Front-End Interview Questions

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A few days ago, either someone tweeted or someone shared with me an interesting document: Front-end Developer Interview Questions. This document (well, Git repo really) is a large set of questions that could be appropriate for interviewing someone for the role of a front-end developer. While this was new to me, apparently this document started way back in 2009 (did we even have browsers then?) and has had contributions from quite a few people.

I've recently gone through a few interviews myself. I've discovered that I'm quite bad at it. Like probably some of you, the second someone asks me a question during a job interview I tend to freeze up. If I'm giving a presentation then it typically doesn't really bother me. If I don't know the answer, it is an excellent opportunity to show people what I do when I don't know the answer. (Which, frankly, is more important than rote knowledge imho.) While I'm not interviewing anymore (hello IBM!), it bothered me that I performed badly. It also bothered me that there were quite a few things on this list that I felt I didn't have a firm grasp on. I'm not ashamed to reveal my ignorance to my blog readers. (Not too ashamed.) Here are a few things that I would have struggled with in a job interview. To be clear, for some of these I think I know the answer, but my confidence in sounding intelligent when answering them would have been low.

  • What are the limitations when serving XHTML pages?
  • Are there any problems with serving pages as application/xhtml+xml?
  • How do you serve a page with content in multiple languages?
  • What are the different ways to visually hide content (and make it available only for screen readers)?
  • Any familiarity with styling SVG?
  • What are some of the "gotchas" for writing efficient CSS?
  • What's the difference between inline and inline-block?
  • Explain how this works in JavaScript (Yes, I admit this. I think I know it, but I don't think I have a 100% lock down on the answer here and I want a 100% lock down.)
  • AMD vs. CommonJS?
  • What's the difference between host objects and native objects?

So here's an idea. A challenge - for myself really - but open to my readers. Would it be useful to go through all of the questions, a few at a time, and write up my blog entries on what my answer would be? I don't think this is something I could do quickly, I'm thinking this could be a year long project, and heck, maybe I'll give up, but there are topics on that list that I want a firmer understanding of and I think my readers could help flesh out my own misunderstandings.

Photo credit: Question mark by ed_needs_a_bicycle

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Gavin Pickin posted on 1/22/2015 at 7:30 PM

You're giving us homework now... no fair.

Seriously though... those would knock me off my seat if I was interviewing too... especially if I wasn't able to GOOGLE to confirm my thoughts.

Some interesting questions there, sounds like a good series... I'd be interested in even the questions you didn't put on this list.

Comment 2 (In reply to #1) by Raymond Camden posted on 1/22/2015 at 9:20 PM

My thinking is to do ALL of them, not just the ones I don't know... and trust me - the list above is a *sampling* of what I don't know. :)

Comment 3 by Ralph Whitbeck posted on 1/23/2015 at 2:11 AM

I just went through a bunch of interviews with various companies. I can only describe them as Marathons. One company was 5 phone interviews 3 of which were technical, then it would have been a full day of onsite interviews. Another company was 1 phone interview followed by 6 onsite interviews one right after the other. Then there were mini projects I had to do in prep for onsites. I'm glad I got hired when I did cause I was almost burnt out going through the process and I couldn't imagine starting over again with another company.

Comment 4 by Chris Geirman posted on 1/23/2015 at 4:26 PM

I think that's an absolute brilliant idea. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. One question might be a no brainer to me, but completely befuddle you (and vice versa). Why not level the playing field?!

Comment 5 by Oscar Villarreal posted on 1/23/2015 at 9:02 PM

To me the best interview is done when pair programing with the candidate. I typically use the js-assessment repo from Rebecca Murphey

And I focus on having the candidate speak through what he/she is thinking in order to determine the level of knowledge in JS at least.