Klaus Breyer Tech Leadership, Product Delivery & Startup Strategy.

Interview Guide for Engineer and Developer Job Interviews

In general, my goal in a job interview is to get the candidate talking. Only then can I get a clear impression of whether there is energy coming from the interviewee during the conversation or if I have to invest a lot of energy myself (if the conversation is dragging).

This can create a first gut feeling. If that gut feeling aligns with the candidate’s technical aptitude, it’s already half the battle for me. The other half is determined by the team the candidate will be working with.

Startup entrepreneurs (including myself in the past) often make the mistake of talking too much about themselves or the company during their initial job interviews, and sometimes even feel the need to pitch the company. This puts the other person in a situation where they just nod along, but it doesn’t create a good impression of the candidate.

To keep the conversation going and to assess the candidate’s technical abilities, I always prepare a list of questions. Here’s an example for a frontend engineer position based on a list I used last year to interview 9 international candidates:

  • What projects have you worked on with react/redux so far?
  • Tell us about your last project involving redux forms.
  • What experience do you have with ES6/ES2015?
  • Have you worked in teams? How large were the teams? What role did you have?
  • What’s your preferred Git workflow?
  • How do you feel about immutable data structures? Are there projects where you think they are not suitable?
  • How do you debug?
  • How proficient are your design skills?
  • What frontend tooling do you prefer? (Afterward: We use gulp, webpack, etc.)
  • SCSS, SASS, or LESS?
  • What tools do you use to extract and edit SVGs?
  • CSS animations?
  • What are your top sources for staying updated on JavaScript?
  • Which events do you regularly attend or plan to attend this year?
  • Thinking beyond the scope: What’s the most exciting technology/framework that has impressed you recently?
  • What trends do you see in frontend engineering in the future?
  • If your livelihood was secured, what project or area would you focus on?

The principle should be clear: I don’t ask yes/no questions to check off a list; instead, I want the other person to share as much as possible.

As a final question or to lighten the mood, I also like to ask whether the applicant uses tabs or spaces, and about their preferred code editor and operating system.