Two Front End Development Interview Questions No One Has Been Getting Recently + One I’m Afraid to Even Ask

Yes, I’m still helping out with screening candidates. I haven’t yet interviewed someone to replace me, but there’s still a week to go.

Anyway, we’ve had a couple of technical questions that candidates universally failed to answer. Why share them here? For starters I just want to know if we’re crazy to expect people to know these. I also like the idea of a kind of “easter egg” for candidates. If someone does enough research to find my blog and read this post, they’ve shown me something, even if it’s not the answer to one of the questions posed below.

The two that have surprisingly turned into stumpers (at least for the last five or six folks I’ve interviewed)

  1. What is hasLayout?
  2. What’s the significance of setting the body text to .625em?

And the bonus question that I want to ask, but don’t, because it’s kind of goofy to say out loud

  1. What’s “The Mark of the Web?”

Answers after the jump.

What is hasLayout?
hasLayout is a proprietary, read-only Microsoft property that has occasionally serious effect on the way that elements render, flow and react to events. Read more about it here.

I ask about it because it’s one of the first things I look at to when I’ve got a particularly strange IE6 bug.

At this point I don’t even need a really good answer for this one. I’d settle for vague recognition.

If they do answer it correctly, the natural follow-up is “name a way force an element to gain layout”

What’s the significance of setting the body text to .625em?
Simple answer- it sets the default font-size to 10px, which makes all kinds of calculations easier to make.

This very site uses the technique coupled with em-based measurements to make a site that scales nicely. I ask this one because the technique itself is pretty cool and simple knowledge of it (even without the experience of having used it) shows that the person has at least done some reading.
What’s “The Mark of the Web?”
<!– saved from url=(0014)about:internet –>
That’s “The Mark of the Web.” :)

Why is important? Setting the MOTW allows you to debug pages on your local machine in Internet Explorer without dealing with the dreaded “To help protect your security, Internet Explorer has restricted this webpage from showing active content” security bar.

Clearly very handy.

Read more about the MOTW here.


Personally, I’m surprised these have been as tough as they’ve been. Anyone else got any surprising stumpers?

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