On interviewing front-end engineers | NCZOnline

A response/follow-up from Nicholas Zakas to that blog-post a few days ago about interviewing for front-end positions. I think he’s absolutely right, and it’s good to read it from somebody with his stature in the field.

I’ve been getting asked more and more about whether or not front-end engineers need to understand computer science algorithms and data structures in order to be hired. My simple answer: no. I don’t see these as necessary prerequisites for people to be successful as front-end engineers. The reason is that these aren’t things most front-end engineers do on a day-to-day basis. Do I use algorithms and data structures? Sometimes, but I usually look up the things I need when I have a need for them. That information is easy to find online and there are always people around who know these topics better than me.

In general, I believe interviews should be designed to demonstrate skills that a candidate will be expected to use on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to pat ourselves on the back and chat about O-notation (which I had never even heard of until about 7 years into my career) or heap sort (the first time I encountered heap sort was during my Google interview), but is that a good indicator of whether or not someone will be successful as a front-end engineer? Absolutely not.