How To Interview a Front End Developer
I talk to a lot of front end developers at Honeypot and have begun to get a feeling for the types of questions that open up conversation, allowing front end engineers space to express their thoughts and ideas. I want to share seven of my favourite questions, which could form the basis of a good bank of non-technical interview questions for a front end developer.
- Can you describe your workflow when you create a web page?
The workflow of a modern front end developer has changed vastly in the past four or five years. A huge array of tools are available to build organised, scalable web applications, which reduce complex and automate repetitive tasks. Each developer will share a different unique workflow which will give you valuable insight into their organisational patterns and general technical preferences.
2. Assume you arrive at a new company that has 3 competing stylesheets, how would you best integrate them into the site?
A stylesheet is a template file consisting of font and layout settings to give a standardised look to a website or web application. To keep a consistent look and feel to a project, there should only be one stylesheet. I like to ask this question to judge problem-solving, communication, and team skills.
3. Have you ever used an MVC? If so, which one and what do you like or dislike about it?
MVC stands for Model View Controller. MVCs typically organise web applications into a well-structured pattern, making code easier to maintain. The term is well-known by developers and some famous examples of MVCs include Backbone.js and AngularJS. What makes this question interesting is not whether the interviewee has used a MVC, but what his or her preferences and experience reveal. Candidates who are able to articulate why they use one MVC over another, show that they are engaged in what they do, care about the technology they use, and have considered different options. You want to be able to trust your front end developer to keep up to date with new relevant technologies and have a clear idea of when and what should be used.
4. What are your favourite features of HTML5 and CSS3 and what would you change?
This question is similar to number 3. But rather than keeping up with new technologies, it reveals whether the front end developer being interviewed is also up-to-date with new features within the core technologies.
5. In your view, what’s the difference between Front End Developers and UI/UX designers and where do these positions overlap?
There is no definitive answer to the question, but it will give a front end developer the chance to evaluate their own experience and also reveal their expectations. To a certain extent the difference between UI/UX and front end development is the difference between design and implementation. UI/UX tends to look more at the human-side of the design process, including undertaking research by asking the questions about how users interact with a website, which would then form the basis for design concepts. A UI/UX designer would also do testing and evaluation post-implementation. Understanding the front end needs of your own company before asking this question gives an insight into the candidate’s potential fit.
6. Lets look at the design of our website. Talk me through the features that draw your attention. What do you like, what do you dislike? What would you change?
This question is also different from a personal evaluation of one’s own work, as it requires a certain amount of analysis about styling and techniques used by others. The ability to clearly articulate your creative preferences is an important characteristic of a front end developer. This question puts people on the spot: generally developers would need 20–30 minutes to look at the page and underlying implementation, so before the interview we tend to tell the person we will be asking this. It can also work very well as a case study for a front end developer.
7. What projects are you currently working on in your spare time? How did they come about?
I love ending with this question. Developers, be it front end, backend or mobile, who work on projects in their own time are our favourites, as it shows a love for programming outside of capitalist incentives. This is also an interesting question as it gives some insight into leadership and team organizational abilities. If the developer has organized a multi-team project, which he is leading, this is a good insight into his leadership qualities.
The above listed questions are non-technical interview question for front end developers. If you would like to get a bit more technical here are some great resources:
This GitHub repository of interview questions for front end developers, including general questions, fun questions and technology-specific questions is very helpful — and sometimes an inspiration for our team. If that wasn’t enough, here’s another GitHub repository of interview questions for front end developers, split by technology and increasing in difficulty.