While working at the agency Designzillas, I helped interview and onboard new developers to the web team. Designzillas’ service offering meant we mainly hired front-developers to develop websites for content management systems, especially WordPress. We usually had a large volume of applicants with every new job posting, and all applicants with varying levels of experience and different areas of expertise. So I created a master interview questions list for every front-end developer interview we held to better gauge who would best fit the job role requirements and work well with the team and their needs.
I wrote this interview master list to help agencies, in-house web teams, development leads, and company stakeholders better quantify and qualify the professionals applying for the front-end developer roles in their company.
How to Quantify and Qualify a New Hire in the Interview Process
As lengthy and in-depth as these developer interview questions listed below are, I don’t deliver all of these questions hoping to get a person who has the answers to them all, or to discredit the applicants who don’t have perfect answers to these questions.
I moreover ask these questions in a more qualifying manner, not just to quantify an applicant as appropriate for the role by checking off role requirement checkboxes, but more so to take note of their strengths and weaknesses, their areas of expertise, and where they would have room for growth. Based on those responses, I get a better gauge of their full skillsets to see if they’re a good fit for the role. These questions also help jump start your next steps for setting up onboarding and training plans for highly desirable candidates by weeding out clear strengths (may require less training time) and weaknesses (may require more training time) to in turn better develop their first week of onboarding.
Find an Applicant’s Experience Level
The answers to these developer interview questions are great insight as to where a developer is in this stage of their career. It helps qualify their level of entry: junior, entry-level, senior, lead, or director.
I never blindly use an applicant’s years of experience as a qualifier for level of entry. I’ve met senior development leads with 10+ years of experience that have established entire infrastructures for large development teams, and have proved themselves absolutely indispensable with their years of knowledge, onboarding expertise, and troubleshooting magic. But I have also worked with recent college graduates that helped establish the entire code infrastructure and onboarding program for a company within their first 6 months in the industry. Because of my experiences, I have learned that years of experience do not always magically sum up to direct applicable knowledge in a role.
Establish Tech Stack Education
Use an applicant’s answers to the interview questions to establish if an applicant has used the tech stack needed for this role, and their comfort level in using the programming languages, APIs, and / or content management systems needed to thrive in the role.
Quantify applicant strength
In contrast, you can also use a candidate’s responses to find potential weaknesses, and set up game plans to pair the potential new hire with other developers on the team who shine in that area. This paired development system helps build better developers for your team by improving their weaknesses from day one.
The Master Front-end Developer Interview List
Listed below is the master list of front-end development interview questions I ask new hire applicants. Use them to help better qualify your applicants in your next front-end development interview!
Development Work Flow and Tooling Interview Questions
- What programming or coding languages are you comfortable in and have experience working with?
- What is your programming language of choice? Why?
- How do you develop a website from start to finish? Do you get designs from a designer and work with them through the process, or do you just design your pages as you develop?
- How do you develop the styles for your webpages? Do you use vanilla CSS or preprocessors like Sass/SCSS or Less?
- What code editor do you use?
- Are there any particular packages or extensions you like to use on your code editor?
- How do you set up your local development environment? (Ex: MAMP vs WAMP or XAMP, Webpack, etc.)
Content Management System Interview Questions
- Have you worked with content management systems? If so, which ones?
- Which CMS do you feel you are strongest in?
- What is your build process for front-end styling in content management systems?
- Do you purchase a pre-existing and styled theme and modify it?
- Or, would you instead create a child theme based off the purchased theme?
- Or, do you create a theme from a starter framework like Bootstrap or Underscores?
- Or, do you build custom themes from scratch?
- Have you ever built your own starter framework and use that on a site build?
- If applicant mentioned WordPress as part of the CMS question:
- Why have you chosen to use WordPress over other content management systems like Drupal, etc?
- Have you ever built custom fields or used ACF?
- Have you created your own custom Gutenberg blocks?
- Have you ever built custom page templates?
- Have you ever built custom post types?
- Have you ever built your own plugin?
- Have you ever worked with page builders? If so, which ones? (Ex: Divi, Elementor, etc.)
Multi-developer Environments and Version Control Interview Questions
- Do you implement version control on your websites? If so, what do you use? (Ex: GitHub, Bitbucket)
- How comfortable are you with git workflows such as:
- Pulling down code from a remote repository
- Adding and committing your code changes to a team code repository
- Pushing up code snippets from your local computer to a remote repository
- Creating and merging pull requests
- Branching off a master code repository for a client project, creating your own branch, and merging your branch back into the master branch
- How would you resolve a merge conflict?
- How do you work in multi-developer environments?
- Have you set up workflows for multi-developer environments such as sub-feature staging environments to test specific features independent of other build flows?
E-commerce Interview Questions
- Have you worked with an e-commerce site build before?
- What e-commerce integrations have you previously worked with? (Ex: WooCommerce, Salesforce, Commerce Cloud, etc)
- What third-party systems have you integrated before? (Ex: Stripe, PayPal, etc)
- How do you ensure your users data is secure when implementing e-commerce into a user’s experience?
Accessibility Interview Questions
- Have you ever had to implement accessibility into a web build?
- Are you familiar with WCAG 2.1? If so, tell me more about your understanding of it.
- What tools do you use to check your websites for accessibility? (Ex: Google Lighthouse, WAVE, etc)
Final Site Deployment Interview Questions
- Do you conduct any QA on your sites after developed? If so, what is your QA process?
- What is your process for cross-browser and cross-device QA?
- Which devices and browsers do you test your sites on?
- How do you implement your QA checks on those devices? Ex: physical devices or simulators like virtual machines in VM Ware or BrowserStack
- How do you check for web accessibility on your sites and themes?
- How do you know a website is ready to be handed off to a client?
Teamwork Interview Questions
- How do you provide documentation for your code base?
- Do you have any standards for commenting code snippets in your working files?
- Do you have any standards for commit messages for your version control system?
- Do you have any examples of a README file with documentation of a code base?
- Do you ever conduct code reviews for other teammates’ work or have participated in your own code reviews with another developer?
- What do you do if you review another developers work, and find problems in the code base?
- Would you let the developer or team lead know?
- How would you provide that feedback to the appropriate person?
- What do you do when you get stuck on a development feature? Where do you go for help?
Development Leadership Interview Questions
- Have you ever led a department-wide or company-wide training session on a development topic?
- Have you ever conducted onboarding for a new developer on your team?
- Have you ever had direct reports before? If so, to what extent was your role in charge of your direct reports? (Ex: conducting 1-1s, scheduling workload, performing code reviews, establishing yearly goals, conducting end-of-year reviews, establishing their raises, etc.)
Personal Growth Interview Questions
- What do you think is your best personal quality that you can bring to this team to take them to the next level?
- What are your career goals?
- Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years?
- What do you think is the difference between a junior developer and a senior developer?
- What do you think is the difference between a senior developer and a director of a development team?
Development Innovation Questions
- What are some of your favorite development blogs or troubleshooting forums?
- Where do you go to get inspiration for new development ideas?
- In 2022, what do you think are the top development trends you should be keeping an eye on?
- What is a project that you developed that you’re really proud of?
Using the Front-end Development Interview Questions
Single Session Interviews
I know that this list of interview questions is lengthy, and based on the breadth of detail and response length of some of your candidates, it may prove difficult to ask all of these questions in a single hour or two-hour long interview. The important thing to remember is that as an interviewer, the flow of the interview meeting falls on you. Feel free to ask as many or as few questions as you feel qualify the job applicant in a single interview. If you find that you’ve qualified the candidate with just half of the questions on this list, feel free to end the interview.
Multiple Session Interviews
You don’t have to ask all of these interview questions in a single session. You can ask them separately in 2-3 differently themed interviews. What is most important is that you get the answers that you need to properly assess who your next hire will be for your development team at a time and pace that matches the needs of your role, your team, and your company. My advice on breaking down interview sessions into 2-3 steps would be: first a general meet and greet interview, then a deep-dive technical interview, and followed by a leadership-level interview (if applicable).
Another way of tackling these questions is to try them in a panel format. Invite a mix of senior developers and engineering department leads, as well as higher-level company leadership. For example, the development work flow and tooling questions can be asked by senior developers in the room, and the teamwork/personal growth questions can go to company leads and stakeholders, so that each interviewer has a clear list of responsibilities to tackle in the interviews.
Feel free to use this master list of front-end developer questions as you see fit for your department’s needs. I wish you good luck during your recruitment and interviewing process, and I hope this list helps you find your next new hire for your team!