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Web Developer Interview Tips

by Chris Miksen

A bare-bones website isn't enough for companies in today's technology-driven world. Web developers help create fully functional and secure websites that enable businesses to run more efficiently and engage more consumers. As the interviewer, knowing what questions to ask can help you gauge a candidate's ability as a Web developer. As the candidate, anticipating and preparing for common questions will put you at the top of your game.

Strengths

As an interviewer, a candidate's strengths enable you to determine how or if she's going to fit in with your Web team. The candidate might list a few basic qualities she brings to the table, such as multitasking and attention to detail. That tells you nothing of her ability as a Web developer, so prod a bit further by asking how those strengths aid in developing Web projects. As the candidate, don't wait for the interviewer to prod. List your strengths and immediately transition into how they make for great assets as a Web developer. Suppose you say communication is one of your strengths. You could explain that talking to other developers and listening to their ideas and concerns allows you to outfit Web projects with a richer feature set that's only possible because of bouncing ideas off of your co-workers.

Knowledge

Reading that a candidate has ten years of HTML experience doesn't mean a whole lot if all that experience consists of is poor techniques and ultimately rubbish coding. As an interviewer, ideas for gleaning a candidate's knowledge include: asking for a sample of source code from a previous project, showing a candidate broken code and asking him how he'd fix it, and asking a candidate to list off a few differences in JavaScript between two or three browsers. As a candidate, prepare yourself for these questions and more. If you're asked to hand-write code, do so cleanly.

Ideas

As an interviewer, learning how a candidate thinks about website design, development and problems gives you a good idea as to how he'll approach projects. One idea to pick his brain includes showing him the homepage for a website and asking him how he'd improve the interface. If you're in the candidate's shoes, these types of questions are tricky. Answer the question directly by explaining what you would do, and then detail why you'd do it. Don't feel pressured to spit out an answer immediately, but don't sit there for five minutes and plot out a complex decision.

Concerns

Throughout the hiring process, interviewers will likely encounter plenty of resumes that point to a lack of higher education, little-to-no experience working with code in a professional environment and other seemingly major problems. As an interviewer, don't let these issues be deal-breakers. Give the candidate an opportunity to explain. As a candidate, view these issues as deal-breakers. Don't shrug them off. For example, suppose you have no college degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that that most Web developers have bachelor's degrees, so that could make you stand out in a bad way. Tout your experience as a developer, your projects and the success you've had despite your lack of higher education. Make it seem like the black marks on your resume aren't that big of a deal.

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