PHP Interview Questions: How to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Interviewing Buck

Unlike most programming disciplines, PHP is a scripting language that dynamically changes the content of web pages without reloading most of the construct. It works in close conjunction with HTML.

When interviewing a prospective candidate, you want to establish their technical basics as well their level of creativity and innovation.

Candidate mindset

Unfortunately, many interviewers miss out on good programmers who are less than perfect on the technical part. Some of the best programmers tend to discover the use of scripting technologies on the fly. They are not tied down to being technologically sound, but to being innovative.

These innovative candidates are those that a recruiter should keep an eye out for because of the value they can bring to your organisation. So how do you format PHP interview questions to attract such people?

Structuring the interview

Ideally, try to split the interview into two parts; one part oral and the second part practical, where the candidate is on a computer actually demonstrating their skills. We won’t focus on the practical demonstration aspects in this article – mainly because this requires the interviewer to have a sound understanding of the programming languages being used.

As a general theme, PHP interview questions should test the candidate on their knowledge of PHP and related technologies. Particular focus should be on the candidate’s sense of understanding the technology rather than a prowess in just memorizing PHP interview questions, which are commonly available on the Internet.

Opening questions

The first question does not have to be about PHP, one may want to ask a few JSP interview questions too; primarily because one would want to find out how much their mind has wandered in other technologies. In technology convergence, programming languages and scripts often appear together in the same archive. This is because of cross platform programming, a recent and concerted effort by programming disciplines.

A sample question that can be directed to the candidate is the life-cycle of JSP methods. Should the candidate present the idea that the life-cycle is dependent on Java Servlet technology, they can sail through. The interview should not just be about how much the candidates remember, but their attitude towards learning other technologies.

PHP interview questions

Ask the candidate a question concerning recent advancements in PHP, like the difference between PHP5 and PHP6. A cluey candidate should mention the ability of PHP6 to access libraries from different sources, and some of automated features of the script like SOAP and dynamic libraries.

Other questions can be about HTML such as “what is a DOCTYPE?” The answer should be within the confines of the version of HTML in use. Ask a few other simple questions about HTML tags and Tables nesting to see where the candidate has based their information from. This will establish whether the candidate has simply memorized or internalized PHP scripting.

Finally, ask the candidates what they use to code, the various programs they have installed on their personal computers for programming, and their use of version control and documentation. This should give one an accurate picture of how serious the candidate is.


A carefully prepared interview maximises your chances of getting a great IT professional working for you. The strategies discussed in this article help to ensure you getting the biggest bang for your interviewing buck.

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