Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

i hear stories like this a lot. serious question... why does Google ask standard comp sci questions when interviewing for front-end developers?

in over 10 years of front-end development for non-trivial business applications, i have yet to encounter a scenario where ignorance of bubble sort prevented me from doing my job well.

i can tell you what i value when interviewing a front-end developer - in depth knowledge of cross browser quirks and coding techniques to address said quirks (sans jQuery). someone who can tell me what OOCSS is and why it's beneficial. someone who values every pixel, http request, and div like it was their last and uses them wisely.

i don't discount the value of standard comp sci knowledge, but i get rage face if someone judges my skill as a front-end developer based on how well i answer those types of questions

lastly, ever view source of any Google app? that tells me all i need to know about their idea of a front-end development

Similar to how graduating college shows you were able to work hard and learn many different subjects effectively for four years, being able to solve a google problem shows that you A) are smart enough to have understood and retained it from when you were first taught it or B) were driven enough to sit down and learn tough conceptual problems in a few weeks.

So, its less that you know that particular subject, and more what you being able to pick it up is an indicator of.

Sure, I can understand that.

My point is that most of the very best front-end developers I've met don't have CS degrees. So it seems unfair to penalize them for something they've never been exposed too. There are other ways to assess someones conceptual ability.

The questions asked illustrate what the interviewers know and don't know. Google is reputed to have a mono-culture of CS-heavy people. They know CS-related questions the best and that what they would ask.

When you're as concerned with frontend performance as Google is, computer science knowledge can really come in handy. For example, they wrote their own compiler for Javascript to check for errors and shrink down the code to an absolute minimum, by e.g., shortening variable names and pruning functions that are never called. This means they had to write a their own parser, run various graph-based algorithms to follow references, iterate and transform the abstract syntax tree, etc.


And I'm sure the frontend guys were working on that.

Don't you think it's better to hire compiler experts for that exact problem rather than worrying about whether some frontend dude can write his own JS parser?

Someone who is working on the front-end without basic familiarity with computer science may not recognize such optimization opportunities and may not call a compiler expert in. Also, basic familiarity of computer science is useful for having the chops to validate an idea before wasting the time of an expert.

Using "view source" on an app like Gmail or Maps is a terrible way to judge their front-end developers. The JavaScript might have gone through the Closure compiler, which is a seriously cool piece of software. They might treat the markup with something similar, I don't know. I would base my judgement of their front-end team on the quality of the software as a user, and I think Gmail is the best web-based email app and Maps is the best web-based maps app... so I have a lot of respect for their front end teams, regardless of what the source looks like.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact