5 Pieces of Advice to Get You Ready for an Interview with a Developer

As web-based technology becomes more and more important for businesses of all shapes and sizes, Human Resources (HR) managers need to be prepared to interview web developers. This can be a daunting task for HR managers in small to medium-sized businesses that don’t yet employ someone in this position. As the HR manager, you may find yourself unsure what to ask a web developer with a strong technical background. Therefore, HR managers must be prepared for an interview with a web developer to find out if the candidate is worth hiring for a job.

But how do you prepare for an interview with a web developer? What are the best practices that help an HR manager to get ready for an interview with a developer? Web developers may not always be available to assist at the interview. Sometimes all they can do is give a sheet of paper with a development task that you should hand over to a potential employee.

What follows is a series of recommendations for how you can prepare yourself for an interview with a web developer.

Advice #1: Acquire a technical background

I’m not suggesting that you have to understand how to code and how to employ all the tools that dwell in the ecosystem of a certain programming language. But you should definitely know the basic programming principles, the most popular software tools used by developers in their workflow, and what libraries and frameworks are written in a language and what they are used for.

For example, an HR manager should have a clear understanding of the object oriented and functional programming paradigms, Git, GitHub, frontend and backend development, and what programming languages are used for frontend and backend development.

If you’re going to interview a developer who must know a certain language such as Python, Java, or Ruby, it’s recommended that you also learn the ecosystem of tools that are used with those languages. For instance, if you’re going to frequently interview Ruby on Rails developers, you should know about the Ruby Version Manager and most popular Rails engines such as Devise, Spree Commerce, Refinery CMS, and Thredded. The tools for Python or Java are certainly different.

Advice #2: Consult a web developer

To be prepared for an interview with a web developer, you should not only learn the basics of programming, but you should also talk to other web developers. You can ask them about the ecosystem of the programming language – the main tools an interviewee must know about. There’s no need to talk to web developers face to face. What you can do is go to Reddit, StackOverflow, and Quora to consult web developers there.

As you acquire technical knowledge, professional web developers can suggest what exactly is included in the ecosystem of a programming language. They can suggest the best libraries or frameworks built with it. Say, you’re looking for a JavaScript developer, therefore, you’ll have to know where this language is used, what are HTML and CSS, and how all these three languages are connected.

Advice #3: Prepare a list of questions

Preparing a list of questions to ask a web developer is the most obvious advice, but it’s extremely important. No matter what programming language a web developer knows, you can ask literally hundreds of questions about the programming language, its API, quirks, advantages, and issues. One of the simplest ways to make a list of questions about a programming language is to look on the internet.

When you gather the questions related to a programming language, it’s best to group them by the area. For example, if you need to test a Ruby on Rails developer, you can separate questions in two main groups: Ruby-related questions and Ruby on Rails-related questions. Questions about the Ruby programming language can be further divided into several sub-groups, so as the Ruby on Rails questions.

You can consult the following articles to find more questions to different developers:

By gathering and arranging questions, you’re actually creating a good interview structure. You’ll know what to ask next if the interviewee successfully answers the previous questions. Even if a web developer assists you and talks to the interviewee, it’s recommended to have a list of questions at hand, because web developers may easily forget what to ask. So, a sheet of paper with all the questions must be available at the interview.

Advice #4: Ask a web developer to attend an interview

If possible, a professional web developer, who knows the required programming language, should assist you at the interview. Surely, you can acquire enough theoretical knowledge about a programming language; but what genuinely matters for a web developer (i.e. an interviewee) is to have good practical skills. Therefore, only a professional web developer can really help you at the interview as they can ask an interviewee some specific questions and understand what is incorrect in their answers.

Advice #5: Always remember about the soft skills

Until now, we’ve concentrated on the technical background and how you should ask developers to help you during the interview. But there’s one more area you should focus on as well, and that is an interviewee’s soft skills. Arguably, for programmers there are three key requirements:

  • They must be willing to learn new things. As the development world is changing quite rapidly, an interviewee must prove that they are definitely ready to jump to new technologies.
  • They must be dedicated to web development. Programmers must manifest the desire to code. Otherwise, you can hardly call them programmers.
  • They must have excellent communication skills. Programmers often talk to customers, other programmers, designers, etc. Therefore, programmers must be capable of explaining their ideas for implementing a project.

Your task is to figure out if the interviewee possesses the three soft skills we’ve listed above. There are many other soft skills that a good developer should acquire, but having the three basic skills is good enough.

We’ve given not as many recommendations as we could, but if you follow the tips from this short article, you’ll be able to interview a web developer.

Author: Daria Khmelnitskaya

Daria is a technical writer in RubyGarage. She likes to write useful articles about development companies and all topics related to web development.

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