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Simon Barker
Simon Barker

Posted on • Originally published at

How to ask good interview questions

"Do you have any questions for us?"

Seven words that strike fear into the hearts of many a junior, or even seasoned, developer when going through interviews.

We all know that asking good interview questions is important but, when we say "Good", what does that mean?

  • "What will my hours be?"
  • "Can I use my own keyboard?"
  • "Mac or PC?"

These are all valid questions, but are they good? If we're being honest ... no.

So, how do you come up with good questions?

Part of your preparation for an interview is to get at least three questions together that you can deploy when asked the above. The framework I use is:

  • One question unique to the person you are talking to
  • One that is unique to the company
  • One that is quite generic

Let’s looks at an example set for AirBNB:

  • As a team lead at AirBNB how do you oversee workload and make sure that the team is delivering at a good pace whilst also being sustainable?
  • How has the recent IPO changed the culture in the company?
  • What would success look like in the first three months of this role?

Once you have the answers to these you can then finish up with "just a couple more quick ones" and ask about the hours, keyboard and flavour of hardware or whatever else you need to know.

Here are some more examples of developer interview questions I have used over the years:

  1. What’s the feature lifecycle process? Is it primarily driven by user feedback or strategic road map or a mix of both? Who owns features and how does it move from concept through to release?
  2. In the job description you have specified and ability to write concise code? What does this mean?
  3. What does the process look like from committing my last line of code to it running in production?
  4. What’s the balance of pair programming to individual coding?
  5. If I wanted to propose a new way of working how would I go about bringing that the to team? is there a formal process?
  6. Are you profitable yet? If not how long is your current runway and what are you doing to extend it?
  7. What’s you approach to in-house development beyond just development skills? I’m self taught and will be coding all the time so I’m more concerned about making sure my soft skills develop successfully especially given the added problems of remote work.
  8. If you use open source technologies do you have anything in place to give back to the community?

Top comments (2)

faridzif profile image

Good writing, lately I happen to be on the other end of the interview, I'm the one that doing the interview, and to be honest those examples are rarely occurred. But when they do usually from a very promising individual

allthecode profile image
Simon Barker

Thank you, shame more candidates don't take this a kind of approach - good to know it leaves a good impression with you 😀