Making It Happen: Preparing and Nailing Your Stack Developer Interview
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Landing an interview for a full-stack developer position is an incredible accomplishment, as you’ve shown you have the skills to handle all stages of web or software development. But if you want to really impress recruiters, you’ll need to prepare for your upcoming interview.
What is the Job Outlook for a Full-Stack Developer?
A full-stack developer uses front-end and back-end programming languages, design strategies, and frameworks to create and maintain websites and applications. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 13% job growth between 2020-2030, which is faster than average.
Other jobs in this category, like software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers, have a 22% job outlook. You can learn more about becoming a software developer on JobSage.
As development roles are high in demand, you’re likely to secure a new job in no time.
How to Prepare For Each Full-Stack Developer Interview Stage
Most full-stack developer interviews are divided into three segments: intro, pair-programming, and a Q&A round.
Here’s what your interviewer will discuss or expect from you at each stage.
The interviewer will ask questions about your personality and job experience to gauge if you’ll be a good culture fit and a valuable employee.
You’ll typically hear interview questions like:
- Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do besides programming?
- What were your previous full-stack developer roles? What did you learn?
- What coding languages/skills/technology do you need to develop from scratch?
- Which languages do you know? Which language is your most preferred?
- Are you currently working on any ongoing projects? What is your role?
- In the past, what was the best implementation or [programming skill] you did?
At this point, your interviewer is just determining if you have the skills to move on to the next section, which is typically a pair-programming test. You should show that you know how to work on the applications, software, or web tools your potential employer needs you to operate.
To prepare for this stage, rehearse common intro interview questions with another programmer, job coach, or friend. This will help you feel less nervous when the actual interview begins.
The interviewer will expect you to write a code for a program or API. While working on your project, the interviewer may not ask you to explain your approach, but you should. This is a crucial round, so you need to showcase your implementation ability and problem-solving skills.
Remember that these situations will reflect what projects you’ll participate in once you’re hired, so it’s a good idea to research the company you’ll work for and brush up on your coding skills.
Depending on the nature of your job, you’ll experience three types of tests:
1. Live Coding Exercises
Technical interview where you’ll write a program/code in front of the interviewer. You should prepare for these tests by working on an unfamiliar laptop or location, as you’ll have to work in a strange environment during this exercise.
2. Take-Home Assignments
Practical assessments that are usually longer than live coding exercises but serve a similar function. Prepare for this test by practicing your presentation for a non-technical audience, as you will be tested on this aspect.
3. Design Challenges
Theoretical assessment where you’ll have to design an app based on your interviewer’s prompts. You can prepare for this test by looking at design prompts and twisting your design to fit your employer’s product, as you’ll be expected to adapt.
When taking these tests: try not to panic. Most businesses are looking for your process, not if you can solve the problem. It’s better to slow down than rush and make a critical mistake.
Question and Answer Interview
The interviewer will discuss your role more in-depth and explain how each day will play out should you get hired. They may talk about the onboarding process, organizational functions, business operations, and their expectations. After that, they’ll ease into the Q&A round.
The Q&A round is testing your knowledge on more complicated coding topics. You need to explain these topics in a simple way, so onlookers will know what you’re talking about.
Here are a few role-based questions examples your interviewer may ask you:
- What is callback hell?
- Explain long polling
- What is CI?
- What are some uses of Docker?
- How can I decrease the load time for a web application?
- What is a connection leak in Java?
These sample questions were taken from this incredible full-stack developer interview questions post from Interview Bit. We recommend taking a look at their answers to ace your interview.
3 Other Ways to Prepare For Your Interview
Besides brushing up on interview questions, practicing the fundamentals, and preparing for your pair-program interview, there are other ways you can impress your interviewer and check for fit.
1. Take an Online Coding Course to Learn New Skills
Full-stack programmers are expected to know multiple coding languages.
You also need to know various frameworks, like VueJS and BootStrap in the front-end and Express or Django in the back-end. If you’re unfamiliar with one or more of these topics, or you aren’t confident you can code in a needed coding language, consider taking an online course.
Even if you know how to use said languages or frameworks, an online course can help you explain concepts more naturally. With this training, you’ll pass the pre-programming stage.
2. Prepare Questions at the End of Each Interview
Asking questions at the start or end of each interview stage shows you’re interested in the role, but it also allows you to understand your employer, co-workers, and your potential role better.
It’s okay to ask your interviewer what type of test you’re expected to take and the length of said test. Pay attention to the length and complexity of the test and whether or not they’ll pay you. A 30-minute test is standard, but you should be paid for your time if the test is longer than an hour.
You’re also interviewing your employers in the process. There’s a good chance your employer won’t pay you for overtime if a lengthy test isn’t paid. Either that or they’re stealing your work.
3. Be Aware of Your Physical Interview Language
Non-verbal cues make up 60-80% of in-person interaction, so keep in mind that your interviewer will judge your potential job performance based on how you speak, dress, and conduct yourself.
It’s essential to give your interviewer a handshake, steady eye contact, and your full attention during the interview. Be responsive when answering questions, and be sure to smile, nod, and lean forward to show your attentiveness. Practice these physical cues during a mock interview.
5 Tips to Help You Nail Your In-Person Interview
You’ve prepared for the interview, but once you get there, you’re still tasked with putting your best foot forward. There are certain things interviewers will look for in a candidate, like:
1. Company Knowledge
Learn about the role and company you want to work for because many interviewees won’t. That means you’ll stand out amongst your competition. However, it also implies you’re committed to the role, and you’re interested in learning and researching—skills you’ll need for your new job.
2. Basic Coding Know-How
We talked about the need to review needed coding languages while you wait for your technical interview, but don’t forget about the basics. Interviewers often ask beginner-level questions.
They do this to see how you’ll solve a simple programming problem, which you may have forgotten how to do because some programs will automatically fix small errors. Some coding tests will include simple syntax errors, runtime errors, or logic errors, so try not to overthink it.
3. Transparency and Honesty
We understand that you’re worried being too honest will disqualify you from the position, but keep in mind that all will be revealed in the test. If you say you’re good at something when you aren’t, your employer isn’t going to trust you. That will disqualify you faster than being truthful.
4. Commitment to Self-Improvement
No one is truly perfect at their job or craft. Even after getting a degree and experience, writers will still make simple grammatical mistakes, and doctors will still misdiagnose their patients.
Because we’re human, we make mistakes, so it’s essential that we dedicate time to honing our craft. A good interviewer won’t hyperfocus on your imperfect code; they’ll concentrate on your quest for self-improvement. With that said, highlight what you’ve learned during your break.
5. Ability to Collaborate
Programmers tend to work alone, but they still need to coordinate across departments. Your interviewer may ask you if you worked with a team of developers to solve a problem (like at a hack-a-thon). Try to comment on how you and your team were able to create something new.