Job interviews are usually not the easiest or the most comfortable experiences and the same is true when it comes to interviewing front-end developers. Candidates are typically expected to show what they can do within 45 minutes or so which is difficult to do and is equally just as hard for the interviewer who needs to assess if the person is a good fit for company/project.
You can even take it a step further and ask them to build the layout and the interactions for common web applications. For example, it can be like the Netflix browser site where they can implement widgets like an e-commerce cart, carousel, and a date picker. You can also ask them to write a function that’s similar to debounce or deeply clone an object. Just make sure you don't go overboard with your test assignments, as they can discourage and repulse the candidate from your vacancy.
It’s also a good idea to see if your candidates are only depending on the latest frameworks to answer interview questions. So it might be better to consider talking about an old library to see if they have a deep knowledge of the underlying fundamentals of front-end development.
Interviewers are usually given a particular area to cover, but beyond that, it’s up to their own discretion. Although there aren’t any one-size fits all type of interview questions, there are some questions that you can use as a guide to help you make a decent assessment.
1. What did you learn on the job last week?
This is the kind of general question that can help to get the conversation going. If you do a Google search, it’s one of those that pops up repeatedly. However, it doesn’t hurt to break the ice and build rapport with the candidate for a few minutes.
You can also follow up with some more general questions like the following:
- What got you interested in coding?
- What excites you about coding now?
- What’s the most recent technical challenge that you have experienced? How did you manage to solve it?
- How would you go about building a simple slideshow page?
Although these questions won’t help gauge a high level of understanding, it can get the interview moving. Once you get the general stuff out of the way, you can dive right into it.
2. Have you ever used a Model View Controller (MVC)? If you have, what did you like or dislike about it?
The MVC typically helps you to organize web application into a well-structured pattern. This makes it a lot easier to maintain code and is well-known by developers.
Popular MVCs are as follows:
For this question, what you’re really trying to find out has nothing to do with whether they have used an MVC, but rather their preference and level of experience with it. If the candidate is able to articulate why they prefer one over the other, you’ll know that they’re engaged in what they do and care about the tools that they use.
Why is this important?
It’s important as you have to be able to trust your front-end developer to keep up to date with new and relevant technologies. They should also have a clear idea about what should be used and when it should be used.
3. Describe your workflow when you build a web page?
The workflow when it comes to front-end development has changed dramatically over the years. Today, there’s a massive array of tools that can be utilized to build scalable organized web applications that reduce complexities and automate repetitive tasks.
This will enable you to gain some valuable insight into their technical preferences and organizational patterns.
4. Let’s take a look at the design of our website. Walk me through the features that draw your attention.
This question takes it beyond the personal evaluation of one’s own work to the critical analysis of the techniques and styles that are used by others. It’s important to be able to clearly articulate preferences when it comes to front-end development, so this question will put them on the spot.
One thing to note here is that the developer would need at least half an hour to review the page and its underlying implementation, so it’s usually better to tell them up front that you will be asking this question.
5. Are you working on any pet projects in your spare time? How did it come about?
When you interview a whole group of developers, you’ll notice that the ones who work on side projects on their own tend to be special. These are the coders who love what they do and do it without any capitalist incentives.
The answer to this question can also give you some insight into their leadership and project management qualities. If the developer is leading a multi-team project in their spare time, it can give you an idea about their character.
Although these questions aren’t very technical in nature, they can help you get a good idea about the candidate’s abilities.
But if you want to dive right into the technical side of things, you can conduct an audition or ask some technically specific questions to help you find the right match.