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Why this matters:

Depending on the candidate’s level of experience, the number and the types of programming languages they know should increase with time in the field. While an ideal candidate does not have to be an expert in every language, they should have experience with at least a few to succeed in the day-to-day work of the role.

What to listen for:

  • Baseline knowledge or experience with languages like PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, .NET, and JavaScript
  • Eagerness to learn new skills and actively develop

Why this matters:

This technical question tests the candidate’s understanding of a widely used programming language. While technical knowledge is essential, it’s the latter part of the question that can help you determine their approach to building a website — and whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.

What to listen for:

  • Thorough understanding of JavaScript and its use cases
  • Avoids jargon and uses simple descriptions to ensure point is clearly delivered

Why this matters:

This question will help you gauge the candidate’s awareness of the industry, as well as their appreciation for the nuances of application development. They are most likely thinking like a developer when they look at other apps, and their answer gives insight into their values as it pertains to functionality.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of development concepts like user experience, load times, and navigation
  • Inspired and motivated to constantly improve

Why this matters:

How the candidate responds will give you a glimpse into their development process and working style. It will provide insight into the kinds of projects they enjoy and whether your role will provide them with similar opportunities. You will also get a look into where their passions lie.

What to listen for:

  • Examples of why they enjoy that type of work so much
  • Passion for work demonstrated through smiles, laughter, and hand gestures

Why this matters:

Every back end developer will encounter a piece of broken code or a bug in their system. These obstacles are inherent to their work. The candidate’s answer will help you understand how the candidate solves problems. Are they inspired to work until it’s fixed? Did they ask for help?

What to listen for:

  • Enthusiasm for taking on challenges and problem-solving skills
  • Detailed answer that provides steps taken and final results
  • Positive attitude and reactions that show patience

Why this matters:

User experience and design can be subjective. Whether shared by a colleague, client, or user, criticism is inevitable in this role, and the candidate must be comfortable with that. An ideal candidate will face the situation with professionalism and an open mind, looking for opportunities to improve.

What to listen for:

  • Annoyance or frustration that indicates an inability to accept feedback
  • Detailed circumstances, feedback, and an approach that helped find a solution

Why this matters:

This question helps you see whether the candidate prefers to work independently or as part of a team. Both preferences are valid, but you’ll want to be sure their working style fits your work environment. If they prefer to work on their own, you may want to ask how they feel about teamwork.

What to listen for:

  • Indication of strategies for properly handling collaboration
  • Understanding of the need for teamwork and agility to effectively work with other developers

Why this matters:

Some developers have a passion for the craft and intend to stick with it long term. Others see the role as a springboard for bigger things in the future. Either job outlook is understandable, but their preference will show how thoughtful and reflective they are in their approach to their chosen career.

What to listen for:

  • Strong alignment with company values
  • Positive personality traits such as leadership, growth, or passion

Why this matters:

Web development is a rapidly changing industry. Technology that thrives one year can become obsolete the next. In order to keep up with the changes, back end developers must have a commitment to continuous learning to ensure their skills don’t become outdated.

What to listen for:

  • Discussion of favorite tools, designers, thought leaders, blogs, and more
  • Current participation in classes to keep skills refreshed
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