What an interviewer is looking for (in a front-end developer)

I’ve recently had the privilege of sitting in on a few interviews for a front-end developer position we are looking to fill at work. It’s been an interesting experience.

I’ve noticed a few patterns in the process that have made me think a lot about things from the interviewer’s perspective but could be pretty powerful information for an interviewee.

This stuff doesn’t just apply to developers but anyone who is interviewing for almost any position where there is an element of technical knowledge or experience required.

The interviewer really want’s to give you the job

Companies don’t like hiring. There is always a lot of work to do, so having to take a large chunk of time out of a busy work day to read CVs and conduct interviews means the other work piles up.

Work piling up can have a knock-on effect in lots of other parts of the business or team - which is usually bad. As such, every time someone comes in for a face-to-face interview, the interviewer wants to give them the job so they can go back to doing what they are actually good at/are interested in.

Most people who conduct interviews don’t do it professionally so it’s something that’s more like a chore than an interesting break from the norm.

If you’ve been asked to a face-to-face interview, they think you can do the job

The usual process goes CV → phone-interview → face-to-face interview so by the time someone gets to the final stage, they have already managed to get through the initial screening process which means the interviewer has a pretty good feeling that you can do what they need. This is made stronger by the fact that they really want to give you the job.

There are obviously exceptions to this - sometimes a face-to-face is a way of discussing something that has been unclear in any of the previous process but I would argue that this isn’t commonplace.

An interview is not a technical test, it’s personality test

As already mentioned, if you get to the face-to-face stage, chances are the company thinks you can do the job and wants to give it to you. This means that the most important aspect of the face-to-face interview is not any technical questions that might be asked (although these are important too) but rather about personality fit. A bad hire can cause a team to fracture and morale to drop so making sure a new member of the team will get on with everyone is probably more important than their ability to recall technical details - that’s what Google is for.

In the last few interviews I’ve been in, we’ve not directly asked any questions about hobbies or outside interests which is probably a mistake. But the discerning interviewee should try and talk about these things even if not asked - when I interviewed for my current job, I had a line about my (still ongoing) house renovation project which sparked a couple of questions about it in the interview - it might not be the most riveting subject for anyone not involved, but it showed that I’m a human being that doesn’t spend all hours of the day writing code in a dark room.

Going to an interview may be nerve-wracking but if you’re armed with information like this, you’ll probably find the whole process much more enjoyable.

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