job because I have the three years of backend experience you’re looking for, and I’ve acquired this through both a large enterprise along with a small startup. With this unique background, I’m able to see how projects get started from the ground up, but am also familiar with how systems look at a larger scale. I’ve learned work ethic from both of these platforms and have utilized the skills I learned from top engineers in my own work.”
Given the fact that you’re interviewing for a Python position, it will be vital that you have an answer prepared for what advantages it has over other programming languages. This will not only show that you’re familiar with all its features, but also that you’re truly passionate about and believe in the language.
A sample answer could be:
“Python has a wide variety of advantages over other programming languages, including:
● Its syntax is both easy to learn and easy to understand, reading more like a human language.
● It has large, standard libraries containing all areas like operating system interfaces, web service tools, and string operations.
● It also has extensive support libraries that drastically decrease time spent on coding, which in turn increases productivity, utilizing other languages like Java, C, C++, and C#.
● It has clean, object-oriented design and features strong integration processing capabilities.”
A hiring manager will want to assess your general organizational skills in addition to your abilities as a programmer. Without any sort of tracking system, you can quickly lose track of versions and releases of your software, causing a giant headache for your prospective employer and other team members.
A good answer would be:
“I keep track of different versions of my code with version control. Version control systems allow me to go back to older versions of code if I break the current code, and are a great way to collaborate with other programmers from around the world, ensuring all branches and releases are up-to-date. With this system, I can see who made the latest changes to the code base, what deployments took place, and how to distribute the source code among team members, along with keeping track of the newest releases of my software.”
8. What are your thoughts about Python and multi-threading? What are some ways to get Python to run in a parallel way?
As you get further along in the interview process, employers will ask more specific questions about Python to get a sense of your deeper understanding of it. If you know the language inside and out, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s smart to brush up on both basic and complex skills. Here’s one way you might reply:
“While Python doesn’t allow multi-threading directly, you can use its threading package to run numerous threads simultaneously. However, if you’re looking to multi-thread to speed up the code, this may not be the best strategy. Python’s Global Interpreter Lock (GIL), on the other hand, will ensure that only one of your threads is executed at a time, making it seem like they’re happening in parallel while in reality, they’re just taking turns with the same CPU core.”
9. Explain the difference between compile-time and runtime, then discuss how Python uses them during code checking.
If the interviewer asks a question like this, they’re searching for your knowledge of general computer science terms and processes. No matter your educational background, it’s necessary to be aware of all the various programming terms and stages.
You might respond with:
“Both compile-time and runtime are programming terms that refer to various stages of software program development. Compile-time is the instance where the entered code is converted to executable, while runtime is the instance where the executable is running. Python performs some amount of compile-time code checking, although most of the checks don’t occur until code execution.”
def extendList(val, list=):
list1 = extendList(10)
list2 = extendList(123,)
list3 = extendList(‘a’)
print “list1 = %s” @ list1
print “list2 = %s” @ list2
print “list3 = %s” @ list3
As with any programming interview, you’re guaranteed to have multiple questions testing your coding abilities on-the-spot. While you may not be able to practice every potential coding scenario, being familiar with typical questions will help you prepare. Your answer for this would be:
● “The output of the above code will be:
list1 = [10, ‘a’]
list2 = 
list3 = [10, ‘a’]
Many people might expect list1 to be equal to  and list3 to be equal to [‘a’]. However, what happens is that the default list is only created once when the function is defined. As a result, list1 and list3 are operating on the same default list, and list2 is operating on a separate list it created.”
Python is an important programming language that’s becoming vital for both developers and companies. Although this list of top Python interview questions may not contain all the possible scenarios you’ll see, they’ll give you a great starting point to have a successful interview.