How to stand out in a Web Development interview (2018) |

How to stand out in a Web Development interview (2021)

 9th Feb 2018


Those of you who’re reading this blog will be considering a new job while others are already applying and starting the recruitment process. This will eventually lead to the often-dreaded interview.   


I thought that I would share the knowledge I have built up over the years from listening to the feedback that both developers and hiring managers have given me as well as researching blogs and articles from other experts in the industry.  In particular, Ashely Nolan (UI Developer) has written an excellent blog on the subject. 


Although I used to work in web development, I am no longer a technical expert.  If you are seeking advice on how to define an Etag or how to explain the purpose of each HTTP request types, you won’t find answers here!  


However, I can advise on things that developers tend to overlook during an interview and what to look out for. 


Web Developers are well placed as there are numerous job opportunities in the marketplace due to the significant growth of the sector.  This is particularly true for Belfast, Northern Ireland.  But like any other industry, the best employers are looking for the very best developers and the interview process can be an onerous one. 


1. Know the basics 


A lot of companies now set up an initial telephone chat to roughly gauge your suitability before moving to a more formal face-to-face interview. This is especially true for companies that have headquarters in America or Europe.  Sometimes it will be an internal recruiter who will simply run through pre-screening questions, however, sometimes it is the hiring manager who will seek to find out if you know the fundamentals and what you know about them as a company.   


This will take some preparation on your part because how often in your day job are you asked to explain the basics of coding?  


If you do not prepare for basic coding questions, your answers can be unconvincing, and you may not progress to the next stage. 


2. Be honest and admit if you don’t know something 


A common mistake I hear developers make, to talk about a subject they don’t have a lot of experience with or try and guess what the answer is. It is important to realise that a good interviewer may try and find out what you don’t know to see what you might need additional training on if you were offered the job. 


Many companies now promote collaborative working environments where it is important that developers seek support from other developers in the team. The purpose of finding out where your knowledge is lacking is not to trip you up but to see how you work with others. If you don’t know a particular skill but you are willing and excited to learn it, you will come across much better than someone who does know it but only uses it because they have to. 


3. Practise coding without a computer 


Another interview tactic that employers are using more and more is asking the developer to code a solution using a pen and paper instead of a computer or write out a solution you have created from a previous project. Again, if this is something that you are not used to then it can easily throw you off.  


Luckily, most companies give you some prior warning that you will be asked to do this during an interview or if you are working with a good recruiter then they will find this out for you. But, sometimes that may give you a task with no warning at all, so it is always good to be prepared. 



4. Be passionate 


Passion is a requirement that is essential for more and more software houses; it is easy to see why.  There are many ways to show passion for the job you have applied for.  The first thing would be, research the company thoroughly.  See what projects the company has been involved in and pick your favourites.  


Even go as far to critique one gently and where you could improve things. 

Many of the best web developers I have worked with are self-taught and simply love what they do.   


For example, if you are learnt a new JavaScript framework recently at home, make sure you get this across during the interview as it shows that you love to what you do, and you will always be improving your skill set. 


Work on side projects on a regular basis. Not only does this showcase your passion but it will also give you the chance to explain the details without the risk of divulging confidential information. 


A great way to showcase this is to have an active GitHub account.  


In fact, some of my clients are asking to see an active account before they even meet the candidate.  Others are blogging on a regular basis or attending local MeetUps for people with similar skills to theirs.  


Many say the best developers are born and not taught. 


In Conclusion 


I hope that some of these tips prove useful in your next interview.  I would be keen to hear from you if you have any other tips or experiences you would like to share. 

If you are considering a new career opportunity, I currently have a number of front and back-end web development positions available. I would be available to have a confidential chat with you over the phone or for a coffee.  Let me know what suits! 



Gareth Stirling  

Digital & IT Recruiter 

028 9091 8528 




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