15 Interview Questions Every Web Developer Should Know
January 19, 2017
There will come a time in every web developer's life when he/she will have to interview for a position. If you really want to nail your interview and make a good impression with the hiring manager, you may want to polish up on what I think are the 10 interview questions every web developer should know. Check out the ten points below to make sure you stand out at your next big interview.
1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
This is probably one of the most common interview questions, but it gives you a chance to tell the interviewer a bit about yourself. WHATEVER YOU DO, do not ask the interviewer what do they want to know. If you do that, you will have just commited a major interviewing sin.
The more concise you can be the better, this is a good time to tell the interviewer some things about you but make sure stay on point. Some good responses to this question that are concrete and tie into the job are:
- How you got started as a web developer
- When you knew you wanted to do xyz
- Briefly tell them about your last two or three jobs
- Where you see yourself headed professionally
2. What kind of experience do you have?
If the interviewer asks you about your experience, be sure to only use examples that relate to the current position. Give two or three examples of the last few times you had to call on this experience. It will be a big plus if you are able to relate your exeperiences with how you can use them to benefit the company.
If you are lacking experience in certain areas that is okay, nobody knows it all. Draw from your experiences which drove you to persevere and successfully accomplish your tasks. Just remember especially in this case to demonstrate how the experience ties into the job or how it can be beneficial to the company.
Some common responses about your experience could be:
- How you have learned to streamline a process
- Techniques or knowledge that can help enhance a company function
- Your understanding of tasks related to your job as a result of your experience
3. What did you do at your last job?
Here you can talk about some of the day to day tasks that you completed or things that you were responsible for. The more you can relate your past tasks with how you can incorporate them into the new position the better.
At the end of the day, the company is only interested in hearing about how your talents can benefit the objectives of the organization. Make sure that you present these topics in a manner that coincide with the role while keeping it short and sweet. A few responses that are appropriate for this particular question are:
- I was responsible killing n bugs every week
- Everyday I would run reports for my boss
- Developed tools let administer machines in a another data center
- Make sure all code was developed and checked in before the development cycle ended
4. What do you know about xyz company?
Here the interviewer wants to see if you have prepared for the interview by researching the company, possibly the company's objectives or even more so if you have researched some of the technologies that are behind the company if possible.
Ultimately, the interviewer is looking to see if you have taken the initiative to understand how you may fit into the role or to see if you understand what is the company even does.
Hopefully, you have done your research and rattle off three or four things that the company does or strategies that they employ that make them the success that they are. My personal go to responses are below, you can use them as is or tailor them for your own specific need:
- The XYZ company is a global leader in creating tiny widgets for virtual apps
- You noticed that the company uses xyz technology or cms to power its backend
- To your knowledge, the company has at least four e-commerce websites all focusing on different industries but employ the same templating system`
Questions like the ones above do nothing to measure a candidates ability to think. If you really want to put the developer in the hot seat, ask them questions like:
- What is polymorphism and why is it important?
- Can you name two design patterns that you used on a previous project?
- How do use a trait in PHP?
Whatever you say, just make sure that you can identify overall what the company does and more specifically, any interesting facts about the company or website that you are able to observe.
5. So what are you looking for in this position?
This question is actually pretty simple, the most important thing to remember is that what you want should mesh with the needs of the company and the position. This definitely is not the place to give your life story.
This is not the place to tell the interviewer that you want to work here because you heard that they pay well, or that your buddies work here or that this is just a temporary job to help you pad your resume. That right there will get you zero callbacks.
A few strong responses that you can use are:
- A dynamic team that you can contribute your talents to and be successful with
- Challenging projects that you can take on regularly
- A position that you grow in and eventually move up once you have proven yourself
6. Have you used any frameworks lately?
Typically, this is a question in my opinion to gauge how current your skillset is, and additionally to measure the breadth of your skillset. Here is where I typically rattle off the technologies that I use day to day such as:
7. How did you use them?
This question is pretty self-explanatory although I would suggest only mentioning the most important or outstanding projects that you have used them with.
- You used Angular to dynamically generate y
- There was a need for a custom content management system so you extended the
- functionality of Laravel to do x
- I used Yii to build our custom tool that did xyz
8. Why did you use them?
Here you can give examples of why you chose (or had to choose) one technology over another. A few things that you can say are:
- We used Yii because that was the framework my last employer preferred
- This ui kit was used as opposed to that one because it did not have enough components
9. Do you know anything about x database?
This is a question that most web developers should be familiar with to some degree. Here the hiring manager or team member wants to know that you have experience with some form of relational database management system.
Here you can outline a few points that demonstrate your understanding of the different flavors of databases, why they are used, and some of the applications that you created which emplyed the use of a database.
I normally discuss topics ranging from:
- My familiarity with MySQL and SQL
- Normalization and their forms including 1st, 2nd and 3rd normal form
- Database query optimizations
- Binding parameters to avoid SQL injection
10. What is a join?
A join is a database construct that allows you to connect two or more tables using a unique reference. This question will come up more than likely so make sure that you can competently explain the different types of joins such as:
11. What is your biggest accomplishment as a web developer?
With this question you can showcase your best work, if possible do not try to toot your own horn. You can simply say that you you did some really cool things and you can outline them from there
The key is showcase your skills, tie those accomplishments into how they relate to the job or how they will relate to the job and how you can bring that same energy to the current position. Don't say that you single handedly doubled revenue for the company last quarter when you really only invalidated refunds for the line of discontinued clown shoes.
Some quick leadoffs for your responses could be:
- I created that an app increased x
- After noticing x I developed this app that did y and resulting in some value
- A project that we thought took this amount of time was able to be done this amount time because I....
12. Why should we give you the position?
This is where you have to let your most valuable assets shine because at this point, the interview is almost over. You absolutely have to demonstrate the value that you will bring to the company above all other candidates.
Don't go overboard, but really drive home the fact through persuasion that you are the best choice for the job. You can do this by using strong arguments like the following:
- You should hire me because my experience is directly related to the job description
- Many of the tasks outlined on the job description fit the responsibilities that I had at my last employer
- Because I am the solution to the problems that you have and I can get the job done
13. What are your strengths?
If you are asked the question, the interviewer is wanting to know what do you really well as a web developer. If your strengths are not directly related to the job, I would not bring them up.
If you do not think that you have any strengths, do not say that. You can for example tell the interviewer that you:
- Have an innate skill for fixing bugs quickly
- Work well under pressure
- That you are a leader and exhibit leadership qualities
- Aare a stickler for attention to detail
14. What are your weaknesses?
This question will probably come up. It's a big one and it speaks to how you perceive yourself. Don't worry, this is not a trick question. We all have weaknesses and the interviewer knows this.
What the hiring manager wants to know is how do you fare despite not being as strong in this area as you are in say another. The best approach is to turn the weakness into a strength, for example. You can say things like:
- I get frustrated with people who turn their work in late, especially when my work depends on theirs
- Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but I modularize the task into smaller pieces and complete each micro task one bit bit at a time
- I obsess over every little detail and get anxious sometimes but I think about the praise that I get and I instantly relax
15. Do you have any questions?
Here is where you have the opportunity to get more information about the job, the team, and more about the responsibilities etcetera. This is probably not the place to discuss salary or benefits unless they bring it up first.
The worst thing that you can do is not ask any questions, or to ask questions that have nothing to do with the position or interview. Even if you really do not have any questions it is best that you ask somee because you want to know what you are getting yourself potentially into it.
I would suggest asking questions along the line of:
- How soon do you think that you will make a decision
- Do you mind if I follow-up with you about the position
- What is a typical day like in the work environment
- Does the company promote from within
I hope that these tips help you out on your next big interview. Web development is a fun and enjoyable career but it can be stressful trying to land that next big job. The good news is it get's easier. Don't forget to practice, and good luck!
Courtney Hall is a freelance web developer located in Carmel, IN. He has been a coder since 1999 and has worked for many companies throughout the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area. Courtney also does freelance web development for small businesses located around the greater central Indiana region. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @attnchall