Hard Interview Questions?

August 4, 2012


Hard Interview Questions?

Last week I’ve interviewed a few candidates for a web developer position. Most of the candidates’ resumes indicated that they know JavaScript and jQuery and worked as web developers for at least 3 years. During the interview I wrote a piece of HTML on a whiteboard.
This is the HTML:

    <div id="div1">
        <img src="pic.png" />
        <input type="text" id="txt" />

The question was how to get the hello text out of the first list item only with JavaScript code and in two different ways. After that the follow-up question was to do the same thing using jQuery.

If the candidate succeeded to answer the questions, the third question was how to put the image source (pic.png) in the textbox.

Do these questions are so hard that none of the candidates succeeded answering all of them?

Will you hire a candidate that can’t answer such questions as a web developer?

I would like to hear what do you think.

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  1. DeveloperAugust 4, 2012 ב 9:18

    I don’t think that the questions you asked are good enough to see whether somebody is suitable to be web developer. It just asks very specific questions on very specific topic (although I may agree that in that specific topic these are not hard questions at all). A question like “show 2 different ways for something” are bad questions – today there is GOOGLE search so in case somebody has one answer, if he will need, he’ll find a bunch of other answers using GOOGLE. It’s pointless to use whiteboard and ask people to show you two particular types of answers to the same question.

    In your place, I would think about some more theoretical questions when you interview with whiteboard and let somebody computer to solve a “dry” problem as a second stage of the interview. Theoretical questions should be such that only people with some proven experience will be able to answer, and such that they cover a few areas related to web development.

  2. GooglerAugust 4, 2012 ב 18:57

    I would prefer hiring someone who doesnt know a single thing in javascript but is an expert in google searching then someone who’s an expert in javascript/whatever.

    Having the power go search is so much more powerful and needed with today’s possibilities

  3. Moran MonovichAugust 4, 2012 ב 20:09

    I agree with the first commenter, I think that theoretically asked questions are better

  4. Moti MendelovichAugust 4, 2012 ב 22:38

    I think the previous commenters missed the most important point.

    If somebody claims that he’s been developing for the web and can’t answer this question, there are two possible reasons:
    a. He is a lier.
    b. He breaks down entirely under a little pressure (job interview).

    Either case, not my idea of the perfect candidate, so the answer is no. Don’t hire them.
    As for theory vs coding question is job interview, It’s a useless debate. As for me, I tried to conduct my interviews according to Joel Spolsky’s guidelines. I was very satisfied with the results.

    Oh, and Googler, if you prefer somebody that is better with Google than he is with code, you are looking for an information manager or a librarian. You are NOT looking for a developer.

  5. EranAugust 5, 2012 ב 1:55

    i guess that experienced front end web developers with good memory can answer that questions without google.
    BUT remember:
    – not all the developers this days have good memory.. they are using google to much.. and sometimes to answer on a whiteboard with you right in the back of thier shoulder can cause even more pressure that can cause to forget the syntax even more..
    – good interview needs a good balance between theoretical questions and practical questions like you asked. don’t decide by using only this kind of questions – if a candidate impress you in general and shows a deep theoretical understanding but he fails on question like above – give him more opportunity to show his knowledge. ask him more practical questions, maybe give him time limited assignment or even home mission. sometimes developers need to feel “free” to show their qualities.
    – let them use google whenever its possible. if you asking a question like this and you feel that a developers with 3 years need to shoot the answer – next time maybe give them 10 minutes alone in the room to give you answer. see if it helps (that can increase the candidate self confidence, and maybe on the next question he will be able to answer better.
    and one last thing – share your filings and confront the candidate with your feeling (“i think that a developers with 3 years experience on web should be answer that question easily. what do you think? why do you think that you didnt know the answer?”).
    hopes that helps..

  6. Jef ClaesAugust 5, 2012 ב 15:22

    I can imagine someone doing web development for three years not knowing how to do it without jQuery, and I wouldn’t really care to be honest.

  7. Gil FinkAugust 6, 2012 ב 4:21

    First of all, thanks all for your comments.

    A few things to add to the details of the blog post:

    1. I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates during the past few years.

    2. The questions I wrote are just practical questions to understand if the developer did a little bit of JavaScript. I take into account the pressure that candidates are in during an interview and that sometimes you forget things (I have been a candidate in the past…).

    3. I use theoretical questions and also a lot of questions like the questions written in Scott Hanselman’s “New Interview Questions for Senior Software Engineers” post – http://www.hanselman.com/…/NewInterviewQuestionsForSeniorSoftwareEngineers.aspx

    4. I do expect web developers with experience in JavaScript to know what is document.getElementsByTagName or to know that you can traverse the DOM tree or even that there is a thing that is called DOM.

    5. Google isn’t the answer to everything…

  8. HraikaAugust 10, 2012 ב 15:55

    I agree with what google said…….the people who dnt kw the javascript once they r placed the r the persons can develop the things in javascript………

  9. CVAugust 11, 2012 ב 13:08

    I fully agree that such basic questions if can not be answered by the candidate does not deserve to be called knowing programming in Javascript or JQuery particularly if more than 1 year of experience is claimed by the candidate.

    I ask even basic syntax of JQuery statement to a 4.5 yrs exp. sr. programmer and could not answer the question!

    Then I hinted also that $().() what are the two blocks of parenthesis refer to and that too was not answered!

    Some developers never learn the basics and fundamentals of the development and high level architectural aspect which puts them at disadvantage or they progress so slow.

  10. CastleAugust 12, 2012 ב 0:35

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

  11. ToledoAugust 15, 2012 ב 1:43

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.