Evan X. Merz

musician/technologist/human being

20 questions you should answer before your senior fullstack programmer interview

I've been writing up some questions to help some friends prepare for interviews. I thought it might be worthwhile to share them here. I think that most senior fullstack developers should be able to answer these questions, and I think they're worth reviewing before you go into an interview.

20 fullstack engineer review questions

  1. What do the HTTP response codes beginning with 1-5 indicate?
  2. Name 5 different types of databases. Give examples of each.
  3. Name three different Chrome developer tools or extensions that you use for debugging. When do you use each? Why?
  4. What is the Big O access time for an array, a linked list, a hashmap, and a binary search tree?
  5. How does the schema differ between relational databases and document stores? When does this matter?
  6. Name three different types of caching that come into play in any web request.
  7. What is database sharding? Why does it matter? How does it differ between relational databases and NoSQL document stores?
  8. What is the difference between a traditional row-store database and a columnar database? Why would you choose one over the other?
  9. How fast are the fasts sorts we know about in Big O notation? Name one sort that is that fast.
  10. What is binary search? Can you walk through an example? When is binary search useful?
  11. What is the most complex operation to perform on a binary search tree? Why?
  12. What is a database index? When is it appropriate to use one? How are database indexes implemented?
  13. What is a DNS?
  14. What is a CDN? When is it useful?
  15. How does Java scale differently from JavaScript? Why?
  16. Name three frameworks for building websites. Which do you prefer? Why?
  17. What is vertical scaling? What is horizontal scaling?
  18. What are the security concerns that arise when using a package manager like npm?
  19. What is a serverless environment? What performance concerns arise when deploying a website using serverless technologies?
  20. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a REST API versus a GraphQL API? Why would you choose one over the other?

Bonus questions

Some of these are more about your informed opinion than about being right or wrong, but I still think it's important to review them and have a prepared answer.

  1. Name three different cloud service providers. Which do you prefer? Why?
  2. What is your preferred IDE? Why?
  3. How do you determine when a feature can be used in a given browser?
  4. When is a key-value store a good choice?
  5. What is your favorite programming language? Why?
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Evan X. Merz

Evan X. Merz holds degrees in computer science and music from The University of Rochester, Northern Illinois University, and University of California at Santa Cruz. He works as a programmer at a tech company in Silicon Valley. In his free time, he is a programmer, musician, and author. He makes his online home at evanxmerz.com and he only writes about himself in third person in this stupid blurb.