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7 Backend Developer Skills You Must Have to Crack Tech Interviews

Last updated on: 
September 6, 2023
Ashwin Ramachandran
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About The Author!
Ashwin Ramachandran
Ashwin Ramachandran
Head of engineering at Interview Kickstart. Playing in the field of technology with the tools of Java for more than a decade. A mind full of innovative ideas and curiosity for exploring data.

Wondering how to become a backend developer at a FAANG+ company? If you are, then this article is for you! The Backend developer roadmap is quite a lucrative one. And there are some must-have backend developer skills that you should possess.

Landing a backend developer job at a leading tech company isn't very easy. It takes a dedicated prep strategy to beat the stiff competition, mainly because top companies have ridiculously low acceptance rates of less than 1% for backend developer roles. Senior engineers who’ve put in years of experience often end up being paid high salaries along with other benefits such as stock options and variable pays.

To crack backend developer interviews at FAANG+ companies, you must be able to answer tricky and challenging backend developer interview questions that feature at tech interviews. This article will look at some must-have skills to become a successful backend developer and crack technical interviews at FAANG+ companies.

If you’re a software engineer, coding engineer, software developer, engineering manager, or tech lead preparing for tech interviews, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! 

Having trained over 12,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with salary hikes in the range of $50k-$200k. The highest-ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.26 Million!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies. Our reviews will tell you how we’ve shaped the careers of thousands of professionals aspiring to take their careers to new heights. 

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Roadmap to Become a Backend Developer

Backend developers play a crucial role in driving the success of software projects. They work closely with front-end engineers, testers, code reviewers, and security engineers to specify project requirements and execute various project functionalities. To become a good Java or Python backend developer, you’re required to possess a set of crucial skills that will successfully help you execute your role to your full potential.

The backend developer roadmap begins with joining as a junior developer and rising up the ranks to become a Director of Engineering, where you’ll be responsible for the success of multiple projects.

As such, to scale up your career as a backend developer, you need to constantly expand the scope of your skills. In the backend developer roadmap, we’ll look at the skills you need to acquire to rise up the ranks and become an in-demand developer quickly. 

Below is the typical roadmap to becoming a backend developer:

  • To get started, you need to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts in front-end development and the different types of Operating Systems.
  • The next step in the Backend developer roadmap involves getting good with a programming language of your choice, typically an Object-Oriented Programming Language. Learn the quirks of the language and the characteristics of its runtime, memory model, and more. 
  • Next, create an account on Github to learn and grow through coding exercises and interacting with fellow developers. Also, familiarize yourself with version control systems and how they work. 
  • As a backend developer, knowing how databases work is critical. Learn your way around relational and NoSQL databases
  • API modeling, or Application Program Interface, is a key area in backend development. API modeling also extensively features in technical interviews, mostly in systems design interviews. 
  • Your knowledge of network protocols and web security is an essential part of becoming a successful backend developer. Knowing how to secure databases and servers is also a critical area that is evaluated in technical interviews. 
  • Next, learn the fundamentals of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). Also, form a good understanding of architectural patterns, web sockets, and web servers, as backend developers are closely associated with the working of servers and scalable systems. 
  • Finally, knowing how Graph Databases and search engines work is another important area in backend development.

The above points specify the typical backend engineer roadmap and the skills you need to acquire to become an accomplished backend developer. 

Nail backend engineering interviews at FAANG+ and Tier-1 tech companies. Take the Backend Engineering Interview Course here.

Top Skills a Backend Developer Must Have

Now that we’ve seen the roadmap to becoming a backend developer, let's take a look at some skills you should have as a backend engineer. You should work towards acquiring these must-have skills to crack backend developer interviews at the biggest tech companies.

1. Knowledge of Backend Programming Languages

A must-have skill to crack a backend developer interview is to be good at Object-Oriented Programming Languages. You don't necessarily need to have a stronghold on multiple languages. As long as you’re good with one language, that’s enough. Backend developer interview questions usually test your knowledge in Python, Java, Ruby, or PHP. Of these, Python and Java are more commonly used.

Make sure you brush up on concepts in the OOP language of your choice. Besides asking questions on algorithms and data structures, interviewers also evaluate your grasp of core OOP concepts.

2. Knowledge of Data Structures and Algorithms

Your knowledge of algorithms and data structures is another key area tested at backend developer interviews at FAANG+ companies. DSA concepts feature in multiple rounds of coding interviews (technical phone screen and the on-site interview) and are a fundamental method to test your problem-solving skills.

While preparing for technical interviews (specifically for backend developer roles), make sure to spend a few weeks preparing DSA and algorithm concepts. Key concepts include arrays, strings, linked lists, recursion, sorting, graphs, trees, and graph algorithms. 

Aim to solve at least one DSA problem a day and while you do so, identify patterns in problems and classify problems with similar patterns. Apply these patterns to solve new problems at the interview. Applying power patterns is the best way to find optimal solutions to new problems and boost your problem-solving skills.

To brush up on your DSA basics, check out the Learn page.

3. Knowledge of Distributed Systems Design

Another must-have backend developer skill is knowing distributed systems design. It is a key evaluation area in backend developer interviews. Questions usually feature core design concepts such as loading, caching, databases, network protocols, MapReduce, API modeling, concurrency, sharding techniques, and design case studies.

Spending at least two-three weeks preparing design concepts is highly recommended, especially if you’re preparing for senior engineer interviews. Backend developer interview questions that feature in design rounds are asked during on-site interviews of companies. So as a recommended strategy, focus on preparing coding concepts for the initial part and begin your design interview prep a few after the technical phone screen.

Take a look at the Career Path for Backend Developers here.

4. Knowledge of Databases

Websites require databases to store and retrieve client data. As a backend developer, managing databases is a crucial component of your role. A neatly organized database helps to alter, recover and manage data efficiently. Your knowledge of SQL and NoSQL databases is evaluated at backend developer interviews, so make sure to get a stronghold of these structured query languages.

5. Knowledge of APIs

API modeling is yet another must-have skill evaluated in backend developer interviews. Backend developers are expected to have a thorough knowledge of APIs, as they enable interactions between clients and servers. Backend developer interview questions on API modeling feature in design rounds of technical interviews.

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, work as mediums for the interaction of servers and computer software. APIs essentially take requests from users and clients and send them to the server. They form the basis of client and server interaction and also serve as mediums for interactions between servers.

6. Knowledge of Servers

As a backend developer, you’re expected to be thorough with the working and functioning of servers. Having extensive server knowledge is key to ensuring the smooth functioning of any website or application. At backend developer interviews, you can expect questions around server-side commands, frameworks, and related aspects.

7. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Backend development isn't a one-person job. It involves interacting with fellow developers to evolve creative and cutting-edge ideas.

As a backend developer, the value you add to the team is as essential as your brilliance. Technical interviews at FAANG+ companies have structured behavioral rounds that test your behavioral attributes around teamwork, productivity, leadership, and ethics.

Preparing for behavioral interviews should be an important part of your backend interview preparation strategy. A recommended tip is to spend at least a week understanding the type of behavioral questions asked at interviews and creating crisp and concise answers to them.

Read 10 Key Behavioral Skills Required to Land a $500k Tech Job to learn more.

FAQs on Must-Have Backend Developer Skills

Q1. What is the difference between backend and front-end development?

The main difference between front-end and backend is that front-end development pertains to the user-side of a website or application. In contrast, backend development deals with the server-side of websites and applications.

Q2. What type of backend developer interview questions are asked in technical interviews?

Backend developer interview questions are majorly around core DSA concepts such as linked lists, arrays, strings, recursion, has tables, graphs, and trees, and core design concepts such as databases, network protocols, sharding techniques, loading, caching, file systems, online processing systems, and servers.

Q3. Which programming languages are important for backend developer interviews?

For backend developer interviews, you need to be thorough with the working of Object-Oriented Programming Languages. You’re not expected to be a master of all of the languages. Java, Python, Perl, and Ruby are the most commonly used languages in today’s times. For technical interviews, being adept at either Java or Python is sufficient.

Q4. Are you required to be good at query languages for backend developer interviews?

Your knowledge of SQL and NoSQL databases is tested at backend developer interviews. Hence, knowing your way around SQL is essential to crack backend developer interviews at FAANG+ companies.

Q5. Which is a good backend interview preparation resource to crack technical interviews?

Interview Kickstart offers a comprehensive backend interview preparation course focused on helping engineers crack backend developer interviews at FAANG+ companies.

Get Ready for Your Next Backend Interview

If you’re looking to start your preparation for backend developer interviews, we offer a one-of-its-kind Back-end Engineering Interview Course tailor-made for backend developers to crack interviews at the biggest companies. 

We’ve trained over 9,000 engineers to land high-paying offers from multiple tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, among others. Our reviews will tell you how our unique training method has helped thousands of professionals aspiring to take their careers to greater heights. 

Don’t wait! Take the first step towards scaling up your engineering career — sign up for our FREE pre-enrolment webinar!

Posted on 
November 27, 2021

Ashwin Ramachandran

Head of Engineering @ Interview Kickstart. Enjoys cutting through the noise and finding patterns.

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