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How to Interview a MEAN Stack Developer

Vik Bogdanov
Content strategist, inbound marketing consultant and our brand journalist.
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So you’re looking to hire a MEAN stack developer for your bootstrap startup or established company and you’re going to conduct the interviews yourself. What questions should you ask to identify the candidate that will be a good fit for your team and project?

Not all of us are coders, so this can get complicated very quickly. It’s not an easy task, to say the least, and it will require some thought when it comes to developing the questions that you’re going to ask during the interview.

But first, it’s best to clearly define what a MEAN stack developer is and how they differ from a full stack developer (this seems to be a common point of confusion).

What’s MEAN Stack?

The term MEAN stack refers to a bundle of JavaScript based technologies that can be utilized to build web applications. The acronym MEAN stands for the following programming languages:

  • MongoDB
  • ExpressJS
  • AngularJS
  • Node.js.

Whether you need to go from client to server and from server to database, MEAN is a full stack JavaScript solution.

A full stack developer is similar as they also develop websites and applications on the front-end and also work with databases and servers on the back-end. What's different is that they are involved in designing and implementing all the layers that make up an application.

Full stack developer work can include any or all of the following and more:

  • Database design
  • Server side API
  • Client-side API
  • UI

However, in case of a MEAN stack developer, they will only be working with the languages that make up the acronym.

So what are some questions that you can ask them during an interview?

Here are some sample questions to help gauge the technical understanding of the candidate.

1. What kind of NoSQL database is MongoDB?

2. What are the core features of an ExpressJS framework?

3. Explain what steps are involved in the boot process for AngularJS?

4. In AngularJS, what is a ng-template?

5. Is it possible to exchange data among different modules of your Angular JS application? If so, how would you go about doing it?

6. What apps have you created in Node.js? How did you do it? How involved was AngularJS?

7. Explain why session and cookie are in your code? For example, how does the session remember the details of every member that logs in, what they chose, and what they have in their cart? From a coding point of view, how will you achieve it?

8. What’s the scope of variable in JavaScript?

9. What’s Node.js? What are its key features?

10. When should you use Node.js?

11. When shouldn’t you use Node.js?

12. What are callbacks? What makes them useful?

If you have a good understanding of the languages yourself, you can dive deep into how they work. For example, Node.js application creates a single thread on its invocation. Further, whenever it receives a request, it first completes the processing before moving on to the next request.

So anyone who has used this programming language should be able to demonstrate intricate knowledge about how it works.

It’s important to know at this juncture that if you don’t have extensive knowledge about the MEAN stack, you won’t be able to properly conduct an assessment yourself.

This is mainly due to the fact that all these and other questions can be found on the internet by potential candidates. So they might be repeating the answers that they read while you use the same resource to check if they are saying all the right things.

As a result, without understanding the coding process, it’s near impossible to ask follow-up questions, correctly identify mistakes in answers, and there’s also no way to properly understand the level of understanding demonstrated by the candidate.

So what should you do in this scenario?

For one, you can have an expert on your team conduct the interview or have an audition where the candidate can demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a controlled setting.

Further, you can also conduct a group interview along with other IT professionals to have all your bases covered.