20 questions asked in an interview with web developers

Original author: Oatmeal
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SEOmoz recently interviewed candidates for the position of web developer . In preparation for the interview, the author of the article compiled a list of technical questions that, in his opinion, would be appropriate to ask. After the interview, he decided to summarize the results and compile a more extensive list of questions that could be useful to both interviewers and interviewees .

The resulting list is not focused on any particular position, it is balanced, on the one hand, between design, HTML and usability, on the other hand, between the back end, databases and programming. The focus is a bit biased towards web development, so there are no questions like “Why do you want to work in such and such a company?” (the order of the questions in this list is arbitrary).

1. What professional websites and blogs do you regularly read?
This question will help you get an idea of ​​how much a person is aware of current trends, as well as how much he is interested in this topic. You can separate people for whom this is not only a job, but also a hobby, from those who are simply trying to chase a high salary.

2. What do you prefer - to work alone or as a team?
The answer to this question is important depending on the intended working environment. If your project involves close interaction between developers, it is very good if a new person will have experience in productive teamwork . On the other hand, many developers are doing much better if they work solo. Try to find someone who in this sense would meet your expectations.

3. How confident do you feel if you have to write HTML “by hand”? (+ task)
Despite the fact that a person can write in a resume that he is an expert in HTML, in fact, it may turn out that he does not know how to write in HTML from scratch. Such people rely on third-party programs or on the fact that they can always peek at the manual. Any worthwhile developer is simply obligated to be able to write simple HTML code without peeping anywhere. A simple task may be that you draw a diagram of a fake site and ask you to write the appropriate HTML code. You don’t need to complicate it - you just need to make sure that the person is aware of the most important thing, and also pay attention to errors such as missing tags
and serious omissions of some elements. If someone writes
it is quite possible to say goodbye to him and call the next candidate.

4. What is w3c?
These are web development standards, according to which (I would like to believe) everything is done. No need to demand quotes about the w3c mission, but a person should, at a minimum, imagine what it is.

5. Can you write tableless XHTML? Do you validate your code?
Eradicate the old-fashioned table design! Find a developer who uses HTML elements the way they were originally intended. There are also developers who say they can write without tables, but in reality - out of habit or out of convenience - they are still used. You can draw a simple navigation menu or article and ask to create HTML code for the drawn one. You can cheat and present the data as if in a tabular form - it will be a bonus if a person realizes that in this situation the table is just quite appropriate.

6. Which development tool do you like best and why?
If a person says that Notepad, you are probably talking to the wrong person. Such a question will not only allow you to "probe" the level of competence, but also to understand how organically the tools of the applicant correspond with what is used with you.

7. Describe or show what you can do in * nix shell?
Pay attention to how a person works without the familiar interface. Ask a couple of questions, such as how to copy a directory recursively or how to make a file readable only by the owner. Find out what operating systems a person can work with.

8. What skills and technologies would you most like to learn or improve?
Probe the ground for how much the interlocutor’s plans correspond to what is expected of him at the given workplace or in the company as a whole.

9. Show me your portfolio!
Portfolio can tell a lot about the developer. Does he have a taste? What is more important for him - creativity or logic? The most important thing is to pay attention to solid, large-scale, COMPLETED projects. A heel or two of sketches and hacked scripts is a sign of inexperience and incompetence.

10. What sites did you have to work with?
Look for a developer who has experience with sites similar to yours. A person who can handle large traffic and large sizes may be helpless in simply configuring Apache or optimizing heavy SQL queries. On the other hand, developers who usually deal with small sites may notice things that are not available to their “larger” colleagues. Suppose we are talking about the elementary visual appeal of a solution.

11. Show me your code!
Archaic HTML or sophisticated Ruby on Rails? Never mind! Anyway, ask for code samples. Sources can tell a lot about human habits, much more than you think. Clean, elegant code can often point to a methodical, powerful developer. It can be written in a resume that a person has more than 7 years of experience writing perl scripts, but it can be 7 years of bad work. Also try to get a lot of sources, not just pieces of HTML. Everyone can prepare 20-30 lines for an interview, it’s important for you to see the situation as a whole. No need to require code for full running applications, it just needs to answer all your questions.

12. List a few sites that really delight you (in terms of development)?
Understand what inspires a person. It doesn't have to be in the “everyone should know” series, but a good developer always has a few favorites.

13. Correct this, please ...
Give the person a code written in the language in which you are developing, which you need to know in the proposed position. Let the applicant pass this code line by line and point out all the errors.

14. I just opened the site you created, and it shows me a blank page. Show me step by step what you will do to solve the problem ...
This is a great question to determine how the candidate as a whole can apply his skills. Here, abilities in the sense of support will become clear, from the most basic to solving problems with the server.

15. What is your favorite development language and why? What features would you like to add to this language?
The question about additional features is extremely useful - it reveals how experienced a person is in programming in general.

16. Is there any language that scares you?
When one riddle clears up, ten others open up behind it. If the interlocutor tells you about his failures, this will help to understand how much he actually knows.

17. Time for abbreviations
Some may say that knowledge of abbreviations is nonsense, but there are some such abbreviations that must be sewn into the brain of the developer (for example, HTML and CSS). This is a question from a telephone series that helps filter out inappropriate people even on the outskirts of your company.

18. What browser do you use?
The correct answer is: everyone. A competent developer should be familiar with the concept of cross-browser compatibility, moreover, be familiar in practice. It is clear that everyone has a favorite browser that is used for surfing, but the answer to this question can help smoothly move on to the topic of cross-browsing. Also, when it comes to CSS / HTML related posts, it’s useful to ask about the toolbars installed.

19. Rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how interesting you are to the following tasks (1 - not at all interesting, 5 - extremely interesting)
Offer a list of tasks at this position. When you see the rating, this will help you understand how a person fits in the place.

20. What own projects are you going to continue?
Almost every developer has personal projects that he likes to do at his leisure. This is another issue that helps separate passionate developers from those who are used to working strictly from nine to five. This is also a good question to complete the interview (because the answer to it is usually easy and enjoyable).

The author of the translation is Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of MBA Consult .

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