Have you been the victim of this question, and didn't know what to say? Did you stumble through a response that sounded like "No, I think I'm good." or "So.. are the snacks in the kitchen free?" Yikes.
Perhaps you did ask some questions.. but then a few months in realized you're in a miserable job, at a terrible company that really could not care if you were hit by a bus.. Then this blog post is for you!
I've been there, and I'd like to share a few tips I've learned along the way to weed out some bad companies, and answer this question like a pro and not a literally hungry college student.
Companies want to hire someone who's excited to work there. Realistically, you can only find out so much about a company through their website, social media, and an hour interview. So this question exists to give you a chance to interview the company and make sure it's a good fit from both sides of the table.
What happens if you don't answer? First of all, you're giving them all of the power, letting them know that you just need a job, or maybe don't care that much about what's in it for you. But ultimately, they'll see that you're not really into the company, the team, or maybe even the work you'll be doing. Which leads me into...
How can I best prepare for this role before starting?
This question lets them know you're excited not only about the role, but also about starting and self-learning! You're a go getter and that's great! Plus, having this answered will give you a jump start on being prepared for your first day.
Describe a typical week.
Am I going to be in meetings all week? Am I going to be working until my palms are bloody? Are there team lunches? This question will give you a feel for what you're getting yourself into.
What would my immediate responsibilities be?
Along with numero uno, this question helps give you a good sense of what you should focus on during your first few days and give you a head start if you need to research anything.
What does the career path look like for this role?
Most companies will have career paths thought out - unless it's pretty small.. but even then they should have some sort of clue on how to keep their best employees engaged. Perhaps you're not interested in being a manager, it's best to know right away if there's a path that you can take.
I've been in some bad interviews and bad companies. Those experiences have led me to ask the following questions in attempt to avoid the practices that I didn't enjoy.
How does your company promote personal growth?
Without advancement, technology wouldn't be where it is today. Companies that aren't interested in training their employees are setting them up for failure down the road. I for one, need proof that a company I'm interviewing with takes that seriously. This one is especially important if you are just getting started in tech and perhaps haven't found your true passion yet. Will this potential company support you in finding what you like and allow you to move into that role?
Is flexibility something you accommodate?
As a parent, this one is a big one for me. If I need to work remotely for a day while school is canceled, or for two while I or my child has the flu, I need to be able to do that without consequence and without judgement. Also consider doctors appointments, vet emergencies, etc.
Do you feel there are any skills currently lacking on the team?
Read: What can I do to be a total rockstar here. Is there a weakness that I can take head on and make the team stronger? If the team has all the skills, and just needs back up.. is that a role you're interested in taking? All good things to know.
Everything I've mentioned here is a part of my interview process and my experiences. Some of this will have hopefully overlapped with yours, which is why you're reading this article. I encourage you to sit down with some paper, and reflect on past experiences. What did you like, what did you not like, and what sort of questions could you have asked to ensure your values and the potential companies values matched up.
Please comment below with any questions on your must ask list!
Thanks for reading!
Soft skills are as critical as technical skills for a software engineer. No one works in isolation. Each person has to deal with teammates, colleagues, managers, etc. Therefore team interpersonal skills are essential too. Soft skills include things like good communication, honesty, teamwork, integrity, organization, empathy, etc.