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Do I Want To Work In This Company, or What Questions To Ask On An Interview

ice_lenor profile image Elena Updated on ・9 min read

I've been on both sides of interviewing for a while now. As a candidate - for 9 years, and as an interviewer - for 90 interviews. (What a beautiful round number!)

So I decided to write down questions which I usually ask the company when considering their position.

These questions help me to understand the company culture, their approach to doing things, and the level of "maturity" of people, if you will. These questions I usually ask to a technical person - for example, to a lead developer, CTO, or a team leader. They are much closer to the position I am going to have, so they will give me more detailed answers than an HR person.

It is important to watch not only what they tell you, but also how. Look at the body language, watch out for people not telling the truth, or withholding some facts. For example, if they say "yeah, the code quality is very important for us", but they hesitate a bit and avoid looking in your eyes - maybe this is not exactly the case.

I also make sure to ask more open questions. An example would be:

  • "Do you fix bugs?" is a closed question. It is easy to say "yes, sure we do" - this answer is not very detailed.
  • But "how do you fix bugs?" is an open question. It requires people to tell you more than just "yes" or "no". You may learn that the company has QA's, or doesn't have them, writes tests, or doesn't, or prefers monitoring over testing, or values development speed over quality, or the other way around. All of this is valuable and important knowledge, useful to have before starting in the company.

I marked some questions with the little red flag icon: 🚩. These questions, in my opinion, can lead to deal-breaking answers: I may decide I don't want to work with them if they give a certain answer.

Of course, you can ask your own questions, based on what's most important for you. And of course, you may have your own flags, tailored to your wishes. This is the recipe that works for me really well, but by all means you can tweak it as you like.

So, here is a list of questions I usually ask, loosely split by the topic.

1. Working process and product

What's the general working process? Can you describe one day or one week of the team's work?

What does a team look like? How many people, which positions?

What technology stack do you use? Why did you pick this one over similar ones?
Here I expect the interviewer to say something sensible, for example: we knew this technology very well already; we used it before and it works; we thoroughly compared it to other ones, and it suited well. If they say "because it is so cool right now", it's a flag 🚩.

In case they say "we only use latest technology" - what are "latest technologies" and what are their advantages?

How would you describe code quality of your product? 🚩

I was told once: "our code is perfect, because I wrote it"! While it's nice to be confident, it also told me something about the team work in the company.

Do you have code reviews?
I know, it's a closed question. But if it hasn't come up in the code quality discussion, you might as well ask directly.

How so you take care of technical debt?

Do you value speed of development over quality of the product or the other way around? 🚩
Of course, it depends on what you expect from the company. If you're more of a quick-prototyping type of a person, you'll expect them to be the same. If you're a quality-means-everything type, you'll want a different answer.

How do you make sure your product works as expected?
Read: how do you test? How do you monitor? How do you communicate with customers? Do you do business analysis before starting to code?

How does your release process look like?

What product am I going to work on?
More me-centered questions are in the end.

2. Working with customers

Who are your customers?

How do you communicate with them? Who does that? How do you collect customer requirements? 🚩
The company should have customers, or at least a plan to get them. Otherwise, you might risk to build a thing no one will use.

How do you prioritize tasks?

How do you work with customer feedback?
They have to listen to the customers! They must strive to make the customers happy! They must think not only about the customers' money! If they only talk about technical stuff, or if they disrespect their customers, that would be a flag 🚩: the person you're talking with is, perhaps, not so mature.

3. Company-level

What are company values?

How do you define and measure success? 🚩
They must have it defined, mustn't they? Otherwise, how would they understand if the company is doing the right thing?

What are your long-term plans?

Looking backwards, what mistakes did you make as a company/department/team, and what did you learn from them?
This one may seem a bit too invasive, but you'll learn a lot about the company and about the interviewer as well. It's even more valuable if you're going to work with them or report to them.

How do you, as a company/team, make sure you're working on the right things?

Who makes business decisions? 🚩

Who makes technical decisions? 🚩
Also possible to rephrase to: if I and another developer disagree on an implementation, what is going to happen?

These decision-making questions are becoming more and more important the more senior you become. As a lead developer, you wouldn't want to have no power over decision-making - why would they want to hire you at all then?
Generally speaking, if all decisions are made by one person, it's probably not the best. On the other hand, if all decisions are always made by everyone, what is going to happen if people disagree? Better to clear this up.

4. People

How diverse is your team? Do you have a diversity commitment? 🚩
If the interviewer has no idea what you are talking about, that's a really bad sign for me!
Do ask this question if you belong to the majority as well. You will help the minorities by doing so. Also you will help companies to start thinking in the right direction. A well-balanced team will benefit everyone: the business, the team, the majorities and the minorities.

How is the work-life balance? 🚩🚩
Do people work overtime? How often? For what reasons? Is it paid?
In these answers watch out for toxic culture! "We are one big family" may sound heart-warming, but in reality you have your own family, hobbies, and other commitments outside of work. Don't give them up for a job!

How do people collaborate? On the same position (e.g. several developers), or on different positions (e.g. developers and QA's).
I prefer companies in which asking questions is endorsed, not punished for. I also think that team work creates healthier environment: when you can freely discuss a particularly complex task with someone, it is really helping to push things forward; and in general, two heads are better than one.
On the other hand, if people are having too many meetings and discussions, they may become less productive.

How does the company help junior people to grow?
Sometimes they don't have any junior people at all - that's usually not a good sign. Investing in them and helping them grow benefits everyone: senior people acquire mentoring skills and spread the knowledge, reducing the bus factor; junior people learn domain-specific skills faster.

If I and someone else disagree on something, or if they pick on me, or bully me, what am I going to do?
In other words, how do you solve conflicts? 🚩
Especially interesting to ask to a person who is going to be your direct manager. You'd expect a certain level of maturity from them. They should be able to understand there is conflict, to listen to all sides, and do their best to solve it.

Is it a challenging environment?
Or, if they say "we like to challenge each other", what does it mean? 🚩
Try to dig deeper: is it a healthy challenging and respectful discussions aimed at improvement of the product and the process? Examples may be: "is it the best for the team right now", "is this what our customers want", "how can we improve the process".
Maybe they mean only technical challenges: "how do we scale this better", "how many requests can we process", or "how to make it work faster on smartphones".
But sometimes "challenging" can mean there are people who are constantly going to question your professionalism and make you feel bad. "Your code is so bad"Â or "your designs are ugly" are some gruesome examples.

How do you handle critical feedback?
In some companies it is forbidden to question their practices at all. Some other companies are full of constantly complaining people. There has to be a healthy balance.

5. About the interviewer

What team and product are you working on?

How do you like working here?
Of course, you can't expect them to tell you that they hate working here and are just waiting for the right offer. But you can see the special light in their eyes if they do.

What is the most interesting or challenging task you've done in the last 3 months? 🚩
They probably asked you this question; now it's your turn! See what they consider interesting.

What would you like the company to invest more time in?
Interesting to see if they mention technology, product, or people. You can then ask them about the missing parts.

6. About me

What am I going to work on?
Some companies hire for the team - in this case they will tell you. Other companies hire for the company - you may end up anywhere, working on something you don't have any previous experience with, or simply dislike.

What level of autonomy am I going to have? What decisions am I allowed to make?
Again, the more senior you are, the more important it is.

What are your expectations of me in 3 months? In a year?
This question shows if the company is prepared to hire people at all. The company should know how to use the new hires. Do they have an onboarding plan, for example? A list of responsibilities?
Also it will tell you if they would hire just about anyone to grow the staff and look more interesting for investors.

How do you assess people's performance? My performance?

Who is going to be my manager?
This may yield some interesting answers. For example, once the CTO who was interviewing me told me my manager will be the CEO. After that I had a lot of questions about what a CTO does. Turned out, that person didn't execute responsibilities beyond a regular developer would have, and they made decisions based on the code, and not always on business needs. In my opinion, they were too junior to be the CTO.

What are my professional perspectives? Career and compensation ones?

What is the salary range for this position? Bonuses, stock options, relocation packages, signing bonuses, vacation days, etc.
This question may seem the most important. Perhaps, it is! But the stuff you're going to work on, and the people you're going to work with, also need to be considered.

Importance of good questions

Asking good questions will help you to solve several tasks.

First of all, it will show you if it is the company you want to work for. For example, if they are a big company and don't care about diversity or solving conflicts between people, you can assume there is quite a toxic atmosphere. If they care only about speed of delivery, and don't have any quality control, this will tell you something about the product, the codebase, and the management.

Of course, you know better which company you want to work for. Collect your own set of questions, and evaluate companies based on what you want the most.

Second, asking questions will show them you are a professional who isn't going to accept just about any offer. They will see you as a person who values their time.

Third, it will show that you are interested in the position and the interview. I once interviewed a person who only had one question: if we know the best time to visit the Anne Frank House museum. (I don't know, sorry - it's always crazy crowded.) After all interview rounds we got together with other interviewers, and found out the same question has been asked to all of us. Needless to say, we decided that person wasn't so interested in the company, but more - in a free trip to Amsterdam (we fly people to Amsterdam for the last round of face-to-face interviews).

Ask as many questions as you can. The more data points you have, the more informed decision will you make.

Good luck on your next interview!

Discussion

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macskeptic profile image
♥ ☕

coming from someone with a similar level of experience as you mention with interviews... i find this super helpful, lots of food for thought

thanks for sharing : )

young me would have learned so much from reading this

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recursivefaults profile image
Ryan Latta

These are awesome questions. I've used similar ones for years. They completely change my ability to choose better and better employers and assess what I'm about to commit to.

A question I specifically ask my future managers:

"Tell me about what you do leading up to taking vacation"

I get them to tell me the steps they take before they feel they can leave their teams for a while. I'm paying attention to a few things. Do they take vacations or is there too much to do? How many things to they need to arrange/fix/organize for their teams before they leave? When they leave do they actually leave or are they still calling and emailing?

I'll have a pretty good idea if this manager is someone who can truly trust their teams and delegate well or are they trapped feeling like they have to control everything.

I also ask everyone, "If you had authority, what one thing you would change here?" I wanna hear about the less glamorous side of things too.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

I like the vacation question, great indirect approach! Thank you for sharing.

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serhiibaraniuk profile image
Serhii Baraniuk

Saved into my "Questions for Interview" board.
Will try to use the list soon :)
Thank you for the article.

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clickclickonsal profile image
Sal Hernandez

Same here! These questions are really good! I wish I had asked some of these in my current Role. 😅

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craser profile image
Chris Raser

Awesome. I'll definitely add a lot of these to my own list. (And to everyone else reading, don't miss the implicit message here: go into every interview with a written list of questions (or at least keywords that will cue your memory) and take notes on the answers!)

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scottshipp

One of my favorites is, "What gets rewarded here?" I have learned some interesting things about companies when I ask this, because they can hand you their mission and values statement, and talk about their culture, but often what earns people raises and promotions in a company is a great proxy for the true culture and values.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Interesting one. Do you think it is often different - the written values and what gets rewarded?

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scottshipp profile image
scottshipp

Often! I actually got this question out of an article in some Harvard Business Review or similar publication. If I remember right, it's from a consultant who often asks companies if their values and their habits/practices align, and they say they do. Then the next question is let's make a list of what the values are--more in terms of what are the kinds of people you consider "Uber people" or "Google people" or whatever company it is--and they put that on a big whiteboard. Then they go to an empty whiteboard and write a list of what actually gets rewarded. The article said the difference between the two boards often triggers an "aha!" moment and the company realigns what gets rewarded with what they want their values to be.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

I see, very interesting, thank you.

Do you think they will display such a misalignment on an interview though? It seems to me when it is an exercise to understand their values better, they would be more honest than on an interview, what do you think?

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scottshipp profile image
scottshipp

My experience has been that when you ask people on an interview it is such an unexpected question they are pretty honest. Either that, or you can sense the spin in what they're saying.

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giacomosorbi profile image
Giacomo Sorbi

I am sorry, but while I concur with most of the assessments and thoughts here, I fear that the attention to diversity is once again overblown in what I see as one of the leading paranoias in tech right now.

The focus should be on hiring good people, not on flagging checkbox on minorities for the sake of it, lowering the bar for some candidates.

Implementing more neutral interviews might indeed be a better way, at least up to the last step, but assuming that if a company has no diversity program, then it has a toxic environment, it is a bit too much.

I worked in a few places in which the vast majority of the coworkers and the management where not anglo-saxon (or white, etc), absolutely no policy or explicit concern for "diversity" and guess what?

We were just fine, with people of any gender, religion, ethnic group or sexual orientation working and living happily (or, in a few cases, dealing with some unrelated conflicts, but nothing major). And everybody was hired for just one criterium: being good at what needed to be done.

Sorry if I sound too harsh above, but I cannot accept to see labeled as "toxic" places or companies like the one in which I worked in, just because they do not conform to a leading obsession in the industry.

[And before the flak starts for me being just a "white male", consider both that I discussed these issues with several non white or non male colleagues who were in absolute agreement with the necessity to not lower the bar to minorities (it would vilify or belittle their own achievements) and that I am an Italian national (that did not help necessarily much in getting hired and it was also a source of jokes and stereotypes in other places)]

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

I never said "lower the bar", nor "toxic" in application to diversity. I simply said "how diverse it is".

Talking about the bar shows you automatically think minorities are somehow "worse".
The criteria of "being good" can be twisted (consciously or unconsciously) to hire only team members who think and behave exactly like the manager, resulting in much less diverse team. In this case, removing some unnecessary criteria may feel like lowering a bar (i.e., overworking is a must, drinking beer after work every day, graduating from a specific university, having a github, etc). But I don't think it says anything about professional qualities at all.
The bar for minorities is often higher, not lower, than for majorities. If you have a colleague who thinks you were hired only because you're a minority, it's not fair, doesn't create a safe environment, and is, indeed, toxic.

I'm sorry you don't feel it is a valid and valuable question. But this is my list of questions, and it is important for me, and in my opinion this question can and will be useful to other people as well, that's why I feel neccessary to include it.

I strongly encourage you to think why this "paranoia" is happening.
Just a moment ago I read this tweet about how a manager regrets not creating an inclusive culture:
twitter.com/dizzyd/status/93022307...

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giacomosorbi profile image
Giacomo Sorbi

Sorry, but I never said and much less meant that minorities are worse (I consider myself a minority as well, anyway), but having diversity programs means in almost 100% cases giving "diverse" (for what it can mean) candidates more chances.

You said, literally:

if they are a big company and don't care about diversity or solving conflicts between people, you can assume there is quite a toxic atmosphere.

And I objected that I worked in a place where they were not caring for diversity at all (no programs, no rules, no staff dedicated to that), but it was in no way toxic. To be fair we were also having regardless of any attention a lot of team members from any gender, sexual orientation, ethnic group, religion (AFAIK, I don't discuss it much), etc.

I could also state the other way around (being in a context with A LOT of nominal stress on diversity, yet still quite toxic), but that is beyond the point.

Having quotas is lowering the bar, having quotas means allowing people to think you are there because you are a member of some minorities.

I never claimed that you should change your mind, so I see no point in stating that it is your list of questions: of course it is, I just stated my mind and why I was disagreeing.

The paranoia is happening because of a strong emphasis on political correctness that a lot of people develop to cope with their guilt from having a privilege (real or just perceived); the tweet is just based on one's perception/assessment of reality, not a scientific research (which usually destroys a lot of claims, like the wage gap myth or the fact that woman are discriminated in IT hiring: blog.interviewing.io/we-built-voic... ).

Not saying there are no issues at all, but the popular consensus is not necessarily the voice of truth.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Hi Giacomo,
I said there can be toxic culture in a bigger company. If there are 3 people, chances are they haven't even hired anyone yet, and it's formed around a group of friends. If a bigger company, deliberately or not, excludes people who are not like the ones already working in it, it sounds wrong to me.
However, sorry, but I prefer to end this discussion now. I could cite other research as well, but I'm not interested in arguing with you on any topic, including whether there is a gender salary gap or not, or who has what privileges. I'm sorry you feel like a minority, and I hope you will pick jobs and companies you think are good for you - that's the whole point of this article.
Have a good day!

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giacomosorbi profile image
Giacomo Sorbi

Actually you said one can assume that there is a toxic culture, which is not the same, as you are conveying the idea that any assumption in this regard is legit.

I was discussing of a company numbering in the thousands, my team alone was several tens of people. But it was not an anglo-saxon or even European company, so this irrefutable urge to be "diverse" was not felt at all.

I don't think they (or rather: "we", as I was doing interviews as well) were excluding anyone, and I am rather confident we were not even considering "similarity", but focusing on other criteria, as I didn't approve or recommend for hiring anyone of my same ancestry, age or education (same gender, yeah, as we didn't get even 5% female applicants, but definitely not because of the company or lack of incentives).

I don't see why you should not want to prove your points, honestly, nor I see how one can still buy into the cherry-picked stats about the wage gap in western countries in 2017, but ok.

Just don't feel sorry for me being a minority: I am pretty confident you can direct your thoughts and emotions to some better use, also considering that - then again - I am not anglo-saxon and I am completely fine being a minority. To be fair, I don't even see how I should be concerned with it [it would actually concern me more the desire of removing any difference and blend all mankind in some homogeneous molasses], save for the very minor annoyance of a few stereotypes on Italians (laziness, incompetence, etc) I might encounter.

Cheers

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jenc profile image
jen chan

Where are all these places with quotas? I’m applying!

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giacomosorbi profile image
Giacomo Sorbi

By the look of it, you don't seem to need them, but in case, you will find plenty of companies trying to flag a few more checkboxes and giving preferential tracks to minorities

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jenc profile image
jen chan

That’s a generous assumption. I’ll take what I can get 🤣

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pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

Nicely written Elena!!!

Well, I have a doubt. I literally feel embarrassed during question asking period at the end in case it didn't go well. How do I continue from there?

I mean does it make sense to ask the same questions? :P

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Hi Pratik,
Hmm. I don't think you always know for sure they are going to wrap up with you. It might be just your nerves talking. I'd still ask questions. It doesn't hurt, right?

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pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

No, it doesn't, I mean it does. :D
Thanks for replying though.

Apologies for moving out of context but I think you can help me find the answer to following query.

I'm holding offer worth 100% hike on current compensation but looking for more.

How do I answer this question during HR Discussion,
"Why do you ask for more when you're already getting more?"

How do I convience em for more?

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Hi Pratik,
Wow, congratulations! That already sounds impressive.
I don't think I'm so good at negotiating, unfortunately (for me). But I can recommend you these great articles:
kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-ne...
haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negot...
Good luck!

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pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

Thanks for sharing links Elena!! Solved my queries from the Authors.. :D

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Happy to help. I hope you succeeded with your negotiations :)

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pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

Process is in progress to achieve target of 150% #seemsDifficult :D

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asynccrazy profile image
Sumant H Natkar

Really good list of questions which you can ask the interviewer.

I generally don't ask any questions after the interview, but after reading this article, I may pitch few from your list.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

I think you should! Otherwise, how would you know if it is a good place, right? :)

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Oliver Cole

Great list, but it's worth remembering that there are some organisations you might personally want to work at, whether that's for money, a great resume, experience, location or some other factor, where asking questions like this could get you marked as a troublemaker and result in you not receiving an offer.
That's not to say you can't work on the worst issues when you start, but sometimes you have to choose your words carefully.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

It's your choice!

Personally, I wouldn't want to work in a company that labels me as a troublemaker for trying to understand if I like working with them - interviewing is a mutual process, it's not just them walking around the local market and picking the best pumpkin 🎃. And I probably wouldn't feel comfortable working there.

Then, many of these questions don't have the right or wrong answer - they will help you understand the company better and pick one being informed and prepared.

Maybe you'll have to make compromises, but at least you know what you are doing.

Finally, I think that it depends on the position you will work on. Maybe if they're hiring the first technical person ever for the CTO position, it's possible they don't have a plan for you - you'll have to do everything yourself :). (I've never done that, just guessing here.)

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olivercole profile image
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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

That's a very good article, thank you!

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lynnetye profile image
Lynne Tye

This is amazing 😍!! I'm actually building a simple tool (for Product Hunt's hackathon) to help people ask better questions during job interviews. It's validating to see that you take a similar approach and ask similar questions that tease apart what we really want to get at.

Thanks for sharing this, and hopefully I can show you what I've built pretty soon!

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Nice, would be very interesting to take a look at such a tool! Sounds very cool :)

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lynnetye profile image
Lynne Tye

Wow, very very delayed, but I present to you: Culture Queries!

Would love feedback if you have any 😊

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Oh, I didn't realize you are the creator of keyvalues.com! I tried it as soon as you launched it. I wish you expanded in Europe:).

Tried the Culture Queries now. Awesome work!! Brilliant idea to have a tool, and I think it fits your product very well. Don't know if you already do that, but at least theoretically, you could offer advice on these questions to companies who sign up and post job openings. "3 companies like you are good for families", "see what developers look for in your area", "how to make your team more attractive", etc.

Again, congratulations on having such a nice product!

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lynnetye profile image
Lynne Tye

I'm trying very hard to add teams based in Europe! I have a few now, but I'm sure it'll take some time. If you know of any, by all means, send them my way.

That's an interesting take. I've been focusing on serving job seekers and engineers, but there are certainly many features to help employers on the other side. That being said, I'm pretty cautious about encouraging people (on either side of the equation) to say things that they they think other people want to hear. If anything, I'm trying to cut the fluff and marketing copy.

Of course, the ideal scenario is that companies actually go through the work of adjusting their policies / traditions / hiring practices to be better for their employees.

Anyway, thank you very much!!! And I'll do my best to up the European profiles 👍🏼

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Thank you for your reply, Lynne!
If I hear from someone in here, I will send them to you for sure.

Hmm. You are right: in many cases they will say what candidates want to hear. I kind of assumed they might just forget to add their values; but indeed, some of them can and will start telling people lies. On the other hand, if they want to deceive, they probably do it already.

Maybe an idea would be to offer companies some coaching services?.. But maybe it goes a bit too far then.

Anyway, best of luck with your great idea! I subscribed to you on twitter, will be watching you growing your business.

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domysee profile image
Dominik Weber

Thank you for sharing your questions, and especially your explanations to them. They are really insightful and will definitely help me for my next job interviews.

I've actually started a list of interview questions for software developers on Github.

It is a new project, and I hope that, with the help of the community, it will, one day, become a comprehensive list, to help developers find the jobs they want.

With you permission, I'd very much like to include your questions too.
I've already done it locally, but will wait to push it to Github until you say its ok.

Thanks again for that awesome article!

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Hi Dominik,
Nice! In this article I tried to create such a comprehensive list as well. Nice to see many people thinking about the best questions helping to pick the best jobs.
I'd be happy if you tagged me somewhere there. A link to this article will do, for example.
Thank you!

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domysee profile image
Dominik Weber

Awesome, thanks! :)

I've created a section "Contributions", where I linked to your Twitter profile and this article.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Then they didn't pass your test, did they? :)

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maxcell profile image
Prince Wilson

You have amazing insights into what you ask from others! Thank you for sharing them. Another source that I have for questions that ask and may add to your list is from Julia Evans (aka @b0rk)! She has also published a lovely list of questions and I hope you and others find a use for it too.

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ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

That's an awesome list by Julia. Thank you so much for sharing.

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cathodion profile image
Dustin King

These are good. I will probably use some of them in the future.

In a given interview, how much time should a candidate spend asking the interviewer questions? Do you read from this list, or just ask them as you think of them?

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gobrightly profile image
LiLi Kathleen Bright ✨🌈

Hey Dustin, when recruiting I think 50% asking questions and 50% answering questions is a great balance, but I'm sure organisations and individuals have different opinions on that...

One thing I find makes a huge difference is a candidate's ability to answer questions both well and succinctly by giving specific examples/evidence wherever possible. I find good preparation helps significantly. Plus, asking for clarification if in doubt, to be sure of answering the right questions.

Making sure to do that leaves more time for more questions.

In terms of when to ask, I think it's great if/when interviewers invite candidates to ask questions as early and as often as possible in the interview. If that doesn't happen, when I'm being interviewed, I aim to ask some of my questions along the way if/when they match the topics I'm being asked about, but to expect to ask some at the end of the interview.

I think it would help to make sure the list of questions is prioritised as well, so that even if it doesn't feel right to me to ask all of my questions, at least I can have the most important ones covered.

In addition, it's helpful to know in advance if it's a multi-stage recruitment process or not, and what those stages are. Maybe there are other opportunities to ask my questions.

Also, if I felt comfortable enough, I would just say, I have a few questions for you too, shall I save them to the end or what would you prefer? (That way, if time runs out, hopefully it's easier to have a conversation about possibilities for having questions answered another time.)

Elena, thank you for sharing your questions. Really useful for individuals and organisations alike.

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Elena Author

Thank you for sharing your approach, LiLi. I think you're working with your candidates very well, leaving them space to ask questions and making sure you answer what they wanted.

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Elena Author

That's a struggle for me so far:)). It takes lots of time to ask them. Will appreciate some advice!

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Russ Hammett

Great post!

This is always a checklist I try to reference: joelonsoftware.com/2000/08/09/the-...

A few more questions I've come to realize are important (at least to me):

  • Remote work policies - e.g. can I WFH when I'm sick, inclement weather, and/or a few times a week?
  • Can I see team's working area? This was super important at my last job, which is where this became a question that I had to make sure to ask. The working area was pretty horrid, but maybe that's just because I was more accustomed to a more spacious environment.
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Elena Author

I think it counts as you disqualified them. I'm sorry you had such experience, they don't seem like they understand what they're doing. I think you escaped luckily! I mean, you wouldn't agree on 1K per month, even if they didn't reject you, would you? I'm sure you'll find a much better place to work!

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Dr Rev J Kirchartz

Some people might feel awkward or afraid to ask these questions, and they really shouldn't. Interviewing isn't just about trying to impress them so they'll let you work there, it should also be about finding out if you want to work there. Why should you accept an offer from them? You already know you're a pretty good fit for the job, otherwise you wouldn't have applied, right?

The question I ask in every interview is "What's the average lunch like here?" -- this can be telling since eating together builds relationships, and teams going to lunch as a group can be like it's own mini-meeting without the stress and structure of a formal meeting. If everybody just sits at their desk every day and works through lunch this may be a sign that the company does not value work-life balance as much as it should.

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Elena Author

Haha, nice one!

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SkyFire

Nice list, I'm definitely gonna need this later. I'm wondering tho, how many of these questions, or how many questions in general, am I typically allowed to ask when applying for an entry level job after graduation?

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Elena Author

Hi there,
I don't think they can "not allow" to ask questions, that would be weird, wouldn't it?
Some answers they will give you themselves, when telling you about the company or asking you questions. I.e., "would you be willing to work overtime?" certainly tells you something about the work-life balance.
I would ask as many as I could, it's in my interests. If them have strict timing, they'll typically give you contacts of a person to ask further questions, and you can email/call them with the rest.

Good luck with the search!

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Dee

Fantastic article. As a new comer to the industry there is a wealth of information here. I particularly liked the questions on how they support juniors, product quality over speed and diversity.
Thank you very much for sharing your experience and knowledge

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Elena Author

Thank you, happy you liked it:)

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Dr Nick

Very useful list.

I think maybe another worthwhile one, perhaps as an add-on to questions about how they fix bugs & code reviews, is to ask about software security - e.g., are there any secure coding practices that the company follows.

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Elena Author

Great advice! Of course, many questions about the craftsmanship may be added.

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Parthan

I'm in the process of appearing for some leadership roles and these questions exactly reflect the questions I would want to ask the interviewer who interviews me (probably the CTO). Asking these questions is what differentiates an experienced matured lead from a novice developer. Typically, early in our career and in our hurry to secure our next job we don't ask these questions and make a careful choice before joining a workplace.

These questions would help us conclude whether joining this job would give us the happiness and peace we seek in our workplace and whether we would have natural opportunities to grow in this place, which in my humble opinion is more important than a competitive pay package.

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Elena Author

Nice, happy you liked it :)

Although I tend to think that a competitive pay package is a way for a company to say they value and respect you. In this sense, I wouldn't give up on it easily. I wouldn't be able to achieve happiness and peace if I cannot pay my mortgage.

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Luiz Franca

Hi. Firstly I'd like to thank the excellent post. I generally don't ask anything during my interviews, but because I never new what to ask and as very nervous to think.
Would it be considered a bad thing to ask too many questions during an interview? I mean, I liked all the questions you listed and have thought some of my own, but I afraid to spend half an hour asking questions and they think I'm too arrogant or something like this.

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Elena Author

Hi Luiz, thank you for reading!

To me, it hasn't happened yet that they think I'm arrogant. (Or at least they didn't tell me:).

I usually frame it this way: I'm very interested in your company, I'd love to know more.

The interviewers usually tell the candidate that they have 10 minutes left for questions, of that they only have time for one more question, for example. Then the candidate doesn't have time to ask all of them, and will have to prioritise. Although it is usually possible to ask more questions by email afterwards, or arrange one more call.
Sometimes, I ask it by myself: I'm so interested in your company, I have so many questions, how much time do we have?

I think that the interviewers usually take questions as a sign you're interested in their company, which is good and flattering for them. Everyone is happy to talk about themselves.
Along with that, this is a sign that you pick your next place to work at carefully, which means you can choose. And this means you're a great professional and you have standards you applied to previous places as well.

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Luiz Franca

Thank you for you reply. I get really nervous on interview, so know some questions to make ahead of time really helps.
I'll make sure to make more questions when I have an interview

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jen chan

Thanks for writing this. It affirms a lot of the questions I ask. I always feel a bit self-conscious asking or assuming there is a UX, QA or director role in place at an agency or company, especially when I can't see the team on the company's landing page...

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Pratik Ambani

Nice Article. By the way, I've a question,
What is best time to visit the Anne Frank House museum? :D

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Elena Author

What does the best mean to you? :)

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Justin Beall

When engineer candidates, above a junior level, don't ask me about code quality, agile fluency, and/or our ci/cd journey/current state, that is a flag in my mind!

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Mikołaj Wawrzyniak

Amazing article, great job! Thank you!

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jen chan

Wow. Is this why people say millennials are entitled? While I truly believe interns deserve to be paid fairly and also agree that payment is too low, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to tell them that in person. Then again, German culture is more direct.

In my time I did 3 unpaid internships.

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Jaime Rios

Great article. Thanks so much for sharing, Elena.

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Bob van Hoove

You suggested many great questions I can add to my own list -- which by the way I hope I won't be needing for a while.

Thanks for writing!

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Diego Casella

Jesus, I wish I bumped on this article few years ago. Bookmarked and reshared with my closest friends and colleagues.

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Elena Author

Oh wow, thank you, I'm flattered:)