7 Interview Questions for a Frontend Developer
HR Tips Emma Tracey
Hiring someone for a technical web development role is a huge challenge, and when it comes to complex and fast-moving roles like frontend development, even if the interviewer is experienced in that field they may not be caught up on the latest tricks, techniques, and problems.
It’s difficult because you want to gauge someone’s technical ability and knowledge, but also their creativity, originality, and drive. The key, then, is to ask questions that touch on technical issues, but also give the developer some space to express their ideas and communicate the unique elements they can bring to the role. That’s a tricky balance to strike, but we at Honeypot have helped hundreds of businesses connect with thousands of developer candidates, and in the process we’ve learned a lot about how top companies interview for frontend developer positions. In this article we lay out our 7 favorite interview questions for frontend developers, along with a higher-end summary of the topics you should touch on and the skills the candidate should demonstrate.
What Skills Do Frontend Developers Need to Demonstrate?
Before we get to specific questions, let’s first discuss the areas of proficiency that a frontend developer must demonstrate.
HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are the bedrock of a frontend’s developer toolkit, so it’s important that the interviewer probe the candidate’s knowledge of these programming languages. You can ask specific questions about naming conventions or preprocessors, or provide a mockup for them to build into a full layout.
Learning and Adaptability
Finally, since frontend coding techniques evolve rapidly, you should ask questions that probe just how committed to learning new things the candidate is. Do they read blogs or publications with the latest frontend dev news?
7 Front End Developer Interview Questions
These questions are non-technical, so they’re designed to probe an interview candidate’s overall knowledge, creativity, and ability to think on their feet, but NOT their granular knowledge of specific areas of frontend development. These questions can form the backbone of your interview process, but they should be supplemented with technical tests of proficiency as well.
1. 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 organized, scalable web applications by abstracting out many of the complexities and automating repetitive tasks. Each developer will share a different workflow which will give some insight into their organizational capacity and general technical preferences.
2. If 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 standardized 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? Which one and what do you like and dislike about it?
MVC stands for model view controller. MVCs typically organize webapps 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 angular.js. What makes this question interesting is not whether the frontend interviewee has used an 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 and have considered different options. You want to be able to trust your frontend developer to keep up to date with which technologies are relevant 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 Frontend Developers and UI/UX designers and where do these positions overlap?
There is no definitive answer to the question, but it will give a frontend 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. UX/UI 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 UX/UI 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. The ability to clearly articulate your creative preferences is an important characteristic of a frontend 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 frontend 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 frontend or backend, who work on projects in their own time are our favorites, as it shows a love of programming outside of monetary 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.
Use these questions to gauge the capability of an interview candidate in broad strokes, and if you would like to get a bit more technical here are some great resources:**
GitHub repository of job interview questions for frontend web developers, including general questions, fun questions and technology-specific questions. Very helpful - and also the some inspiration for our team. Another GitHub repository of interview questions for frontend developers, split by technology and increasing in difficulty.
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