Robert Half International: 16 Web Developer Interview Questions Every Hiring Manager Should Ask

Web developers play a vital role in building your organization’s digital brand. When hiring for this position, you want someone with strong technical skills, a good understanding of design, and a safety-focused mindset.

You also need someone with consummate soft skills. Your new web developer will work closely with designers, analysts, and business stakeholders to create a top-notch digital experience. Communicating complex ideas to a non-technical audience could be just as important as mastering a given programming language.

Here are 16 web developer interview questions to help you identify the right person for your team.

1. What was your favorite project and how did you approach it?

Web developer interview questions like this help you learn more about the candidate’s work style – how they solve problems, handle user feedback, interact with quality assurance, and collaborate as a team.

2. How would you explain a concept like _____ to a colleague with no technical experience?

Your newly hired web developer will need to interact effectively with non-tech colleagues in departments such as sales and marketing. Test their ability to communicate in jargon-free language on topics such as:

  • MVC (model, view, controller)

  • Responsive design

  • Commonly used cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure

  • Apis

  • Microservices Architecture

3. Tell me about a time you had to give a presentation.

IT plays a strategic role in many companies, and your web developer may be asked to attend meetings and provide progress reports to management. Good candidates don’t need to be outgoing, just comfortable speaking in front of others. Continue by asking how the contestants responded to questions from the audience and what they learned from the overall experience.

4. Name a website or app that annoys you. What’s wrong with that?

This web developer interview question assesses a candidate’s level of interest in good web design and problem-solving abilities. A good answer is one where the candidate does more than complain about someone else’s work. Skilled web developers will offer real solutions to practical problems, such as how to improve load times or optimize user experience.

5. Explain to me the steps to follow when an application stops working.

Problem solving is at the heart of web development, so hear how candidates talk about solving problems. Do they break down the situation and analyze the potential causes? Do they know when to ask for help and where to find answers? How do they react if their first idea for a solution does not materialize?

6. Tell me about a time you had to respond to negative comments.

Web developers have to deal with feedback from beta testers and real users, which can be negative and therefore discouraging. The ideal candidate for the job of web developer must know how to take that feedback, analyze it, and turn it into action. Listen to how the candidate approaches a problem and finds a solution.

7. Tell me about a time you felt you were being unfairly blamed for a mistake and how you handled it.

This is a difficult question, but it is a good way to assess the candidate’s attitude towards teamwork. If an interviewee rushes to throw their colleagues under the bus, this is a red flag. You want to hire a diplomatic web developer who doesn’t get frustrated quickly and will work toward a solution.

8. What are the biggest challenges of working on the front-end of an application?

Web developers work closely with the rest of the development team. They understand how data is structured, what functions are available, how APIs are called, and how web services are configured. This interview question will help tell the difference between a developer and someone who is more of a designer.

9. Tell me about the projects you work on (or have worked on) in your free time.

Technology is changing rapidly. When you hire a web developer, you’re looking for someone who invests a portion of their time in developing their skills and keeping up to date with emerging trends. Candidates should be able to discuss some personal projects, past or present, and maybe even show you their work.

10. What APIs have you worked with?

All candidates should have worked with APIs for well-known commercial services, such as those offered by Twitter, Slack, Dropbox and the API suite offered by Google. Candidates should also be able to explain how to call API functions and incorporate the results into their design. Seasoned professionals may have helped develop and document their own APIs. They will be able to talk about how they worked with the development team to create secure and useful interfaces.

11. What excites you about the future of web development?

This is an open-ended question, and candidates can talk about technologies such as Web3, advances in artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and edge computing, the metaverse, or any other topic topical. You can follow up on this question by asking how the candidate hopes to develop their skills. This can lead to a conversation about your company’s professional development program, which can help you and the candidate set long-term expectations around the collaboration.

12. What are your favorite content management systems?

Most candidates will have experience with a popular content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. If so, ask them about any themes or modules they’ve created. Some candidates may have experience with a headless CMS, which has no front-end interface, or a decoupled CMS, where the front-end and back-end communicate through an API layer.

A headless or decoupled CMS experience sends a strong signal that the candidate has advanced web development skills.

13. Do you have SQL experience?

Web developers may not interact directly with a database, but they need to understand how data is structured. Any hands-on SQL experience, such as working as a database administrator, can be invaluable.

14. What’s the biggest difference between mobile and desktop development?

A mobile-friendly design is essential for all web projects. More than half of all web traffic is delivered on mobile, and Google search rankings favor websites optimized for phones and tablets. A suitable candidate for the web developer role should know how to optimize for all platforms. They should also be able to point out crucial differences, such as screen size, touch input, limited multitasking, and browser plug-in variation.

15. Can you find the error in this code?

It’s common to ask candidates to write code on the fly during an interview, which isn’t an ideal setting. An alternative is to provide the candidate with a piece of code – like a Java class and the JavaScript that invokes it – with strategically placed errors and ask the interviewees to debug it. It’s a quick way to establish both a candidate’s technical knowledge and attention to detail.

16. Can you describe how you handle tight deadlines at work?

Web development is highly deadline driven and the pressure to deliver a high quality project on time and on budget can often be intense. This type of open-ended interview question on managing deadlines can help you better understand how the candidate handles job stress, how they plan their time, and what their overall work ethic is. Encourage the candidate to share examples of how they have overcome obstacles in the past to meet critical project deadlines.

Asking these web developer interview questions should help you identify candidates with impressive technical skills and strong interpersonal skills – just what you need to help your company deliver a top-notch digital experience.