A perfect guide for cracking a JavaScript interview (A developer’s perspective)

January 21, 2018 0 Comments

A perfect guide for cracking a JavaScript interview (A developer’s perspective)



A cup of JS for the interview candidates

The JavaScript(JS) interviews are not easy. I accept it, you accept it and, everyone does. The number of possibilities of questions could be asked in a JavaScript interview are high. How one will be able to crack a JS interview? Where to start? This article is an effort to instruct all aspiring JavaScript developers to deepen their JS knowledge by knowing the fundamental concepts. These are baby steps to be taken at least to face a JS interview. If I am a candidate, I prepare these concepts well. If I am an interviewer, I presume you know them to proceed further.

Note: If you don’t know me, I am a full stack developer with expertise in Python, Go & JavaScript. Recently, I authored a book too!

This guide is a beginning point but not nib for a JS developer. It is his/her responsibility to prepare themselves for much tougher interviews. They also need to keep in mind that interview questions can also be from the domain and technologies they worked(Ex: React JS, WebPack, Node JS etc). Here we present the basic JS elements you should be well versed to call yourself as a good JavaScript developer. A fine JS developer can be a fine React developer, but the reverse is not guaranteed. Sadly, JS has a bad reputation for producing countless script kiddies with lack of discipline(partially true). JavaScript allows developers do things without complaining much. It is fun to code too. Few great JavaScript programmers like John Resig (creator, jQuery), Brendan Eich(creator, JS) and, Lars Bak(Google Chrome team) understood the language in and out. A successful JS programmer always reads the plain JS code from libraries. Many say it is really hard to find a good JavaScript developer!

“Virtual machines are a strange beast. There’s no perfect solution, instead you optimize for the ‘sweet spot’. There’s a lot of craftsmanship. It’s a long game, you can’t burn out” — Lars Bak, Google

In order to show you the complexity of JS interviews, in the first look, try to find out the outcome of this JS statement.

console.log(2.0 “2” new Boolean(true) “1”)

<<<<<<<<<<<<… >>>>>>>>>>>>>

<<<<<<<<<<<<… >>>>>>>>>>>>>

<<<<<<<<<<<<… >>>>>>>>>>>>>

(These lines are to make you not focus on the below lines)

9 people out of 10 says this prints false. But It prints true. Why? see it here.

JavaScript is tough. There is not much we can do if the interviewer is too smart to ask questions like above. But what we can do? Learn these eleven basic elements in depth to turn a JS interview favorable to you.

Functions are the cream of JavaScript. They are the first class citizens. Without knowing JS functions in depth, your knowledge is severely caveated. A JS function is more than a normal function. Unlike in other languages, a function can be assigned to a variable, passed around as an argument to another function and can also be returned from another. Hence, it is the first class citizen in the JS.

I am not going to explain what is a function here, but do you know that few things can surprise you? Like this!

/* ... /
function square(n) { return n * n; }

This code snippet executes 25. True! See the second code snippet


var square = function(n) {
return n * n;

In the first sight, you might be tempted to say it too prints 25. False! Instead, it shouts for the first line.

TypeError: square is not a function

In JavaScript, if you define a function as a variable, the variable name will be hoisted but you cannot access until JS execution encounters its definition. Aren’t you surprised?

Leave it. You might have seen this syntax frequently somewhere in some code.

var simpleLibrary = function() {
var simpleLibrary = {
add: function(a, b) {
return a + b;
subtract: function(a, b) {
return a - b;
return simpleLibrary;

Why people do this weird thing? It is a function variable that has variables and functions encapsulated which do not pollute the global scope. Libraries ranging from jQuery to Lodash use this technique to provide you $ etc.

The point I put here is “learn functions well”. There are many subtle traps in how we use them. Go through Mozilla’s well-written write-up on functions.

These functions you might see in all famous libraries. These allow something called currying using which we can compose the functionality into different functions. A good JavaScript developer can tell you about these three at any time.

Basically, these are the prototype methods of functions to alter behavior to achieve something. According to Chad, a JS developer, the usage is like this

Use .bind() when you want that function to later be called with a certain context, useful in events. Use .call() or .apply() when you want to invoke the function immediately, with modification of the context.

Let us see what the above statement means! Suppose your maths teacher asked you to create a library and submit it. You wrote an abstract library which finds area and circumference of the circle.

var mathLib = {
pi: 3.14,
area: function(r) {
return this.pi * r * r;
circumference: function(r) {
return 2 * this.pi * r;

You submitted library to the professor. Now it is time to submit code which calls that math library.


While submitting second code samples, you found in guidelines that professor asked you to use constant pi with 5 decimals precision. Oh gosh! You just used 3.14, not 3.14159. Now you have no chance to send library as the deadline was over. JS call function saves you. Just call your code in this way

mathLib.area.call({pi: 3.14159}, 2);

and it takes your new pi value on the fly. The output is


Which makes your professor happy! If you observe the call function takes two arguments:

  • Context
  • Function arguments

A context is an object that replaces this keyword inside the area function. Later arguments are passed as function arguments. For Ex:

var cylinder = {
pi: 3.14,
volume: function(r, h) {
return this.pi * r * r * h;

Call invocation is like this

cylinder.volume.call({pi: 3.14159}, 2, 6);

Did you see those function arguments are passed as subsequent arguments after context object.

Apply is exactly same except Function arguments are passed as a list for god’s sake.

cylinder.volume.apply({pi: 3.14159}, [2, 6]);

If you know call, you know apply and vice versa. Now, what is bind?

Bind attaches a brand new this to a given function. In bind’s case, the function is not executed instantly like Call or Apply.

var newVolume = cylinder.volume.bind({pi: 3.14159}); // This is not instant call
// After some long time, somewhere in the wild 
newVolume(2,6); // Now pi is 3.14159

What is the use of Bind? It allows us to inject a context into a function which returns a new function with updated context. It means this variable will be user supplied variable. This is very useful while working with JavaScript events.

You should know these three functions to compose functionality in JavaScript

JavaScript scope is a pandora box. Hundreds of tough interview questions can be framed from this single concept. There are three kinds of scopes:

  • Global scope
  • Local Scope/Function scope
  • Block scope(Introduced in ES6)

Global scope is what we usually do

x = 10;
function Foo() {
console.log(x); // Prints 10

Function scope comes into picture when you define a variable locally.

pi = 3.14;
function circumference(radius) {    
pi = 3.14159;
console.log(2 * pi * radius); // Prints "12.56636" not "12.56"

ES16 standard had introduced new block scope which limits a variable’s scope to a given parenthesis block.

var a = 10;

function Foo() {
if (true) {
let a = 4;

alert(a); // alerts '10' because the 'let' keyword

Functions & conditions are considered as blocks. Above example should alert 4 because conditional statements are executed. But ES6 destroys scope of block variables and scope went into global.

Now comes the magical scope. It can be achieved using closures. JavaScript closure is a function that returns another function.

If someone asks you this question. Write a design that takes a string and returns a character at a time. If the new string is given, it should replace old one. It is simply called a generator.

function generator(input) {
var index = 0;
return {
next: function() {
if (index < input.length) {
index += 1;
return input[index - 1];
return "";

Execution goes in this way!

var mygenerator = generator("boomerang");
mygenerator.next(); // returns "b"
mygenerator.next() // returns "o"
mygenerator = generator("toon");
mygenerator.next(); // returns "t"

Here, the scope is playing an important role. A closure is a function that returns another function and wraps data. The above string generator qualifies for a closure. The index value is preserved between multiple function calls. The internal function defined can access the variables defined in the parent function. This is a different scope. If you defined one more function in the second level function, that can access all parent’s variables.

JavaScript Scope can throw a lot of problems at you! understand it thoroughly

In JavaScript, we always compose code with functions and objects. If you take browser, in the global context it refers to the window object. I mean this will evaluate to true if you open browser console right now and enter this.

this = window;

When the context and scope of program changes, this at that particular point changes accordingly. Now see this in a local context is:

function Foo(){
var food = {a: "Magical this"};
Foo.call(food); // food is this

Now you will be tempted to predict this output.

function Foo(){
console.log(this); // prints {}?

Nope, it won’t. Because this is a global object here. Remember, whatever parent scope is, it will be inherited by the child. So it prints window object. The three methods we discussed are actually used to set this object.

Now comes the last type of this. this in object scope. Here

var person = {
name: "Stranger",
age: 24,
get identity() {
return {who: this.name, howOld: this.age};

I just used getter syntax which is a function that can be called as a variable.

person.identity; // returns {who: "Stranger", howOld: 24}

Here, this is actually referring to the object itself. this as we previously mentioned behaves differently in different places. Know them well.

Many of us know objects like this.

var marks = {physics: 98, maths:95, chemistry: 91};

It is a map that stores Key, Value pairs. JavaScripts objects have a special property of storing anything as a value. It means we can store a list, another object, a function etc as a value. What not?

You can create an object in these ways:

var marks = {};
var marks = new Object();

You can easily convert a given object into a JSON string and also reverse it back using JSON object’s stringify and parse methods respectively.

// returns "{"physics":98,"maths":95,"chemistry":91}"
// Get object from string

So what are few things about objects you should know? Iterating over the object is easy, using Object.keys

var highScore = 0; 
for (i of Object.keys(marks)) {
if (marks[i] > highScore)
highScore = marks[i];

Object.values returns the list of values of an object.

Other important functions on an object are:

  • Object.prototype(object)
  • Object.freeze(function)
  • Object.seal(function)

Object.prototype provides more important functions that have many applications. Some of them are:

Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty is useful to find out whether a given property/key exists in an object.

marks.hasOwnProperty("physics"); // returns true
marks.hasOwnProperty("greek"); // returns false

Object.prototype.instanceof evaluates whether a given object is the type of a particular prototype(we will see them in the next section, they are functions).

function Car(make, model, year) {
this.make = make;
this.model = model;
this.year = year;
var newCar = new Car('Honda', 'City', 2007);
console.log(newCar instanceof Car); // returns true

Now comes the other two functions. Object.freeze allows us to freeze an object so that existing properties cannot be modified.

var marks = {physics: 98, maths:95, chemistry: 91};
finalizedMarks = Object.freeze(marks);
finalizedMarks["physics"] = 86; // throws error in strict mode
console.log(marks); // {physics: 98, maths: 95, chemistry: 91}

Here we are trying to modify value of the physics property after freezing the object. But, JavaScript will not allow doing that. We can find whether a given object is frozen or not like this.

Object.isFrozen(finalizedMarks); // returns true

Object.seal is slightly different from the freeze. It allows configurable properties but won’t allow new property addition or deletion or properties.

var marks = {physics: 98, maths:95, chemistry: 91};
delete marks.chemistry; // returns false as operation failed
marks.physics = 95; // Works!
marks.greek = 86; // Will not add a new property

We can also check whether a given object is sealed using this

Object.isSealed(marks); // returns true

There are many other important functions/methods available on Global Object function. Find them here.

In traditional JavaScript, there is the concept of inheritance in a camouflage. It is by using a technique of prototyping. All the new class syntax you see in ES5, ES6 is just a syntactical sugar coating for the underlying prototypical OOP. Creating a class is done using a function in JavaScript.

var animalGroups = {
function Animal(name, type) {
this.name = name;
this.type = type;
var dog = new Animal("dog", animalGroups.MAMMAL);
var crocodile = new Animal("crocodile", animalGroups.REPTILE);

Here we are creating objects for the class (using new keyword). We can add methods for a given class(function) like this. Attach a class method like this.

Animal.prototype.shout = function() {
console.log(this.name + 'is ' + this.sound + 'ing...');

Here you may get a doubt. There is no sound property in the class. Yes! there is hardly a sound property defined. That is intended to be passed by the child classes who inherits above class.

In JavaScript, inheritance is achieved like this.

function Dog(name, type) {
Animal.call(this, name, type);
this.sound = "bow";

I defined one more specific function called Dog. Here, in order to inherit the Animal class, we need to perform call function(we discussed it earlier) with passing this and other arguments. We can instantiate a German Shepard like this.

var pet = Dog("germanShepard", animalGroups.MAMMAL);
console.log(pet); // returns Dog {name: "germanShepard", type: 1, sound: "bow"}

We are not assigning name and type in the child function, we are calling super function Animal and setting the respective properties. The pet is having the properties(name, type) of the parent. But what about the methods. Are they inherited too? Let us see!

pet.shout(); // Throws error

What? why did that happen? It happens because we didn’t say JavaScript to inherit the parent class methods. How to fix that?

// Link prototype chains
Dog.prototype = Object.create(Animal.prototype);
var pet = new Dog("germanShepard", animalGroups.MAMMAL);
// Now shout method is available
pet.shout(); // germanShepard is bowing...

Now shout method is available. We can check what is the class of given object in JavaScript using the object.constructor function. Let us check what is the class of our pet.

pet.constructor; // returns Animal

It is vague. The Animal is a parent class. But what type exactly is the pet? It is a Dog type. This occurs because of the constructor of Dog class.

Dog.prototype.constructor; // returns Animal

It is Animal. We should set it to Dog class itself so that all instances(objects) of the class should give correct class name where it belongs to.

Dog.prototype.constructor = Dog;

These four things you should remember about prototypical inheritance.

  • Class properties are bound using this
  • Class methods are bound using prototype object
  • To inherit properties, use call function passing this object
  • To inherit methods, use Object.create to link prototypes of parent and child
  • Always set child class constructor to itself for getting the right identity of its objects

Note: These are things happens under the hood even with new class syntax. Knowing these is valuable for your JS knowledge.

In JS, call function and prototype object provides inheritance

Callbacks are the functions those executed after an I/O operation is done. A time taking I/O operation can block the code not allowing further execution in Python/Ruby. But in JavaScript, due to the allowed asynchronous execution, we can provide callbacks to the async functions. The example is an AJAX(XMLHttpRequest) call from the browser to a server, events generated by the mouse. keyboard etc. Example is

function reqListener () {

var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
req.addEventListener("load", reqListener);
req.open("GET", "http://www.example.org/example.txt";);

Here reqListener is the callback which will be executed when a GET request to is successfully responded back.

Promises are neat wrappers for callbacks which allows us to asynchronous code elegantly. I discussed a lot about promises here. This is also an important piece that should be known in JS.

Regular expressions have many applications. Processing text, enforcing rules on user input etc. A JavaScript developer should know how to perform basic Regex and solve problems. Regex is a universal concept. We here see how we can do that from JS.

We can create a new regular expression using this

var re = /ar/;
var re = new RegExp('ar'); // This too works

The above regular expression is an expression that matches with the given set of strings. Once a regex is defined, we can try to fit and see the matching string. we can match strings using exec function.

re.exec("car"); // returns ["ar", index: 1, input: "car"]
re.exec("cab"); // returns null

There are few special character classes which allow us to write complex regular expressions.

There are many types of elements in RegEx. Some of them are:

  • Characters Ex: \w — Alphanumeric, \d — Decimal, \D — Non decimal
  • Character classes Ex: [x-y] in range x to y, [^x] not x
  • Quantifiers Ex: +, ?, * (greedy and lazy matchers)
  • Boundaries Ex: ^(beginning of input), $(end of input)

Using the above things, let us illustrate few examples.

Character class /
var re1 = /[AEIOU]/;
re1.exec("Oval"); // returns ["O", index: 0, input: "Oval"]
re1.exec("2456"); // null
var re2 = /[1-9]/;
re2.exec('mp4'); // returns ["4", index: 2, input: "mp4"]
/ Characters /
var re4 = /\d\D\w/;
re4.exec('1232W2sdf'); // returns ["2W2", index: 3, input: "1232W2sdf"]
re4.exec('W3q'); // returns null
/ Boundaries /
var re5 = /^\d\D\w/;
re5.exec('2W34'); // returns ["2W3", index: 0, input: "2W34"]
re5.exec('W34567'); // returns null
var re6 = /^[0-9]{5}-[0-9]{5}-[0-9]{5}$/;
re6.exec('23451-45242-99078'); // returns ["23451-45242-99078", index: 0, input: "23451-45242-99078"]
re6.exec('23451-abcd-efgh-ijkl'); // returns null
/ Quantifiers /
var re7 = /\d+\D+$/;
re7.exec('2abcd'); // returns ["2abcd", index: 0, input: "2abcd"]
re7.exec('23'); // returns null
re7.exec('2abcd3'); // returns null
var re8 = /<([\w]+).>(.*?)<\/\1>/;
re8.exec('<p>Hello JS developer</p>'); //returns ["<p>Hello JS developer</p>", "p", "Hello JS developer", index: 0, input: "<p>Hello JS developer</p>"]

For more details on regex, skim through this cheatsheet page.

Along with exec, there are other functions namely match, search and, replace are available for finding a string in another using regular expressions. But these functions should be used on the string itself.

"2345-678r9".match(/[a-z A-Z]/); // returns ["r", index: 8, input: "2345-678r9"]
"2345-678r9".replace(/[a-z A-Z]/, ""); // returns 2345-6789

Regex is an important topic that should be understood by developers for solving complex problems easily.

Functional programming is a discussion topic these days. Many programming languages are including functional concepts like lambdas into their newer versions (Ex: Java >7). In JavaScript support for functional programming constructs exists for a long time. There are three main functions we need to learn deeply. Mathematical functions take some input and return output. A pure function always returns the same output for the given input. The functions we discuss now also satisfy the purity.

The map function is available on a JavaScript array. Using this function, we can get a new array by applying a transformation function on each and every element in the array. The general syntax for JS array map operation is:

return processedValue
}) // returns new array with each element processed

Suppose, there are few unwanted characters entered into serial keys we are working with recently. We need to remove them. Instead of removing the character by iterating and finding, we can use map to perform the same operation and get result array.

var data = ["2345-34r", "2e345-211", "543-67i4", "346-598"];
var re = /[a-z A-Z]/;
var cleanedData = data.map((elem) => {return elem.replace(re, "")});
console.log(cleanedData); // ["2345-34", "2345-211", "543-674", "346-598"]

Note: We used the arrow syntax for function definition in JavaScript ES6

The map takes a function as an argument. That function has an argument. That argument is picked from the array. We need to return the processed element and that will be applicable to all elements in the array.

Reduce function reduces a given list to one final result. We can also do the same thing by iterating the array and saving the intermediate result in a variable. But here this is a cleaner way to reduce an array to a value. The general syntax for JS reduce operation is:

currentIndex) => {
process(accumulator, currentValue)
return intermediateValue/finalValue
}, initialAccumulatorValue) // returns reduced value

The accumulator stores the intermediate and final value. The currentIndex, currentValue are index, value of the element from the array respectively. initialAccumulatorValue passes that value to accumulator argument.

One practical application for reduce can be flattening an array of arrays. Flattening is converting internal arrays to one single array. For Ex:

var arr = [[1, 2], [3, 4], [5, 6]];
var flattenedArray = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6];

We can achieve this by normal iteration. But using reduce, it is a straight code. Magic!

var flattenedArray = arr.reduce((accumulator, currentValue) => {
return accumulator.concat(currentValue);
}, []); // returns [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

This is the third type of functional programming concept. It is close to map as it also processes each element in the array and finally returns another array(not returning a value like in reduce). The length of the filtered array can be less than or equal to the original array. Because the filtering condition we pass may exclude few/zero inputs in the output array. The general syntax for JS filter operation is:

arr.filter((elem) => {
return true/false

Here elem is the data element of the array and true/false should be returned from the function to indicate inclusion/exclusion of filtered element. The common example is to filter the array of words which starts and ends with given conditions. Suppose, we should filter an array of words which starts with t and ends with r.

var words = ["tiger", "toast", "boat", "tumor", "track", "bridge"]
var newData = words.filter((elem) => {
return elem.startsWith('t') && elem.endsWith('r') ? true:false;
}); // returns ["tiger", "tumor"]

These three functions should be at your fingertips whenever someone asks you about the functional programming aspects of JavaScript. As you see, the original array is not changed in all three cases which are proving the purity of these functions.

This is the least cared piece of JavaScript by many developers. I see a very handful of developers talking about error handling. A good development approach always carefully wrap JS code around try/catch blocks.

Nicholas C. Zakas, a UI engineer at Yahoo, said back in 2008 “Always assume your code will fail. Events may not be handled properly! Log them to the server. Throw your own errors.”

In JavaScript whenever we code casually, things may fail. For Ex:

$.ajax({url: "user.json", success: function(result){

Here, we are falling into the trap saying results always will be a JSON object. Sometimes the server can crash and a null will be returned instead of the result. In that case, null[“posts”] will throw an error. The proper handling could be this!

$.ajax({url: "user.json", success: function(result){

try {
catch(e) {
// Custom functions

The logError function is intended to report the error back to the server. The second function flashInfoMessage is the function that displays a user-friendly message like “Service unavailable currently” etc.

Nicholas says manually throw errors whenever you feel something unexpected is going to happen. Differentiate between fatal and non-fatal errors. The above error is related to the backend server going down which is fatal. There, you should inform the customer that service is down due to some reason. In some cases, it may not be fatal but better to notify sever about this. In order to create such code, first, throw an error, catch it with error event at window object level, then make an API call to log that message to the server.

reportErrorToServer = function (error) {
$.ajax({type: "POST",
url: "http://api.xyz.com/report",
data: error,
success: function (result) {}
// Window error event
window.addEventListener('error', function (e) {
reportErrorToServer({message: e.message})
function mainLogic() {
// Somewhere you feel like fishy
throw new Error("user feeds are having fewer fields than expected...");

This code basically does three things:

  1. Listen to Errors on window level
  2. Whenever an error occurs, make an API call
  3. On the server, log it!

You can also use the new Boolean function(ES5, ES6) to check whether a variable is valid and not null (or) undefined before proceeding.

if (Boolean(someVariable)) {
// use variable now
} else {
throw new Error("Custom message")

Always think how to handle the errors, not in the browser but yourself. Things can fail!

All the above concepts are primary for a JavaScript developer. There are few internal details to know those can be really helpful. Those are how JavaScript engine works in the browser. What are Hoisting and Event Bubbling?

Hoisting is a process of pushing the declared variables to the top of the program while running it. For Ex:

doSomething(foo); // used before
var foo; // declared later

When you do above thing in a scripting language like Python, it throws an error. You need to first define and use it. Even though JS is a scripting language, it has a mechanism of hoisting. In this mechanism, a JavaScript VM does two things while running a program:

  1. First scan the program, collect all the variable and function declarations and assign memory spaces for it.
  2. Run the program now by filling variable values assigned any, if not, fill undefined

In the above code snippet, console.log prints “undefined”. It is because in the first pass variable foo is collected. VM looks for any value defined for variable foo. This hoisting can result in many JavaScript code situations where code can throw errors in some places and uses undefined silently in another. You should be knowing hoisting to clear the ambiguity! See few examples!

Now comes the event bubbling! According to Arun P, a senior software engineer:

“Event bubbling and capturing are two ways of event propagation in the HTML DOM API when an event occurs in an element inside another element, and both elements have registered a handler for that event. The event propagation mode determines in which order the elements receive the event.”

With bubbling, the event is first captured and handled by the innermost element and then propagated to outer elements. With capturing, the process is in reverse. We usually attach an event to a handler using the addEventListener function.

addEventListener("click", handler, useCapture=false)

The third argument useCapture is the key. The default value is false. So, it will be a bubbling model where the event is handled by the innermost element first and it propagates outwards till it reaches the parent element. If that argument is true, it is capturing model.

For Ex: Bubbling Model

<div onClick="divHandler()">
<ul onClick="ulHandler">
<li id="foo"></li>
function handler() {
// do something here
function divHandler(){}
function ulHandler(){}
document.getElementById("foo").addEventListener("click", handler)

When we click the list element, the order of execution of handlers is like this in bubbling (default) model.

handler() => ulHandler() => divHandler()

In the diagram, handlers are firing sequentially outwards. Similarly, a capturing model tries to fire events inwards from parent to the element clicked. Now change this single line in above code.

document.getElementById("foo").addEventListener("click", handler, true)

The order of execution of handlers then will be:

divHandler => ulHandler() => handler()

You should understand the event bubbling(whether direction occurs towards parent or towards the child) properly to implement the user interfaces (UI) to avoid any unwanted behaviors.

These are the basic concepts in JavaScript. As I initially mentioned, additional to them, your work experience and knowledge, preparation helps you crack a JavaScript interview. Always keep learning. Keep an eye on latest developments(ES6). Dig deeper into various aspects of JavaScript like V6 engine, tests etc. Here are few video resources that will teach you many things.

If you like this article, thanks! You can follow me at @Narenarya3

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