Interviewing for Front-End Engineers Introduction
Transcript from the "Introduction" Lesson
>> Welcome to interviewing for front end engineers. I chose Comic Sans because that's what interviews often are. They're kind of silly, they're arbitrary. There's no set of standards or rules and practices that you walk to an interview, you say I know exactly what is gonna happen, or I know exactly the type of questions they're gonna ask.
[00:00:20] No, it's random. How many ping pong balls can fit on a school bus? Yeah, we've all been asked weird questions like that. Some of you out there froze up for a minute. You're like, ten ping pong, no, there's 20 people. Not a real question. Don't worry, I'm not gonna ask any of those sort of kinda trivia questions.
[00:00:40] What I really wanna get to is solving this problem of arbitrary questions during front end interviewing. Or walking into an interview and not knowing what's gonna happen, what the steps are. Especially people who have never interviewed, particularly for a front end role, you don't know what to expect.
[00:00:59] We're gonna cover all of that today. But really, what I wanna set up is a rubric of how front end interviews should go, the type of questions you should be asking. Sound good? All right, my name is Jem Young, I am a senior software engineer. Let's see, my superhero origin story would be curiosity was how I was born as an engineer.
[00:01:27] Startups were where I was incubated. Netflix for the past four years, been my forge. But teaching is my whetstone. Keeps me sharp. Cuz you spend too long at one job, you tend to get really good at one thing. So I like to go out and teach and try to help others as best I can.
[00:01:47] And also, almost every course I've ever taught, I learned something from you all too. But really, why I wanna teach this course is so I can go on rants. I love rants, I got on a lot of rants on the podcast I'm on, Front End Happy Hour. Where we have drinks, we talk about front end things, and it's pretty good.
[00:02:07] But again, it's just a platform for me going on rants about things. And what I really wanna go on rants on is interviewing, because I have so many good interview rants. Don't worry, that's coming. It's gonna be very exciting. So the first question I wanna ask everybody, and you don't say it out loud, just think, why is interviewing so difficult?
>> It's mostly about fit for both parties. So even if you have the skills, it might not be a good fit.
>> Yeah, that's true. Let's go a little broader, though. Little broader.
>> You don't really know what to expect what type of questions are gonna be there.
[00:02:51] And it seems like every company has their own standards, so you don't really know how to prepare for it.
>> Yeah, I like that one. I think that's a bit more accurate on why interviewing is just so difficult. Because we all have this different idea about what engineering is.
[00:03:12] Thus, we all these different idea about what engineering should be. And we all have, honestly, kind of a dishonest view of ourselves as engineers. We have this idea of how we build things and how we solve problems. And we try to apply that rubric to everybody else, but we're all different.
[00:03:28] That's what makes us all beautiful is we're all a little bit different. And that's why you can't really just walk in and say there's the SATs of interviews, or something like that. Because we all have just a little bit of nuances that make us a little bit different.
[00:03:43] But at the end of the day, I like to think why interviewing is so difficult is because we're all a little different and because we all think a little differently about what engineering is. That makes it challenging. So to break that down a little bit more, I read this great blog post the other day, and I encourage you to read it at some point.
[00:04:06] But this person, they broke it down and they said there is essentially three different types of engineers. There are the engineers who say engineering is just math. It's all about the algorithm, it's all about efficiency, it's all about clever code and manipulating numbers around. Cuz at the end of the day, that's what we're doing, we're flipping switches, ones and zeros.
[00:04:26] And that's what engineering is all about, the algorithms, the beauty of it all. Yeah, and often, that's why we get a lot of algorithm questions in interviews. People are trying to say does this person think like a mathematician? Does this person think in algorithms? Do they look at a problem and say Double sort, yes, that is a great algorithm to apply right now.
[00:04:53] Another type of programmer is programming is all about hardware performance. It's all about that low level bit-lipping, how close to the metal, do you understand? Anybody know anybody like that, the hardware people? They're a different bunch. They're good, too. There's those type of people. They're the hackers, the tinkerers.
[00:05:16] Probably writing in assembly. Trying to understand do you understand what a CP register is? Do you understand what the L1 cache is versus the L2 cache? Performance questions. That low-level base knowledge. You get interview questions like that, that really low level stuff. And then, there's the third category of engineers, the tinkerers, the builders, however you wanna describe them, that's where most people sit.
[00:05:41] In our ideal world, we're like, I'm all about performance. Or I'm a math person, that's all I do. But if you're a front end engineer, generally, you're building things. That's about talking to people, understanding specs, understanding different browser compatibilities. All these edge cases, all the things that we don't think of as engineering, like meetings or efficiently communicating your ideas, that's the third category of people.
[00:06:11] And that's where most of us lie. But most interviews aren't like that at all. There's no interview where you walk in you say hey, have a seat, this is our designer. Nice to meet you. This is our product manager. And we're gonna walk through building a product today.
[00:06:29] So we're gonna spec it out. Gonna have you meet other engineers, and we're gonna have you build a product by the end of the day. That would be closer to what we do in the real life. But that's not what happens at all. So a lot of the disconnect with interviewing comes from this idea of we don't know what type of engineers we are.
[00:06:46] And we don't know what type of engineers we wanna hire. This is just my opinion. There are many problems with interviewing, but I think a lot of it comes from we don't understand ourselves. We don't understand what engineering is.