While the word “back-end” is certainly amusing in a job title, it describes the role well. These engineers typically work in what might be the back room of a store, but for software. The work they do (namely, the code they write) doesn’t touch the users or customers; it isn’t the user interface or part of the software you can see. More often, back-end engineers are writing code in the form of APIs or interfaces that then get consumed by others (such as middle or front-end engineers).
These engineers typically interface with the data (stored in files or in databases) or APIs to transform it and make it usable by other parts of the system. These engineers are often closest to the systems, web services (such as in the cloud), or hardware.
Questions for Back-End Engineers:
- Q: What are some strategies that connect the back-end of a system to the front-end?
A: This question has no “right” answer, but look for a sensible, clear response. For example, a valid answer might be APIs. Another person might say callbacks. If you don’t know what these terms mean, ask for an example or analogy. This way you can see their communication skills and get your head around their solution. Then ask about pros and cons of their solution, and if they have seen any good or bad examples in their careers. Most candidates will have some thoughts and ideas, and even examples from their own experience.
- Q: How do you choose which database to use for a project?
A: Don’t be surprised if a candidate says it depends on the project. If that is the case, you can either give them an example, such as a website you like and use, or you can ask them for different criteria and examples. If they tell you something you don’t quite understand, ask them to expand. The real key is that they are thinking critically about how the data will be used and consumed by the customer in the website or application.
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