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How to Prepare for a Front-End Developer Interview

via SoundinTheory

via SoundinTheory

Job interviews suck. Let’s be honest. Everyone hates them. But that doesn’t mean you should be bad at them, considering a potential job is on the line. Therefore, here are tips on how to prepare for a front-end developer interview.

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To be clear, most job interviews vary based on the company, the company size, the interviewer, and how you got the interview. I’ve been in interviews where the interviewer clearly had not looked (or remembered) my resume before he sat down. On the flip-side, I’ve had other interviews where the interviewer has learned everything about me prior to the interview. Therefore, your front-end developer interview prep begins before you actually interview.

You should assume your interviewer is going to stalk research you before the interview. Make sure your online portfolio and any related social networks are up-to-date. Whether it’s your personal website, Behance, or Dribbble, make sure your first impression is a good one. This can affect how your interviewer perceives you before you even step into the room.

There will be a lot of variance and this prep isn’t all encompassing. But use these questions as your guide and remember…relax.

via NBC

via NBC and Friends Screen Grab

Hopefully your interviewer is a little more experienced and doesn’t start with these questions. But just in case they do, have a few answers ready.

  • Why did you choose to pursue a career in programming?
  • What’s your favorite project that you’ve ever worked on so far?
  • Describe your dream development project.

Other interviewers might ask you generic tech questions to test your technology chops. It’s possible a portion of the people don’t know what these questions mean and are just looking for competence from you. Your answers may vary depending on the level of technical ability you pick up from the interviewer. Just make note of these questions, they should be easy to answer.

  • Describe your process for creating a new web page.
  • How do you decrease page load time?
  • Why are standards and standards bodies important?
  • What process do you use for organizing your code?
  • What tools do you prefer using to test code performance?

Since you’re working on the front-end, understanding CSS will be important. So here are some specific CSS questions to prepare yourself for. This is where it will start to get more important to show off your knowledge. While these aren’t the most biting or important questions, not being able to answer them will set you back.

  • What are the differences between resetting and normalizing CSS?
  • What are floats, and how do they work?
  • What are the differences between absolute, relative, fixed, and static position?
  • Explain the differences between visibility hidden and display none.
  • How would you go about fixing a browser-specific styling issue?
  • Have you ever used a grid system? For what purpose?
  • How do you calculate specificity?
  • Explain how you optimize CSS selectors.
  • Why would you use preprocessor?
  • How would you go about testing your site’s cross-browser compatibility?


Now we really get into the meat and potatoes. Anyone can memorize and regurgitate answers to suffice for the above questions. Even novice front-end developers will be able to gloss over most of those questions. But if you want to really impress your interviewer and demonstrate your deep knowledge, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • What are the best .js frameworks for front-end development?
  • Whats the difference between a responsive web app and a native application?
  • What are the benefits of having a native app as opposed to a web app?
  • What is the difference between client side and sever side development?
  • What are SASS and LESS? How do they work?

Your interviewer is going to be more mindful of how you articulate your explanations for these questions. They’ll follow up with examples of work that supports your answers. The previous questions you could get away with memorization, and you might to a certain extent with these too, but it’s the depth of these answers that will set you apart. You’re going to be demonstrating your thought process behind real projects you’ve worked on.

via American Psycho Screengrab

via American Psycho Screen Grab

As your interview (or as you progress through the interview process) the questions are going to become much more specific. The more you can explain, cite examples, and elucidate lessons learned, the more you will separate yourself from the rest of the pack. It’s not just your answers at this point, it’s the why. Why did you choose a native app vs. a responsive site? Both answers can be acceptable, but understanding your logic is going to help the interviewer make the right decision and hire you!

[Featured Image Courtesy of SoundinTheory]

[Third Image Courtesy of AfterCollege]