Navigating frontend interviews in 2022: onsite interview — behavioral
By Mike Chen
The behavioral interview is conducted by other engineers or people that work closely with engineers. The goal is to assess whether you handle tough situations in a way that’s consistent with company culture.
This is the fourth post in a series about what to expect from the frontend interview process in 2022. Here’s where we are in this series:
- Overview and reverse interviewing
- Researching your company
- Informational phone screen
- The onsite interview — live coding challenge
- The onsite interview — behavioral
- The onsite interview — systems design
- Offer and negotiation
Behavioral interviews are typically geared towards mid-level or senior engineers, but you may encounter them early on in your career.
The company’s goal with behavioral interviews is to assess:
- How you resolve conflict or differences of opinion
- What your communication style is like
- Whether you’re an empathetic person
- Whether you can explain technical concepts to less technical people
1. Understand the culture
Look for a vision/values/culture page on your company’s website. If it’s there, make sure you read it.
Tie these values into your answers at every opportunity.
2. Don’t use hypotheticals
People want to hear about your concrete experience. Avoid saying things like “I would” do this or that. Even if your interviewer doesn't challenge you on this type of speculation, they’ll dismiss your answers as fluff.
Many people swear by the STAR framework. Following this framework keeps your answers anchored in past behavior.
3. Reflect on conflict
In our experience, interviewers are particularly interested in how you deal with conflict. Prepare several examples of how you dealt handled disagreement with coworkers.
4. Keep it brief
Don't talk for more than 90-120 seconds at a time. If you find yourself going deep on a topic, pause and offer to go on if the interviewer wants to hear more.
5. Pay attention to job title
The interviewer's job title provides critical guidance as to what they're looking for, even if they ask generic questions.
- Product managers want to hear you tie your work to business outcomes
- Designers want to hear that you care about shipping pixel perfect designs
- Other engineers want to hear that you make good decisions and are easy to work with
The specific questions you'll get asked will vary depending on which function(s) you're talking to. Here are a few examples:
- How have you worked with product managers in the past? How have you resolved disagreements with them?
- Tell me about the last time you missed a deadline. How did you communicate it? How did you mitigate the negative impact?
- What project management methodologies have you worked with before (e.g. Scrum/Agile, waterfall)? What did you like or dislike about them?
- Design and engineering can be at odds with one another, with designers proposing ideas that may not be performant, accessible, or easy to implement. How do you weigh trade-offs between achieving fidelity with the designs and technical constraints?
- Tell me about the process of working with designers in your current role. What does the communication cadence look like? Who does what in the relationship?
- Have you enjoyed working with designers in the past?
- Tell me about the pros and cons of design systems. Have you worked with them in the past? What did you like about them?
- Tell me about some websites or apps that you feel are particularly well-designed. What makes them well-designed?
- What makes for an effective code review?
- What's your preferred method for aligning with your team on controversial decisions (e.g. adopting a new tool, library, or coding standard)? What's worked particularly well for you?
- How do you approach disagreement with other engineers? What are the right avenues to communicate your disagreement?
- What's your favorite/least favorite thing about being an engineer?
- What are the immediate steps you would take when you're notified of a critical issue in production?
- When you launch a new feature, how do you ensure it continues to work as intended?
In the next post, we’ll take a brief look at systems design interviews. Follow @frontendeval and stay tuned for more!