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12 of the Most Revealing Interview Questions to Ask Web Developers

12 of the Most Revealing Interview Questions to Ask Web Developers

Web developers currently hold one of the top 10 most in-demand job titles, according to Indeed’s most recent trends listing. As the competition works to recruit the most talented web developers on — and off — the job market, it’s crucial you use every minute of interview time wisely. 

We reached out to our pool of experts to share their favorite interview questions to ask web developers. Here are the 12 questions they recommend you add to your interview process: 

1. What industry sites and blogs do you read/follow?

This gives me an idea of how much they know about the latest trends in web development. It also clues me in on whether they know or have any interest in the niche topics on our blog. This separates the individuals who do it as a career or hobby from those who might simply be in it for the big developer paychecks.

Allan Borch, Founder of Dotcom Dollar

2. How comfortable are you with writing HTML code entirely by hand?

Allan BorchThere are a lot of people who call themselves HTML experts on paper, but in reality, they can’t write an HTML document from top to bottom. They either rely on an external publisher or have to constantly flip back to a reference manual. Any developer should at least be able to write a simple HTML document without relying on external resources.

Allan Borch, Founder of Dotcom Dollar

When considering interview questions to ask web developers, focus on what your company values most. There’s an endless list of technical information high-quality candidates can provide. Create a list of what your company values most in web developers before interviewing and evaluating candidates to gain a clearer understanding of their fit for the role. 

3. Tell us about a challenging project you did at work.

Nicolas JakobThis question helps us to understand what a person considers a challenge for themselves, dive deeper into their experience, and analyze if the answer matches our expectations for the open position.

Nicolas Jakob, Lead Frontend Engineer at Smallpdf

Use one-way video interviews to ask questions regarding challenges or experiences candidates had in previous roles. Their recorded responses allow you to easily assess and compare responses. If a candidate shares a challenge you’re interested in, this sets you up for follow-up questions during a live interview. Otherwise, you can move on without spending any more time on an ill-fitting candidate. 

4. What projects did you work on and what were you in charge of?

Adam HempenstallA lot of times, web developers will just list an app or a website in their portfolio. You need to ask them how exactly they contributed to the app, which part of the code they worked on, which people they collaborated with, and more. 

In essence, you want to learn how much they actually contributed to the project they listed in their portfolio. Sometimes, a developer has a really cool app in their portfolio to which they contributed almost nothing. Don’t be afraid to do a background check and perhaps even get in touch with their former employer, especially if you’re about to make them an offer.

Adam Hempenstall, Founder and CEO at Better Proposals

Hearing a candidate compare an end-result with what they worked on puts their perspective and potential role expectations into clear view. Confirm their responses, if they meet your standards for the position inefficient reference checks.

5. Describe the box model.

With all of the UI frameworks out there, this question may seem obsolete. But, all tools fail, and debugging a UI framework without basic knowledge of the DOM is next to impossible. An understanding of the box model shows the interviewee is familiar enough to be able to debug when needed.

Phil Strazzulla, CEO & Founder at Select Software Reviews 

6. Explain namespacing in layman’s terms.

There’s a big difference between understanding something and memorizing a description. The ability to explain a term to someone with no technical expertise shows a true understanding of a complicated concept, like Javascript namespacing.

Phil Strazzulla, CEO & Founder at Select Software Reviews 

7. What trends in web development do you find most exciting?

Phil StrazzullaThis is the question that separates the goods from the greats. I want a web developer that’s passionate about the field. This means they are aware of what’s coming and will get excited about what it means.

This isn’t just to gauge their interest, however. Knowing about what’s coming in the future should shape the work we do now. It would be unfortunate to lean into flash development when all browsers are getting ready to drop support for it, for example.

Phil Strazzulla, CEO & Founder at Select Software Reviews 

When focusing on interview questions to ask web developers, be sure to hone in on collaboration experiences and expectations. It’s important to know how well they previously worked with colleagues outside of the tech space, their attitude toward those who don’t understand the lingo, and how collaborative they want to be in the future.   

8. Explain these to me, but pretend I’m a tech novice.

The developer will be required to work and liaise with other departments and needs to explain to them in a language they’ll understand. This question allows us to see if the developer can explain in plain English to his non-tech colleagues so they are all on the same page.

Jase Rodley, Founder and CEO at Jase Rodley

9. Name your favorite programming language and explain three limitations and disadvantages of it.

Every programmer has their favorite language and a lot are blind to their negative points as a subconscious bias. This question allows us to check if a developer can see faults in their own preferred coding language and if their professional pride supersedes their loyalty to the programming language.

Jase Rodley, Founder and CEO at Jase Rodley

10. What’s the biggest difference between developing for mobile and desktop?

Jase RodleyMobile is slowly taking over, which means web browsing will be mainly done on smartphones as opposed to desktops. There are major differences in skills needed to develop a good mobile experience and we need to know any potential hires are both aware and highly skilled in this.

Jase Rodley, Founder and CEO at Jase Rodley

Highly technical-focused questions are, of course, important when interviewing web developers. Unfortunately, not all interviewers or decision-makers will be tech wizards. Sit down with your current web development team or trusted experts to pick their brains for acceptable answers or keywords you should be listening for when focusing on the more technical aspects of the role. 

11. What separates a good developer from a great developer?

Almost all candidates say a good developer can write good code. Their answer to the great part reveals a lot about their wider values. I personally like developers who talk about great devs being good communicators or brilliant problem-solvers.

Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO and Co-Founder at Stasher 

12. Why is Google a good business?

Jacob Wedderburn-DayThis is interesting because you get a lot of different responses. If they have good business sense, they’ll talk about the immense scalability of the model. If they have a design lean, they’ll highlight the minimalist UX. They could talk about culture. They could talk about the pure quality of the product being better than anything else on the market. I also like it when people challenge that Google is good.

Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO and Co-Founder at Stasher 

Sit down with your team and developers to define what success in a web developer role looks like. Additionally, ask your highest-performing tech team members to share their responses to questions like these. Use keywords from their responses to create a guide or scorecard for evaluating candidates. 

the go-to guide for perfect interview questions

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.