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LAST UPDATED
September 22, 2016

How to prepare for a front-end developer job interview?

Front-end developer. JavaScript enthusiast. Author of Frontendinsights.com

Think about the questions you should expect

First of all, you should read the job description carefully – which technologies and tools are required and which are only nice to have. This may seem like common sense, but I wanted to point it out just to make sure.

If you know the requirements, you can think about the questions you may be asked. Please see below a list of topics you should expect when you apply for a front-end developer position:

  • your previous projects - which technologies, tools and architecture you used
  • questions about technologies and tools which are required in the position
  • general JavaScript, HTML, CSS questions

Question about your previous projects

The first question you should expect is to be asked something about your projects. I think this is a very good opportunity to show yourself from your best side. Think about your previous projects and pick the one which fits the requirements best or one that you are most proud of. Prepare a short speech about it – tell the interviewer about the framework and tools you used. If possible, show that you used modern front-end approaches for development, e.g. apart from telling them about the use of Angular/React, say also that you were using Webpack/Browserify as a bundler, Grunt/Gulp for automatization etc. If you can, tell them about some interesting cases encountered during the project and how you solved them.

On the other hand, even if you haven’t used any of the mentioned technologies/tools, the recruiter will probably ask if you know them so be prepared for that! It would be great if you can tell them that you tried them out, for example, your pet project. Or, even better, in an open source project you contributed to.

During the speech about your previous projects, you should be prepared for some questions about the tools you used. For example, when you say that you used Grunt/Gulp for automatization, the recruiter may ask which one is better and why… or what the benefits of using a bundler are… So please remember that when you talk about something, you have to know what you are talking about.

I have never interviewed for a dev role, but I’m guessing there may be questions about “tell me about a time you found a bug in your work…. what did you learn from it?” that sort of thing?

Question about technologies/tools required in the position

When a company is looking for a new employee, they usually need someone who can get familiar with a project as quickly as possible. That’s why they want to know how well you know technologies and tools required in the position.

So, during the preparation you should think about what you know about the technology they are using and be ready for general questions specific to their needs. For example, when they look for someone with experience in React, they may ask about the React lifecycle, what JSX is or how VirtualDOM works, etc. Fortunately, you can find many examples of such questions on the Internet so spend some time on the research.

General JavaScript questions

I think this is the most important part of a front-end developer interview. If someone knows the answers to these questions, it means that they are interested in this matter and have dug deeper. If you want to be a JavaScript developer you should know the answers to these key questions.

Please see below a sample list of general JavaScript questions you should expect during an interview:

  • What is the scope of variables in ES5?
  • What is the IIFE (Immediatelly-Invoked Function Expression)?
  • Do you know the revealing module pattern?
  • How can you change the context of the function?
  • What are promises?
  • What is callback?
  • How can you avoid callback hell?

Of course this list is not exhaustive, and you should be prepared for many more questions similar to the ones above. And please do not neglect this. I think that even if you don’t have too much experience in technologies required in the position, your chances of getting the job increase when you answer these general JavaScript questions correctly.

Other important things

Answering questions is not the only thing you should care about if you want to make a positive impression.

Firstly, you should know something about the company you are applying to. And to show that you researched them before the meeting, ask questions about them.

Actually, it’s good to have questions for the recruiter, not only about the company. I’m sure there are many things that are important to you and an interview is the best place to ask them. For example, you may want to know if they have overtime and how often. Do they pay for it or give a day off. You can ask about the project, what tools they use, what architecture, etc. Remember, it’s not only them that should be happy hiring you, you should also be happy working with them!

And last but not least! It is obvious that you should be prepared for the question about your financial expectations… I know that this might not be easy for many people so it’s good to have the amount of money you want to earn prepared. To maintain some potential negotiation power in the future, it would best to not give a concrete number. Think of a salary range that you would deem “fair” as well as competitive. Think about it before the meeting – thanks to this, you will be perceived as a determined person who knows what they want.

Summary

Being interviewed is not an easy task, especially if you are a beginner. Good preparation for the meeting should help you to do it well, reduce your stress and bring you closer to success. I hope my advice will help somebody prepare for an interview and get a better job!

For all of you from the other side I recently wrote a piece about a dev job interview from the interviewer's perspective. Feel free to check it out. If you have any tips that worked for you, share them in the comments so we can all learn from them.

This post was originally published as How to prepare for an interview for a front-end developer on Front-End Insights.com.

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