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When and how you should test candidates’ HTML skills
A good knowledge of HTML is usually required in roles like Web Developer, Front-End Developer and UI Engineer. If candidates don’t have enough experience in this markup language, they might not be able to do their job properly.
Since HTML knowledge is a technical skill, you need tangible proof to make sure candidates really know their stuff. There are two good ways to test this:
- You can ask candidates to complete an exercise or short work sample (assignment) that relies on HTML.
- You can ask candidates targeted questions on the use of HTML during the interview.
Note that it’s probably best not to ask candidates to actually write HTML during interviews as this may put undue pressure on them and affect their interview performance. One exception could be to ask them to comment on existing HTML code or demonstrate their way of thinking around the HTML assignment (if they completed one) by repeating parts of it on a whiteboard.
Examples of HTML interview questions
- What’s your experience with HTML?
- Please walk us through the HTML code you wrote in the assessment we gave you.
- What do you like about HTML?
- What do you dislike about HTML?
- What templating languages have you used with HTML?
- What would you change in our website to improve performance and user experience?
- Is HTML validation part of your development process? What do you pay attention to?
- What do we use semantic elements for? Can you give us examples?
- What are the main new elements in HTML5?
- How would embed an audio and video file in an HTML document?
- What would you use the <canvas> element for and how is it different from <svg>?
- What tag would you use to link to a CSS file and a JS file? Where would you place that tag and why?
- What does the <!DOCTYPE HTML> do? What if you don’t use it?
- How do you ensure readability of HTML?
- What’s your experience with custom data attributes?
- What are the empty elements and what’s the purpose of each?
- What’s the difference between standards mode and quirks mode?
- Describe how we can get the location of a user with HTML5.
- How have you used HTML5 Web Storage?
- Why are Server-Side Events useful and how would you use them?
- Are you familiar with accessibility rules? Give us some examples.
- If you had to load external fonts to your website, how would you do that? What’s the best practice performance-wise?
- Have you worked with svgs before? How do you use them in your code? What are their benefits, if any? What are the differences between svg files and image files?
- What do you take into account for mobile versions? Do you use a ready framework for grid?
- What tools do you use to check browser compatibility? What browsers do you take into account while building websites?
How to evaluate candidates’ answers
Since knowing HTML is basically a hard skill, there’s a definite red flag in candidate answers: not knowing the basics. Candidates should feel fairly comfortable answering knowledge questions (such as “what does this tag do?”) and be able to formulate a logical answer when presented with an HTML exercise.