I have an interview for a Front End Developer position coming up, and this will be my first time being interviewed for such a position and I'm very nervous. As such, I'm trying to figure out:

  1. What I should be prepared to know
  2. What should I expect from them
  3. The best way to prepare

They will be asking be about HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and jQuery. While I am able to code them well enough, I might not know the 'textbook definitions' I may be asked.

Any guidance to a successful interview would be amazing.


What you should be prepared to know:

  1. The company - Do you know what kinds of products and/or services they provide? Do you know how large the company is? Do you know where the offices are? There may be a question like, "What do you think of our company?" or something similar where it may be worth having a short prepared set of remarks so that you can show you do know a few things about the company. I'm not suggesting memorizing the last earnings report, but I am saying it is good to have an idea of what the company does and where they fit into the big picture in a sense.

  2. Yourself - What is in your background? What is your biggest accomplishment to date? What has been your biggest failure? What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness? There are lots of individualistic questions that can be asked in an interview in terms of your experience that is just about you telling stories about what you've done or how you see yourself. If you have past work experience that may be useful, consider how do you paint your previous employers? If you put them down too much, this can be a pitfall you may hit as they may fear you'd talk about their company like that.

  3. The interviewers - If you know names, it may be worth looking them up on LinkedIn or other sites to see if there is a common connection or something else that may be worth mentioning at some point.

What you should expect from them:

  1. They will likely have more than a few questions for you in terms of summing up your background, qualifications for the position, and all that usual stuff. Be aware of who is running the interview: Is it someone from HR? Is it a technical manager? Is it both? There is something to be said for understanding what is their process. Some places may do multiple rounds of interviews and some may just have the one round before making a decision.

  2. They will ask you if you have questions for them. Please be prepared with something that you'd like to know about the company that you couldn't easily find on their website. My standard questions here tend to be about the methodology, tools, and overall process as I want to know what are they using, how long have they used it and so forth.

The best way to prepare:

  1. Study the company - Find its website and some of the work they've done if they are a design firm that does campaigns for other companies. You want to peek at what stuff do they use. Are they on the latest jQuery or using an older version?

  2. Study your history - Have a 2 minute run down of your background so that you can answer the "Tell us about yourself" question that most interviewers will give early in the interview. Know your stories so that you can explain the context, what you did, what was the result and what you learned in a clear concise manner with enthusiasm.

  3. Cover the basics. Know how you are getting to the interview, what time are you leaving, when are you arriving, who are you asking at reception if you were given names, bring copies of your resumes and references. Dress appropriately. These are all straightforward things to do that I would advise doing before the interview.

  4. Go through some whiteboard coding problems. There are likely tons of examples on-line though if you want some words for Google try FizzBuzz, reversing a string, implementing a data type like a priority queue where the key is to communicate how you are thinking, what test cases are you keeping in mind, how complex is this in terms of time and space, and remember that the questions may be vague intentionally to see if you make assumptions or ask questions when you come to that fork in the road. The best code may be more mindful of space as it could be implemented on an embedded system with really limited resources while in other cases it may be more about how big of a code footprint does this generate in memory?

The 'textbook definitions' may be something to cram though I'd be more intent on studying what is new in HTML5 or CSS3. What are browser versions currently out there? How do you handle cross-browser issues? What kind of testing packages have you used to ensure this works on different screen sizes and operating systems? Have you built mobile sites? What web server software do you know? While the job is front-end, this can include web servers in some larger companies where back-end is the database, middle-tier is the enterprise service bus that everything plugs into and the front-end is everything in front of the bus.

I've done web development work since 1998 and have had more than a few interviews that have varied from great to abysmal.

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