A good developer can bring long-term value to your business. Check out some web developer interview questions every hiring manager should ask.
Are you planning to do some web developer interviews? Great!
For the longest time, you’ve been thinking that all those web skills you learned in college (you did an internship after all) and believe they’ll allow you to save lots of money by developing your business’s website.
Think again. It isn’t as though you don’t need a website. But realistically speaking, how much of it are you able to do yourself–given how long it’s been since you were in college and how much else you have to do these days?
We’re here to help you out!
But First a Short Discussion
Before you can develop the right interview questions for web developers, you have to know what you want from them, technical as well as other abilities.
You also need to understand the process of web development well enough to make informed decisions about who to hire.
Stages of Web Development
For a typical small business website, there are essentially three stages of development, each with specific roles involved:
Stage 1: Planning and Design Creation
Website development begins with information collection, planning, and design, usually with a designer–in collaboration with the client–planning the overall look and intended functions of the website. This stage involves sketches and mock-ups.
This is an important stage because it could be the user’s first impression of your business. And as we all know, first impressions are hard to change.
Stage 2: Site Development
In the next stage, the developer comes in–specifically, a front end developer, also known as a client-side developer. This is the person who makes the site functional by applying appropriate coding to the design.
The Front End
Your developer might also have some involvement in the design since their job is to, in effect, “bring the design to life” by making it possible for a user to interact with it. If so, be sure to prepare some web design interview questions.
Meanwhile, the back-end developer creates the server systems and code that send data to a visitor’s browser and save data to the back-end for processing.
The Back End
“Back end development refers to the server side of an application and everything that communicates between the database and the browser.”
Server-side languages could include PHP, Ruby, Python, .NET, or any number of other programming languages or a mix of languages.
If you have a smaller project, you might consider working with a full-stack developer, which is someone who works with both the front and back ends.
“These developers aren’t experts at everything; they simply have functional knowledge and ability to take a concept and turn it into a finished product.”
Stage 3: Testing and Maintenance
Any good web developer will know the extreme importance of testing and retesting a site to be sure it’s fully debugged. And then there is the ongoing maintenance of the site.
Generally, it is the developer who continues to maintain a client’s website, though the client might do this if they possess enough software knowledge. A larger company will use its tech support staff.
We haven’t given you anywhere near the full picture of website development, but hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to do a competent and professional interview.
What follows are what we consider good interview questions–that allow you to get to know the candidates as people you might or might not want to work with, as well as to determine what knowledge and capabilities they would bring to your project.
Interview Questions For a Web Developer
There are many sources of questions for web developer interviews. We’ve tried to consolidate them here, as well as work in some more general interview questions.
These are general ice-breaker types of questions.
Tell me about your background. Where and how did you learn web page development?
Learning about someone’s education, whether formal or informal, can tell you some things about how they take in and process new information. It can also give you a sense of how–and how much–they continue to learn.
What do you see as the most significant changes to web development in the past 2-3 years? What makes them significant?
Given the daily changes happening with the web these days, your developer had better be keeping on top of things. Otherwise, they might miss things critical to the success of your business.
People Skills and Dispositions
These questions will help you learn about your candidate’s work ethic and ability to work with others.
Is there anything about web development that you’d rather hand off to someone else?
This follows from the previous question. It’s a version of the classic “tell me about your greatest weakness” question. Look for an answer that stresses the need to delegate when necessary due to high client volume (a good sign).
Or, perhaps, something like “When I’m involved in a project, I’m so focused on every detail that I wouldn’t even know how or what to hand off to someone else.”
Do you have any secrets for working successfully with web designers?
This probably will be an important part of their job, so look for signs of conviviality and creative problem-solving.
In the Weeds: Front End Developer Questions
These questions are very specific to the position of web developer.
Who do you go to when you have a coding problem or some other intractable issue. Why them?
This should give you a sense of how much of a team player this person is and their ability to acknowledge their imperfections. It also should give you a sense of how they can describe a problem and the system within which that problem occurred.
Do you have a portfolio to show me?
Look for “solid, extensive, COMPLETED projects,” not mock-ups or unfinished sites. This will help you understand the candidate’s skills and work ethic. If they can show you a site they designed that’s successful and functioning, that would be great!
Could you show me some of your code?
You may not know that much about coding, but you surely will be able to tell if it’s neat or sloppy. “Make sure you ask for a lot of source code, not just a few isolated functions or pieces of HTML.” You want to know they can really do this well.
As you’re asking these questions–especially any you don’t feel very knowledgeable about, take notes. That way, you can either go over the answers with someone who knows more than you do or look up pertinent information online.
The web is quite a good source of information about things having to do with the web and you are sure to find answers that will either verify or cause you to question what your interviewee said to you.
A Successful Web Developer Interview
For those of us whose experience lies in areas other than web development, the idea of interviewing a developer can be intimidating.
But this is something you can use to your advantage when asking your web developer interview questions. Frame them in ways that elicit information from the candidates. You are sure to learn some things.
Hiring a developer can be risky, but you’re part of the equation, too. It’s up to you to support, encourage, and ask questions about the work this person might be doing for you.
If you need more help prepping for the interviews, we recommend engaging a hiring firm of your choice.