When asked in an interview "Do You Have Any Questions For Us?", your answer should always be: "Yes!"
When I first started working in web development, I was given the wonderfully good advice to always bring questions with you to an interview. How impressive would it seem if when asked for questions you produce a physical list you thought about prior to the interview! Very cool, very suave! Interviews should always be a two-way conversation: employers are testing you for compatibility with their requirements- but you should also be testing them to gage if they are capable of satisfying your standards and needs.
Before my first job, I had no idea what to ask. I went into interviews asking few questions about the tech stack, support for juniors, and history of the company. All of those are important things to know about yes, but now that I've got a couple years of experience under my belt and have worked at various companies- I now know what's important to me in a career and what red flags I want to weed out early.
The following, in no order of importance, are questions I've brainstormed over time (either on the job, or while thinking in the shower) or have been asked by candidates I was interviewing that made me think: "dang, I wish I asked that before!". Some items on these lists are vague conversation starters, other are looking for more direct answers. Pick a couple and choose your own adventure about how you want to introduce them.
- What is the salary range for this position?
- Is the workplace/teams remote-friendly? Are there any WFH policies?
- What's the policy for time off and health days?
- Why is your company interested in me?
- How would career progression work, starting from this position?
- How is employee education supported?
- What's the culture like at this company?
- What are the characteristics of people who are successful here, and people which are not?
- Are there any mental health supports, or supports for developer burn-out?
- What are the expectations regarding dress and appearance?
- What are the work hours? If flexible, what are the expectations behind that?
- Who would I be reporting to? Is there a leader/senior for this team?
- How many other developers are on the team?
- What's a typical week like for someone in this position?
- How many projects could I expect to work on in 1 month?
- What's the general work process for the team?
- How well is the team's processes and onboading documented?
- What's the team's tech stack? What skills are heavily leveraged daily?
- How is the quality of code assessed? Are there code reviews for the team?
- How much will customer interaction be my responsibility? What are those expectations?
- How is the work-life balance? Is there overtime? How often, and is that compensated?
- How does the company help junior developers grow and upgrade?
- What are my expectations in my first month? 3 months?
- Do developers often pair-program? How is the knowledge-sharing between teams/teammates?
- Does the company use Agile development, or a similar development method?
- Why was $FRAMEWORK chosen over other frameworks?
- How does the company promote personal growth?
- What are the diversity initiatives like for this company?
- How does the company assess personal performance?
- Does the company give back or support its community in any initiatives?
- Who is your biggest competition?
- What is/are the company's biggest challenge(s) currently?
- Is this a 'flat' organization?
- What would you like the company to invest more time/effort in?
- What project are you currently working on?
- What aspects of the job/company do you dislike? Which do you really dislike?
- What work have you done recently that has made you proud?
- How did you get your start in the industry, what's your backstory?
- What's your favourite thing about working here? (it's ok if it's the grocery store next door)
- Do you feel valued by the company? Your team?
And as always, it's a good idea to understand the company's expectations regarding the interview process timeline. Make sure to ask about next steps and follow ups, so you'll know how to reach out if the process goes silent.
Going into an interview with the right questions will not only equip you with the agency to make the best decisions regarding your career, but it'll show the interviewer that you are a serious candidate with a strong focus on keeping your work life sustainable. If you are reading this while in the job hunt or prior to an interview, I wish you the very best of luck and hope for happiness in your future work!
💡 PS: this article was written in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. An important consideration for your interview will absolutely be asking how the company has weathered the challenges relating to COVID-19 and how the company has changed to adapt. Remote working, workplace safety, and mental health are a few of the concerns highlighted as critical matters. If you've been displaced from work due to COVID-19 related layoffs, asking how the next company you're interviewing for is handling the situation should not be forgotten.
What questions are important to you? Leave a comment below to help others with your ideas!