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Check out how a few of our Javascript developers have grown recently.

  • Andrew Stratu
  • Andrew Stratu
  • completed "Advanced SVG Animation" course on FrontEndMasters.com
  • attended SmashingConf in Barcelona with 15 other X-Teamers.
  • read "SurviveJS - React", a top resource on mastering React.
  • Gianluca Esposito
  • Gianluca Esposito
  • completed "Building React Applications with Idiomatic Redux" course on Egghead.
  • attended ReactEurope in Paris with 10 other X-Teamers.
  • submitted a pull request to GatsbyJS, a React static site generator.
  • Szymon Michalak
  • Szymon Michalak
  • completed the Webpack course on Egghead.
  • attended SmashingConf in Barcelona with 15 other X-Teamers.
  • read "SurviveJS - React", a top resource on mastering React.

Guide to JavaScript Interviewing

It’s the 21st century and web users expect full-featured, responsive web applications with intuitive interfaces.

JavaScript helps you create such web applications.

But how?

Generally, great products are made of good code and good code is written by good developers.

So, one sure way to create a great product is to hire a good developer.

However, identifying a good developer amongst a pool of job applicants can be taxing.

Whether you’re looking to hire a front-end designer, a node.js back-end engineer or a full-stack JavaScript generalist, this guide contains interview techniques that can help you do just that.

Good coding relies on more than just the knowledge of a language syntax. You need someone who can turn your wildest dreams into reality, bring new ideas to the table and create stuff people love.

How can you tell this about a stranger by spending 20-30 minutes with them in a conference room or on Skype?

1. Explore their JavaScript Expertise

Rather than testing the applicant’s general coding knowledge, you should focus on their JavaScript chops.

This helps you judge their abilities.

Here’s a quick way to explore:

Ask a simple JavaScript-related question.

Based on the answer, ask a slightly more detailed one, and continue digging in until you reach the candidate’s limit.

Nevertheless, if an applicant has good general experience beyond JS, that’s even better.

2. Get Them to Critique Something

After testing their JavaScript expertise, go a step further to get them to review something—especially a JavaScript-based technology.

Here, you should look to see if:

They get the method signature right

Their algorithm is reasonable

They can explain its workings

They can give some pointers for improvement

They can find common line-break issues and so on.

3. Ask Them to Perform a Quick Task

But when doing this, be careful. The task shouldn’t necessarily be about solving some puzzles or problems.

It’s better to judge using functional code as opposed to abstract modular puzzles with no connection to the actual job in question.

The task should be simple, but practicable in relation to the job.

Whatever it is, don’t ask the candidate to write a code on paper or whiteboard.

The traditional whiteboard coding exercise is a poor indicator of actual coding prowess and a terrible strategy for recruiting devs.

People don’t write code on paper or whiteboard, they do it with computers using macros, context-sensitive help, auto-completion, and indexed API documentation.

If you think it’ll take time for candidates to create something during the interview, then it might make sense to ask them to do so before the interview and bring the code on a notebook PC.

But even then, do not rely totally on the code example. Instead, follow point #4 below to boot.

4. Ask to See Their Work

Most applicants will come prepared for point #3 above—performing a quick task.

And if you base your final judgment on how awesome they were at that, you might end up hiring an incompetent developer.

So before or after the interview, take a few moments to look into the candidate’s code portfolio. It could be open-source or hobby projects.

Review and discuss the design, coding style, and decisions that went into it.

If you like the projects, ask the specific features and functionalities the applicant created.

For example, did the person create the product from scratch or started working on existing code?

Looking at actual code tells you much more than having candidates write rushed-over, contrived five-liners they already crammed.

It tells if someone is good realistically, and not just at the interview.

Wrapping up

To wrap up, here are a few hints to help you even more:

To identify a good JavaScript developer, you have to know JavaScript yourself and know what questions to ask. Otherwise, you won’t understand what applicants present and may end up embarrassing yourself. I recommend getting help from someone who knows JavaScript.

Developers aren’t all the same. A reasonable question depends on the candidate’s expertness.

Discourse is important. So, find a way to engage a conversation.

Finally, the developer’s personality is just as important as their professionalism, because one bad dude can destroy an entire team forever.

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