Home 9 Daniel Zacharias 9 8 Basic PHP Questions to Ace your Interview (+ Example Code)

8 Basic PHP Questions to Ace your Interview (+ Example Code)

The truth with PHP: Learning it is one thing, but answering complex questions in an interview can make even the most skilled developers stumble. Like with everything. preparation is the key. If you're unsure where to start with PHP interview prep, don't worry. We’ve got you covered with this series of PHP interview coding articles.
Daniel Zacharias

Daniel Zacharias

June 19, 2023
PHP

I get it. It’s easy to press DELETE and go blank when faced with PHP technical questions. It happened to me a couple of times at the beginning of my PHP web dev career.

I’m probably going to sound like a doomer, but back then we didn’t have “How to ace your PHP interview” guides or videos. Everything was trial and error. Almost every time, my coding environment suddenly turned into alien hieroglyphics!

The truth with PHP: Learning it is one thing, but answering complex PHP questions in an interview can make even the most skilled developers stumble. Like with everything. preparation is the key. 

If you’re unsure where to start with PHP interview prep, don’t worry.

We’ve got you covered with this series of PHP interview coding articles. In them, we’ll break down all aspects of PHP development, from entry-level skills to advanced concepts and popular frameworks. You’ll learn not just how to display your technical proficiency but also how to approach challenges and demonstrate problem-solving abilities.

In this, the first article of the series, we’ll cover eight basic questions that any junior PHP has to know before going to an interview.

1. Getting started with PHP: Must-know web dev fundamentals

Q1: How would you describe PHP and why is it used?
 

PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language primarily used for web development. It creates web applications with ease and it’s a pillar of modern development because of its simplicity, versatility, and power.

One fantastic feature I find that sets PHP apart from other programming languages is its integration with HTML, which avoids additional coding and embeds directly.

Also, PHP supports countless databases, so you could easily sync your skills and other devs into one single platform.

Q2: What enhancements does the latest version of PHP bring? 

The most up-to-date and stable version of PHP available is the popular PHP 8.0. 

It brings along an extensive range of new features, going beyond traditional web dev norms. The most important ones include: 

  • JIT compiler bracket
  • Union types and attributes
  • Named arguments
  • Constructor property promotion

There are plenty of nay-sayers, rooting for the previous versions. But, there’s no denying the advantages you get with this latest one!

Just the performance enhancement alone is compelling enough to make any developer’s coding quicker. And if you have a deadline breathing down your neck, leveraging the new version for high-speed development comes in handy.

Q3: How does PHP differentiate itself from other web development languages?

Firstly, and most importantly, PHP is a server-side scripting language, compared to other client-side languages like JavaScript. 

Best of all — It’s open-source and platform-independent. This means it runs smoothly on various operating systems, giving you more flexibility to craft code without any limitations! Another great feature of PHP is its ability to be embedded within HTML code, improving the overall workflow of web projects. 

Ideal for creating data-driven websites, PHP seamlessly supports numerous databases like MySQL (you get brownie points if you mention them, HR’ll love you!). PHP is also a crucial component of the famous LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).

Q4: Could you describe the structure of a PHP script? 

If you get a brain freeze during your technical interview, always remember — every PHP script begins and ends with PHP tags: <?php and ?>. Those two tags inform the server where your coding begins and ends within an HTML file.

Here’s how it looks in action (and how you’ll describe it to HR):

<?php

// This is a single-line comment in PHP

/* This is a multi-line 

   comment in PHP */

echo “Hello, Code Power!”; // This is a basic echo statement in PHP

?>

TIP: Don’t forget to add the multi-line (/* */) annotations. They are crucial for explaining code blocks later on and if your interviewer is a senior PHP dev, they’ll notice them ASAP. Also, don’t forget that ending closing tag (?>)! If you’re not using Visual Studio Code, it won’t get auto-filled.

2. Commanding PHP: Syntax and command questions for sharpening your skills

Q1: What are the echo and print commands in PHP, and how are they used? 

Here’s where you’ll fail: echo” is a language construct, not a function, so it does not require parentheses. It accepts multiple parameters, which comes in handy when you need to output several strings.
 

print“, on the other hand, is a function that accepts only a single argument. It’s oftentimes used in expressions.

The thing with these PHP commands is that most beginner developers remember them as functions and fail to jump over the first hoop when asked about the differences between them.

Q2: Could you outline the basic syntax for if-else and switch statements in PHP?

If-else and switch statements are 70% of the time present on technical interviews. Don’t know why PHP recruiters love them so much, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s what you need to remember:

// if-else statement

if (condition) {

    // code to be executed if condition is true

} else {

    // code to be executed if condition is false

}

// switch statement

switch (variable) {

    case label1:

        // code to be executed if variable equals label1

        break;

    case label2:

        // code to be executed if variable equals label2

        break;

    // and so on…

    default:

        // code to be executed if variable doesn’t match any labels

}


Q3: How are variables and arrays declared in PHP?

Back when I was starting my dev career, a close friend of mine and a senior dev at the time taught me: “The PHP variables are where the money is! Always remember the $.

TIP: Think of $ as the start of the chain. Afterward, comes the variable name, then the array() function or the square brackets [].

It goes like this:

$var = “Hello, Code Power!”; // Declaring a variable

$array = array(“Hello,”, “Code Power!”); // Declaring an array using array() function

$array = [“Hello,”, “Code Power!”]; // Declaring an array using square brackets

Q4: Could you discuss GET and POST methods in PHP?

When transmitting data to the server in PHP, you have two HTTP methods at your disposal: GET and POST. These are typically utilized in HTML forms for sending information back to the server’s script.

To nail the question: The GET method initially appends the form data into the URL by using name/value pairs with length limitations. So if you were dealing with more extensive data sets this method isn’t recommended.

GET is not secure as any transmitted sensitive data lies exposed in the URL, making it an easy target for malicious attacks.

The POST method sends form data as an HTTP message body and consequently does not expose sent data within URLs, making receiving sensitive information (think passwords) much safer than alternative options.

TIP: Keep in mind that POST has no size restrictions and is much better at handling larger amounts of forms when it comes to processing power optimization. PHP-savvy interviewers like to place a little trap here, so make sure you don’t fall into one. 

While this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, it covers essential topics that you’ll definitely find in a PHP interview. Our suggestion is for you to learn these fundamentals and complement them with other topics to further advance your career. Oh, and if you’re a more senior developer that needs help with more advanced PHP interview questions, then don’t forget to check out the next installments of this series!

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