How to Interview RoR Developers

It may seem that in our age of rapid development of digital technologies and IT business it is quite easy to find a professional programmer or web developer. CEOs rely on numerous courses available for those developers who want to broaden their knowledge. The workers themselves regard company experience as the most important promoting factor of their career. However, the situation is not what it seems. If you are a careful and wise boss, you know the importance of a job interview that makes all the employee’s pros and cons visible. The problem is: you should run different types of interviews with various future employees, and sometimes even the best HR can have problems handling all of them. In this article, we are going to cover the issue of a specific job interview that is very topical now – one with a Ruby-on-Rails developer. We shall tell you the most useful RoR developer interview questions, and hopefully, you will get the best answers next time you hold one!

Why Should You Bother?

The first question that may arise is a very usual one – why does it matter so much to hire the best developer? You are quite satisfied with the polite and smiling junior you already have. We have a couple of quick and persuasive answers to that.

Let us start with a few words about Ruby on Rails. This simple yet much used open-source framework for creating web applications was released in 2004, and now successfully presents its 5.1.5 version. It is based on the Ruby programming language, preferred by almost 10% of developers worldwide. There are numerous guides on how to master it, but many developers still regard Ruby as one of the most challenging languages. That is the first reason why the professional abilities of your RoR developer should be checked especially thoroughly.

Ruby on Rails is a proud base for such amazing services as GitHub (a wonderful fact for those who want to have an experienced RoR professional in the team!), Airbnb, SlideShare, Shopify, Dribbble and hundreds of thousands of others. It is free, it uses a cool MVC architecture pattern, it constantly releases updates and new versions, and is pleasant to use. Imagine a skillful senior developer creating a web app with such a powerful framework! That is why you should be interested in your developer having as many skills and as much experience of working with RoR as possible. Your business will definitely need all of them.

Hard Skills to Crack

We recommend that you break the developer interview questions into two major sections. The first, which you should regard as a slightly more important one, will concern their hard skills – that is, their professional strengths and competencies. In this section, you may ask your candidate to impress you with:

  • writing a piece of a clear code from a scratch, full of beautiful gems (better without any tests)
  • apt splitting of an already existing code into smaller significant pieces
  • changing some necessary configurations in one of your RoR products
  • writing a brief outlay of the unit tests with RSpec or any other testing tool you use
  • presenting an example of one of their previous projects.

Don’t be too oppressive with time – a job interview for the leading IT companies may take several hours, and your employee should be prepared for that.

Another reasonable strategy is to ask more theoretical questions, as it is always important to explore how well the developer knows Ruby on Rails in general. They should be ready to address any issues concerning MVC, ERB, Ruby syntax, Git, OOP programming, API, debugging, DRY principle, gem installation etc. Remember that a professional RoR developer should also have a good command of HTML, SQL, CSS, and JavaScript.

If you are working with the Agile methodology or simply have a specific team structure, be sure to ask the candidate whether they know its principles and strategies. Check their understanding of the role distribution in the team and ask about their preferences in the corresponding tools (for example, Trello or Pivotal Tracker for Agile).

To become a senior developer in a serious company like yours, any candidate should be able to give precise and confident answers to the above-mentioned questions. However, the goals and tactics of companies vary. That is why you should concentrate on the skills your employee will need in the first place. So, be sure to prepare the list of the most burning questions beforehand. Structure them in order of importance and tick how many satisfactory answers you’ve got. In this way, you can create a comparative scale with an objective view of your candidates. But don’t be too stiff – remember that it is human to err… even if you are the best RoR developer ever.

Don’t Let Pop Culture Buy You

The second section of your questions should concern their non-technical skills and competencies. Here you may face long-existing corporate biases, made viral by pop culture. What is wrong with pop culture (except for fake news)? The fact that it romanticizes the image of a lonely American programmer who just needs unhindered access to the Internet to break the Pentagon’s database! In reality, your developer will probably need a bunch of other tough guys (and a lot of time) to create a really valuable product. That is why Ruby on Rails interview questions should include ones that check the potential employee’s abilities to work in a team and face long working hours in order to meet an important deadline. Be sure to check all of them by asking about his preferences in regards to working conditions.

Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions that need long and precise answers. You are here to understand whether this person can be a representative of your company and a perfect member of your team. Ask them about their experience in the sphere of testing, QA, and other programming habits, as these processes will inevitably be present in the daily routine. Get to know what attitude the candidate has towards customer support and client facing, as it may sometimes be a hurdle for RoR developers who used to freelance or work remotely.

To really challenge the candidate, try asking them to explain to a non-technical person (for example, the company’s accountant) what they have just written for you during the first section of questions. In this way, you will be able to check their ability to work with people from different corporate spheres. That will also help you understand their level of command of the English language if it isn’t your candidate’s mother tongue. By the way, don’t hesitate to hire a foreigner – according to the HackerRank study, the best developers come from different countries, from China to the Czech Republic.

A quick way to evaluate a person’s problem-solving ability under duress is to give them a brainteaser or logical question. Solving it together, or simply comparing and discussing the results, may also help you build a better connection with the candidate if you feel that they are too tense or reserved. 

Check the Candidate’s Commitment

We believe that it is crucial for you to have your business constantly developing and showing more and more impressive results. To have it all, you need to focus on one important feature of your candidates – their commitment. During the interview, you should test their desire to work for you, test their deep understanding of your goals and strategies, as well as analyze your own impressions of your future employees. You ought to feel that this person really belongs on the team, whose level of cooperation and mutual understanding will take it to the very top.

Here you may traditionally ask your candidates about their previous job and reasons they quit. But they have assuredly already made up a quick and vague answer to that question. Even if this is not the case, we’re sure you don’t want to become notorious among job seekers as a person who wants to know too much about their past. Instead, try to focus on their current motivation, hobbies, and reasons why they think your company is the best. You may also check whether they are ready (and willing!) to learn something new under your guidance.

Racking your brains about how to interview a Ruby on Rails developer and coming out with a bunch of the questions, don’t forget about your own commitment – that is, your desire to hire the best professional ever. Be open, attentive and sincere, and keep the ball rolling. Listen to the answers carefully, be ready to take notes and face surprising situations. Be helpful – you should bear in mind that the candidate is in a very stressful situation. Answer any of their questions about the company, team, salary, office etc. as honestly as possible. In this way you will get the best results and get to know them as much as possible.


In this article, we shared our opinion on how to interview RoR developers and hire the most professional one. We hope that our tips will be useful for you and will help you improve your communication and interviewing skills. Now get to that interview and take your business to the next level!

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