Currently I work as a Software engineer (PHP). I have an interview in the next week for a web developer role in another company.

Whether it is a software engineer or a web developer, we have to do the same task.

But to the get the reputation from the normal society, Software engineer role is more important than web developer. It is even important for my career because some people in the HR department give more value to a SE than a web developer.

So is it ok to ask to change the job title to software engineer in an interview? If it is ok how do I ask it?

  • 3
    I dont really think it matters, once you get some real experience that will count more than some pedantic title. Some great developers I know list their title as 'Problem solver' 'Coder, developer, janitor', 'Code warrior' and other quirky variants etc..Dont freat over a title Nov 6, 2016 at 6:23
  • You can ask whatever you want in an interview
    – Kilisi
    Nov 6, 2016 at 7:01
  • 1
    – Peter K.
    Nov 6, 2016 at 10:01
  • If you want a Software Engineer job, go for a Software Engineer job. Web developers rarely get thought of as software engineers (if you are doing backend systems you wouldn't tend to be thought of as a web developer, it's mostly front end), and you'll look strange when you say your an engineer then start talking about JQuery. Don't get me wrong good web development work takes skill, but it is a different area to SE, which is more about engineering (obviously). Nov 6, 2016 at 16:57
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    Titles are kinda of meaningless where I live, an employer might be looking for a web developer but what they want is someone that can take care of the network and the social media sites too. So, you can give yourself whatever title you want, but around here nobody knows the difference. It would be dumb to argue about it.
    – user41891
    Nov 7, 2016 at 15:34

7 Answers 7


You're supposed to spend your interview time making the case that you're really well suited for the position and its duties. And you want to show up for the interview arguing about job titles?

What's in it for your prospective employer if you get your way? Does the title change your duties in any way?

Okay, ask away for the title change during the interview. If I were your interviewer, my assessment of you is that you're hung up on job titles and making the case that you will function effectively in the position offered is not your first concern.


So is it ok to ask change the job title to software engineer in interview? If it is ok how I ask it?

Presumably they chose the title to fit within their company's list of job titles. It would be odd to ask a company to change the title of a job which you don't yet hold.

But if this is something you feel strongly about, and if this is a job you are willing to walk away from, you can wait until you get an offer. At that time, you can negotiate the title just as you would any other factor that is very important to you like salary and benefits.

You could say something like "I like everything about this job except the title. If you would change the job title to Software Engineer, then I would accept your offer immediately."

Expect that the company will say no, since job titles are typically arranged department-wide or company-wide by HR and having one outlier is difficult. And be prepared with your answer if they aren't willing to bend.


It's rather ironic that you want to protest because your prospective title is not euphemistic enough. Usually, titles are overly euphemistic since they don't cost anything and motivate some employees.

From that perspective, the interviewer should be quite happy to honor your request. This way, if you also ask for more tangible perks, he can tell you he has already given you the extra title.

A problem arises if there is a whole team of web developers who do the same job as you and who didn't ask for a software engineer title. This could lead to tensions and therefore dissuade the interviewer fro mgiving you the title.


Disclaimer: This is probably not about your situation. But it might be useful for future readers based on the question title.

You're not saying where you are, but there are situations where this is useful. Let's say you are in Germany, you're from a non-EU country and you hold Blue Card visa (§ 19a). This visa is tied to your job title, but not the company you work for.

Every time you change your job, you need to notify the Auslaenderbehoerde (foreigner's office). If you only change the company, but the title is the same, you just go there, give them a copy of your documents, and that's it it. But if your title changes, they have to approve the job change. You need to prove to them that you still qualify for this kind of visa, and they have to reissue a part of your visa. That part is an additional official piece of paper that says what what kind of job you are allowed to hold.

Examples of changes that need to be approved are Software Developer to Senior Software Developer or Software Engineer to Software Developer, or Technical Project Manager to Project Manager, or vise versa. Obviously Software Engineer to Web Developer also would have to be approved.

Because getting the visa changed is a huge hassle and in cities like Berlin entails about one day of wasting away in the overcrowded Auslaenderbehoerde, it's very normal to ask them to give you a slightly different title. It means you can start earlier, and you're spared the ordeal of dealing with the authorities yet again. For expats in Germany that's a huge thing.

So it's totally legit to ask for that. But you'd ask after you received an offer with a work contract to look at. Making that change then shows you're committed to them. Unless it's a huge company (see other answers) they will probably not mind doing it. It definitely is not impolite or unprofessional to ask.


Job Titles aren't just labels

Job titles (typically in larger companies) form part of the staff hierarchy. These roles are linked to your pay grade, benefits, head-count reporting, IT profile setup, task assignment routing, etc. On top of this is all of the internal systems that have drop-downs/filters for employee lookups based on job title. As noted in different answers, you'll also get some friction from team-mates when you've got a different title (and they'll assume you're on a different pay grade as a result). What happens if you join the company and someone else joins afterwards who has chosen an even cooler name?

It makes sense for a company to only use as many job titles as is necessary for the company to use. The fewer job-titles, the easier things get.

So, asking for a different job title has larger implications, which are likely to just get turned down.

Also, you're applying for a web developer role, so you'll be doing web development. You can't change that role simply to make your resume look better (that's basically lying). How is a future employer going to think if they call up for a reference to find out that you've been doing web development and not software engineering?

  • @JoeStrazzere - At my company, they're one and the same. I guess things could be looser at other companies.
    – user44108
    Nov 7, 2016 at 11:50
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    @Pete - it depends on the company. Nov 7, 2016 at 17:42

Negotiating a different job title is not unheard of. In my experience, such a negotiation would normally be over a title like "Senior Web Developer" vs. "Web Developer". However, it's not completely unreasonable to ask for a change such as you desire; however, some organizations wouldn't have such a title available and may just say that.

As noted in other answers, it would be better to wait until you've received an offer. This is the normal time for negotiations. Discussing the job title prematurely could appear presumptuous and off topic, which would look bad for you in an interview.

Finally, keep in mind that some advisors suggest putting on your resume a job description more than the formal title the company might have given you. Thus you might describe your job as something like "Web Software Engineer" on future resumes.


Put simply:

NO, YOU SHOULD NOT ASK FOR THE JOB TITLE TO BE CHANGED IN THE INTERVIEW. This is a sure-fire way of being rejected for the role. It appears arrogant and self-aggrandising.

If you really wanted to make this point (because you don't want to take the job if they don't change the title say) then at a push if they ask if you have any questions you could say:

Is there any scope to change the job title to something a bit more specific to my career? For example: PHP Developer, Back-end Developer or simply Software Developer? I'd very much like the opportunity to progress within the company and would be concerned that "Web Developer" is a bit general and has a certain stigma attached. I'm sure it doesn't in this company but I have heard from friends many find the term a bit "amateur" for want of a better term.

You'd have to be really confident that you could respond to any follow up questions though.

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