Questions to ask in a job interview

The Role

  • What's the on-call plan/schedule? (what's the pay for standby and call-out)
  • What are the tasks I would do on a usual day?
  • Are there any specific goals for me?
  • What's the junior/senior balance of the team? (and are there plans to change it)
  • What does the onboarding look like?
  • How much freedom for decision making do individual developers have?
  • What are the expected/core work hours?
  • What is your definition of success for this role?
  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 1 month/3 months?
  • How will you evaluate my performance at the end of the trial period?
  • What does a typical day/week look like in this role?
  • Do you have any concerns about my application?
  • Tell me about who I would be working most closely with.
  • What management style does my immediate manager and their manager have? (from micro- to macro-)
  • How can I develop in my new role / what opportunities are offered?

Tech

  • What are the usual stacks used at the company?
  • How do you use source control?
  • How do you test code?
  • How do you track bugs?
  • How do you monitor projects?
  • How do you integrate and deploy changes? Is it CI/CD?
  • Is your infrastructure setup under version control / available as code?
  • What's the workflow from the planning to the finished task?
  • How do you prepare for disaster recovery?
  • Is there a standardised development environment? Is it enforced?
  • How quickly can you setup a new local test environment for the product? (minutes / hours / days)
  • How quickly can you respond to security issues in the code or dependencies?
  • Are all developers allowed to have local admin access of their computers?
  • Tell me about your technical principles or vision.
  • Do you have a developer documentation for your code? Do you have a separate documentation for customers?
  • Do you have some higher level documentation? (ER diagrams, database schema)
  • Do you employ static code analysis?
  • How do you manage internal / external artifacts?
  • How do you manage dependencies?

The Team

  • How is the work organised?
  • How does the intra/inter-team communication typically work?
  • Do you use any tools for project organization? What is your experience with them?
  • How are differences of opinions resolved?
  • Who sets the priorities / schedule?
  • What happens after pushback? ("this can't be done in the projected time")
  • What happens when the team misses a release target?
  • What kind of meetings happen every week?
  • Would there be a regular 1-on-1 with my manager?
  • What's the product/service schedule? (n-weekly releases / continuous deployment / multiple release streams / ...)
  • What happens after production incidents? Is there a culture of blameless analysis?
  • What are some ongoing challenges the team is experiencing that you are yet to resolve?
  • How do you track progress?
  • How are expectations and goals set, and who does the setting?
  • What does a code review look like here?
  • Walk me through a typical sprint on this team
  • How do you balance technical vs business goals?
  • How do you share knowledge?
  • How big are the teams?

Your Potential Coworkers

  • Who do developers tend to learn from?
  • What do you like best about working there?
  • What do you like least?
  • What would you change if you could?
  • How long has the longest team member been there?

Remote Work

  • What's the ratio of remote to office workers?
  • Does the company provide hardware and what's the refresh schedule?
  • How do you feel about BYOD? Are there any policies around it already?
  • Are extra accessories/furniture possible to buy through the company? Is there a budget for them?
  • Is there a budget for co-working space or internet access?
  • How often are office visits expected?
  • Are the office meeting rooms always prepared for video conferences?

Building Layout

  • What's the office layout? (open plan / cubicles / offices)
  • Is there a support / marketing / other call-heavy team close to my new team?

The Company

  • Why is the company hiring? (product growth / new product / fluctuation / ...)
  • Is there a conference/travel budget and what are the rules to use it?
  • What's the promotion process? How are requirements / expectations communicated?
  • What is the performance review process like?
  • Is there a separate tech and management career path?
  • Are there any company-wide resources for learning available, like ebooks subscriptions, or online courses?
  • Is there a budget for getting certifications?
  • What's the maturity stage? (early finding direction / feature work / maintenance / ...)
  • Can I contribute to FOSS projects? Are there any approvals needed?
  • Are there any non-compete or non-disclosure agreements I'll be asked to sign?
  • Where do you see the company in the next 5/10 years?
  • What does clean code mean to the majority of developers here?
  • When is the last time you noticed someone growing here, and in what way were they growing?
  • What does it mean to be successful here, and how do you measure success?
  • Is there a Sports / Team building Activity?
  • Are there any Hackathons conducted internally?
  • Does the company support open-source projects?

Social issues

  • What's the status of / view on diverse hiring?
  • What do you think are the gaps in the company culture? (and what is the company culture?)
  • What does work-life balance mean here?
  • Does the company have a stance regarding climate change?

Conflict

  • How are differences of opinions resolved?
  • What happens after pushback? ("this can't be done in the projected time")
  • What happens when the team is under pressure and commits to work over their capacity / velocity?
  • If someone identifies areas of improvement in process / technology / etc, what happens?
  • When there is a gap between expectations from management and performance of an engineer or team, what happens?
  • Could you tell me a story about a toxic situation and how the company dealt with it?

The Business

  • Are you profitable?
  • If not, how long is your runway?
  • Where does the funding come from and who influences the high level plan/direction?
  • How do you make money?
  • What's preventing you from making more money?
  • What is the company's growth plan for the next 1 year? 5 years?
  • What are the big challenges you see coming up?
  • What have you identified as your competitive advantage?

Catch all

  • What's the best and what's the worst aspect of working in this role / team / company?
  • What got you to choose to work for the company initially?
  • What keeps you at the company?

Compensation

  • If you have a bonus scheme, then how are bonuses determined?
  • If you have a bonus scheme, then what have been the typical bonus percentages over the past few years?
  • Do you have a 401k or other retirement plan? If so, does the company match additional plan contributions?
  • Are there medical benefits and if so, when do they start?
  • Do you pay for relocation?

Time Off

  • How much Paid Time Off (PTO) is offered?
  • Are sick time and vacation time separate or do they come from the same pool?
  • Can I use vacation time before it's accrued, effectively going into a negative PTO balance?
  • What is the roll over policy is there for PTO?
  • What is the parental leave policy?
  • What is the policy on unpaid leave?
  • What is the policy for sabbatical leave?

Other resources

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SIMON DODSON
Simon is a technologist with 19 years' experience in product, publishing, prop-tech, hi-ed, health-techs and large enterprise and digital executive strategy and scale teams. https://bit.ly/3kNHCZ4
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