Hire Developers

[Checklist] Evaluating a Front-End Developer

Written By Dana Frederick | October 18, 2018

frontend-vs-backend engineer image

This is part of our hiring checklist series, where we share insights to help you screen developers. You can find our other checklists here: 


Front-end developers play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical aspects of any web or app development project. They build on the work of back-end developers to create the user-facing content we interact with on websites and apps.

Given the duality of their role, their work needs to strike a balance between function and form; not only should their work be efficient and well-built, but also beautiful, and easy to use for a diverse set of audiences. A good front-end developer is not only technically savvy, but obsessively focused on the details that make user experience enjoyable.

Front end and back end engineer graphic

If you’re just starting your hunt for a front-end developer to add to your team, make sure to prioritize these qualities:

Expertise:

  • Are they well versed in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and in a variety of design patterns? And are they up to date with new web technologies?
  • Do they have a solid understanding of core UX/UI concepts? Do they know how to develop for perceived experience, and can they manage tradeoffs?
  • Do they have a track record of creating work that performs for a wide variety of users (from different devices, browsers, abilities, and more)?
  • Are they knowledgeable in front-end testing, debugging, and security?
  • Do they write maintainable code?
  • Do they have solid framework and architecture knowledge? Can they compare multiple options, and choose the best approach for any given project?
  • Can they understand and execute on the atomic design principle?

Team Compatibility:

  • Are they familiar with your team’s development methodology of choice?
  • Are they experienced in working with both technical and non-technical stakeholders to execute their work (e.g. design and product)?
  • Are they familiar with your team’s front-end framework(s) of choice?
  • Do they proactively discuss potential use cases with the rest of the development team?
  • Can they work in harmony with established style guides and coding patterns?
  • Do they have a basic grasp of their teammates’ processes and technologies, especially when it comes to their back-end analogs?
  • Are they a team player, and an easy person to work with? Can they comfortably work in tandem with others on a regular basis?

Soft Skills:

  • Do they have strong non-technical communication skills? Can they accurately interpret the practical problem their work will solve?
  • Can they empathize with the needs of users from a wide variety of backgrounds (with varying abilities, devices, and more)?
  • Do they have a natural knack for detail? Can they flawlessly translate designs to a final product, down to the smallest elements?
  • Do they make a point to keep up with rapidly changing front-end tech through continued self-education?
  • Are they capable of producing work up to the aesthetic standard of your brand? Do they have a good eye, or at least a good understanding of UX?

An illustration of a checklist next to the words "Front-End Checklist"

Balancing technical and non-technical skills

How do you like to screen for both function and form when you’re searching for front-end developer candidates? Share your advice in the comments.

It’s important to note that the line between UI developers and front-end developers can sometimes be blurry. Some candidates may be more inclined towards UI/UX, whereas others may be focused on the engineering aspects of front-end development (e.g. design patterns, tooling, and architecture). Make sure you understand if your hiring manager is looking for one or another—or even a blend of both—before digging into the candidate pool.

Hiring for other technical roles? Learn the right skills to target for specialized roles in our full guide:An banner with the words "[Guide] Recruiter Cheat sheet: How to Assess Technical Roles"

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