Use Case

Front-End Interviews with CoderPad

CoderPad is a technical interview platform built for development teams. This article covers our perspective on an effective approach to front-end interviews, or for roles that include front-end work (such as full-stack), using CoderPad.

With CoderPad, you can focus on the core set of skills that matter to you and your team. Our platform’s intuitive, developer-centric design allows you to get to work faster, without wasting time on ramp-up. Plus, its reliability is renowned – it just works!

For all these reasons, and more, CoderPad is an exceptional platform for front-end interviews. It offers:

  • Fast feedback – Learn more about your candidate faster by coding collaboratively with them. Quickly understand how they approach problems and interact with what they create – instead of one-sided screen sharing or viewing a GitHub repository.
  • Familiarity – Layout includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files with a rendered output window. CoderPad also offers React, Vue, Angular, and other frameworks.
  • Flexibility – CoderPad gives you options for front-end candidates. You can evaluate their ability to build React components, complete a CSS-heavy take-home project, or have them work with an API to update and organize information displayed on a webpage – all from the same intuitive platform.

At CoderPad, we’re constantly talking to software engineering teams, in addition to doing our own developer hiring. Based on this extensive experience, we recommend the following process when conducting front-end interviews:

1) Determine the Front-End Skills You Need

As you plan for front-end interviews, it’s important to understand what skill sets are important to your role and how you will test for those skills. CoderPad gives you options to approach a front-end interview process: live coding in an IDE that’s optimized for front-end questions and/or independent coding exercises with take-home projects.

First, determine what skill sets you need, then how to approach the interview with CoderPad:

  • Pixel-perfect CSS skills
    • Create questions that give your candidate a design prompt and observe their thought process, look for patterns (like BEM syntax), and understand their usage of CSS preprocessors (like Sass).
    • For particularly complex/elaborate CSS coding and design, we recommend using a take-home project (see next section). This saves interviewers time while giving the candidate the space they need to think and iterate to a solution.
  • Specific JavaScript frameworks (like Angular, React, or Vue)
    • Design your questions around the patterns and best practices of the framework, and determine whether your candidate writes clean/efficient code.
      • For example: Is the candidate familiar with unidirectional data flow in a React application? Are they able to successfully consume state and cause state updates with events and actions?
  • Vanilla JavaScript
    • Determine your candidate’s proficiency level in the fundamentals of JavaScript by designing specific interview questions around it.
      • For example: How well do they understand Promises? Are they able to bind callback functions to DOM events?

2) Send a Take-Home Project Technical Screen

In the early stages of your hiring funnel, send your candidate a take-home project independent coding exercise to understand if they can show the technical skills required for your role. There are three ways you can approach Take-Home Projects with CoderPad:

Take-Home Project with Automated Test Cases

This approach takes much less of your engineers’ time than a live interview and test cases can help save even more time by providing a standardized evaluation for each candidate. For front-end candidates, we recommend sending your candidate a JavaScript coding exercise with test cases and using their results to determine if they move forward.

Take-Home Project Without Test Cases

If you choose to not include test cases, you have the option to make the question more open-ended and interesting – like on-the-job work. You can provide a design for the candidate to implement or query a GraphQL API and work with the returned data.

Pro Tip: Any time you can work with real world problems during an interview process, the more relevant the interview becomes – for both you and the candidate.

Public URLs for Take-Home Projects

Create a project that can be made available publicly for all interested applicants with CoderPad’s public take-home projects. Add the URL to your Career page, University Recruiting campaign, or send it to a batch of candidates. Include test cases with an 80% test passing threshold, which allows for both a large candidate pool and significant saved time for your developers reviewing submissions.

Pro Tip: Always give your candidates the option to do a short technical phone screen or live interview instead of a take-home project. Offering alternatives can be very helpful to candidates who already have a job, have children or are blocked by time constraints. Providing flexibility early on in the hiring process helps you understand how they prefer to work – and helps foster goodwill on both sides.

3) Conduct a Live “Onsite” Interview

Finally, the onsite interview. Time to have your candidate meet and code with members of your team.

Interviewing a front-end developer gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of types of questions to ask and topics to cover. How you approach the interview really depends on your unique needs as a team and company.

For live onsite interviews, CoderPad offers an updated front-end layout with three separate files to code in HTML, CSS and JavaScript – making it simple for the candidate to organize their code. This interactive coding platform allows you to write, execute and debug code together with your candidate – all in a performant, reliable environment.

Some interview questions and topics to consider for a CoderPad live interview:

  • Fundamentals of JavaScript – Use questions around JS fundamentals to help find candidates that have a strong grasp on JavaScript and are able to use it effectively. This can be especially helpful in more junior interviews.
  • Hypothetical product manager prompt – Give your candidate a problem to solve from a hypothetical Product Manager, such as an issue on a website, and work together to mock up a UI to solve it. This will give you a good read on their ability to take loose requirements and turn them into a solution, while also giving you a glimpse on how they would work with your product team.
  • CSS assessment – If strong CSS skills are integral to your team, it might make sense to develop a design-focused question that is scoped in a way where the candidate can complete a meaningful amount of work during the duration of the interview. With CoderPad, you can upload images and have the candidate immediately start coding to understand if their CSS skills meet the level of detail you expect.
  • Ask about testing – Ask your candidate how they think about testing the code they’re writing, how they think about all the edge cases, and how they go from writing tests to then building out the components.
  • Architecture walk-thru – Using Drawing Mode, ask your candidate to sketch out their proposed architecture. Then ask them questions about their design’s scalability, performance, or user experience.

Whichever way you choose to approach your Front-End interviews, you should always standardize your questions in CoderPad’s Question Bank.

Using standard questions specific to each role enables you and your developer team to stress less. In the past, interviewers would often prep a question, read the candidate’s background via resume or Linkedin, and customize questions based on the candidate’s experience. With standardized questions, interviewers can just jump in and start working through the same exercise with all candidates for that role. This approach saves interviewers time, as well as reduces bias that may arise from using inconsistent or overly customized questions.

We hope this guide to interviewing front-end candidates in CoderPad has been helpful!